Microsoft announced some big changes coming to the Microsoft Planner App, which includes using Planner as the name for three existing Microsoft task management apps:

  • To Do
  • Planner
  • Microsoft Project on the Web

The new Planner will provide a single app that displays tasks from the three apps mentioned above. At least for now, you can continue to access each app through their current dedicated apps and through the browser. I think Microsoft will decide to keep this setup for a while, as the new Planner experience can add value by sitting on top of the existing apps.

How Does This Affect Licensing?

Microsoft hasn’t made this very clear yet. It sounds like To Do and Planner will stay available through their current licenses. Planner Premium will provide access to the advanced features you get with Microsoft Project on the Web. Microsoft Project has always been confusing, with various licensing, including P1, P3, and P5, providing access to additional features. Project Desktop, Project Online, and Project Server will remain available and supported for existing and new customers.

What’s Coming With the New Experience?

The new experience will have a similar layout to To Do and Planner. A left-hand navigation will show several different views of tasks and plans. I’m most excited about the My Tasks view, which will show tasks across To Do, Plans, and Microsoft Project on the Web. Tabs will be available to show private tasks, tasks assigned to me, and flagged emails. These tabs are the same as what’s available in To Do today. The My Day view populated with To-Do will allow for daily planning of tasks. My Plans will show shared, personal, and pinned plans. Since Microsoft Project on the Web will be available through Planner Premium, items created there will be available under “Plans.”

Microsoft is also introducing the idea of the system growing as the complexity of the project grows. Someone can begin with a personal Planner plan, then decide to share with others and subsequently upgrade to Planner Premium. Planner Premium is a set of templates that include Microsoft Project on the Web features such as the Gantt chart and dependencies.

Existing Integrations and More

Currently, Microsoft Project on the Web and Planner can be integrated and added to other Microsoft apps, such as Power Apps and Teams and these integrations will continue to work. Microsoft added another integration for Planner with the recently available Microsoft Loop. Copying the link of a Plan and pasting that into a Loop page will display the plan as a Loop component. Although a simple task list already exists in Loop, being able to see and interact with the tasks for a more complex project in Loop is a great addition. Adding Microsoft’s primary task-tracking tool enhances Loop’s ability to drive projects.

Want more on the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Loop? Check out Loop announcements from Microsoft Ignite 2023

When discussing integrations, it’s important to know where the data is stored. The new Microsoft Planner will use the existing three data stores. During an Ignite session, the team said they are still debating between merging the data together into a single location or integrating between the three data stores.

For now, depending on the type of plan you create, your tasks will be stored in different places:

  • Projects: These are plans that are linked to a Microsoft Project for the Web project. They are stored in Dataverse.
  • Planner: These are standalone plans that are not linked to any other app or service. They are stored in Azure.
  • To Do: These are personal tasks that you create or sync from To Do. They are stored in Substrate, a cloud-based data fabric that powers intelligent features such as Cortana and MyAnalytics.

What Does the Future Hold?

Microsoft will be adding features to Planner, which will be driven by data, as the team mentioned during Ignite. One of the big enhancements is centered around Copilot. Since Copilot is generative AI, it will be able to create tasks for your project. This is an interesting idea that in a way replaces the templates provided by Microsoft. Templates were always starting points for projects of a particular kind. Copilot will be able to create a set of tasks for any type of project, even blending tasks of different types of projects.

Get a quick overview of the power of Microsoft Copilot. It will transform the way you work!

High-Level Roadmap:

  • Spring 2024: The new Planner app in Teams will be generally available and the current Tasks by Planner and To Do app in Teams will be renamed to Planner. Microsoft Project for the Web will be renamed to Planner. When going to Microsoft Project on the Web, there is already a banner mentioning the rename.
  • Later in 2024: The web experience of the new Planner will be generally available. The features you know and love in Microsoft Project for the Web will be available in the new Planner app in Teams and the Planner web app.

Not sure how to get started with Microsoft Task Management and the Microsoft Planner app? Check out my other blog posts on using Planner to manage tasks. As you can see, it’s one of my favorite tools and ways to collaborate.

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