5/9/18: Updated to add link to blog post
We briefly outline where we communicate about service changes in documentation and in the Support Blog post on Demystifying Service Health for Microsoft Intune. However, we heard from many of you that while it was helpful to deep dive into service health – both planned maintenance and unplanned downtime – it would be equally interesting to demystify Intune service change – planned new features and changes to existing features. So, in this post, we dive into Intune service change and share how you can best stay informed of Intune service change communications. We also include information on multiple ways you can get service change messages from the Office Message Center.
Intune’s Release List – What’s New
Our Intune release list – What’s New – is published in Intune documentation here: https://docs.microsoft.com/intune/whats-new. As new features become available, we update What’s New. Typically, you’ll see the bulk of new features added towards the end of the month which is when we often update the service globally as part of our monthly service update. Releases like the Company Portal app, SDK updates, and occasionally other features fall into what we call “out-of-band” – these are shipped independent of the global service release. We’ll add them to What’s New when there’s new features in the release as opposed to minor bug fixes.
Now, docs.microsoft.com does not have an RSS feed to alert you when What’s New has been updated. So, after the monthly service update completes globally, we also post a What’s New Office Message Center service change notice to highlight key features and direct you to What’s New so you know to go look at the release list. We do not typically post a What’s New Office Message Center service change notice when out-of-band items ship.
One question we often get from customers is what makes the release list? Here’s our criteria for what falls on the list:
- New features, such as ATP and Intune integration, are posted on the release list.
- New functionality within a feature, such as an updated help experience in the Company Portal app for Android.
- Features or changes that customers have requested through UserVoice get added. For example, when we added in conditional access for Macs, we made sure that was called out on the What’s New list.
- Advanced notice of major changes are typically called out on the Notices/What’s Coming section of the What’s New page. We will often also post an Office Message Center Plan for Change service change notice to ensure we cover both communication channels and target customers who are most likely to be impacted by a change. For example, the new user experience update for the Company Portal for iOS was a major change to the end-user experience, so we provided advanced notice that the User Interface (UI) was changing through both the Notices/What’s Coming section and the Office Message Center. We also provided test flight information so you could sign up to try out the pre-release versions of the company portal, provide feedback, and prepare your helpdesk. Once the company portal shipped, we moved it to the What’s New section of the release list.
- Major UI changes, such as the Intune APP protection blade merge, lead to a call out on What’s New.
- Minor UI changes are not typically posted on What’s New.
- Minor bug fixes are not posted on What’s New. If there’s a corresponding Known Issue documented, we’ll remove the known issue.
Occasionally, you’ll see items on the What’s New list that are still rolling out. This happens when:
- The monthly service update can take a day or two for all the different UI updates to complete and finish their consistency checks. We publish What’s New when customers can see some of the new features even if it takes a day to see them all. Again, as mentioned above, we publish an Office Message Center post when the service update is complete.
- There are times we have to do a data migration for existing customers to be able to use a new feature, such as the DEP single token to multi-token new feature. In the DEP case, we put a note in the new feature description that indicated the feature was rolling out for existing customers. Then, so you knew when your company could start using the new feature, we posted a targeted Office Message Center post to let you know that the feature was available for your specific organization.
- Finally, every now and then a feature is pulled at the very last minute or hits a blocking bug right after shipping. If the fix is quick, we’ll leave the feature on the What’s New list. If it’s going to take a while and is no longer in the service, we’ll pull it off the list. If it’s indeterminate or rolling out, we’ll add a note onto the description. You’ll often see a “Note” box in blue when there’s an important note to read about a feature.
The remainder of this blog post dives into different ways you can access Intune service change messages posted in the Office Message Center.
Service Change Notices
We post service change notices in the Office Message Center: https://portal.office.com. This is the same spot where you’ll find your Office 365 service change messages. So, if you’re an O365 apps administrator and an Intune administrator, you just go to one spot to read any service change notices. In addition, this means that you have one spot to put in your email to receive weekly change digests, one spot to check for IT pro cloud-based service advisories, and more. If you use Intune, MDM for Office 365, or hybrid, we’ll communicate service change notices within the Office Message Center. We heard feedback when Intune had it’s own service health dashboard and communication channels that it was confusing to know where to go, so we removed our standalone channels and onboarded to O365.
Messages posted to the Office Message Center are targeted at the organizational level. When we tell a scale unit that they are going to have planned maintenance, we just post to that scale unit. That way you don’t have to even know what scale unit you are on. (Although, in case you’re wondering, your scale unit is in the console, on the help and support blade.) For big changes and new features, in general, we over-post rather than under-post based on your feedback.
Pre-requisite: Assign one of the admin roles below to your Intune login credentials
Before you can view any service change notices, you’ll want to have one of two roles described here to have Message Center and Service Health access. The two roles today that have access are the Global Admin role and the Service Admin role. If you’re an Intune Admin, you will want to also have the Service Admin role applied to you. To be very clear – the “Service Admin” applied over in Office gives you access to messages, health, and provides the ability to open helpdesk tickets. It’s not what you would think of as a typical service admin. If you are a customer that has Exchange admins or SharePoint admins – they’ve also had the service admin role applied to those roles – so it should not be something your Global Admin has any concerns doing for Intune Service Admins.
Getting Service Change Messages in and out of the Message Center
There are three major channels by which you can stay on top of service communications. Below, we share options for how to best view the notices depending on your device or experience of choice:
- Option 1 - Look at the appropriate message and service health on your desktop/laptop. This includes having weekly summaries emailed to you.
- Option 2 - Look at the messages on your mobile device. You can setup toast notifications for all posts.
- Option 3 - Periodically pull all of your messages out of the Message Center for review.
Option 1-Look at the appropriate message and service health on your desktop/laptop. This includes having weekly summaries emailed to you.
It’s pretty straight forward to view the messages:
- Head to https://portal.office.com.
- Login with your admin credentials (depending on your setup, you may need to do an in private setting in your browser for this).
- Either click on the heart on the left hand side or click on the clipboard icon in the main portal page. Either route will get you to the Message Center.
Some customers we’ve talked with mention they come in every few days to read what’s posted here. Other customers share they’ve got one IT Pro designated to read and distribute all messages posted, as you can email the messages directly from the Message Center. You’ll want to do what makes the most sense for your organization.
You can filter your Message Center preferences to see only those posts that line up to the services you administer. Many customers prefer getting emailed once a week a list of what posts – then you don’t have to be in the O365 admin console regularly. Here’s how to customize the Message Center to just see MDM messages and sign up for weekly digest emails:
- In the Message Center, go to “Edit Message center preferences.”
- If you’re just interested in Microsoft Intune including hybrid notices, turn the Intune toggle to On. If you just want MDM for O365, select that option.
- To get message center posts weekly, turn on “Send a weekly email digest of my messages” and then put in your work email or a distribution list email where it says “Other email address” and check that box. Note that for the weekly digests, you’ll need to have admin privileges to be able to click into each message in the emailed summary. The email digest posts the first few sentences… then brings you back into console to view the rest of the message.
One caveat to note – if you’ve signed up to just see Microsoft Intune or MDM for O365 messages in the Message Center, you will still see the occasional O365 all post related to SharePoint or Teams. These posts are “global posts” which means they post them to everyone regardless of whether you’re a SharePoint or Intune admin. We have requested a change to this behavior; it’s not unique to Intune but to all services onboarded to the O365 admin portal.
IMPORTANT: The “Other email address” will be (moving forward) the field we use for emailing important one-off service change communications or major changes. It is very important that you keep that “Other email address” up to date and check that box if you’d like to get a targeted email when something very important is changing. We rarely email service changes, but following your feedback from past emails, we’ll occasionally email about Major Service changes. If you leave this field blank, we will not be able to email you transactional change notices.
Option 2-Look at the messages on your mobile device. You can setup toast notifications for all posts.
The App Store for iOS, Google Play, and the Microsoft Store all have an app in the store called Office 365 Admin. Download the app on your device and login with your global admin or service admin credentials. Depending on your device, you can then set things like toast notifications (if desired). You can also email the full message directly from this app. The UI is quite straight forward on the admin app. Here’s a screen shot from my iPhone:
Option 3-Pull all the messages out of the message center periodically for you to review.
Finally, many customers use the Office API’s to pull messages from the message center into their app of choice such as a ticketing app or just right onto their desktop. You can find more information on how to do this here: Using O365 APIs and PowerShell to access Intune messages from Message center in Office 365.
The post includes a new script for how to get messages into Teams or Outlook. A second post to include automation for how to run this script on a timed basis is here: Automating delivery of Message Center posts to Teams and Outlook using an Azure function
We read your feedback that you provide on the posts
Many of you have “liked” and “disliked” Intune-related Office Message Center posts. We can’t always respond to every comment, but we do read all the Intune ones and we incorporate the feedback that you provide into future communications. If you’re okay being contacted by the product group, please be sure to select “Yes” so that Microsoft can reach back out to you and provide what email address you’d like us to respond back on. Otherwise, we won’t respond back even if you say in the message that you really want to have a conversation with us on this.
Future Work in Progress
Intune plans include pulling or highlighting the service change messages into the Azure console (https://portal.azure.com) so if you just want to read messages while logged into Intune you can. Our goal is that you can look at them in Office or get to them in Intune – whatever makes the most sense for your role and where you administer your service. In addition, Office has one update in development – Message Center Reader Role - which will expand options for who can access, email, and review Message Center posts.
For More Information
- General Message Center Information: https://support.office.com/article/Message-center-in-Office-365-38FB3333-BFCC-4340-A37B-DEDA509C2093
- Managing Messages in the Message Center: https://support.office.com/article/manage-messages-in-message-center-97af2932-0868-4ccf-8f6b-21a94946c58a
- For Intune-specific UserVoice feedback go here: https://microsoftintune.uservoice.com/forums/291681-ideas