Updated 17.11.2021: Added OneDrive storage, Laser Pointer and Collaborative Cursors
Updated 19.11.2021: Microsoft is rolling back Whiteboard Desktop application to earlier version due to large amount of feedback due to missing features.
Yesterday when I did a manual update check on my Windows 11 Store I was happy to see Microsoft Whiteboard application updating to the new version. Checking out forward I also saw that Whiteboard application on my iPad had been also updated to the new version. It is a great moment in Whiteboard’s history: there is only one app! Bye bye having to think what works on Windows Desktop, Surface Hub, on Android, Web, Apple device or on Teams meeting.
For Windows Desktop and Surface Hub Whiteboard users this change is a major one. The Whiteboard is now in-par with Teams and Web versions. This means that some familiar features we used before are now gone. But I don’t think it is a bad thing. What matters is that this is the new Microsoft Whiteboard and it works with all clients in the same way. Yes, you may miss ruler, thumbs up, magic wand and tables for example but in the exchange the roadmap will include sharing with externals, laser pointer, attribution, locking view and
fluid Loop components. Fluid Loop components in Whiteboard are really cool feature that I am looking really forward (along with external sharing) but unfortunately roadmap does not state them yet. External sharing is tied to OneDrive storage that is scheduled to November this year: very soon!
Fluid components will include tables and other collaboration features directly in the Whiteboard.
I like how the Whiteboard team added hints how to use Whiteboard to the loading screen.
For example people missing our the old ruler should remember to hold down Shift key to draw straight lines. It is very intuitive and I found it also easy to remember & use: much easier than having to select a ruler from tools first to draw lines. On touch screen devices you can use ink to draw a line: just draw the line normally and keep holding your finger/pen/stylus still on screen for a second: this will convert free inking to drawing a straight line! I found out the best way to do that is to draw a short line with ink and use the one second press to turn it to a straight line tool. After that I finalize the length and angle of the line.
There is also the option to draw straight lines using line tool from Shapes.
The New Whiteboard updates
When opening a Microsoft Teams meeting and clicking on the Whiteboard tab we can see some updates already. The Teams and Web Whiteboard got this same update earlier, but as new features are being added I will highlight them in this blog. For my earlier Whiteboard post please see it here.
The most recent addition is Documents, that allows you to add documents (PowerPoints and PDFs only) from your OneDrive or SharePoint sites (Teams files) to the Whiteboard. For example selecting certain PowerPoint slides. Documents end up in the Whiteboard as pictures.
Recent files are really useful. In my demo account I don’t have that much activity at recent files..
It is also possible to choose OneDrive root folder (My files).
You can also create a new folder or upload files / folder when working in the Whiteboard.
After picking a document I can go on and choose slides I want to add.
As can be seen, slides are inserted as pictures. What is cool that Whiteboard has some control to objects “layer” that can be accessed via … menu.
It is good to remember that Images don’t use OneDrive, but instead open a file picker directly from your computer.
Copy-paste functionality was just added to the Whiteboard. It works inside whiteboard but you can also paste in text from outside source with it. You can copy-paste all Whiteboard objects (including images) inside the board. Pasting in image from outside of Whiteboard is not possible yet, but it is coming in December 2021.
Copy-Paste makes it easy to repeat text, reactions, shapes, note grids and so on across the board. Pasting text from outside of the board is possible if you first create the Text-area or paste it into the note.
If you select multiple Whiteboard objects (CTRL + mouse clicks) you can copy-paste multiple objects at one time.
Resizing and rotating objects with shortcuts
Did you know you can resize Whiteboard objects with Shift+Arrow Up/Down keys? It is kind of cool how easy it is.
Alt+Arrow Left/Right rotates the object.
Laser Pointer appeared to Whiteboard at the same time when OneDrive storage did. In fact, if the Whiteboard is not stored in OneDrive/SharePoint the Laser Pointer does not appear at all. There is a shortcut key for Laser Pointer: Alt+L
You can move the pointer around, or activate the Laser by pressing down the mouse button. The Laser Pointer works the same way as PowerPoint Live version.
When I was testing it, the pointer didn’t appear in Teams meeting when sharing the Whiteboard. I think this feature is still rolling out, and all functionalities don’t work today yet (17.11.2021). I will update this blog post once they have been updated.
Laser Pointer is also in the iPad version of Whiteboard.
Other long-awaited feature also appeared when Whiteboard was stored to OneDrive. On default this setting is on, but you can change it in Whiteboard settings.
What this does, is that it highlights where each user’s cursor is on the board. That gives you some idea what others are doing and what they are updating: you may not want to deliberately go to the same area. (nothing stops you doing that, except perhaps courtesy and what is the goal of the collaboration)
Since this new feature was working on my tenant where I have only one user it looks a bit funny when I have “three me” editing the board.
Collaborative cursors didn’t appear on iPad version yet and actions done on iPad don’t show as cursors on other clients.
Whiteboard storage in OneDrive for Business is rolling out!
Both Laser Pointer and Collaborative cursors require that the Whiteboard is stored to OneDrive or to SharePoint. At the end of this blog post you can find information how Admin can turn on Whiteboard storage in OneDrive. It is important to remember that existing boards are not moved to OneDrive! Once the setting is on and the new feature (OneDrive storage is still rolling out!) has been activated in your tenant all new boards will be created to OneDrive for Business to folder Whiteboards in the root.
This is a BIG step that has been waited for a long time. Now that the Whiteboard is stored in OneDrive it opens ways to manage boards
- There is a version history!
- You can make a copy of a Whiteboard! (or move it to other location, or manage access to it )
- Deleted Whiteboards can be recovered from the recycle bin
- Automations can be added to whiteboards with Power Automate, just like to any other file
- Compliance, labels, retention and governance is possible
What I also discovered when testing out different scenarios with Whiteboard files
- You can copy or move whiteboard to SharePoint document library = to team files
- When you add a Whiteboard tab to team channel the whiteboard is create to your (who added the tab) OneDrive for Business. Yes, to the same Whiteboard folder. You can not move this Whiteboard if you want to keep it in the team tab.
- Team channel Whiteboard app does not let you to choose an existing whiteboard to be added. It always creates a new one. (at least today). Guests can access this whiteboard in a tab.
- You can add an existing whiteboard to a team channel using website and link. Guests can not access these whiteboards.
- If you open Team Files tab you can not click open the whiteboard from there. It causes an error
- If you open SharePoint document library (Open in SharePoint) and click the whiteboard there it opens.
So, not everything works. Yet. I think this feature is still rolling out and I will keep an eye on this one and update this post accordingly.
The new Microsoft Whiteboard on Windows
BREAKING NEWS: Microsoft is rolling back the Windows Desktop Whiteboard to earlier version.
Yes, it looks just like the Whiteboard we use on Microsoft Teams. This is a great path forward since now all versions will get those updates faster – and you can co-author with Whiteboard without having to think what version your peers are using.
Opening the same Whiteboard in Windows Desktop App we can see it matches Teams version fully.
Sharing is very easy – just creating a link.
And under gear icon on top-right we find same settings as with other versions
Looking at my old boards I don’t see any tables there anymore. All other content seemed to be there. Until Whiteboards have version history and are stored in OneDrive / SharePoint it is always good to follow the best practice exporting to picture everything that is important.
Thinking what features are now missing from the current version that were available earlier
- You can only add PowerPoint and PDFs pages to the New Whiteboard at the moment. In the GIF picture at the beginning on this post we can see Excel area dropped in. That might imply to ability to be able to insert Excels and other documents in the future to the board.
- Magic Wand is missing (and ink to text). Replaced with convert to shares so far and automatic ink beautification. Perhaps ability to magic touch hand writing comes later. You can also use Convert to Shapes (Alt+B) tool instead, but it is not 1:1 the same.
- Copy-paste for images outside Whiteboard is missing.
As a workaround you should store content you want to paste as images and use Images action to add them to the board. You can copy-paste content inside Whiteboard but you can not paste in images by snipping tool, for example, and that is why you need to use the Image upload. Pasting images from clipboard to Whiteboard is coming in December 2021.
- Ruler is missing. Replaced with Shift-key or on touch screen device you can press the screen for a second when drawing with ink to convert it to straight line tool (=Shift-key equivalent).
- Tables are missing. Loop components will be ones replacing tables I think. Ink to table is naturally missing also.
- Liking notes and some other objects. Replaced with stickers.
- Locking pictures to canvas to prevent accidental moves.
- Searching Bing to add pictures.
- Erase portion of the ink has been replaced with eraser that removes the entire ink stroke
- Sorting lists and note grids is not there
- Export template to CSV and email summary is missing
Is there feature parity between versions now?
Looking at Android version we can see the following:
That is a good hint when using a mouse, but it does not recognize my hovering finger on Android device. This tells they are running the same version on all clients – not even noticing mobile user in the loading screen.
Mobile version is now requiring Intune / Company Portal use if that has been defined. After installing it I got the Whiteboard open on mobile.
We can see almost same features on Android. What is missing are Documents and Images. We can see and use images, but we can’t insert new ones. This is a close call to state it has feature parity between clients, but it is nearly there.
In settings, on mobile Whiteboard, we have access to everything as well
Ok, so about Feature Parity
- Microsoft Teams and Web versions match fully with Windows desktop version. I think this was the #1 reason to drive this change and while this leaves some users unhappy the ability to use Whiteboard without having to think what tool the other participants are using is a big thing when collaborating.
- Android mobile version is missing ability to add images and documents (at least so far)
- iPad version is missing ability to add images
- I don’t have a mac so I can’t say what works there and what does not. Community – feel free to let me know and I update this one!
The New Microsoft Whiteboard Rocks
I was very happy to see this update to roll in, and it was doing so in the schedule. The roadmap was stated for October and it rolled out in time! There are numerous templates that can be used in all clients that will help to create and ideate teams better than before. A search would be a great addition when finding templates – perhaps it will be there one day.
While experienced Windows Whiteboard app users might feel a bit sad for some moments, I see the upcoming roadmap fixing the issue with new, very useful, features. And having just one UI for all clients is a good thing. It was confusing to have different styled clients and some features worked on some boards while some features didn’t work at all.
Don’t let external access in Teams meeting for
October (updated to November )misguide you. The sharing requires storage to OneDrive for Business.
And it is always good take a look pictures released earlier by Microsoft, so we know what to look forward in the future. Like sharing an existing Whiteboard to the Teams meeting.
Admins: Know about Whiteboard OneDrive storage
Admins should check out Whiteboard settings in Microsoft 365 Admin Center. In the bottom of the settings pane you can see option to enable OneDrive storage.
As text states, you should not turn this on unless you make sure your users know about this AND they have updated their apps to the new Whiteboard version. That applies to Surface Hubs too – new Whiteboard app is already rolling out to those devices.
Turning this opt-in on doesn’t do any changes until the OneDrive storage for Whiteboards is available. It doesn’t affect old Whiteboards – only new ones created after the feature is available.
Once the feature is available I have a strong guess that Whiteboards will show up in this structure in OneDrive for Business