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Microsoft

Recently at Microsoft Ignite, we announced new capabilities that put you in control of your users’ experience with the What’s New section of the Office desktop app Help pane. These capabilities are currently in Preview, and we plan to make them generally available (GA) early next year. Between now and GA, we’d like to invite you to try the Preview and let us know what you think.

 

Each release of Office includes new and improved features. The What’s New content in the Office desktop apps highlights an editorially curated list of new features being released for that application, with a short description, and often a picture or a video to help customers learn how to use the feature.​ This content is created by the team that is releasing the feature. An example of this content is shown below.

 

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Figure 1 - Office What's New button on Help pane

 

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Figure 2 - What's New content with “How to” steps

 

Historically, Microsoft has chosen which set of features are promoted to end users in the What’s New section of Help. The Office What’s New Management Preview puts you in control by allowing your organization to decide which features are shown to or hidden from end users in the Office desktop app. It gives you visibility into new content for each release version and channel, along with the capability to hide or show each feature’s What’s New content.

 

Using the Office What’s New Management Preview

You can access the Office What’s New Management Preview using the Microsoft 365 admin center and the Office 365 Client Configuration Service. The Office What’s New Management Preview is on the Services tab in the Settings area:

 

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Figure 3 - Office What's New management Preview in the Services area of the Microsoft 365 admin center

 

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Figure 4 - Office What's New management Preview experience

 

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Figure 5 - Details of the Office What's New management Preview experience

 

When you select a feature, a flyout panel opens and shows you the feature name, a short description, the application, and release version, and it includes an action button to hide or show the feature.

 

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Figure 6 - Flyout panel with information about the selected feature

 

The example above shows the behavior when a single feature is selected, but the Office What’s New Management Preview experience also enables you to select multiple features and hide or show them.

 

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Figure 7 - Selecting multiple features in the Office What’s New Management Preview experience

 

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Figure 8 - Managing multiple features in the Office What’s New Management Preview experience

 

The Office What’s New Management Preview also enables you to filter the list of features by three categories: channel, application, and status (all using single or multi-select). You can also filter across categories (for example, Monthly channel and PowerPoint and Excel).

 

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Figure 9 - Filtering capabilities in the Preview experience

 

There are three statuses:

  • Hidden The feature information is not shown to end users.
  • Shown The feature information is shown to end users.
  • Shown by default The feature information is shown to end users by default.

You won’t have to wait for the release day to get visibility into the feature content available for a coming release version, as new features will begin appearing in the Office What’s New Management Preview for a given channel based on the criteria in the following table:

 

Channel

In Management Preview

Timing

Monthly

15th of the month

1-3 weeks before the monthly release

Semi-Annual (Targeted)

Sept 1 and March 1

2 weeks before the major release that brings new features

Semi-Annual

Jan 1 and July 1

Table 1 - Timing of features shown in the Office What’s New Management Preview

 

Take Action

We invite you to try the Office What’s New Management Preview today, and let us know what you think!

 

 

--The Office What’s New Management team

11 Comments
Regular Visitor
@Scott Schnoll and team - This is a greet new feature. Can you please update the post to explain which O365 admin role(s) are required to manage this new feature?
Super Contributor

Great idea of showing the What's new for users and the management of those features.

Microsoft

Thanks, @Jeffrey Allen!

 

@stukey you need to be a Global admin to management the Office What's New Management Preview.

Regular Visitor
@Scott Schnoll Thanks for confirming. Would be great if Microsoft would make this functionality available to other admin roles instead of GA. Hardly anybody in our org has GA rights! What about creating a new role for it, or including it the User Administrator or other existing roles? Interestingly this article - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/admin/add-users/about-admin-roles?view=o365-worldwide - indicates that the “Office Apps Admin” roles allows you to manage the what’s new content. Is that accurate?
Microsoft

@stukey, it is not quite accurate, yet.  The docs got a little ahead of the code, and shortly there will be an admin role for managing the Office What's New management preview.

Honored Contributor
Awesome!
Microsoft

Hi folks, just wanted to mention that we just added support for the Office Apps admin role, and the code now matches the docs.  :)  See https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/office-what-s-new-management-preview-updat... for details on this and other updates.

Occasional Visitor

Can you explain "shown" and "shown by default" a little more? Why would you choose "shown" over "shown by default?"

Microsoft

Hi @smachicek,

 

Thanks for the question.  Both "shown" and "shown by default" have the same visibility to the end-user. All items start as “Shown by default” which means that the What's New content will be visible by default. If an admin does not change anything, the content will remain visible and the item will remain "Shown by default."  After an admin changes an item to show or hide, it will be in one of those states, and will never revert back to "Shown by default."

 

Admins can change the status from “Shown by default” to “shown” when they want to record that they have reviewed the What’s New content and made a conscious decision to make it visible to the end-users.

 

Hope this helps!

Regular Visitor

This is very useful, but there also needs to be a way to set 'hidden by default' so that, whether by a powershell cmdlet or in the tenant, some customers want this to only be shown when approved and otherwise set to hidden. Is this possible yet? Or would an admin have to manually jump in here every few weeks to check if there was new content and disable?

How will the new primary update channels be impacted by this change? I see the message center update - MC214709, Stay Informed, Published date: May 30, 2020 where this article is linked - but the Table 1 has the old channels. Can you help?