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Microsoft 365 Admin Monthly Digest – Feb 2024

a banner depicting the title of the blog with tagline ”Your monthly IT admin blog for all things Microsoft 365”a banner depicting the title of the blog with tagline ”Your monthly IT admin blog for all things Microsoft 365”

Welcome to the Microsoft 365 IT admin blog, your monthly source of tips, insights, and best practices for managing and optimizing your Microsoft 365 environment. In this edition, we get an update on the latest products and services onboarded to the unified domain, cloud.microsoft, review the latest enhancements to bring more insights to customers on their network connectivity, explore the benefits of the Monthly Enterprise Channel, and highlight a new blog where you can catch up on all things Copilot for Microsoft 365.  

By the time you’re reading this, the Copilot for Microsoft 365 Tech Accelerator has likely concluded. If you missed it, you can catch up on all the sessions via recording on the event page. We highly recommend watching this session on preparing for organization for Copilot for Microsoft 365. Wherever you are in your consideration of Copilot, the session covers steps you can take to improve data governance that are key, in general, to ensuring a secure and well-run tenant. 

Highlights across Microsoft 365 administration 

Let’s check out some of the latest features we launched in the Microsoft 365 admin center and how they can help you get things done.  

New services available on the cloud.microsoft unified domain 

Last year, we announced a new unified domain for Microsoft 365 apps and services, cloud.microsoft. Consolidating experiences to a single domain benefits customers in several ways by reducing sign-ins, redirects, and delays for users navigating across apps, and the complexity of allow lists admins must manage to stay secure and productive. This month, the following services have become available on the new domain:  

  • Microsoft 365 Service Health Status Page: status.cloud.microsoft  
  • Microsoft Setup: setup.cloud.microsoft 

Right now, these services are running in parallel on the old and new domains and no specific user action is required. In the coming months, the old domains will be removed and redirected to cloud.microsoft. Microsoft recommends educating your users to recognize and expect cloud.microsoft as the domain name for Microsoft cloud experiences and you can refer them to this article for more information. It would be good practice to also update any organizational materials that reference old URLs, and ensure that connections to *.cloud.microsoft are not blocked from your clients and enterprise networks. The *.cloud.microsoft domain has already been added to the official list of Office 365 URLs and IP address ranges. This article will continue to be updated with all the Microsoft 365 apps and services that are supported on the unified domain, and we’ll continue covering the latest each month in this section. 

Enhancements to Network Connectivity now generally available 

The Health | Network Connectivity page in the Microsoft 365 admin center helps you assess and monitor network performance for Microsoft 365 services by identifying network providers, reviewing insights on performance and availability. New enhancements include the ability to show network providers in use at the tenant and location level, a performance and availability assessment that includes details on what could be negatively affecting performance, and a Network Provider Index chart (currently for the US, and soon for the rest of the world) that shows top performing network providers at a given location. To access these features in the Microsoft 365 admin center, you must be assigned the Network Administrator or Global Administrator role. Review this blog for more details about these features. 

Striking a balance between speed and predictability 

Since early 2020, Microsoft has offered production updates to Microsoft 365 Apps through 3 primary channels: Current Channel, Monthly Enterprise Channel, and Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel. As the names suggest, Current Channel pushes feature updates as soon as they’re ready for production. Monthly Enterprise Channel establishes an update cadence for every second Tuesday of the month, and Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel gets updates twice a year, in January and July. Before, customers either had the option of Current Channel or Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel and the desire for predictability meant customers had the bulk of their user devices on Semi-Annual Enterprise channel and some on current channel apprised of what was coming around the (6 month) corner. 

A happy medium, the Monthly Enterprise Channel was introduced to provide the predictability that IT needs, while supporting the pace of enhancements that provide the best product experience possible. Forrester published a Total Economic Impact (TEI) report on the impact of switching to the Monthly Enterprise channel and there’s a lot of great learnings to be gleaned from (you can also watch this video about the report). The study, conducted before Copilot accelerated the pace of release, analyzed customers that transitioned from Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel to Monthly Enterprise Channel and found the following: 

  • Customers saved time for end users, help desk staff, and IT admins by enabling a more reliable and manageable update process that increased app stability and reliability. 
  • Reduced the risk of data breach because of faster quality fixes and end user access to security-related features 
  • Risk-adjusted present value projects the three-year benefit of moving to monthly updates at $10.18M and 90% reduction in reactive efforts. 

What should I do next? 

The speed at which Copilot for Microsoft 365 evolves to bring the latest and greatest to your users’ fingertips makes it ineligible for users running Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel. Having updates come 6 months apart makes it extremely difficult to provide a great experience for both users and IT. This goes beyond just generative AI, as the pace of technology in general only continues to accelerate.  

Fortunately, moving your users to Monthly Enterprise Channel is not a difficult task. Microsoft offers many ways for you to manage user devices and leveraging security groups, and update policies allow you to set it up once to establish an easily-managed process. Check out this article to learn more about how you can easily change update channels of apps. 

For those who want to be on the cutting edge of feature enhancements, there is Current Channel (Preview), which provides a great way for IT or power users to become familiar with upcoming new features before they hit the production channels. Read this article or watch this video for a deeper view of update channels. 

Microsoft 365 Community Conference — Join us in-person in Orlando

Join us for the biggest and most exciting Microsoft 365 community event of the year. With over 150 sessions covering Copilot for Microsoft 365, Teams, Viva, SharePoint, Windows, and more, this event is ideal for anyone who wants to explore Microsoft’s latest AI innovations, connect with product makers, experts, and the community, and deepen their Microsoft 365 and Copilot skills to advance their career in the era of AI. 

Register here: https://aka.ms/m365conf24

Save $100 off registration today with discount Code: MSCUST 

What’s new in Copilot for Microsoft 365 blog 

With the speed of enhancements and releases, we’re putting together a monthly What’s New in Copilot article that will be published on the Copilot for Microsoft 365 Tech Community. This blog series will recap feature enhancements that have been launched and important updates that are to come. The Copilot for Microsoft 365 Tech Community is also a centralized space to discuss anything related to Copilot and we encourage you to join the community and subscribe to make sure you get notifications on new content as it’s released. 

Stay updated 

 

As always, stay current with the latest updates on the Microsoft 365 admin center from the Microsoft 365 roadmap and the message center. To keep up with the latest on Copilot for Microsoft 365, consider joining our Copilot for Microsoft 365 Tech Community.  

Comment below if there are IT admin or change management topics you would like us to explore in future! 

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