Microsoft announced a variety of updates to various applications in Microsoft 365. New solutions also see the light of day, including Microsoft Loop – a tool that Microsoft says should have an impact similar to Teams.

Microsoft is sharing the news leading up to Microsoft Ignite 2021. We share the most important announcements here.

Test Base for Microsoft 365 and updates via Intune

The new Test Base for Microsoft 365 is available to test applications in latest and older versions of Windows Client and Windows Server. Relevant for software developers, vendors, and any other organization with an interest in a flawless application deployment.

Microsoft Intune, long available for mobile device and application management (MDM and MAM, respectively), has been updated to schedule and perform Windows updates directly from the solution.

Virtualization with Windows 365

Windows 365 was launched in August 2021 and includes a service for virtualizing Windows and streaming it on devices of your choice. Already possible through various third-party services, but never before through Microsoft itself. Today Microsoft is making it clear that Windows 11 will be supported in Windows 365. Also, data on CPU and RAM consumption of virtual PCs is now reportable in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

New: Microsoft Defender for Business

According to Microsoft, 60 percent of all small businesses feel inadequately protected against cyber threats. The new Microsoft Defender for Business, an endpoint security solution for companies up to 300 employees, should solve that problem.

Updates in Teams

Microsoft Teams continues to be subject to change. The new ‘Direct Guest Join’ allows users to join meetings from third-party apps from within Teams. That capability works both ways: with the introduction, developers of third-party apps can choose to facilitate participation in Teams meetings from within their software.

In addition, Microsoft announces the upcoming integration of Atlassian Jira Cloud and SAP Sales & Service Core into Microsoft Teams. The solutions will be controllable via chat, Teams channels and meetings.

New: Contact Center

Even more striking is the arrival of a completely new solution for contact centers. The so-called Microsoft ‘Contact Center’ was built on Microsoft Dyanmics 365 Customer Service and Microsoft Teams. Microsoft claims that the solution brings together customer service and unified communications in a SaaS option. Chat, voice communications, supported integrations with other software and effective customer service are at the core, according to Microsoft. Further details and a release date are unknown at this time.

New: Microsoft Loop

Microsoft Loop is also attracting attention. According to Microsoft, the solution promises to be as groundbreaking as Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Loop will appear in Microsoft 365 in the fall and looks around the corner at several existing applications. We clarify the latter with a description of the three components that make up Loop.

Loop components comprise self-customizing and customizable features for Microsoft 365 chat, meetings, emails and documents. The introduction of Loop is accompanied by two ready-to-use components: the “voting table”, consisting of a poll, and the “status tracker”, consisting of an overview of the progress of a project. As mentioned earlier, the components can be used in any Microsoft 365 application related to chat, meetings, mail and documents.

Loop pages allow users to design their own components and to oversee and modify existing components.

Loop workspaces facilitate project management. Microsoft states that workspaces provide an effective basis for collecting all relevant information for projects of choice.