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Written: 18/11/2020 | Updated: N/A

Preview features. When I was starting out in my IT career – in what is now rapidly becoming a long time ago – I wanted all the access and all the features you could imagine. Now, I am not going to lie to you this was all largely driven from a need to know first. I wanted to know first and wanted to get stuck in in order to a.) make my life easier and b.) get ahead of the curve to show customers that I knew what I was talking about. Whilst this isn’t quite the case anymore since I believe in security principles such as RBAC, that things are more polished when they hit GA, and having been a frequent flyer to the wild west without an SLA, I still can’t quite resist the lure of something new. So its been with interest that I have monitored the development of the new public preview feature for Microsoft Teams which has now surfaced in the Teams Admin Centre prior to work beginning on the Teams client to consume it. So here’s the million dollar question – why has Microsoft introduced a public preview specifically for Teams when you could already set targeted release in the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre?

In short, I don’t know. It may be crowdsourcing feedback. It may be getting users more involved earlier on in the lifecycle. These make sense. The associated docs page describes it as ‘provid[ing] early access to unreleased features in Teams allow[ing] you to explore and test upcoming features’ A Tech Community page where I have asked several questions provides timelines but again, this doesn’t give much away in terms of a raison d’être much like the existing developer preview which we know is all about app development. Whatever the reason, it can be expected that most admins will apply it – should they turn it on – for a proportion of their users in order to support others. And that is really the key to Preview features – they work best not when we think of having the functionality or being first – but to rigorously test and understand them so we can better support others and feedback to Microsoft on any issues or gaps so we can better the service and user experience

To note, at the current

This blog will cover

  • Enabling Preview features for all in the Global Org Wide Update Policy
  • Enabling Preview features for some users using a Custom Update Policy
  • Bulk, Policy Packages, Group Policies and Powershell
  • Enabling the Preview in the Teams Client

HOW – ENABLING PREVIEW FOR ALL IN THE GLOBAL ORG WIDE UPDATE POLICY

Before users can turn on public preview in their Teams Desktop clients, it needs to be enabled per a policy in the Teams admin centre. Doing this in the global org wide policy will do this for all users unless you decide to create a custom policy for specific users (see next section)

1.) Login into https://login.microsoftonline.com and select Admin

2.) On the left Navigation select show all then select Teams

3.) In the Teams admin Centre, select Teams and then Update Policies and then select Global (Org Wide Policy). As you can see by the policy it is turned to off by default

4.) Swipe Show preview features to on and then select apply

The global org wide policy is now changed to On

After propagation, the ability to turn public preview on will appear in the Teams client for your users (See section below)

HOW – ENABLING PREVIEW FOR SOME USERS USING A CUSTOM UPDATE POLICY

As opposed to applying the update policy to all, you may only want to allow public preview to specific people in your organisation. This is easy to do

1.) In the Teams admin centre, within Update policies, select Add

2.) Create the new update policy, providing a name, description and sliding the Show preview features to on. Select apply

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3.) Check to ensure the policy is created

4.) In the TAC Navigation select Users then on your user select View Policies

5.) Select Edit

6.) Apply the custom update policy and then select apply

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After propagation, the ability to turn public preview on will appear in the Teams client for your selected user (s) (See section below)

HOW – BULK, POLICY PACKAGES, GROUP POLICIES AND POWERSHELL

You may want to move away from assigning a policy individually

Update policies can be applied in bulk by selecting multiple users from the User section and then amending the update policy

Updates policies are not currently supported under Policy Packages or Group Policy. The update policies do not appear in the policy packages and there is not a tab within update policies to assign them to a group, such as a security group, DL or Microsoft 365 group

Update policies are not currently supported in Powershell. There is no cmdlet currently available in the latest module 1.1.6. If it surfaces in later modules it is probably likely to be something like Get-CsTeamsUpdatePolicy similar to Get-CsTeamsChannelsPolicy

HOW – ENABLING PUBLIC PREVIEW IN THE TEAMS CLIENT

After the admin has enabled public preview in the policy, the user has to enable it in the Teams client

NOTE: Per the Tech Community article above this may not appear in your client until early December. Once enabled, the user may have to log out and back in in order to see it

1.) Select Avatar and then Settings – public preview should show here alongside the developer preview

Our job here is done

This is very early days for the public preview and I’ll add more information to this blog as it becomes available – particularly with respect to the questions I have raised to Microsoft on the Microsoft Tech Community. All the very best for the public preview – and I hope you and your users enjoy testing out the latest functionality!

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