New in PowerBI, Excel, PowerPoint, Zoom, Outlook, Teams

Our quarterly digest of new features across Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) & other business apps in written, gif, image & video format following the trend of the last two blog posts which each had over 3000 views.

My top 5

  1. See faces in an auditorium in a Teams meeting removing backgrounds to focus on faces
  2. Be in Zoom slides when you are presenting with a removed background
  3. Data types in Excel now can pull data on food, movies, weather or even organisational data
  4. STOCKHISTORY in Excel can fetch historic exchange rates or stock prices
  5. Windows paste allows you to hold multiple things in paste & even paste across devices

Teams meetings

It’s clear Microsoft is investing here, a slew of updates this period. To access the red ones, you’ll need to select go to options and tick the box for “enable the new meeting experience”, then right-click on the taskbar then choose quit, (closing the Teams window isn’t considered “quitting”).


  1. More faces: 3 x 3 faces on computer & 2 x 4 on a phone or enable large gallery for 7 x 7
  2. Separate meeting window: When you click New Meeting, it opens in a separate window
  3. Together mode: This revolutionary tech allows you to see every participant in an auditorium without their messy backgrounds. Virtual meetings are more like real meetings as the background is the same, so it allows you to focus on the person & facial expressions.
  4. General: “Meet now” from channels, up to 300 per meeting, meet from Teams free app plus you can now manage permissions and export the attendee list from the Participants pane
  5. Calendy Teams integration: Create a Teams link with a new meeting, free during COVID 19.
  6. Raise hand: Participants can now raise their hand in a meeting, a notification appears and in the Participants pane, you’ll see the raised hand. Organisers or the hand raiser themselves can lower their hand, this long-awaited feature has been in Zoom, WebEx & other apps for a while.
  7. Text in Whiteboard: Open the share tray & choose Whiteboard, you & others can now add text boxes & sticky notes, plus move & layer objects. A much-needed improvement but the inability to resize or re-colour objects makes it less useful than it could be.


Teams general

  1. Search enhancements: Press Ctrl F to search in a specific channel/chat & search from a mobile device
  2. Offline access: If you pin channels or chats (click 3 dots > pin), you can access them offline
  3. 10k in a team: Teams can now be 10k or more, previously it was 5k
  4. Separate window: Chats can be popped out into a separate window now, click the square with an arrow on the top right-on left-hand pane or top right 
  5. Contact any Skype contact: Message/call from Teams on desktop or mobile
  6. Walkie Talkie: Push to talk now available on Android, coming soon to iOS



  1. Be in your slides: Remote zoom presentations can now have your face (with background removed) inside the slides. When you share your screen, click advanced then choose PowerPoint as a virtual background. You will need to load the file and can navigate your slides within Zoom, but for now, it disables transitions, animations, and other features
  2. Video filters: Inspired by Instagram & Snapchat world, you can either change the tint or add tacky items (hat, moustache etc.)
  3. Low light: In video settings, you can adjust for low light and choose automatic or manual
  4. Touch up appearance: Previously an on/off toggle, you now have a slider too


  1. Version history: Browse & restore previous versions directly from file explorer for files stored on OneDrive/SharePoint. Right-click a file> Version history, then explore options
  2. Edge Collections enhancements: The brilliant Edge Collections feature now exports to OneNote and syncs across devices
  3. Paste across devices: From windows settings, search clipboard & turn on the feature. You’ll need to download an app & sign in to your Microsoft account across devices to enable it
  4. Enhanced paste: Paste a list (including text or images) of previously copied items or previously pinned items. Launch by pressing Windows key + V


Power BI

For some options, you need to turn on the preview features from the options menu

  1. Decomposition tree enhancements: Conditional formatting, drill through & cross highlight are now supported & other enhancements to this AI visual which is now generally available.
  2. Line chart changes: Edit the colour of individual dots on a line chart & lasso select points
  3. Mobile view improvements: Smaller squares & overlayed visuals support as you create a mobile view plus the visualization picker shows visibility & visual names
  4. Text file by examples: With no Power Query experience, you can extract simple data similar to the "Web by examples" feature which was released a while back. When getting data from text/CSV file, click “Extract table using examples” on the bottom left
  5. External tools: New ribbon tab called “External tools” can have 3rd party Power BI tools directly in Power BI. Popular choices are DAX Studio & Tabular editor, I also like the “Excel connector” which allows a Power BI model Desktop’s fields to show in a Power Pivot Excel file, perfect for troubleshooting. It doesn’t show by default though if you don’t have tools installed, install several with this link
  6. General: Conditionally format & image fill for buttons, auto-suggesting tables in Web from examples, and new hierarchy slicer formatting capabilities
  7. Drop shadows: Visuals on white backgrounds look great with a white shadow outside & centred like the options shown in the gradient filter chart below
  8. Gradient filter: Bar & scatter charts with conditional formatting now have an optional legend like shown. A much-needed feature that will hopefully expand to other visual types soon


  1. Q&A enhancements: I used to find this natural language querying feature too limited to be useful but now that you can add synonyms to measures, columns & visual names, and it highlights orange underlines for ambiguous terms (like shown below)


O365 online apps

  1. Bookings with 2+ people: Service types can be set so multiple can book this slot. I compare Bookings to its competitors Calendy & in the video below
  2. Bookings in Teams: You can add an app of Bookings within Teams
  3. Copy a planner plan: Copy an existing plan in Planner online or on Teams
  4. Yammer revamped: The social media network inside your organisation now allows pinning and cover photos for communities (formerly groups), allows users to make posts on questions or polls, has events to schedule which can be combined with Teams live events as explained in this video, perfect for webinars.

PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook & Word

There are various release cycles in Office 365, the common ones are:

  • Beta channel: Access pre-release features, previously called the Office Insider channel
  • Monthly channel: Get updates around the end of each month
  • Semi-annual channel: Updates received in February & July with a 6m lag so in July 2020 you would have received the updates until the Feb 2020 monthly channel.

Semi-annual subscribers were able to upgrade in July and should now have access to Dynamic arrays, XLOOKUP in Excel, Power Query’s column profiling, follow up & rewrite within Word, Export as gif, ink replay in PowerPoint plus Save as picture, sensitivity labels and accessibility enhancements across all three and the new Outlook search bar on the top, read more about these features in my Updates to Jan 2020 blog here.

New features to Beta channel/Office Insiders are indicated.


  1. Search scope: Easily choose where to search for emails, left to the search bar
  2. Take a poll: When drafting an email, click Insert> Quick Poll and create a question for recipients to vote on, tracked from Microsoft Forms. Beta
  3. Updated room finder: Search by different room capabilities. Beta
  4. Reopen all windows: If Outlook is closed when reopening you can restore the last session. Beta
  5. Signature in the cloud: Sync signatures across devices through the cloud
  6. Cortana daily briefing: Receive a daily email with tasks from yesterday’s emails, which it gets using AI. Choose to mark these as “Done” or “Not a task”. I find it helps me plan my day. Beta
  7. Icon with a link shared: When you attach a link in an email, Outlook replaces the long link with an icon, and you can manage permissions directly from there. Beta


PowerPoint, Excel & Word

  1. Track collaborators: See where simultaneous editors are in the document
  2. Save folder defaults: When you first save a doc, you can pin or set a default location for future save options and add collaborators right away.



  1. Coach on Android: PowerPoint’s AI presentation coach is now available on Android
  2. Adaptive mini toolbar: The pop-up toolbar when right-click now includes 3 buttons based on recently used commands. Beta
  3. Follow a talk in your own way: On the slideshow tab of PowerPoint Online (available to all O365 users) is Present Live. Audience members can follow on their own device, get translated subtitles in their own language, move through the slides freely (to previously covered slides only), react to slides and give feedback. The Microsoft video below explains well how it works with QR codes. Presenters can specify their audience.


Excel linked data types improvements. Beta

Kicking off with Stocks & Geo-data types last year, this feature has been upgraded tenfold for Office Beta channel.

  1. Multi-language support: Stocks & Geo data now support Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese (as well as the original English)
  2. Functionality enhancements: Extract an image to the grid, navigate across data types inside a card (e.g. country to the province to weather) and extract a nested array (e.g. provinces under country) into Excel’s grid
  3. Encyclopedia: Stocks & Geography were two data types, now there are 100+ from out of Excel’s new partnership with the Wolfram Alpha knowledge base. Famous people, movies, food, music, animals, weather, languages, dinosaurs, diseases, read more here, currently only in Excel personal & education packages.
  4. Supporting templates: Food & activity, baby name tracker, favourite movie list, periodic table & more have been released alongside the Wolfram Alpha data types.
  5. Power BI data types: Create organisational data types by setting them as featured tables in Power BI, then extract them inside any Excel spreadsheet. Extract live numbers of inventory numbers, finances, sales data etc. There are lots of settings to adjust before it works, learn how in the video below.

Excel general

  1. LET function: The last blog covered this great tool which allows you to give names to formula components thus making long formulas shorter, it is now released for Office 365 subscribers
  2. Sheet view: You filter & sort whilst your real-time collaborators keep their own view, now available for Office 365 subscribers
  3. Power Query: Turn off automatic type detection globally in Power Query options, enter data like in Power BI from the home tab and get data directly from a pdf.
  4. VALUETOTEXT: This function changes numbers to text
  5. STOCKHISTORY: Get historical stock prices or exchange rates with this amazing new dynamic array function. Entering only the first two inputs extracts the close value on that day, entering more parameters allows you to specify an end date, which headers to have, which characteristics and in which order. Two other functions ARRAYTOTEXT and VALUETOTEXT were also released. Beta

That’s it for now, see you again in a few months for more updates, I’m most excited about Teams breakout rooms, Excel data types from Power Query and the brand new Microsoft Lists and I’m sure many more unannounced updates!