Release 2021 Wave 1 summary

As I described in one of my previous posts (Explaining “One Version” – Dynamics MDA) Microsoft is releasing two “Waves” of new functionalities and improvements per year. Today, 27.01.2021, Microsoft has published the Release Notes for the Release 2021 Wave 1. Like the last time, it is overall a quite huge “document”. This blog post is a “curated” summary of the Release 2021 Wave 1 release notes. You can find them under the following links:

In this blog post, I try to summarize the Release Notes and highlight the features I find most interesting or impactful.

As always I will focus on the areas I usually work with. There are a lot more features than I don’t cover in this article. I highly recommend you to read the Release notes yourself, to get a better overview of what is important for your solution. In addition to that, there are a lot of great articles created by the community about different parts of the Release notes. Here are some examples:

Legend

To every mentioned feature I will provide 3 “dates” if possible:

  • Public preview (PP)
  • Early access (EA)
  • General availability (GA)

Another information I share per described feature is the “Feature type” (FT)(read more). This could either be:

  • “Users, automatically” 
  • “Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically”  
  • “Users by admins, makers, or analysts”

Power Platform

In this paragraph of the Release 2021 Wave 1 summary, I will start with the Power Platform part of the Release Notes.

Power Apps

There are some improvements and new features for the Power Apps space. Here are the most important once, as I think.

Async onSave Events

This new feature makes it possible to create async on save events. This makes it possible to execute more complex checks before allowing the form to save. There is even a timeout which will block the save process if the promise does not resolve within 10 seconds. Read more.

PP: Feb. 2021
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Improved navigation in model-driven apps

This feature is separated into two parts.
The first is the possibility to open a page in a side pane to the far right. This allows a “quick create” like experience to edit related data.
The second part is the possibility to override the click behaviour in a multi-session model-driven app.
Read more.

PP: Feb. 2021
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users, automatically

Model-driven app adds in-app notifications

It enables the possibility to send notifications to certain users within a model-driven app. Those notifications could be sent by external systems, Power Automate or from within the system.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: Jun. 2021

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Power Automate

There is a lot of stuff happening in Power Automate. In this section, I will describe the changes. In addition to the changes, I mention there are a lot of new features for Desktop Flows (RPA) and Process Advisor.

Search records in Microsoft Dataverse using relevance search

Makes it possible to use relevance search within a cloud flow. This includes boolean operators, wildcards, fuzzy search, proximity search, term boosting and regex matching.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb. 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Improved licensing and usage visibility for Power Automate environments and tenants

Provides additional reporting to better understand the usage against entitlement limits in licenses. This will be provided both in the Power Platform admin center as well as on the flow analysis page.
Read more.

PP: Mar. 2021
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Admin reports to show API usage for users and flows

In the Power Platform admin center a report about the API usage of flows and users can be shown.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Governance capabilities to prevent data loss

The Data Loss Prevention (DLP) rules will be improved. This includes connector restrictions, connector action restrictions, endpoint filtering, and restrictions for sharing connections.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Manage solution-based flows

It will be possible to manage every flow in the “My flows” page. No matter if the flow is within a solution or not.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Governance and administration

This area is very important, often underestimated and often gets too little attention.

Microsoft Power Platform tenant isolation support along with the ability to specify allow list of tenants

Adds the possibility to prevent connections between different tenants. If this is needed in a use case an explicit allow for certain tenants can be configured.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

User security configuration experiences in the Power Platform admin center

It will be possible to add and remove security roles from users and teams directly within the Power Platform admin center.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Tenant-level admin reports for flow usage

Shows the usage of flows and helps to make the right investments.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Dynamics 365

The second part of this Release 2021 Wave 1 summary is around Dynamics 365. Microsoft is investing a lot in this area. The list of changes/improvements is long. I will only mention a few of those in every sub-area.

Dynamics 365 Sales

For Dynamics 365 for Sales I think the following changes are most important.

Automation and Adaptive Sequences

Increases the automation part of your solution. This will execute activities automatically in a sequence that was configured earlier.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Ability to customize and configure the record side panel form

Opportunities, contacts, and accounts can now be opened in a side panel from the pipeline management workspace. This decreases the times one has to navigate away. The forms that will be shown in the side panel are now editable.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Advanced editable grid to update deals with ability to personalize columns

Increasing the functionality of editable grids. It’s now possible to tab through columns and rows as well as personalize the grid to include only the columns interesting to me.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

New workspace experience that is engaging, intuitive, and accessible from Sales Hub and other custom apps

Introducing a new workspace to optimize how sellers can access deals.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Trigger key actions and activities directly from the grid and the record side panel

It is possible to create new activities directly from the new record side panel, mentioned earlier. Navigating directly to the record isn’t necessary anylonger.
Read more.

PP: Apr. 2021
EA: –
GA: –

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Dynamics 365 Customer Service

In the Dynamics 365 Customer Service part of this summary of the Release 2021 Wave 1, I think the following changes are most important.

Appointments data included in Core Service Scheduling Solution

This feature will include outlook data in the core Service Scheduling. Switching between Dynamics 365 and Outlook will then not be necessary any longer.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Weekly and Monthly view support in new schedule board inside of Core Service Scheduling Solution

It’s now possible to manage the bookable resource schedules without switching between the new and the legacy board. As a result, the new board will come closer to parity with the legacy board.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Configuration to allow updates to cases in Resolved and Canceled status

For Administrators and customizers, it’s now possible to update case rows (incident table) when those are resolved or cancelled.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Improved user experience through email configurability

Makes it possible for administrators to configure the Rich Text Editor control when used to send emails. It is for example possible to:

  • Set default font
  • Add own fonts
  • Adjust the toolbar buttons

You can find a complete list of capabilities here.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Federated Knowledge Search

Administrators can configure an external search provider into the knowledge search experience. This makes it possible for the user to search knowledge articles across different storage places such as SharePoint sites, OneDrive or even third-party knowledge management systems.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Dynamic assignment rules based on record values

Adds the possibility to use dynamics rules in Assignment rules for work items. This will reduce the number of different assignment rules needed.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Intelligent routing and assignment for entities and channels

Uses machine learning classification to route an incoming service request to the most appropriate worker or queue.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Prioritization rules for work items used in agent assignment

With the prioritization rules, it’s possible to specify in which order work items need to be assigned.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically

Dynamics 365 Field Service

For Dynamics 365 Field Service I think the following changes are most important.

Modernize your customer experience with technician location tracking and direct customer feedback

Create automated reminders and notifications to your customers via email and SMS. In addition, the customer can track the technician in real-time.
Read more.

PP: Feb. 2021
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Appointments data included in resource scheduling

Outlook appointments will be included in the schedule board within Dynamics 365 for Field Service.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: –
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users by admins, makers, or analysts

Map view and weekly and monthly view support in new schedule board

The mentioned feature will add more functionality to the new scheduling board. One important thing is the map view. Here a dispatcher can see scheduled bookings, unscheduled work orders and more on a map. As a result, the new board will come closer to parity with the legacy board.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb. 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users, automatically

Resource scheduling optimization available for every Field Service organization

The resource scheduling optimization capabilities, introduced in Release 2020 Wave 2, will be available for everyone without the need of purchasing an add-on.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb. 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users, automatically

Knowledge management articles to enhance technician productivity

It adds the possibility to embed knowledge management into the field service process.
Read more.

PP: –
EA: Feb. 2021
GA: Apr. 2021

FT: Users, automatically

Summary

Once more Microsoft will release a lot of new functions and improvements of already existing functionality. Most of them are quite good (at least they sound good) and will bring the Platform, we like to work with, further.

There are a lot more improvements that were not covered in this summary of the Release 2021 Wave 1. I am sure that the list will even grow over the next weeks.

Important to notice: The Early-Access period will start soon (already next Monday, 01 of February 2021). Make sure to opt-in to it (read how to do it) and test all the new functionality in your own environment.

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