Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Lunch Zone – Private Channels in Microsoft Teams, and Bo Knows

Source: The Lunch Zone – Private Channels in Microsoft Teams, and Bo Knows

Episode 1. Owen and Greg Frick talk about Bo (Last Name unpronounceable) and a new feature in Microsoft Teams called Private Channels. A noisy restaurant, and obviosuly we are learning how to speak at each other. It was a lot of fun.

Mapping the New Microsoft 365 Roadmap


Abstract city navigation map with lines and streets. Vector black and white urban planning scheme

The Office 365 Roadmap has gotten more complicated and longer with every release cycle and customer idea for new features, it seems. In fact, it got so overgrown, that they recently deposed the Office 365 Roadmap as the emperor of a past dynasty and have replaced it with a new, younger and better looking leader and knower of all knowledge, the Microsoft 365 Roadmap.

Ancient Ruins


While the documentation people are busy chiseling the names of the old roadmap off of the statues and monuments of the past, let’s take a minute to look at the new Microsoft 365 Roadmap.


The Microsoft 365 Roadmap is now a one stop shop for feature status that is In Development, Rolling Out, and Recently Launched.


We are all trying to find good ways to think about the vastly increased coverage that Microsoft 365 includes over and above Office 365. Now included are the feature roadmaps for Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility & Security.



Luckily, the new roadmap comes with a set of filters that allow you to select product, device platform, and on which version/instance of the Microsoft Cloud your search should be limited to (i.e. the Gov cloud, GCC, Education, Germany cloud instances, etc.)


Some of the best features of the new roadmap, though, are how you can use it to communicate with your colleagues and how to track updates to the feature items.

Quickly share an update with someone.

We’ve all been there. Someone asks about a feature in a meeting, no one can remember what the status is, so after the meeting (or while you quickly go ADD and ignore the Teams meeting call) you pop over to the roadmap and search for it. You find the feature detail, and now all you want is to share it with your team and the world. It so happens that there is a super convenient email icon in the bottom left of the feature detail. You click that, and an email draft with the link to the feature is created for you. Almost like magic.

Download your own copy of the roadmap

First of all, you can very easily download your own copy of the roadmap data in a .csv file. One click at the top of the list (It really can’t get any easier than that!) and you have your own set of data to query, or build your own tracking system on.

(When you build an app that compares a collection of roadmap.csv files and maps out update frequencies, features that are updating the most rapidly, features that are not getting enough attention (taking too long), then please let me know! I’d track that.)

Until that is available, however,…

Use the RSS Feed to track roadmap updates

roadmap-4…I’ll be using the RSS Feed to track updates to the roadmap.  What? RSS sounds like Really Slow Signals? Or, as a millenial, you wouldn’t get caught dead using a message transport protocol that your father used to use? Not so slow, my friend, and what is old is new again. You should be using Feedly or some other RSS reader to track updates to web sites, your own curated news sites, and blogs, like this one. 🙂

Personally, the RSS reader that I use is called NewsBlur (, and it totally rocks. If you can afford it, I highly recommend you get one. logo_newsblur_blur

So, click the Microsoft 365 Roadmap RSS feed, grab the URL for the RSS Feed, and add it to your favorite news reader.

And, then you can track your Microsoft 365 features like a professional.



Special Thanks and Recognition

Star badge icon.I’d like to include a special thanks to @joepalarchio, who managed the Office 365 Roadmap Watch website and RSS Feed for the past number of years. While the roadmap was called the Office 365 Roadmap, it did not have a RSS Feed. (Designed by millenials who had RSS Feed using parents?) Well, the RSS Feed offered by Office 365 Roadmap Watch proved so popular that the new and improved Microsoft 365 Roadmap could not deny the obvious, and the RSS Feed for updates was re-introduced. Thanks, @Joepalarchio!

Power Apps Preview Program

Microsoft has released a new PowerApps Preview Program.

build-on-platform_33This is a welcome idea, as there are certain to be more and more new capabilities and features that Microsoft would PowerApps developers (people like us) to start working with – both to allow the developers to get a headstart with new applications, and for Microsoft to get an idea about how the new features are performing.

Why do we need a Preview Program? Can’t Microsoft just ship the features?

While tempting to have Microsoft ship everything immediately, and many features are shared with us this way, there are also large features that may have an impact on earlier features, that may require that your code and app be re-designed slightly, or that the code be built in a different way to take advantage of the newer capabilities.

In a run-time interpreted app like PowerApps, it is also easy to understand how the first versions of related features may be working together, and can be exposed to public PowerApp developers, but all of the safety code to ensure that features work reliably well with previous features, may not be complete. So, this means we need a Sandbox environment to test the Preview capabilities in. For PowerApps, what do we use for sandbox environments? Environments.

env3Microsoft has created a new Environment where they have published the preview capabilities. For now, this means all you have to do is to build your new or updated PowerApp in the “Preview (United States)” environment. I’m sure that as the Preview capabilities find traction and usage increases, that there will be environments in other geographies.

The new environment works with a new PowerApps web portal, a new PowerApps web player, and there will be new capabilities in the preview version of the PowerApps admin center.



So, what are the new features?

It will be interesting to see which features and capabilities Microsoft determines are worthy of the preview environment and which get deployed directly into the mainline application, or if even the simple features will take the side journey through the preview environment. Of course, if all the features go through the Preview environment, then who’s to say how many flavors of preview environments we may end up with in the future? 🙂

In today’s announcement, the new features and capabilities weren’t specifically mentioned. PowerApps will publish a list of these as they roll out, titled, “What’s new in PowerApps.”  Other places to watch are the the PowerApps Blog, as well as this O365 Toolman blog.

Other Important Items

  • There is no preview for the Desktop version of the studio. (Use the Web Studio)
  • Preview not available for mobile devices (have to wait for released capabilities)
  • Common Data Service databases not supported in Preview yet (working on this)



Retiring The MOSS Garden

I’m finally getting around to some summer gardening. It’s time to plow under some ground that used to be productive, in the hopes of re-planting and eventually reaping some future harvests.

I’ve retired “The MOSS Garden”, and have transplanted my historical records of blog posts from the now-retired MSDN Blog where they used to be planted, and moved them into here. Those are basically the posts from 2003 through Sep 2010.


So, if I’m going to get back into blogging, that leaves me two blogs… and (this one). I’ve never been much for search engine optimization, so it will be interesting to see if any of those old posts ever get indexed or have any views. But, at least they will have a home as my old MSDN blog is about to die. See you online!

MTX Portland and Portland SharePint – Sep 2017

A few of the leading companies in the Portland area, led by the Marquam Group, are putting on a conference in Portland next week, on Tuesday, Sep-12. This is the MTX Portland conference, and I hear it is going to be amazing.


I’m delivering a couple of sessions there on my areas of focus, the first session being on the need for some urgency in the digital transformation of business. It’s not only about technology, but also about culture, people, and process, in addition to technology.

The second session will be a little more tactical and will demonstrate how the array of technologies and tools that accompany Office 365 can bring the different departments and teams within a company closer together, while making them more agile at the same time.

I’m really looking forward to the conference. I’m thrilled and thankful for the opportunity to share some of what I feel most passionate about. I hope that you can attend.

Registration is priced at $199, but you can use the 25% off discount code, “OwenAllen” (coincidence, I’m sure), to register at a price of $149. This includes a great venue and your choice of tracks. The Modern Workplace and Business Applications track will  be where you will find me.

Steve+BrownThe Bald Futurist, Steve Brown, will be the opening keynote, and I’m looking forward to learning more about his thoughts and ideas.

The night before, Akumina is hosting a SharePint at the Altabira City Tavern, so very close to the convention center in Portland. I’m going to be there and I’m looking forward to meeting old colleagues and many friends from Portland.

Akumina SharePint in Portland –sharepintlargeblack
Monday, Sep-11, 5PM-7PM
Altabira City Tavern,
1021 NE Grand Ave, Ste 600,
Portland, OR  97232

Please join us – At the SharePint at Altabira City Tavern and/or at MTX Portland!

logo 2 001akumina-logo

Teams Email Notifications and UserVoice

The Email notifications that you receive with Microsoft Teams could use a little sprucing up.  It does a great job of telling me who mentioned me or who reached out to me, and has a link back to the item, but that is all…


Wouldn’t it be great to have a quick abstract of the content of the message included in the notification email?

Well, ok, this is a trick question.

Some people will say that enabling notification content in the email will only serve to cause the Email culture to persist, and will slow down the integration of a Teams-workplace. I think one of the suggestions in this vein is that the reminder is nice, but that the user should then open the Teams activity feed (browser, laptop, or mobile app) and review/take action on the messages from there.

Other people will say that this is a much needed feature, to help them triage their notifications and their Teams activity feed.

I wonder if it really comes down to your choice about which tool you will use at which time.

I can certainly understand for those users that are in the midst of a company migration to Microsoft Teams and email is Very Real, but they Want To Use Teams.

For this reason, I suggest we enable both methods. If you want to throw your support behind the UserVoice suggestion that a kind person named Rob Solomon posted, which is titled, “Email notifications should include the actual content of the post(s).”, then I will make it easy for you to do so.



Folders in Teams files view

Well, can you believe that! I’m seeing folders visible in the files view of Microsoft Teams.

Folders in Teams Files view

Praise be to developers and program managers and engineering managers and all others!

Last week, I had to train my clients on why the files view in Teams was different from the exact same view in the Document library in the teamsite.

This week, it works as it should! WOO-HOO! More updates to Teams deployment guidance coming…  No more trying to explain away the UI differences between Teams Files and Document Libraries.

Someone pinch me if I’m dreaming.


Changing Workplace Behavior and a Focus on Intranets

I enjoyed reading Paul Miller‘s article about his predictions for the Digital Workplace for 2017.  So much so, that I decided to put down some thoughts that I couldn’t get out of my mind any other way.

Paul Miller, who leads the Digital Workplace Group, has a track record of prediction about the digital workplace over the past years. His entire article is one that I would recommend, and his entire list of ten (10) predictions for 2017 is worth considering.  Perhaps I will spout off about his other predictions at a later date, but for today, I want to tackle two of them, which are front and center with many of the Office 365 customers that I work with regularly.

Paul Miller’s Prediction #2 for the Digital Workplace

2. Focus shifts from “firing up tech” to changing behaviour and culture

This is a striking change that we in the Digital Workplace Group have seen strongly in 2016. For the first time, many large enterprises are most concerned about culture and behaviour change when deploying new digital workplace services – and are viewing turning on the technology more as a “hygiene factor”, particularly as services move relentlessly to the cloud.

For one major pharma client in Germany, their new collaboration services were straightforward technically – but after evidence from their history that simply implementing new technologies doesn’t bring the much-touted benefits to employees, this time they turned to change management and culture as the levers they needed to tackle. This pattern will extend for many organizations and the so-called “soft skills” of digital workplace improvements will take centre stage.

This is absolutely true – that companies are finding it more difficult to roll out applications and technology services to their employees and expect employees to be able to leverage them easily.  The switch in focus to encourage a cultural change among employees is a change that can’t come quickly enough.

This is a representation of the move to a SaaS-based and cloud-based infrastructure. Large application systems that previously were installed using a Big-Bang installation model were replaced by agile development and continuous deployment. Enterprise IT groups that used to deliver employee facing software applications and LOB services via large concurrent deployments are discovering the benefits of continuous deployment. The next phase of realization for this is probably with employees, that will need to transform from learning new application functionality and tools every year or two into a slipstream model of discovering new functionality weekly or monthly.

A focus on modifying culture and employee behavior will have a more productive impact on employee adoption. The tools and applications will still need to be built – and as more employees adopt the new tools, deployment cycles can perhaps shorten and the feature backlog for each app may also shorten.


I also think that Paul’s fourth (4th) prediction is worth some consideration.

4. Intranets keep getting better and stronger

Weren’t intranets supposed to have become extinct by now? Rumours of their demise have been around for 15 years or more. The reality is though that any well-functioning organization of any size still requires a robust, productive intranet, if only as a digital front door to the wider digital workplace.

Whether it is Estée Lauder or Nationwide, compelling intranets that deliver value to the workforce are essential within the context of the broader needs of digital workplaces. Upgrades, new functionality and better mobile experiences will all be part of the enhanced intranets we will see.

I also believe that the concept of Intranets is growing and deserves to be strengthened within organizations. The Employee Intranet is the heart of soul and culture for an organization. Often, as employees work in teams that are more distributed than ever, as organizations change more frequently, and as the nature of work relationships morph through time, employees will rely on the Intranet as a centering force.

It used to be that the Employee Intranet served up the published information to employees, and also provided support for work-in-process scenarios – the ad-hoc collaboration spaces for project teams and for employee workgroups. While intranets were manageable in size, this made some sense, and the cost to apply consistent branding elements across all sites was manageable.

Today, ad hoc collaboration sites find themselves being more separated from the highly structured intranet sites. Employee Intranet sites pay the cost of applying company branding to their pages, while ad hoc collaboration areas need to be spun up and down as projects are created and completed, and can’t afford to pay the “branding tax” for each instance.

I think that as the amount of separation between ad hoc collaboration areas and employee intranets continues to grow, that Intranets will gain strength and find it easier to maintain company culture and focus.

Enterprise IT Groups should consider the employee intranet as a discrete service offering from ad hoc collaboration spaces. Trying to combine them weakens the value proposition of both.


What are your predictions for Enterprise Transformation in 2017? I like Paul’s list – and will give the Digital Workplace Impact podcast a listen.

Collaboration in the Market

Atlassian and Slack each are making plays in the collaboration marketplace today. Both of these moves are in response to recent advances that Microsoft has made with Office 365 and are critical to their long term future as platforms.

By acquiring Trello, Atlassian is expanding it’s collection of collaboration services and is a stronger competitor for Office 365. Atlassian is responding to Office 365 increase in customer adoption of Planner. Trello is more mature and more feature-complete than Planner at this point in time. Atlassian has the integration game to play now, to provide customers a consistent experience across the apps. To their benefit, Trello and JIRA have been used together by developers and project teams for years, and their JIRA customer base already is mostly familiar with Trello.

Microsoft, for its part with Planner, is entering with a new product, which even at MVP was rapidly adopted by Office 365 users looking to manage tasks, but still lacks many required features to be more than a task manager for small teams.

Atlassian acquires Trello for $425M, broadening their reach ]

The second news item this morning also affects Office 365, as Slack is building out their integration with a solid investment in bot companies. This has the potential to be a good investment, as Slack is battling to find a hook into enterprise businesses. As a chat company in a crowded space, it floated to the top with great functionality, but I feel it still is sitting in a space that hasn’t fully solidified, and could be replaced by newcomers to the space, or someone that has a better integration.  With this investment in bot makers, Slack is hoping that integration with business processes can stick and become a solid connection for them to build on.

Slack invests in 11 new bot startups ]

Both of these are examples of products that are building themselves into a platform. Becoming a platform that is extensible enough for ISVs to build on top of is the key for their long term growth. If their partner ecosystems simply invest in connecting to JIRA and Slack, and don’t take the next step of building into the platforms or building on top of them, then they will get steamrolled in enterprise companies by the platform that is surrounding and embedding the collaborative applications in Office 365.



Metalogix Gobbles up Pieces of Axceler

Interesting news this morning.  Metalogix gobbled up the SharePoint products and offerings from Axceler.  Rumors have been flying for months about an acquisition between the two parties, and both directions were mentioned – either Axceler doing the acquiring or Metalogix doing the acquiring.  In the end, though, it didn’t come out either way – Metalogix only acquired a portion of Axceler’s business.  

Image  The SharePoint products from Axceler have driven Axceler to be one of the fastest growing ISVs in the SharePoint ecosystem.  A darling of growth, and of product innovation, the Axceler ControlPoint products have illustrated that there is potential within the SharePoint ecosystem for Management, Administration, and Governance tools.

At least, there used to be lots of potential in the SharePoint ecosystem in the Management and Administration spaces. While I think there remains lots of potential in the governance space, I think it’s fair to say that with the shift to Office 365, the room for growth in the SharePoint Management and Administration space feels like there is a cap on it.  We don’t know exactly where that cap is, but there is no doubt that the open range for Administration and Management of SharePoint On-Premise is now a fenced in corral, and the ability to run free is limited.

In the short term, this will put Metalogix in a very powerful position for SharePoint On-Premise solutions.  Every SharePoint On-Premise solution will either be in the AvePoint camp, the Dell camp, the MetaVis camp, or the Metalogix camp.  Metalogix does have a very compelling set of offerings.  This is a very busy space for SharePoint users to wade through, and the removal of one of the players (Axceler), simplifies the space a little bit, but it is still confusing when there are 4 strong providers to consider and many little providers.  

Do you think that Axceler realized that 1. the space was very crowded, and 2. the Office 365 future was limited?  I think that the leadership of Axceler realized this and pulled off an amazing feat in this divestiture of their SharePoint business to Metalogix.  I think that Metalogix is being driven somewhat by optics and not by the realities of the SharePoint ecosystem in this case.  I hope that the price that Metalogix paid takes into account that the market for SharePoint On-Premise in 3 more years will only be the largest SharePoint customers, and that their Long Tail market of small and medium SharePoint customers will be dried up.

I found myself joking with some colleagues that while we used to refer to Open Text as the CA (Computer Associates) of the Document Management world, it now appears that one could consider Metalogix as the CA of the SharePoint world.  CA, in this case, as a euphemism for the place where software companies go into eternal maintenance mode…  I wonder how true this might turn out to be.

In the meantime, congratulations, Axceler, and we will be watching with interest to see how Metalogix takes advantage of this bundle of riches that their combined offering now provides. Can Metalogix turn this into a productive acquisition and gain significant market share against the other SharePoint management and administration tools?

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