Microsoft Teams: A Review of What’s New for April 2018

April saw a handful of new features released for Microsoft Teams. In this post, I’ll take a closer look at the uses for four of them and add a brief mention of the others.

First: two ways to get to “What’s New”

In my blog on the command box, I mentioned that a good keyboard shortcut to know is “alt-k”. That will get you to the top of the Teams UI. From there, if you type “/whatsnew” you will see the latest the Teams team has added or changed.

Whats New

A second way: click on your profile picture in the upper right, then “Help” and there you’ll see “What’s New” on the top line.

“Here is the chat I wanted you to see…”

No question, Teams has a strong chat feature, and if you are like me and my colleagues, we can get chatty in a hurry and I often find myself needing to point a teammate to a specific post. New this month is the ability to go to a specific chat message, copy a link and then drop that link off to colleague so they can quickly hop to the linked post.

To copy a link is super simple, just click the ellipsis of the desired post and click “Copy Link” and you’re set.

Once you post the link, you’ll see the name of the OP (original poster) followed by a colon and a chunk of the message plus the Team name, Channel, and date time stamp of the original post. See example below:

CopyLink feature

Two new ways to get chatting

Speaking of chatting, Teams added two ways to kick off a chat with a teammate. Have you ever been reading through a channel and wanted to chat with a specific person in a thread? All you have to do is mouse over their profile picture and their contact card will pop up. Message box is at the bottom of the card. Type your message and hit reply. The message will show up in either a new chat or an existing chat with that person, (re: Chat area in the left navigation pane).

The second way is to use the command box. As mentioned above, you can get there quickly with an alt-k. Once in the command box, at mention them, by typing the “at” key, “@” and their name; hit return and you’re ready to message.

The key to both of these shortcuts is that you don’t lose context. An important concept that the Teams team and other product folks are getting a handle on is the critical nature of keeping you, the user, contextually close to your current task. Losing context means having to endure the “switching cost” of leaving one task and picking up another. Like leaving email to fact check something on the web only to lose a half hour catching up on the Kardashians.

Team Owners, show the team where to start with favorite channels

If you are a team owner, you can auto-favorite up to ten channels for your team. So, let’s say you have eight channels in your team, but three of them are critical for teammates to have. You can auto-favorite them so they show up for all team members. Just know that your teammates can unfavorite them later.

One more new feature worth noting

You now have the ability to get a reminder if your team is expiring. But, I’m jumping the gun a bit here. You first have to have the Azure Active Directory policy that allows an expiration date to be set, turned on. This is a premium feature of AAD. There are two references you should check out if interested. Here is one on the Office 365 Group Expiration Policy  and you might want have a look at this one too, the quickstart on AAD Premium.

Finally, as I usually mention, I am interested in how others use collaboration tools like Teams and Yammer. If you have something to share, drop me a note. Thanks for checking out my blog.