Microsoft Releases Loop App Preview, Including Copilot in Loop

The Microsoft Loop App for collaboration across Microsoft 365 applications is now available as a public preview, Microsoft announced on Wednesday.

The Microsoft Loop service has three parts, consisting of "components," "workspaces" and "pages." The Loop App ties those elements together.

The components part of Microsoft Loop was released late last year, and it functions like sharable application chunks that can be coauthored, with the changes appearing across apps. Loop pages are described as "canvases" for organizing Loop components. Loop workspaces are the "shared" spaces that can be used to collaborate on group projects.

Microsoft Loop was described as "the next big breakthrough in Microsoft 365," in a 2021 Microsoft Ignite keynote talk by CEO Satya Nadella.

The new "free" Loop App preview requires having a personal Microsoft account or an Azure Active Directory-based organizational account. It's currently available as a Web app, as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS devices.

Copilot in Loop Limited Private Preview
Microsoft also announced a limited private preview of Copilot in Loop, which adds an AI-based text chat service into the collaboration mix. It follows the debut of Microsoft 365 Copilot last week.

Copilot in Loop can generate content and draft copy based on a prompt. It has "Create," "Brainstorm," "Blueprint" and "Describe" buttons.

There's also a "Jumpstart" workspace for Copilot in Loop, which lets users make selections from "a set of AI-powered suggestions." It can pull content from files in "OneDrive for Business or SharePoint -- from apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Loop," Microsoft indicated. Users wanting to use the Jumpstart workspace need to activate it via "the experiments tab."

It'll be possible to use Copilot in Loop to summarize the content of documents that are linked in workspaces, but that capability will "begin rollout in the next few months."

Copilot in Loop is just being released to "a North American and English-only audience to start."

Loop App Setup by IT Pros
The Loop App for organizations is currently disabled and requires "opt-in during our public preview," Microsoft explained in this Microsoft Tech Community post. Organizations can enable the Loop App preview by following the steps in that post, as well as in this Microsoft document on managing Loop experiences.

IT pros will have to carry out the following broad steps to enable the Loop App preview, per the Microsoft Tech Community post:

  1. Create a security group that will contain all the users in your organization who you want to grant access to the Loop app during Public Preview.
  2. Create a Cloud Policy, scoped to the security group you created above, to enable the Loop app.
  3. Wait an hour or so for the setting to propagate and log in to Loop!
  4. Ensure your firewall rules allow all the appropriate services.

Moreover, IT pros wanting to enable the Loop App preview will need to use a couple of tools, namely the Office Cloud Policy Service and SharePoint PowerShell, if they want to enable the Loop App to work across other Microsoft 365 applications, according to Microsoft's document.

More Loop setup info can be found in this video by Darrell Webster, a Microsoft 365 specialist in productivity and teamwork at Modern Work Mentor. He offers courses on the topic.

Loop Is Based on SharePoint
The Loop App is actually based on SharePoint technology. Microsoft explained that "SharePoint provides the underlying storage and collaboration technology for Loop" in this announcement.

Specifically, the Loop App is powered by the Fluid Framework, which is "a collection of client libraries for distributing and synchronizing shared state." The SharePoint PowerShell module is specifically needed to enable Loop experiences in other Microsoft 365 apps, such as Microsoft Teams, Microsoft's document explained.

Shared Loop components will always be editable by Teams users because of these SharePoint origins. Here's how Microsoft's document explained it:

You'll need the latest version of SharePoint PowerShell module to enable or disable Loop experiences in Teams. Loop components default to ON for all organizations. Because Loop components are designed for collaboration, the components are always shared as editable by others, even if your organization is set to default to view-only for other file types.

The Loop App just uses existing permissions that are already enabled for SharePoint users, such as sharing, permissions and authorizations, Microsoft claimed.

"By building on the core SharePoint platform, Loop components, pages, and workspaces inherit all of SharePoint’s industry-leading work on compliance and security," Microsoft's announcement stated.

Many Microsoft apps are based on SharePoint, including "Loop, OneDrive, Sites, Designer, Syntex, Office, Teams, Viva, Stream, Whiteboard, Search, Yammer, and Lists," Microsoft indicated.

About the Author

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


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