So, I know that I don’t often write about Office 365 and Microsoft technologies, but much like Broadcom (apparently!) I know how to diversify. I am mostly known for my MEM vs. Workspace ONE articles. In the Conference Room space, Microsoft Teams Rooms are picking up speed coupled with Microsoft Whiteboards. They look like this:
Pretty nifty right? It’s sort of like WebEx is your ’86 Corvette and you traded it in for nice shiny Prius. Sure, I could have said other things, but let’s keep this family friendly! Microsoft still has a ton of work to do, but they’re making some major improvements. They announced a number of things at Enterprise Connect and on the Microsoft Roadmap. You can see a short list if you’re interested below:
|Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services: Device Portfolio – Teams Rooms (Android)||GA: December 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Breakout Room pre-meeting room creation and participant assignment for DoD||GA: December 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Breakout Room pre-meeting room creation and participant assignment for GCC-High||GA: November 2022|
|Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services: Bulk suppression of rooms enrolled in Managed Services||GA: September 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Chat Bubbles during Teams meetings for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Android||GA: July 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Support for breakout rooms for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Android||GA: June 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Teams device management in DoD||GA: June 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Check out for Microsoft Teams panels||GA: June 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Extend Room reservations for Microsoft Teams panels||GA: June 2022|
|Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services: Device Portfolio – Surface Hub||GA: May 2022|
|Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services: Export room inventory||GA: May 2022|
|Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services: Action Driven Incidents||GA: April 2022|
|Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services: Room Expansion Planning||GA: April 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Casting from Teams desktop client to Microsoft Teams Rooms||GA: March 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Together Mode for Teams on VDI in Government Clouds||GA: March 2022|
|Microsoft Teams Rooms Managed Services: Mobile companion app||GA: March 2022|
|Microsoft Teams: Restore Present button on Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows||GA: March 2022|
Today, we’re here to discuss a “significant” change to the Room experience that is flying under the radar. Let’s dig into what changed and how you can address it by talking about what is the Microsoft Whiteboard?!
So what exactly is the Microsoft Whiteboard? It’s exactly what it sounds like pretty much. Whiteboard is an interactive collaboration space that is available on the desktop, mobile, and inside of conference rooms. That consistent approach across platforms is a huge benefit.
The Microsoft Whiteboard is a solid product overall. Whiteboard offers a number of dynamic features like sticky notes, ways to accentuate and draw attention to your ideas, and templates to bring your thoughts to life. As you can see below, it’s laid out nicely borrowing some of the spirit of Microsoft OneNote while empowering collaborative experiences throughout your fleet of devices.
Pictures are nice, but a solid demo is much more useful. Microsoft does a solid job with their video showing the remote work experience that can be delivered with help from Microsoft Whiteboard:
How the Maturation of Whiteboard Impacts the Microsoft Room Experience
So, you are wondering: “Why do we care about this?” or “What’s the catch!?” As mentioned on a number of blogs, Microsoft announced in April that Whiteboard storage was moving from Azure to OneDrive for Business/SharePoint Online. So you say to yourself, “That sounds great!” and “Oh now I can have visibility, manage it, blah blah. Well, there’s always a catch!
This whole thing is great and all, but now you have to account for it. The move currently can be done via “Opt-In” unless you have been officially migrated already. You can validate that here in Settings > Org Settings > Whiteboard:
Microsoft is rapidly migrating tenants between Mid May and June to OneDrive for Business. So why am I telling you this? Read on…
Here’s the Thing About SharePoint Online
So, you come in one morning to your 8 AM meeting and you decide to start a whiteboard session to talk about this Sev-A going crazy. Guess what that trusty Teams Room says to you?
I’m being a bit funny, but what you really see if a truly mystifying message that makes no logical sense:
You might also see this or images similar to it:
What Actually Changed?
So, once you moved your whiteboards to OneDrive for Business/SharePoint Online it now started enforcing the global sharing permissions of your SharePoint Online tenant.
When you share a whiteboard in a Teams meeting, it creates a sharing link:
This behavior is similar to streaming PowerPoint in a Teams meeting. The sharing link provides temporary view and collaborate on the whiteboard for the meeting and does NOT give you file access. Once it moves to OneDrive/SPO, this collaboration starts respecting the sharing policies in your SPO tenant.
The interesting choice from Microsoft is that Surface Hubs and Teams Rooms are seen as external devices, which is peculiar considering these rooms use AD/Azure AD accounts to run the room mailboxes. Well, all we can do is shift and figure out how to account for the new behavior.
How to Support Whiteboards Hosted in SharePoint Online
As discussed in this new Microsoft Article, we need to make a number of changes to make things work properly now. Let’s examine the code I wrote to address this:
##Set the Required Sharing Capabilities## Set-SPOTenant -SharingCapability ExternalUserAndGuestSharing ##Setup your Allow List of Domains for Sharing Set-SPOTenant -SharingAllowedDomainList "mobile-jon.com synterex.com" ##Setup your Whiteboard Sharing## Set-SPOTenant -OneDriveLoopSharingCapability ExternalUserAndGuestSharing ##Enable Whiteboard for your Tenant (In Case You didn't have it set) Set-SPOTenant -IsWBFluidEnabled $true
So just to unwrap this a little bit. We now need to enable the following:
- Enable SharePoint Online sharing capabilities for external user and guest sharing (I know icky right!)
- **Optionally** feel free to harden your domain allowance as you see bet. One idea I am actively testing is using security groups to only allow the MTR room mailboxes the ability to share externally, but more to come on that in a later article!
- Enable OneDrive Loop Sharing (We will discuss this in a minute)
- Enabling Whiteboard Fluid (This capability discussed more here allows elements to be edited live across certain applications.
A Quick Discussion on the Fluid Framework
For fun before wrapping things up, let’s discuss the components that make this magic a reality.
The Fluid Framework is a set of libraries that empower the distribution and synchronization of a shared state. Some of Fluid’s features are:
- A client-focused application model delivering data persistence without the need for custom server code.
- Delivers distributed data structure with comfortable programmatic patterns while still delivering low latency.
Conceptually Fluid is sort of similar to the spirit of Swift in the Apple world. Microsoft put in a ton of time and effort to deliver simplicity and performance to real-time collaboration, which is at the forefront of what their customers need. As they document, the data flow for Fluid is:
- Client code changes data locally.
- Fluid runtime sends that change to the Fluid service.
- Fluid service sequences that operation and broadcasts it to all clients.
- Fluid runtime incorporates that operation into local data and raises a valueChanged event.
- Client code handles that event (updates view, runs business logic).
So What is this Loop Nonsense?
I also was interested in exactly what Loop is (you know since I’m telling you to enable a loop feature).
Loop’s core architecture is based on .fluid files in OneDrive and SPO. Essentially, the core of loop is based on a websocket server. It makes sense since web sockets were heavily focused on communication. They were also a bit of a holy grail for developers when they hit the scene. Everyone was all “web sockets web sockets WEB SOCKETS!”
Just like everything else, Loop heavily relies on core services across the Microsoft cloud to deliver near real-time experiences, which are the name of the game in collaboration. This neat little table shows you how to enable loop services across various apps:
I won’t go any deeper into Loop as it’s a long conversation, but let’s close things up on a short video demo from Microsoft that demonstrates the power of Loop components. One last thing to mention is the loop components are hosted in a user’s OneDrive in the event you ever see one of those little .fluid files. You can dig deeper here if you are interested.
In conclusion, we can see that Microsoft’s user experience efforts are forcing us to adapt quickly to changes. The whiteboard’s move to OneDrive and how it impacts MTRs is a great example. In other words, we need to keep an eye on transitional technology. In addition, familiarize yourself with the roadmap because it could make the difference between an outage and happy users. I hope you avoid being impacted with this MTR issue because it could be communicated a bit clearer. That is where I came in to save the day and your sanity!