An IT worker holding a smoothie and working on his laptop.

Whether it’s enabling remote meetings and collaboration, provisioning and managing remote devices, ensuring the data that’s no longer confined to your network remains secure and compliant, using low-code tools and platforms to rapidly build new business applications, or addressing the latest COVID-19-related threats—Microsoft has built solutions and developed the guidance your organization needs to help you make the most of this new business environment. Below are some of the new tools to help IT empower employees securely in a remote work world​.

Teams

Recently CEO Satya Nadella delivered Microsoft’s quarterly earnings report. Satya shared some new numbers: In April, they saw more than 200 million Microsoft Teams meeting participants in a single day, generating more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes. Also, Teams now has more than 75 million daily active users, and two-thirds of them have shared, collaborated, or interacted with files on Teams as well. As Satya put it, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

Microsoft announced a bunch of new features to enhance the meetings and calling experience for organizations in April.

  1. Increase in the number of simultaneous videos in Teams meetings

Virtual face to face conversations are the new normal for remote working, and now more than ever it’s important to feel connected with those you are meeting. Microsoft is increasing the number of participants who can be viewed simultaneously on the Teams meeting stage from 4 to 9. This new experience optimizes for attendees who have enabled video and places the remaining audio-only participants below the meeting stage. To provide a high audio and video quality experience, the layout will adapt, based on the user bandwidth and alter the number of videos shown to provide the best meeting experience.  This feature has started to roll out. If you don’t see it yet, please sit tight as it is a staged rollout and can take up to a couple weeks to reach everyone.

  1. Raise Hands

The new “raise hands” feature in Teams allows meeting attendees to identify that they wish to speak, making it easier to actively participate in large meetings. Everyone will see a visual cue on the attendee—as well as in the participant list that prioritizes who raised their hand first—and can give them the room to participate in the conversation at hand.

  1. Background Effects and Blur Option

Keep the focus on you—not what’s behind you! They are building upon the heavily popular video background blur feature in Teams meetings with background effects. This new feature in Teams allows meetings attendees to customize their video background from a list of pre-selected images. There is also the option to blur the background.

Log into 365 Productivity Insights to access free Teams and Outlook productivity reports for your remote workers

  1. End the Meeting for all Participants

Meeting organizers are now able to end the meeting with a push of a button. Within the meeting control bar, only meeting organizers will see an item that says “end meeting.” All participants exit the meeting when the organizer selects this button.

  1. Live captions in iOS and Android

Whether hard of hearing, have different levels of language proficiency, or are connecting from a loud location, live captions allows meeting participants to follow along and read what is said during Teams meetings. Live captions is now available on iOS and Android mobile devices in English.

  1. 1:1 Call Recording

Now you can easily record your 1:1 calls in Teams just as you already can for meetings. Simply select the option to record and call participants will be notified on their screen that a recording has begun.

More new features

Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)

Microsoft announced a unified control plane for device and access management, with Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), to ensure all endpoints connecting to corporate resources are secure.

Securing remote work starts with a strong identity foundation. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) enables your remote workers to find and access the apps they need from anywhere without compromising security. Many of our customers use Azure AD Conditional Access policies and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to secure access to their resources aligned with the principles of Zero Trust, and enable remote collaboration with external users with B2B collaboration capabilities.

Microsoft announced that they are extending the ability to use Azure AD single sign-on (SSO) with as many cloud applications as you’d like across all pricing tiers, including Azure AD Free. This means any Microsoft customer using a subscription of a commercial online service can connect all their cloud applications to Azure AD for single sign-on, and protect this access with multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a security default at no extra cost. Microsoft is also introducing several new features to make it easier for IT administrators to secure and manage access. You can learn more in the Azure AD blog.

With Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly SCCM), Microsoft has done a lot to help ensure that your people can access information and services securely from almost any device. For broader endpoint management, across your apps and devices, they’ve improved the integration between Configuration Manager and the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center in Azure. You can try the new Endpoint Manager portal yourself at endpoint.microsoft.com.

Contact MessageOps to learn more about Microsoft Endpoint Manager / Intune Co-Management to Help Manage Remote Workers

Other new features include:

  • Tenant attach—With tenant attach, you can quickly attach an Intune tenant to your Configuration Manager deployment to enable the two to work together. Starting with the Configuration Manager 2002 release, you can upload your Configuration Manager devices to the cloud service and take actions—like device and user policy sync—directly from the Endpoint Manager admin center. This will help speed up common actions you might take and provide a consolidated view of all your organization’s devices in the web-based admin center. In the near future, searching for a user in the troubleshooting portal will allow your help desk to see all of a user’s device regardless of their management configuration in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Over the coming months they’ll enable more troubleshooting tools to enable your help desk access to information and capabilities to facilitate their day-to-day actions.  
  • Unified app delivery—They’ve also been working to bring the richness of Software Center from Configuration Manager and MyApps from Azure Active Directory into our Company Portal app for unified app delivery, so people can get the apps they need across their endpoints. The unified end user experience is expected in the next few weeks. But don’t worry, if you rely on Software Center and MyApps as standalone portals, they are not going away.
  • Support for Microsoft Edge for deploying apps and packages across platforms—A few months back, they released the new Microsoft Edge browser, which gives you the most compatibility for modern web and your existing apps, plus you benefit from the advanced security and privacy controls. Today, endpoint management experiences natively integrate the app and package deployment process for PC and MacOS, and you can distribute the Edge mobile apps directly from the App Store or Google Play.
  • Expanded support for macOS—Microsoft Endpoint Manager is a unified platform for all endpoints, so I’m excited to announce that they are introducing the Intune MDM agent for macOS, which extends the management controls in macOS. For example, with shell scripting, admins can leverage the agent to automate repetitive tasks and attain greater flexibility in configuring Macs. This is just the beginning of new capabilities, and they’re well on our way to giving admins first-class macOS management with Microsoft Intune.
  • Prevent cross-account sharing in Outlook mobile—With Microsoft Intune, you can apply app protection policies for Outlook for iOS and Android to help to ensure that work or school accounts can only access approved storage locations. This enables you to mitigate the risk of introducing personal content and potentially malicious content from entering your corporate environment. They’ve also updated the file attachment experience in Outlook to help guide you towards these trusted data sources and further protect mobile communications and collaboration in the enterprise.

Our Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager / SCCM Services:

  • Setup/ configure Cloud Management Gateway and/or cloud distribution points
  • Develop a plan to assist in managing devices that are off the company network
  • Discuss Intune licensing is included within SCCM licensing
  • Establish co-management with Intune
  • Complete Desktop Analytics to demonstrate the advantages it provides in a Win 10 migration
  • Create or enhance OSDs for Win 10 imaging or feature upgrades
  • Create or enhance software updates, ADRs, peer caching or Windows updates for business
  • Create or enhance Servicing Rings for Win 10 feature updates

Learn more about Microsoft Endpoint Manager & SCCM: https://messageops.com/tag/sccm/

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