Yesterday when I did a manual update check on my Windows 11 Store I was happy to see Microsoft Whiteboard application updating to the new version. Checking out forward I also saw that Whiteboard application on my iPad had been also updated to the new version. It is a great moment in Whiteboard’s history: there is only one app! Bye bye having to think what works on Windows Desktop, Surface Hub, on Android, Web, Apple device or on Teams meeting.

For Windows Desktop and Surface Hub Whiteboard users this change is a major one. The Whiteboard is now in-par with Teams and Web versions. This means that some familiar features we used before are now gone. But I don’t think it is a bad thing. What matters is that this is the new Microsoft Whiteboard and it works with all clients in the same way. Yes, you may miss ruler, thumbs up, magic wand and tables for example but in the exchange the roadmap will include sharing with externals, laser pointer, attribution, locking view and fluid components.

Fluid components in Whiteboard are really cool feature that I am looking really forward (along with external sharing) but unfortunately roadmap does not state them yet. External sharing is tied to OneDrive storage that is scheduled to November this year: very soon!

Fluid components will include tables and other collaboration features directly in the Whiteboard.

GIF source: Check out the article at Tech Community blog.

I like how the Whiteboard team added hints how to use Whiteboard to the loading screen.

For example people missing our the old ruler should remember to hold down Shift key to draw straight lines. It is very intuitive and I found it also easy to remember & use: much easier than having to select a ruler from tools first to draw lines..

The New Whiteboard updates

When opening a Microsoft Teams meeting and clicking on the Whiteboard tab we can see some updates already. The Teams and Web Whiteboard got this same update earlier, but as new features are being added I will highlight them in this blog. For my earlier Whiteboard post please see it here.

The most recent addition is Documents, that allows you to add documents (PowerPoints only it seems) from your OneDrive or SharePoint sites (Teams files) to the Whiteboard. For example selecting certain PowerPoint slides. Documents end up in the Whiteboard as pictures.

Recent files are really useful. In my demo account I don’t have that much activity at recent files..

It is also possible to choose OneDrive root folder (My files).

You can also create a new folder or upload files / folder when working in the Whiteboard.

After picking a document I can go on and choose slides I want to add.

As can be seen, slides are inserted as pictures. What is cool that Whiteboard has some control to objects “layer” that can be accessed via … menu.

It is good to remember that Images don’t use OneDrive, but instead open a file picker directly from your computer.

The new Microsoft Whiteboard on Windows

Yes, it looks just like the Whiteboard we use on Microsoft Teams. This is a great path forward since now all versions will get those updates faster – and you can co-author with Whiteboard without having to think what version your peers are using.

Opening the same Whiteboard in Windows Desktop App we can see it matches Teams version fully.

Sharing is very easy – just creating a link.

And under gear icon on top-right we find same settings as with other versions

Looking at my old boards I don’t see any tables there anymore. All other content seemed to be there. Until Whiteboards have version history and are stored in OneDrive / SharePoint it is always good to follow the best practice exporting to picture everything that is important.

Thinking what features are now missing from the current version that were available earlier

  • You can only add PowerPoint slides in the New Whiteboard at the moment. In earlier version you were able to pick PDFs and so on. In the GIF picture at the beginning on this post we can see Excel area dropped in. That might imply to ability to be able to insert Excels and other documents in the future to the board.
  • Magic Wand is missing. Replaced with convert to shares so far and automatic ink beautification. Perhaps ability to magic touch hand writing comes later.
  • Rules is missing. Replaced with Shift-key
  • Tables are missing. Fluid components will be ones replacing tables.
  • Liking notes and some other objects. Replaced with stickers.
  • Searching Bing to add pictures.

Is there feature parity between versions now?

Looking at Android version we can see the following:

That is a good hint when using a mouse, but it does not recognize my hovering finger on Android device. This tells they are running the same version on all clients – not even noticing mobile user in the loading screen.

Mobile version is now requiring Intune / Company Portal use if that has been defined. After installing it I got the Whiteboard open on mobile.

We can see almost same features on Android. What is missing are Documents and Images. We can see and use images, but we can’t insert new ones. This is a close call to state it has feature parity between clients, but it is nearly there.

In settings, on mobile Whiteboard, we have access to everything as well

Ok, so about Feature Parity

  • Microsoft Teams and Web versions match fully with Windows desktop version
  • Android mobile version is missing ability to add images and documents (at least so far)
  • iPad version is missing ability to add images
  • I don’t have a mac so I can’t say what works there and what does not. Community – feel free to let me know and I update this one!

The New Microsoft Whiteboard Rocks

I was very happy to see this update to roll in, and it was doing so in the schedule. The roadmap was stated for October and it rolled out in time! There are numerous templates that can be used in all clients that will help to create and ideate teams better than before. A search would be a great addition when finding templates – perhaps it will be there one day.

While experienced Windows Whiteboard app users might feel a bit sad for some moments, I see the upcoming roadmap fixing the issue with new, very useful, features. And having just one UI for all clients is a good thing. It was confusing to have different styled clients and some features worked on some boards while some features didn’t work at all.

Don’t let external access in Teams meeting for October misguide you. The sharing requires storage to OneDrive for Business so it won’t come out until November, unless Whiteboard team wants to surprise us earlier!

And it is always good take a look pictures released earlier by Microsoft, so we know what to look forward in the future. Like sharing an existing Whiteboard to the Teams meeting.

Yes, there is a Search in the Create too! Perhaps that way we can find templates easier in the future!

The new Whiteboard is much more visual, easier to use, more user engaging and I think it will lead to be more innovative and used because of these reasons.

Admins: Prepare for Whiteboard OneDrive storage

Admins should check out Whiteboard settings in Microsoft 365 Admin Center. In the bottom of the settings pane you can see option to enable OneDrive storage.

As text states, you should not turn this on unless you make sure your users know about this AND they have updated their apps to the new Whiteboard version. That applies to Surface Hubs too – new Whiteboard app is already rolling out to those devices.

Turning this opt-in on doesn’t do any changes until the OneDrive storage for Whiteboards is available. It doesn’t affect old Whiteboards – only new ones created after the feature is available.

Once the feature is available I have a strong guess that Whiteboards will show up in this structure in OneDrive for Business

There are just Microsoft Forms at the moment but I don’t think Whiteboards will be the last to be added to that structure.

Previous articleMicrosoft Ignite 2021 November Recap (Top Microsoft 365 Announcements & Highlights)
Next articleCreate Role Assignable Groups based on existing groups
avatar
MVP for Office Apps & Services (Teams & Collaboration focus), Principal Consultant in Office 365 and Modern Work. Extremely passionate about Microsoft Teams's power to change how people work together. Helping and coaching customers to find benefits, solutions and value when adopting new tools, methods, ways or working and practices into daily work-life equation. I am always eager to challenge current situation and dig out new possibilities and ways to think and work. You could describe me as a jack of all trades but my main focus area and deep personal driver is Microsoft Teams since it has changed the way I work and did a giant step forward to make it possible to work from anywhere - the location does not matter even us much as it mattered before. Microsoft Teams opened the path for many organizations to rethink their practices, worklife, culture and start the change. That's why I am very passionate about Teams.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.