Blog posts

Microsoft Whiteboard Enhancements – September and October 2021

During September ’21, Microsoft will be releasing a number of enhancements for the Whiteboard product.  Ultimately the goal is to provide a unified experience across all versions whether on Surface Hubs, Windows 10, Android, Teams Web or iOS.


Some features have already started to roll out for the web and Teams versions of Whiteboard with more coming during September.  The native clients (Windows 10, Surface Hub, Android and iOS) will roll out during late September and October ’21 and will be completed by the end of October ’21.


The following features are already available in the Web and Teams versions


  • Sticky note colours: 10 colourful sticky note shades to choose from.
  • Note grids – insert a grid of sticky notes in one of 12 available colours to help in workshops and ideation sessions.
  • View objects created in native apps – Objects such as lists & templates inserted on native apps can be viewed on web and Teams as well.
  • Ink pen colours: 15 new ink pen colour options with a range of thicknesses to help visualize your content and bring your text to life.
  • Highlighter colours: – 15 new highlighter colour options enable users to emphasize content on the board.
  • Ink shape recognition: – draw shapes with ink and then watch them straighten automatically.
  • Improved mouse inking: – create smoother ink lines, making your strokes easier and cleaner when drawing with a mouse or trackpad.
  • Read only mode for education accounts: – as a meeting facilitator or an educator, determine when and how students participate and collaborate by enabling or disabling their editing capabilities.

Further updates coming soon include

Modern look and feel:

  • Streamlined user experience: an unobtrusive app UI maximizes your canvas space.
  • Creation gallery: a highly discoverable, simple way of finding and using objects and features in the application.

Collaboration features:

  • Collaboration roster: see who is on the board and collaborating with you.
  • Collaborative cursors: see where other people are on the canvas and what they are editing.
  • Laser pointer: get other people’s attention as you share your best ideas.
  • Improved performance: quickly open boards, pan and zoom, create content, and collaborate in real time with numerous editors at once during large working sessions.

Interactive content features:

  • More than 30 customizable templates: get started quickly and collaborate, brainstorm, and ideate with brand new templates.
  • Stickers: provide lightweight, contextual feedback with a set of fun stickers.
  • Images: add images from your local drive to the canvas and annotate them to build visual interest on your boards.

Facilitation features:

  • Copy/paste: copy and paste content and text within the same whiteboard.
  • Object alignment: use alignment lines and object snapping to precisely organize content spatially.
  • Format background: personalize your whiteboard by changing the background colour and pattern .

Inking features:

  • Ink arrows: smoothly draw single and double-sided arrows using ink to better facilitate diagramming.
  • Ink effect pens: express yourself in a creative way using rainbow and galaxy ink.


Features coming to Native Applications

  • Ruler: for straight lines, users can now insert lines from the shapes menu or hold down shift when inking.
  • Erase entire ink strokes: for faster erasing, users can now erase the entire ink stroke instead of a portion of it.
  • Lock image: the ability to lock images and other canvas content will be available shortly after the update.
  • Insert document: the ability to insert documents from local storage along with OneDrive and SharePoint will be available shortly after update.
  • Like/unlike sticky notes: users can use stickers instead as a workaround for lightweight voting and liking. We will be releasing more enhanced voting capabilities in a future update.
  • Sorting: the ability to organize and sort lists and note grids are being rebuilt and will be included in a future update.
  • Export template to CSV and email summary: these features are being rebuilt and will be included in a future update, including different ways to export content from the board.
  • Ink grab, Ink to table and Ink to text: these features are being rebuilt and will be included in a future update.
  • Accessibility checker and alt text: these features are being rebuilt and will be included in a future update.
  • Bing image search: users can download and insert images onto the canvas with the insert image feature.
  • Easy share on Surface Hub: this feature is being rebuilt and will be included in a future update.


You can find out more about Whiteboard and the features available by clicking here.

Internet Explorer 11 – No Longer Supported

As of 17th August 2021, Internet Explorer 11 is no longer supported as a valid browser for accessing Microsoft 365 apps.


If you are still running Windows 7 and Internet Explorer you should, in the first instance, contact the ICT Service Desk to enquire about an upgrade to Windows 10.  ICT can advise appropriately on use of Windows 7 as an operating system where there is an operationally insurmountable reason for continuing to run Windows 7.


Unless there is an absolute reason for running Windows 7 (lab equipment / microscope / imaging applications that cannot be upgraded), all systems should be upgraded to Windows 10.


If you need to access Microsoft 365 applications from a machine where you were using Internet Explorer 11, please install the latest version of Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge and use those instead.


Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms Managers

During September Breakout Rooms Managers will become available as a feature in Microsoft Teams.


Meeting Organisers can assign the role of Breakout Rooms Manager to one or more presenters in a meeting, either before or during the meeting.  Only ONE person with the correct rights can manage breakout rooms at any one time.  If Person A organises the meeting and assigns Presenter B and Presenter C with the Breakout Rooms Manager role then either Person A (the organiser), Presenter B or Presenter C can take control and run the breakout rooms.

This feature will ONLY work in Desktop versions of Microsoft Teams.


What will the experience look like?

Organizers who will configure and manage Breakout Rooms on a Teams desktop client will have access to appoint Presenters as Breakout Room managers. Currently, only users who are named presenters from the same tenant are supported to become Breakout rooms managers.

When Breakout rooms managers join the meeting, they will see the Breakout rooms icon in toolbar.

Breakout rooms managers will have to take control to manage rooms. (Only one manager can manage rooms at the same time).

Once in control, Breakout rooms managers can perform operations to manage Breakout rooms, such as:

  • assign users to rooms
  • add/delete rooms
  • open/close rooms
  • re-assign users to rooms
  • send announcements
  • recreate rooms
  • set timer
  • adjust other Breakout rooms settings


When rooms are started, all Breakout room managers (also those not in control) can join opened Breakout Rooms by clicking on the … menu next to each room and selecting Join room.



This functionality will roll out during the second half of September 2021 and will be available by the end of September at the latest.


Enhancements to Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms

During September 2021, Microsoft will add some much anticipated enhancements to the Breakout Rooms functionality in Microsoft Teams.

Once live, organisers will be able to configure Breakout Rooms ahead of the actual meeting using an additional tab within the meeting.  From this tab it will be possible to create and rename rooms and organise participants in advance of the meeting.   The full set of features to be enabled are as follows:


  • Bulk creating / deleting rooms
  • Adding / deleting / renaming individual rooms
  • Configuring meeting options for each room
  • Adjusting settings for breakout rooms session (timer, selecting breakout rooms managers and more)
  • Pre-assigning participants via both manual and automatic assignment options


The “Breakout Room Manager” is a new role which the organiser will be able to assign.  This user will then be able to run breakout rooms even if the organiser of the meeting is not present.  The Breakout Room Manager will also be able to control and update breakout rooms, start and stop them and set features such as the room timer, and room meeting options.


The new features are expected to be live by the end of September but may be available earlier in the month depending on delivery to the Imperial Office 365 tenant.

NOTE this functionality will only be available in the Teams Desktop client initially.


For more information on Breakout Rooms and settings (this document will be further updated when Microsoft release the new features) see this link.

To Do – The Golden Rules

Microsoft To-Do is the Personal Productivity Organiser and Planner.  It integrates with Email – so when you flag an item in email for follow up or action it puts the task into “To Do”.  If you also use Planner then your tasks from Planner that are allocated to you appear in the Allocated Tasks section of To-Do.


To-Do works across devices and stays “in sync”, whether you use To-Do in your web broswer, in the Windows 10 app or on a mobile device (Android, iOS and iPad options available).


So what are the golden rules?  These are the rules to help you get the best out of To-Do …


  1. Collect everything in one place 

    Use a single piece of software to collect all the things that you have to do – be they ideas, tasks, shopping lists, plans, list of things to pack for holiday, etc.

  2. Organise your tasks 

    Create lists for different parts of your life.  Create  a list of shopping tasks, or tasks related to a specific plan or piece of work.

    Group similar lists together.

    Use colour to easily identify different lists. 

  3. Prioritise your tasks

    Add due dates, reminders and importance flags to tasks.

    Reminders then pop up in your Outlook list of reminders.

  4. Plan your day

    Use the “My Day” option to add an item to your list of things to do today.  Anything that you don’t achieve will be flagged in the Smart Suggestions for adding to another day.

    Prioritise the items in your day by moving items around in the list.

    Important flagged items go to the top of the list.

  5. Complete your tasks

    Use the check off to mark items as complete – there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off completed items.

    Complete tasks on your own or assign for others to help or take on some of the load.

  6. Use To-Do on multiple devices

    Download To-Do onto your Windows 10 system and your mobile device and always have your list(s) to hand.

Find out more about Microsoft To-Do by clicking here.

Microsoft 365 Training

Flipped open silhouette of a head with Office 365 app icons


New Microsoft 365 Training Dates have been scheduled for August, September and October 2021.


Getting Started with Office 365

Scheduled to run on 23rd August, 29th September and 21st October at 10.00.

This covers the basics of Office 365, including Logging In, OneDrive for Business, how to upload and share files and how to move away from using your H: drive, along with basic file co-authoring.

Book your place here.


Collaborating with Microsoft Teams

Using Microsoft Teams?

Want to know more about how to make your team more collaborative and keep everyone in your team “in the know”?

Why not join one of the sessions running at 14.00 hrs on 23rd August, 29th September or 21st October to find out more about working together.

Book your place here.


Microsoft OneNote – “Imperial as One presents OneNote Training with Adrian”

Open sessions for training on OneNote hosted by Imperial as One.

Sessions running at 10.00 hrs on 24th August 2021 and 23rd September 2021

Book a place here.


NEW – Power Automate in Microsoft 365 – NEW

Do you do repetitive tasks with information?

Would you like to automate what you do and ensure that the data is processed in the same way every time?

Do you collect information using Microsoft Forms and then need to do something more with the information?

Join this 2 hour session on 20th October where we will begin to explore Power Automate and how you can use it for automation of data processing … We’ll look at taking data captured by a form and adding it to a table in Excel, and a list in SharePoint.  We’ll also look at functions such as automating posts into MS Teams, and using “Approvals” in workflows.

Book your place here.  Places are limited to 25 initially – subject to initial feedback we hope to run this course again with a larger number of participants later in 2021.




Microsoft 365 “Ask Me Anything” Sessions – 2021 – 2022

Ask Me Anything Microsoft 365 Related Icon


Following the success of the “Ask Me Anything” sessions during the 2020 / 21 Academic Year, I have scheduled a new series for 2021 / 22.


The sessions will follow a similar pattern to this year, running every other Tuesday morning, but with a 9am start time.


As previously, the sessions will be a mix of open question days and some app / subject area focus.


To add the series to your calendar, click here, download and open the ICS file and accept the invitation.  By adding this to your calendar you will get any date / time updates and any session specific subject updates as and when these are added.  N.B.  This link will only work for Imperial College London users signed in to Office 365.

Teams Updates for May and June 2021

​​Over the past couple of months (May and June 2021) Microsoft have introduced a number of new features and updated some functionality across Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Teams

New Share Tray experience – when sharing in a meeting the share experience has been improved.  Instead of the sharing options appearing from the bottom of the screen, the new experience delivers a drop out set of sharing options as per the screen shot below:


PowerPoint Live in Teams – A new PowerPoint Live experience is now available which means that you can see the “presenter view” of your PowerPoint slides and notes while delivering the presentation tot he meeting.  This also allows you to see the audience participants and facial reactions and also the chat window for questions.

Select your file from the list of files in the PowerPoint Live section of the Share Tray in a meeting.


New Teams Desktop App for Mac OS X – A new version of the teams app for Apple Mac OS X users brings the ability to share system sound into a meeting.  This feature is often requested by Mac users who wish to provide sound from their screen when sharing video or web content into a meeting.


Set Out of Office from Teams – with the summer holidays now happening for many, setting an out of office is vital to keep your colleagues abreast of your availability.  As well as being able to set an Out of Office message via Outlook or Outlook on the Web, you can now use Teams and set an automated response via the Teams settings pane.  This delivers an out of office response for emails and Teams messages in just the same way as using the option in Outlook does.


Multiple Spotlights in Meetings – You can now spotlight multiple participants in a meeting, bringing their video to the fore and putting all other videos into a small version in the meeting.  Spotlight is great for highlighting your speaker or panel members in a panel discussion.  To spotlight a participant, click on the three dots beside their name and choose Spotlight.  To remove the spotlight click on the three dots and then choose to “stop spotlighting”.


Prevent Video in Teams Meetings – Under the Meeting Options a new option has been made available.  The option sits under the “Allow mic for attendees?” and is titled “Allow camera for attendees?”

Welcome to the Microsoft 365 Blog

Welcome to the new Microsoft 365 blog for Imperial College London staff and students.

On this blog we will aim to keep you abreast of new and updated features, changes and improvements in functionality and other useful information.

We’ll link to this blog from the Office 365 Tips and Tricks Yammer Community and other relevant sites.

Please do leave your feedback on the posts – only by gathering feedback can we aim to improve the content and usefulness of the posts here.

If you are interested in providing a “guest post” sharing something that you have been doing with Microsoft 365 or a feature you are using and how it might help others, then please do get in touch with Adrian Mannall ( and we can facilitate a post for you.