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Microsoft Ignite: Softcat goes Loop-y for hybrid working updates

On the back of Microsoft’s annual tech conference, Allie Landers shares what they’re excited about.

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Allie Landers

Microsoft SMB Executive

After some impressive hybrid working updates at Microsoft’s annual tech conference, Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft has definitely sparked the excitement here at Softcat. There’s a whole host of updates which will improve your ability to collaborate with your team, make life easier through artificial intelligence, and make cyber security more efficient.

Microsoft Loop will improve collaboration within your team

We’ll start with the target of our puns: Microsoft Loop. It’s a brand-new office app that’s going to seriously improve your team communication, especially in times of hybrid working. This awesome little addition is going to be formed of 3 elements:

Loop workspaces – this will give you and your entire team visibility of projects, shared goals and the ability to track progress.

Loop pages – share (marketing) ideas, links, files and data relating to the different projects you have going on.

Loop components - bring in any part of your workspace into teams, outlook or other apps, meaning it’s going to integrate well with the whole Office 365 experience.

So there you have it. It’s a flexible canvas app, and if you’re not into tech lingo this is exactly what it sounds like: a blank canvas for you to drag and drop components in any formation, however you see fit. All we know, is that your marketing team is going to love you for this one.

Prepare for an easier life with admin and emails with Context IQ

Imagine your very own little helper that has that exact document or name just on the tip of its virtual tongue, ready to help. Well that’s exactly the aim of Editor with Context IQ. New features will include suggesting relevant files or documents based on what you have been working on when you need to attach something, insert or share files with colleagues. Editor suggests potential people to tag when using the @ symbol in an email and recommends times everyone is available when scheduling meetings. It can also simplify manual processes you would normally need to do such as automatically inputting your frequent flyer number when booking a flight.

Simpler, cheaper and easier with Microsoft Defender for Business

This is a really exciting release to protect Android, iOS, macOS and Windows operating systems, and will be included in Microsoft 365 Business Premium plan – but it can be purchased as a standalone too. It’s also going to be able to integrate with Microsoft 365 Lighthouse to secure your customers at scale. It’s going to make a real difference as it can integrate with existing solutions, reduce cost and make life a bit simpler really.

It would be worth mentioning that the current Microsoft Defender for Endpoint product is getting renamed to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 2. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 will be aimed at organisations that only want endpoint protection capabilities. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 2 will remain in M365 E5 and Defender for Endpoint will be available at an E3 level.

SharePoint: rename it!

Customers can now change their SharePoint domain name for their organisations in Microsoft 365. This feature is only available to organisations with less than 1000 total SharePoint sites and OneDrive accounts combined.


Mesh for Teams: Microsoft goes to the Metaverse

We love a camera on here at Softcat, but we know that some of us don’t always want to or can’t have the camera on. And the good news is, if you have a colleague or customer who likes the camera off, you’ll now have a more personal experience with them.

Allow us to introduce you to Mesh for Teams, which is powered by AI (of course). This is a new 3D immersive experience for collaboration and Microsoft’s view of the ultimate experience coming together. Users can attend meetings in a virtual conference space with their own customised avatar. Mesh integrates M365 productivity tools like teams, SharePoint and OneDrive. This turns the focus away from places and spaces and towards omni-connected spaces where you can connect, collaborate and input wherever you’re from as it’s so important to bring human connection into the digital world. This now gives the ability to be able to read body language, even for those who don’t want to actually appear on camera and instead use their avatars.

Azure Active Directory allows you to do more in Teams with Teams Connect

Azure Active Directory is going to allow collaboration to get a whole lot easier with your extended network.  You can talk and book meetings at the click of a button via your very own teams channel with extended networks. As people leave groups or organizations that have permissions to access the channel, their permissions will be removed. This shared collaboration space can be used to share documents and files. Documents can be translated as they are opened and these documents can also be encrypted with information protection and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to ensure security is not hindered.

Presenting gets better, and Webinars are now possible…

Hybrid events and Webinars are now available within Teams. This will include a range of features such as green room for presenters to come together and prep prior to a live event. Cameo invites you to integrate your camera video into you PowerPoint presentation. Presenter Coach has integrated with MS Teams to create the new feature, speaker coach, which enables you to read the virtual room, engage the room with your actions and even be told privately if you are speaking too quickly. Other meeting improvements included an order to raised hands in meetings, the ability to mute notifications whilst in meetings and assign roles to attendees when setting up a meeting so each person knows their purpose on the call ahead of time. Finally, you can now integrate Apple Car Play for seamless communication on the move.

Dynamics 365 says hey to Teams

Dynamics 365 has seamlessly integrated with Teams making it easier to meet, chat, call and collaborate from within your Dynamics 365 workspace. Vice versa when you are working in Teams, you can work on and access information from Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces is going to introduce a way for businesses to understand the way that that people move and interact in their physical spaces and allow you to run analytics, gain real-time insights and run simulations.

Voice Channel for Dynamics 365 Customer Service, now generally available, will allow you to gain unified insights as part of one integrated SaaS solution. This works from the same channel that powers Microsoft Teams and will focus on 4 areas to help customers deliver world-class service. These are:

  • Personalized calls, connected across channels - how we empower agents, personal and physical
  • AI at each step of the call
  • Unified insight across all customer interactions - cases/chats/social message/and now voice
  • Easy to start, easy to scale

With the introduction of Voice Channels, Dynamics 365 Customer Service can enable this singular view across all channels. Bots will intelligently talk to Agents and AI will transcript the entire call.


We hope this quick overview has made you as excited as we are. Some of our favourite announcements include the changes to Microsoft Defender as we can see real value especially for our SMB customers in terms of cost and integration efficiency, and the many ways to form more personal connections with colleagues – things like Mesh for teams and Loop which we can definitely see playing a key part of hybrid working here at Softcat.]

Read part 2: Microsoft Ignite: What it means for you