July 2023

In January 2023, Microsoft unveiled its release plans for Power Platform for the year. The roadmap aims to improve digital transformation for organisations by releasing features that will enable individuals and teams to build a better digital culture. Prominent among the multitude of capabilities are features that help an organisation’s users to improve their processes and ultimately their productivity.

General availability of the new capabilities started in April and will continue until September. Now that the Power Platform roadmap’s release plan is part way through, which features can we expect to see in the next few months? Here’s our summary of the best of the new capabilities.

New Power Apps features

Power Apps enables users to quickly build custom apps with the aim of turning manual business processes into seamless digital operations. Users can create feature-rich apps without writing code. As with most Power Platform apps, Microsoft’s aim for 2023 is to make using Power Apps easier to use and more productive.

Improved navigation

General availability: September 2023
An updated home page will provide Power Apps users with an improved navigation experience, a better apps list and consistency with other Power Platform apps. An integrated banner will provide easy access to Microsoft’s new AI Copilot capability.

Easier virtual tables

General availability: September 2023
This new feature acknowledges that currently it can be difficult for non-advanced users to create virtual tables. Now, a guided wizard will enable all users to easily create virtual tables in very little time. Microsoft expects that existing users “will find a dramatic decrease in clicks, time, and resources needed”.

Drag-and-drop capabilities

General availability: September 2023
Microsoft is making its responsive layout containers easier to use with a new drag-and-drop feature. A new layout configuration will enable users “to add and easily reorder controls within responsive layout containers. Makers can resize controls and adjust the spacing between them right in the authoring canvas.”

New Power Automate features

Power Automate enables users to automate processes using low-code, drag-and-drop tools and pre-built connectors. It empowers teams to create their own automations without having to call in the developers. Microsoft’s new features aim to make it easier to create new flows, and to make it “easier than ever for new users to get started”.

Improvements to draft mode

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in August 2023)
According to Microsoft, “users have told us that they’re unable to begin creating or editing a flow until they have a large amount of time available because they can’t pause halfway through”. This issue has been rectified by the new ability to make changes to cloud flows in draft mode. Users can then publish their flow once their changes are complete.

Better versioning

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in August 2023)
Previously, cloud flows have lacked version control, so that users are unable to revert to a previous version. This new feature provides a panel in the flow for designers to view and restore a previous version if things go wrong. Microsoft plans to roll out versioning to other parts of the platform at a later date.

Improved Dataverse connectivity

General availability: September 2023
With the new Microsoft Dataverse connector, users will be able to create cloud flows that include data from, and perform operations across, different Dataverse databases. Instead of using a legacy connector, users will be able to connect to databases outside the current environment more easily.

Better SAP connectivity

General availability: September 2023
SAP’s user interface contains elements with dynamic properties, which makes it difficult to create automation that integrates properly with SAP. Microsoft are introducing SAP-specific actions to Power Automate for desktop, creating a smoother and simpler user experience. The new feature will also add robustness to users’ automations.

Natural language

General availability: September 2023
This new feature uses AI models to take a user’s natural language as input to create flows. Everyday written language can be used to describe a cloud flow, which will then be created by Power Automate. Microsoft’s aim is to make it easier for a broader cross-section of users to build different types of automation faster, “in a truly no-code experience”.

New Power BI features

Power BI is a business intelligence tool which connects an organisation’s diverse data and makes it available for analysis. Users can model their data and create powerful visualisations. The aim of Power BI’s new features is to make the tool easier for both individuals and teams. Compared to other parts of Power Platform, the improvements to Power BI are relatively low key, but they do complement the more interesting features released earlier this year.

Paginated reports

General availability: September 2023
Paginated reports are formatted to fit nicely on a page, ready to be printed or shared. The new feature offers a WYSIWG (what you see is what you get) web-authoring experience to create easy-to-read online documents. The feature’s drag-and-drop experience enables users to create paginated reports, share them in a choice of formats or simply, as Microsoft suggests, print them out.

Improved mapping visuals

General availability: September 2023
According to Microsoft, “customers will now get the best of all mapping visuals in a single visual”. Users will benefit from more data points than the current default map visual, along with new tools. Microsoft’s aim is “to make customers’ lives easier when plotting geographic data points”.

Better visual formatting

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in September 2023)
New formatting capabilities will give users greater control of how visuals look. Microsoft aims to include options such as improved defaults “to support best practices” and the ability to set padding and margins.

Exploring visuals with AI

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in September 2023)
Users will be able to analyse any data in a single visual using a new exploration mode. The feature will use AI to find hidden insights.

Accessibility improvements

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in September 2023)
The model view will become more user-friendly and will include features required for accessibility, including high contrast mode, keyboard navigation and alt text. All users will be able to navigate the modelling tab and carry out modelling operations in a more user-friendly way.

New Power Virtual Agents features

There are currently no further updates planned for the Virtual Agents app. However, earlier this year, Microsoft released a series of interesting features. These include the ability to quickly and easily create a chat bot. See the list here.

New Microsoft Dataverse features

The Dataverse underpins Power Platform by enabling users to securely store and access the data that’s used by the Power Platform apps. The upcoming features are relatively small-scale, but aim to improve productivity and enhance an organisation’s data stewardship.

Improved ALM support for virtual tables

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in September 2023)
Application lifecycle management (ALM) creates a standardised system for software delivery, providing greater efficiency and robustness (read more about ALM here). The new feature for virtual tables aims to, according to Microsoft, “better support import and export of solutions”, with less manual work for users.

Virtual tables performance improvements

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in September 2023)
With this new feature, Microsoft aims to improve productivity, and reduce failures due to timeouts, with improvements to create, update, delete, and retrieve actions for virtual tables. The feature includes improved table and column creation, plus better data operations, when using large data sets.

Enhanced security

General availability: To be confirmed (public preview in September 2023)
This new feature enables users to use token authentication for virtual tables. It validates whether or not users attempting to access virtual table data have actually been granted access to the data in the source system.

New Power Pages features

The aim of Power Pages is to enable users with limited coding experience to build websites for their organisation. The latest features will provide additional capabilities and more templates.

Configuration improvements

General availability: September 2023
Two new configuration capabilities aim to give more flexibility to users with little coding experience. They will be able to configure web templates created by professional developers. And they will also be able to configure the properties of code components added to form fields or web pages.

Copilot enhancements

General availability: August 2023
This feature provides the option to configure a chatbot that enables website users to use natural language to get information and insights. The feature will include the capability to configure roles and permissions. Here’s an example from Microsoft: a website user can log into a customer service website and ask for the status of their open case; the chatbot will provide the current status and link to their open case.

Microsoft’s Power Platform roadmap for 2024

At the time of writing, Microsoft has not announced a roadmap beyond the improvements earmarked for the reminder of 2023.

However, industry watchers have identified an internal Microsoft initiative named Power House. It appears that the aim of this initiative is to introduce more Power Platform-based apps from both Microsoft itself and third-party developers. Insiders expect the roll-out to occur in the financial year to June 2024. Read more here.

It is also expected that Microsoft will improve the currently complicated licensing arrangements for the Power Platform apps. This fits with Microsoft’s aim of making adoption of the Power Platform straightforward for all levels of user. Read more here.

If you’re planning your own Power Platform initiative for 2024, visit our Power Platform consulting page to see how we can help you get the most out of your Microsoft investment.

Further reading

See the full feature release list here.

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