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Microsoft 365

What’s new in Microsoft 365—How we’re empowering everyone for a new world of hybrid work

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that hybrid work is here to stay. But the big question is: what will the next decade of work look like and how will you prepare?

The established patterns of work we relied on for years are undergoing monumental changes. Asynchronous communication is the new norm. Meetings transcend time and space. The promise of AI is being realized—amplifying human ingenuity in ways that feel like magic.

To thrive in this new world, every organization needs a digital fabric that binds the organization together with secure communication, collaboration, and creation. This digital fabric will enable flexibility and strengthen connections across people and teams. It will seamlessly weave together data, automation, and AI—all in the flow of work. It needs to extend beyond organizational boundaries to customers and partners. And it needs to include every type of worker—information, frontline, and flexible workers.

We are innovating across the Microsoft Cloud to deliver this digital fabric to empower everyone in this new era. And at the center of it all is Microsoft Teams.

At Ignite, we are introducing exciting new apps and capabilities that in one year will be just as integrated into your daily workflow as Teams is today. Let’s dive in.

Collaboration that transcends boundaries and keeps you in the flow of work

As computing becomes embedded in the real world, the real world is being embedded in computing—that’s Microsoft Mesh, the metaverse platform. We’re taking that experience and building Mesh right into Teams, recreating a lot of what we value about being together and extending productivity beyond what was previously possible.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams introduces a new generation of two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) meetings. How you project yourself in an immersive space really matters. Personalized avatars give you control to customize your avatar and use AI to imitate movements and gestures that enable you to bring your physical presence into the conversation, even when your camera is off.

Organizations will also be able to create immersive spaces that resemble physical spaces such as conference rooms, design centers, and networking lounges to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity, and foster serendipitous water-cooler connections. Learn more about Mesh for Microsoft Teams.

New updates to the Teams meeting experience

We are bringing new updates to the Teams meeting experience to foster more inclusive and productive hybrid meetings. Users can now assign roles from the scheduling form and see the order of raised hands to ensure that all the voices are heard. Also, we’re revamping the mobile overflow menu to prioritize key actions, like viewing chat and adding a notification drawer for in-meeting system messages, so users can preview, collapse, and clear all notifications with one tap.

Unlock better hybrid meeting experiences

In partnership with some of the world’s best hardware partners, we’re working to deliver Teams experiences on devices that help people stay connected and participate fully in meetings regardless of where they are attending from.

Upon certification, the Yealink desk Vision AIO24 with its new 24-inch display can be used as a standalone device for Teams collaboration or connected to a PC as a second screen.

Logitech Tap Scheduler is joining the Teams panels portfolio pending certification, enabling people to easily view meeting room availability, location information, and meeting details at a glance.

Direct Guest Join allows users to join a third-party meeting, with basic controls, from their Teams Rooms. Similarly, it allows people to join Teams meetings from their third-party room systems. Today, this is available with Zoom and Cisco. Next year we will expand this to include Bluejeans and GoToMeeting.  

Surface Hubs can now be managed from the Teams admin center alongside other Teams devices. In the coming months, Microsoft Teams Room managed services will be expanded to include Surface Hub in the cloud-based IT management and monitoring service.

Make cross-organizational collaboration easier and more secure

Work doesn’t happen in a silo—it requires communication and collaboration with individuals both inside and outside the organization. We’re delivering new capabilities to Microsoft Teams Connect that remove barriers and make it easier and more secure to collaborate with anyone.

Share a channel with individuals and teams across multiple organizations, schedule a meeting, collaborate in real-time on apps, and share channels with up to 50 teams and as many organizations as you need (available in public preview in the first quarter of 2022). Meanwhile, we are extending Teams chat capabilities, enabling you to chat with team members outside your organization with a Teams personal account (available by the end of 2021).

Deliver engaging and memorable events

A host of new webinars and broadcasting capabilities will make it easy to set up and deliver professional, engaging experiences to internal and external audiences. The virtual green room will enable organizers and presenters to socialize, monitor chat, conduct Q&As, manage attendee settings, and share content before the event starts. Organizers and presenters will be able to manage what attendees see to ensure that attendees will only see shared content and participants that are brought on screen. Both of these capabilities will be available in preview in early 2022.

Leading events and hospitality management platform, Cvent, is now integrated with Teams. Starting in early 2022, customers can use Cvent to manage the event lifecycle, including registration and agenda management, and to deliver the virtual meeting and event experience via Teams.

Unlock teamwork with collaborative apps

Collaborative apps are a new generation of applications with collaboration at the core. Designed and optimized for the flexibility of hybrid work inside Teams, they bring the relevant processes, data, and people together to accomplish more. New collaborative apps from partners including Atlassian, SAP, and ServiceNow enable customers to engage with these apps across chat, channels, and meetings. Meanwhile, new experiences between Dynamics 365 and Teams bring more data and connectivity right into your workflow.

The redesigned Teams Store, now available, makes finding the right app for your needs simple and streamlined.

Streamline the contact center experience

A new all-in-one digital contact center solution, powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Teams, brings together traditional contact center, unified communications, and customer service capabilities into a single, integrated software as a service (SaaS) solution. With this new all-in-one solution, you’ll be able to deliver chat and voice connectivity, extensibility with other business applications, and intelligence embedded at every step of the customer service experience.

Empowering creators everywhere

We’re completely reimaging Office to go beyond the traditional confines of a document, spreadsheet, or presentation, spilling over to entirely new mediums. Just like Teams transformed collaboration and productivity, Microsoft Loop is the next big breakthrough in Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Loop is a new app that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across applications—enabling teams to think, plan, and create together. Microsoft Loop has three elements: Loop components, Loop pages, and Loop workspaces.

Loop components are atomic units of productivity that help you collaborate and complete work right within chats, meetings, emails, documents, and more. You can build your own Loop components, or leverage ours, including:

  • Voting table makes it easy for teams to brainstorm, drive consensus, and finalize decisions together.
  • Status tracker will help you gather information from your team, track progress towards all aspects of your project, and always maintain an up-to-date view of the project across your team.

Loop pages are flexible canvases where you can organize your components and pull in helpful elements like links, files, or data in ways that suit your specific project needs.

Loop workspaces are shared spaces that allow you and your team to see and group everything important to your project. And workspaces make it easy for you to catch up on what everyone is working on, react to others’ ideas, and track progress toward shared goals.

Microsoft Loop components are rolling out in preview across Microsoft 365 apps, such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and OneNote in the coming months, with more Microsoft Loop functionality to follow.

The promise of AI has always been about augmenting human capability in ways that feel like magic. That’s becoming reality with Context IQ. Context IQ turns insights into action, harnessing the power of Microsoft Graph to glean insights about your work throughout the day, then predicting, seeking, and suggesting information you need, right when you need it—at the point of action.

For example, Context IQ takes Microsoft Editor, to the next level, helping with things like suggesting a relevant file or document, finding available calendar times with collaborators, suggesting colleagues to tag in emails, or suggesting related Loop components for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales opportunity records.

We’re boosting our support for video creation with the recent inclusion of Clipchamp to the Office family. Clipchamp empowers people to create beautiful, professional-looking videos easily and quickly. Its fun and intuitive interface combined with powerful capabilities and a large stock library help ensure people can bring their video visions to life.

We are launching new experiences on and the Office app for Windows with new Home, My Content, and Create pages. These new experiences make it easier to find all of one’s content and files across apps and storage locations, see what needs attention, and get to the apps and templates needed for work—all in one place.

The new experience will begin rolling out to users next week. Learn more about these updates in the Office blog.

The digital employee experience is the employee experience

The employee experience is no longer defined by or tethered to a physical location. We need new ways to keep employees engaged and informed, all in the flow of work. That’s where Microsoft Viva comes in.   

Microsoft Viva is now available for purchase as a suite that includes the Insights, Learning, and Topics modules. The Viva suite will also include a new goals management module in 2022 based on our recent acquisition of Viva Learning is now generally available for everyone. Finally, we are launching new experiences for Viva Connections mobile and desktop.  

Viva Insights will offer a new effective meetings experience and manager insights to help employees build new habits and norms that boost connection, productivity, and wellbeing.  

Finally, we’re happy to share that several of the partner integrations we announced for Viva Learning and Viva Connections earlier this year—including SAP SuccessFactors, Qualtrics, ServiceNow, Cornerstone OnDemand, and UKG —are now generally available. Learn more about all of our Microsoft Viva announcements.

Windows for a hybrid world

Each of these exciting new innovations are built for and powered by Windows—the only OS designed for hybrid work. The launch of Windows 11 means easy, zero-touch deployment and the ability to tune devices and tools to meet the unique needs of individual teams and employees:

  • To make it easier for organizations using Intune to take advantage of the Windows Update for Business deployment service, we are integrating controls for scheduling and deploying Windows feature updates directly into Intune. Learn more in our blog post.
  • Microsoft Test Base for Microsoft 365, now generally available, is a cloud service that enables independent software vendors, enterprise partners, and organizations to test their line of business applications against versions of Windows Client and Server. Read more about Test Base for Microsoft 365.
  • Universal Print is a cloud service that allows users to securely print to any printer in the organization without a need for print servers. Learn more about Universal Print.

Read about 11 things we like about Windows 11 in this Tech Community blog.

New enhancements to Windows 365, including Windows 11 support on Business Edition

We’ve taken the PC to the cloud with Windows 365, so businesses of all sizes can securely stream a full Windows experience to any device. You can now choose to experience Windows 11 in the cloud with the Windows 365 Enterprise edition today. Support for the Business edition is coming soon.

There are several new updates being made to provide an optimal Windows 365 experience, including:

  • Enhanced security and support via a virtual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to enable Windows 11.
  • Web client improvements for faster load times, better performance, local resource settings, accessibility features, and more.
  • Support for Azure Active Directory joined Windows 365 eliminates the need for on-premises or Azure infrastructure.
  • Endpoint analytics resource reports in Microsoft Endpoint Manager provide metrics on central processing unit (CPU) and random access memory (RAM) performance in Windows 365.

For customers who want a modern cloud service for desktop and application virtualization but also need to support some apps and data on-premises, we are announcing the preview of Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI. Learn more about Azure Virtual Desktop announcements.

Also new to Microsoft 365

According to our research, more than 60 percent of small businesses said they didn’t feel equipped to handle cyberthreats. Microsoft Defender for Business is a new endpoint security solution that helps organizations with up to 300 employees protect themselves against cyberattacks. It will be available as a standalone solution and will be included in Microsoft 365 Business Premium. Learn more about Microsoft Defender for Business.

Looking ahead

From redesigning physical meeting spaces to include those not in the room to reinventing the way you create digitally in the world of hybrid work, we’re committed to enabling every employee to thrive in this new world of work. This is just the beginning, and we can’t wait to share more with you in the coming months. Stay tuned.