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Microsoft 365, Windows Features Temporarily Reduced To Address Service Demands

Microsoft sent a message this week to its customers regarding temporary adjustments to Microsoft 365 features.

The adjustments apparently are being made to address the extra demands on services in reaction to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) measures taken by organizations. Microsoft recently described a spike in Microsoft Teams use, for instance. Many organizations have sent their employees home to work, especially with state official-declared limits on large gatherings.

There wasn't a Microsoft public announcement about the latest feature changes, but this new notice apparently was delivered through the Microsoft Message Center, which gets seen by administrators managing Microsoft 365 services. The new measures come on top of Teams feature adjustments made a week earlier with regard to the frequency of presence checks and checks for typing during collaborations, plus a reduction in video resolution in the Teams service. 

Microsoft 365 Feature Changes
The new adjustments affect features in OneNote in Teams, SharePoint and Stream services. Here's a reconstruction of that message:

OneNote:

  • OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial tenants, excluding EDU. Users can go to OneNote for the web for editing.
  • Download size and sync frequency of file attachments has been changed.
  • You can find details on these and other OneNote related updates as http://aka.ms/notesupdates.

SharePoint:

  • We are rescheduling specific backend operations to regional evening and weekend business hours. Impacted capabilities include migration, DLP and delays in file management after uploading a new file, video or image.
  • Reduced video resolution for playback videos.

Stream:

  • People timeline has been disabled for newly uploaded videos. Pre-existing videos will not be impacted.
  • Meeting recording video resolution adjusted to 720p.

Windows Feature Changes
Meanwhile, at the Windows Message Center page, which is publicly accessible, Microsoft announced on March 24 that it's planning to stop delivering optional Windows nonsecurity updates (intended for testing) that get delivered in the third ("C") and fourth ("D") weeks, starting in May.

Here's Microsoft's statement:

Starting in May 2020, we are pausing all optional non-security releases (C and D updates) for all supported versions of Windows client and server products (Windows 10, version 1909 down through Windows Server 2008 SP2).

The nonsecurity update pause is being done due to the "public health situation" and so that Microsoft can better focus on its security updates.

Prioritization
Last week, Microsoft outlined how it would address increased demand on its services in an Azure announcement, prioritizing it for government and first responders:

As demand continues to grow, if we are faced with any capacity constraints in any region during this time, we have established clear criteria for the priority of new cloud capacity. Top priority will be going to first responders, health and emergency management services, critical government infrastructure organizational use, and ensuring remote workers stay up and running with the core functionality of Teams. We will also consider adjusting free offers, as necessary, to ensure support of existing customers. 

There apparently haven't been any recent Microsoft 365 service disruptions, except for a Teams chat problem in Europe that Microsoft announced fixed on March 17, according to the Microsoft 365 Status Twitter feed. However, a Tuesday report by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley suggested that some Azure users in Europe are seeing capacity constraints.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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