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Welcome to Microsoft 365 Feature Fiesta, where we explore a random assortment of new and updated features from Microsoft 365.  Today we’ll be touching on the looming retirement of Internet Explorer 11.  Then, we’ll look at a couple of new search experiences in Microsoft Search, including people-centric search, conversation search, and more. 

Internet Explorer is Dead, Long Live Internet Explorer

This one isn’t new, but I wanted to remind everyone out there that the Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) desktop application will be retired on June 15, 2022.  That’s only three months away!  What does this mean?  After retirement, attempting to open the desktop application will redirect the user to Microsoft Edge.  If your organization hasn’t started to plan the deployment of Microsoft Edge, there’s still time to do that and avoid any business disruption. 

How will this impact us?

If your organization has old sites or applications with dependencies on IE, you’ll need to set up the Microsoft Edge IE mode, so that users can continue to access those old sites and apps in a supported browser.  Microsoft has already ended support for M365 apps and services for Internet Explorer 11. 

How can we get ready for this?

This transition will take a couple of weeks, and you’ll want to make sure to build in a couple of weeks buffer time to communicate with your user base and prepare for any potential issues.  The specific steps will look different across organizations.  For example, an organization with centralized device management will focus more on communicating the change, setting up policy for IE mode on behalf of users.  A smaller organization without central device management would instead focus on delivering guidance for users to self-service make the switch, and monitoring the Microsoft browser usage report to follow up with users who haven’t made the switch yet.  Overall, the process will involve: 

  • Check out the Microsoft 365 Browser usage report!  It won’t paint the full picture, but it will help you identify how many users are still using Internet Explorer, and who those users are.  Global administrators can even schedule reminders to IE users, informing them of the browser retirement and links to a Microsoft supporting article with steps to switch browsers. 
  • Use the Enterprise Site Discovery tools to detect sites and apps that might require IE mode for Microsoft Edge.  These tools collect data on devices running Internet Explorer which can be analyzed to define the list of applications and sites we may need to run in IE mode. 
  • Now, test those apps and sites to verify they don’t work natively in Microsoft Edge without IE mode.  Any app or site that fails testing should be added to the Enterprise Site list. 
  • Configure and deploy IE mode in Microsoft Edge, using the Enterprise Site list.  This can be deployed out with group policy, using Intune, or the new Cloud Site List Management.  If your org isn’t using group policy or Intune, the Cloud Site List management feature is probably your best bet. 
  • Test again, with a pilot group of users you’ve deployed IE mode to. 
  • Rollout your successful configurations to everyone! 

The scope of this transition is going to vary based on how your organization manages devices, how many users are still on IE11, how many old sites and apps still rely on IE11 features, and other factors.  If you haven’t started this journey yet, there’s still time to do it well, but time is running out. If you’d like to chat about how this might impact your organization or day-to-day, reach out to Total Solutions at info@totalsol.com or contact us via this page.

Microsoft Search: Conversation and People-Centric Search

When I’m looking for information to do my job, there’s two main ways I can go about it.  I can browse, using navigation and information scent to follow the trail and find what I’m looking for.  If I don’t know exactly where the info I’m looking for is located, then I’m going to use search.  I’m sure we’ve all used the “Everything” search, but by exploring some of the other search options available to us, we’ll have more tools to help us spending less time finding content and more time delivering value. 

I recently discovered an excellent multi-year study of enterprise search.  There are so many surveys that show user dissatisfaction with enterprise search.  However, this paper was the first I’ve come across that really dove deep into the factors that lead to user dissatisfaction with enterprise search.  The study found that 62% of the dissatisfaction events were due to HUMAN, rather than TECHNOLOGY factors.  They found that cognitive biases and habits developed from intranet searches influence a user’s expectations and the way they behave when interacting with enterprise search.1 

A lot of what I’ve read out there focuses on the enterprise search problem from the technology side.  But as technologists, if we don’t also consider the user’s behavior and the why behind that behavior, we’re only addressing 1/3 of the problem!  Often a user will only try to search once, in the broadest possible way, simply because that’s the only method they’ve been exposed to.  Today the goal is to highlight a couple of search tools users should find helpful, although I want to dive deeper into “Enterprise search and discovery capability: The factors and generative mechanisms for user satisfaction” by Paul H Cleverley and Simon Burnett in future blog posts. 

Conversation Junction, What’s Your Function?

(musical notes) Hooking up e-mails, Teams chats and Yammers… 

I couldn’t help myself!  Anywho, whenever I’m trying to find something that came up in a conversation with someone, I’ll use the conversation search.  I can get to this from Microsoft Bing, Microsoft Teams, or from the Office.com landing page. 

Conversation Search in Microsoft Bing
Figure 1 – Conversation Search in Microsoft Bing

Immediately, I can see the hits on my search term, where the conversation happened, and when it happened.  Clicking results takes me to that e-mail, channel, Teams chat, or Yammer thread. I can do the same search in Microsoft Teams… 

Conversation Search in Microsoft Teams
Figure 2 – Conversation Search in Microsoft Teams

Again, I can see the hits on my search term, and I get a little bit more information on where the conversation happened.  Quickly I realize I’m due to send my work friend Adam a new picture update on my cat, Zach the Sweet Moon Prince.  I also have some refiners to help narrow down my search, picking between Chats and Channels, selecting specific Teams, Channels, people, and date ranges.  Plus, I can filter out messages from apps/bots, and only look for conversations with an attached file.  If it is a longer conversation, I can click to expand the result.  Now let’s look at the same search in the Office.com landing page. 

Office.com Conversation Search
Figure 3 – Office.com Conversation Search

This looks pretty similar to our Microsoft Bing conversation search, with a couple of added refiners for the conversation source (like Teams, Outlook and Yammer) and date ranges.  Out of these three experiences, I tend to use the Teams version the most, as usually when I’m looking for a particular conversation, I’m already in the Teams app.  It’s a nice addition that now those searches will return results from other conversation spaces within Microsoft 365. 

People-Centric Search: It’s Made FOR People

When we use web search, we are usually trying to find information with a keyword or two.  This works well in personal search scenarios, where the information life-time is forever, and we often don’t have a personal relationship with the content authors.  Within an organization, information about people and their relationships with others in valuable.  Typically when I search for something at work, I’ll start my search using people as guideposts to find a specific e-mail, chat, or document.  The knowledge I’m looking for isn’t always in the written word, or I might not know where that document lives, but I almost always know the people who worked on what I’m looking for. 

The People-Centric search experience allows us to scope and refine our search to a person, aligning with how users often thing about content in a work context.  Let’s explore a couple of examples of this! 

If I go to my Office.com landing page, and search for a particular person, I’ll see an info card for that person, as well as search results based on that person’s activity… 

Figure 4 – Office.com Search for a Person

I can browse to see where Megan is within our organization structure, which is based on the Manager relationships defined in Active Directory.  I can also click on other people to move up and down the reporting structure. 

Person Info Card Org Browser - People Centric Search in M365
Figure 5 – Person Info Card Org Browser

I can also browse to see Megan’s recent files.  I’ll only see files I have permissions to access, and these will be files Megan has shared with me, files we’ve worked together on, and suggestions for files I might be interested in. 

Office.com People Card Recent Files - People Centric Search in Microsoft Teams
Figure 6 – Office.com People Card Recent Files

If I do this search from the SharePoint start page, initially I see the same results.  But, if I select a user from the search box dropdown… 

SharePoint Start Page Selecting a Person - People centric search in SharePoint
Figure 7 – SharePoint Start Page Selecting a Person

I land in this new search experience!  Here I can browse content Megan has shared with me or worked on, with a quick glance at Megan’s content info… 

People Centric Search screenshot
Figure 8 – People-Centric Search

Clicking the Contact link will give me the full view of Megan’s profile info, and the About Me, Projects, Education, Skills and Expertise, and Interest and Hobbies she’s filled out on her Microsoft 365 profile. 

People Centric Search Full Contact Page screenshot
Figure 9 – People-Centric Search Full Contact Page

Finally, I can pop into the Organization tab, and see info about who Megan reports to, which is again based on Active Directory, but it will also show us who Megan works with, which is driven by who Megan collaborates and communicates with most often. 

People centric organization browser screenshot
Figure 10 – People-Centric Organization Browser

That’s a lot of information I can find and discover just by searching for a single person in the organization! 

Another common scenario is to search for people that have a particular certification, or expertise in a subject matter area.  Well, we can just ask Microsoft 365.  If I got to the SharePoint start page, and search for “Who knows about _____”, my results will reflect hits from people’s Microsoft 365 profile information.  This wasn’t working as expected in my demo tenant, but it worked without issue in our production tenant.  I can see from my results that it’s been awhile since I’ve updated my profile, so keep in mind this search is only useful if people take the time to fill out and update their profiles. 

Figure 11 – People-Centric knowledge Search

I hope you found this guide useful and that you give these new features a try! If you’d like to speak to a consultant about anything Microsoft 365-related, don’t hesitant to reach out via our Contact Us page. For daily M365 news and updates, follow us on LinkedIn.

[1]       1. Cleverley PH, Burnett S. Enterprise search and discovery capability: The factors and generative mechanisms for user satisfaction. Journal of Information Science. 2019;45(1):29-52. doi:10.1177/0165551518770969