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Microsoft Begins Rollout of New Tasks in Teams Apps

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the rollout of Tasks in Teams on desktop clients for "a small group of users" with Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

The desktop rollout, which will stretch out "through September," also kicks off a new consolidated Tasks product launch. Tasks in Teams is a consolidated product because it pulls together information from other Microsoft task-creation applications, namely Microsoft Planner and To Do. The aim is to have people create tasks across Microsoft 365 applications without engaging in application "context switching" or having to open a separate task application, Microsoft explained in this Intrazone podcast.

Microsoft has already published a new home page for Microsoft 365 users of Tasks in Teams, plus other Microsoft tasks apps.

Product Name Changes
Tasks in Teams will be available to Microsoft 365 subscribers as a desktop app showing "both Planner and To Do tasks." Mobile apps for Tasks in Teams also will be available later, but will be called "Tasks." In Microsoft Teams, users will see Tasks as a tab in that application, but accessing it "only shows Planner tasks," Microsoft's announcement explained.

These nuances weren't fully explained, but Microsoft is initiating a new product rebranding effort gradually with Tasks in Teams and other tasks apps. The product name changes are supposedly being done to "alleviate confusion."

The shifts in the product rebranding are summed up in the following note in this Microsoft document on the Tasks app in Teams, which stated:

As we roll out the Tasks experience on Teams desktop clients, the app name will initially appear as Planner to users. The name will then temporarily change to Tasks by Planner and To Do, and later on, it will be renamed to Tasks. On Teams mobile clients, users will always see the app name as Tasks. There may be a short delay in the availability of the mobile experience after the desktop experience is available.

Eventually, Tasks in Teams will just be called "Tasks" on both desktop and mobile apps. The announcement included the following illustration, roughly estimating the product name progressions:

[Click on image for larger view.] Tasks in Teams product renaming plan. (Source: July 28 Microsoft announcement.)

The desktop rollout will be gradual. Microsoft will keep subscribers apprised via the Message Center, when the app is available.

The desktop and mobile apps distinction is a little artificial since most end users will get both options, plus a browser-based Tasks app option, Microsoft's document explained:

With Tasks, users get a desktop, web, and mobile experience. If Tasks is installed on the Teams desktop client, users will also see it on their Teams web and mobile clients. The exception is guest users. It's important to know that guests can only access Tasks as an app from the Teams mobile client. Guests will see Tasks tabs on both Teams desktop and web clients.

Tasks for Teams, when available, will be "enabled by default" for Microsoft 365 tenancies, the document added. However, it's possible for IT pros to disable Tasks for Teams for "either your entire organization or specific users."

New Capabilities
Users will have a "My Tasks" space to see their personal tasks, which seem to come from To Do. There's also a "Shared Plans" space for team projects. Another new feature in Tasks for Teams is a "Task Publishing" capability that "lets companies create tasks at the corporate level and push those tasks to targeted teams across their Firstline Workforce," the announcement explained.

Microsoft also added a new "Lists" view for Tasks in Teams, which adds to the "Board, Charts and Schedule views from Planner." Another new capability is the ability to edit a task across both the desktop and Web applications simultaneously.

Microsoft also noted that it's possible to use the "Graph API and Power Automate for To Do and Planner" to add tasks created elsewhere into Tasks in Teams, if wanted.

Office Apps Integration
If all of that weren't enough, the Outlook e-mail client apparently already has the tasks integration. The "My Day" feature in Outlook includes a To Do tab for managing individual tasks, for instance. Outlook users can also access a "Create a Task" option within e-mails to create tasks on the fly.

Recent To Do tasks also now show up in Outlook Mobile client searches, regardless of where they were originally created.

Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant, will show actions to take based on To Do tasks within Outlook clients.

Outlook's My Analytics activities review feature has a "View Outstanding Tasks" option to show the tasks that were agreed to over the last 14 days.

Additionally, Excel, PowerPoint and Word are getting the ability to ability to initiate tasks via the "@mentions" message-sending capability. It's currently rolling out for Word and Excel on the Web, followed by PowerPoint "soon." Another Microsoft blog post stated that "by Q121, we will support @mentions in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, which means that whenever someone @mentions you, the tasks you're mentioned in will automatically appear in your 'Assigned to you' smart list."

These details, described above, are explained in this "Connecting tasks experiences across Microsoft 365" blog post by Shin-Yi Lim, a Microsoft senior product marketing manager.

Even though Planner and To Do are getting integrated into Tasks in Teams, Microsoft isn't doing away with Planner and To Do, according to Lim. "On the contrary, Planner and To Do are critical to the success of this task management motion, so we're as dedicated as ever to their evolution," she wrote.

About the Author

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

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