Microsoft / Office 365 News
Microsoft push Teams in response to worldwide working from home mandates
As with other vendors such as Cisco, Microsoft is using the opportunity of people potentially needing to work from home in response to Coronavirus to provide free temporary licensing for usage of Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft's offer is for account-managed customers only and is in addition to the basic Teams free edition that uses consumer accounts. The offer is a six-month trial set of E1 licences, which of course include Microsoft Teams. Obviously, if you are in education or a charity, then you should already have these available to you for free.
Of course, getting up and running with Teams at short notice isn't something to just “do” – and does involve making sure you do Active Directory remediation, synchronisation and ensure good network connectivity so that your home workers can connect directly to Microsoft 365 and that those in offices or other company locations aren't accessing Teams by a less than optimal route.
The question of whether you would move mailboxes or implement Hybrid when implementing a trial is a tricky one – normally with Teams the advice would be to move mailboxes, and/or move any on-premises Lync or Skype for Business users to Teams as well – and ensure Office clients are up-to-date, Windows 10 is in place and consider migrating OneDrive data. Additionally, most implementations will include the E3 or higher licensing across Microsoft 365 and include protection of data using Intune and more.
For a temporary implementation just for Teams, all of that might not be practical nor necessary but it would be advisable to get basic governance and security in place before pressing ahead, as you might want to restrict functionality in place so that it's used for meetings, chat and internal calling and perhaps some limited co-authoring – and then decide on whether to launch Teams as a full collaboration solution once you've paid for the software.
Cancelled Microsoft Conferences
Due to Coronavirus / COVID-19, a lot of conferences are being cancelled. So far Ignite the Tour in Taipei, Singapore, Zurich, Amsterdam, Shangai, Hong Kong have been canceled. At the moment, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Stockholm, Mexico, Chicago, Mumbai, and Bengaluru are still on, along with Microsoft Ignite in New Orleans this September.
No word at present for Microsoft Build, but it's looking unlikely. The Microsoft MVP Summit – not a conference but lots of meetings and workshops on camps for MVPs has just been cancelled and Washington State have declared an emergency.
Independent conferences look to mostly go ahead, with no cancellations yet.
Exchange Team Blog: Exchange Online Management using PowerShell V2 Cmdlets
What’s new since Ignite? Support for managing customer tenants using Delegated Authentication. The new module also supports CSP delegation for Delegated Admin Privileges (DAP) partners. Delegate admins can manage customer tenants by passing their customer tenant ID during Connect-ExchangeOnline. Identity is now a positional parameter and it supports name/alias. You will see improved error handling, reduced data type differences and many more bug fixes. Read more on the update here.
Forrester release a “total economic impact” of Outlook Mobile study
Commissioned by Microsoft – Forrester Consulting have produced one of their “total economic impact” of moving to Outlook mobile. Like anything, key figures in this might not be achievable – or as people say, “results may vary”. The headline figure is – when combining security and productivity benefits $4.4 million, after implementation costs. There are some key things that are obvious and correct in their study.
Third-party MDM vendors do provide solutions to containerize email and these are not known to be especially good, and they don't interact well with other Microsoft 365 products. Using Outlook with Intune App Protection makes it easier to containerize office and it's consistent across devices. The vast majority of companies used native clients, like iOS mail and various Android applications – and the buggy implementations have caused a lot of problems both in usage and mis-implemented security functionality over the years, partly down to limitations in ActiveSync but also down to the vendor implementation as well. So it's clearly true that usage of Outlook makes the experience consistent and it has the ability when combined with Intune to keep data within the Microsoft 365 apps.
As little as a year ago I'd be tempted to wildly disagree with Outlook Mobile's productivity benefits and where I could I would almost always end up back with a native client. However the sheer number of improvements to Outlook mobile have changed that – contact sync working properly was key, but for many organizations what may be seen as smaller improvements make a big difference. Access to Shared Calendars, Shared Mailboxes, Delegate Access, meeting room scheduling, native ability to add Teams meetings and so on may be hard to measure directly in terms of raw time saved but it is clear that a lot of people who needed that functionality needed to return to a PC or access Outlook on the Web to do core tasks like that. However, previously widespread implementation of workarounds on ActiveSync were not common (such as adding secondary accounts, sharing calendars via iCal) so I'll reserve judgement.
The vast majority of companies used native clients, like iOS mail and various Android applications – and the buggy implementations have caused a lot of problems both in usage and mis-implemented security functionality over the years, partly down to limitations in ActiveSync but also down to the vendor implementation as well. So it's clearly true that usage of Outlook makes the experience consistent and it has the ability when combined with Intune to keep data within the Microsoft 365 apps.
A year ago I'd be tempted to wildly disagree with Outlook Mobile's productivity benefits and where I could I would almost always end up back with a native client. However, the sheer number of improvements to Outlook mobile have changed that – contact sync working properly was key, but for many organizations what may be seen as smaller improvements make a big difference. Access to Shared Calendars, Shared Mailboxes, Delegate Access, meeting room scheduling, native ability to add Teams meetings and so on may be hard to measure directly in terms of raw time saved but it is clear that a lot of people who needed that functionality needed to return to a PC or access Outlook on the Web to do core tasks like that. However, previously widespread implementation of workarounds on ActiveSync were not common (such as adding secondary accounts, sharing calendars via iCal) so I'll reserve judgement.
You can read the report here.
Microsoft announce Universal Print for Microsoft 365
Universal Print has hit private preview. This wasn't one that appeared on the roadmap (though was spotted by Petri's Brad Sams back in May 2019(and be be extremely interesting to organizations small and large – but also worrying for cloud print vendors who sell similar solutions.
Some of the key functionality it delivers mirrors what we've been able to do with on-premises Windows printing for a long time – such as discovery of printers based on location, group-based access to printers – and extends this to a print service based in Azure. Azure AD joined devices running Windows 10 build 1903 or higher will be able to have pre-configured printers and discovery.
A key pre-requisite for this is universal print support on printers themselves, though for older printers, a proxy agent (the Universal Print Connector) can be installed on servers.
The path for data to printers from PCs is via the cloud and does potentially involve document conversation and processing. What will be interesting to understand is the impact in organizations who produce a lot of printouts and whether it's suitable for use – or if it's aimed at smaller, low traffic deployments.
Read more here.
New Update to the Microsoft Authenticator app
One for you if you provide custom user guidance and documentation. A new feature for the Microsoft Authenticator app allows you to:
- See a full screen view
- change your password (Microsoft accounts only)
- update your security information (Microsoft accounts only)
- Enable password-less sign-in
- and view your recent account activity for your personal Microsoft accounts.
- For iOS – available in TestFlight today, GA in the next weeks
- The Android update will be available later this year.
Read more in the Microsoft documentation here.
New on the Roadmap
- Microsoft Compliance Score reaches GA
- Compliance Score, if you haven't heard of it, is not Secure Score (the tool that helps you make sure you've got technologies like MFA enabled). Compliance Score is a simplified version of Compliance Manager and allows you to understand where you sit when it comes to your data inside Microsoft 365 and how it relates to industry regulations you need to meet and includes data from Microsoft controls on the tenant and the controls you can control.
- Based on where you fit – in terms of what you've enabled and what requirements you are trying to meet, you'll be scored accordingly. and how it relates to industry regulations you need to meet and includes data from Microsoft controls on the tenant and the controls you can control. Based on where you fit – in terms of what you've enabled and what requirements you are trying to meet, you'll be scored accordingly.
- Read more here.
- Profile Card Customization through Microsoft Graph Beta
- If you've wanted to be able to provide custom information on user's profile cards – those things that provide info like where they are in the organization, status and availability and job role (along with a smattering of outside info, like LinkedIn profile) then a new feature is in development. This uses the Graph Beta as the tool you'll use to make these customizations and is planned to land in April. At the time of writing, it doesn't look like Feb's change log for Graph API changes includes the new methods you'll use to get and set Profile Card information.
- OneDrive desktop gets access to version history
- In development and expected this month, both PC and Mac clients using the OneDrive client will be able to see version history for files in OneDrive.
- At the moment to do this, you either need to view online, or open the document in Office and select the file name to drop-down and see and restore previous versions.
- Pin Microsoft Teams apps in more places
- Pinning apps was announced at Microsoft Ignite and has been rolling out. At the moment, users can choose apps and “pin” them to Teams – typically in the left-hand navigation bar. This is an admin-side feature in development and expected this month and will allow administrators to customize the experience centrally.
- Company branding now supported on SharePoint Mobile App
- A change to the behaviour of the SharePoint app – and especially useful if you are rolling out a modern Intranet based on SharePoint. If you've configured company branding, this will show in the iOS and Android apps. The pre-requisite for this is that the logo must be in SVG format – and is expected this month.
- Teams “off shift” access rolling out
- The first iteration of “off shift” controls, such as displaying consent to receiving notifications, and presence is rolling out. In this first version, users will be able to have a new presence state showing if they are on or off shift, instead of just being available. We talked about this, back on episode (X)
- Screen recording and editing in Microsoft Stream
- Apparently launching in April, this new feature will be similar to Camtasia and allow people to use Microsoft Stream to create screen recordings – alongside webcam and mic recordings with basic editing functionality and publish into stream. Very interesting and we will of course try it out!
- Exchange Hybrid Automapping on Mailbox Full Access
- It might sound a small change, but worth knowing about. In development at the moment, and planned for april is the long awaited feature to allow you to assign cross-premises permissions with the added ability to enable automapping of shared mailboxes. Today you can do this for on-premises or cloud-only deployments and it has been limited by the msExchDelegateListLink attribute using a DN (Distinguished name) to link back to the mailbox – this will be an interesting change to see and understand how it works.
- Lots updated on the roadmap for Outlook Mobile
- A long list of new and coming changes for Outlook mobile in April. These include the ability to add a company add-in for third-party meetings (if you use something like Zoom), “top results” views, better room and location finder functionality, better time-zone support, upcoming meetings, separation of work and personal contacts, phishing reports and the previously mentioned “play my emails” feature. April will be massive!
Message Center Updates
- The Teams feature for batch assignment of policies is delayed until May
- We talked about this in the roadmap a few weeks ago, but the new, useful feature for assigning Teams policies to batches of users, such as based on groups has been delayed. Originally scheduled for March, the Message Centre notes that this is pushed back to May for the “best experience”.
- Multi-lingual publishing of content in SharePoint Online communications sites is rolling out
- This feature allows content to be created and published in multiple languages (it's not auto-translation, which is known to be less than good, anyway) and is aimed at communications sites – i.e. news content. This is going to “targeted release” in March and will hit all tenants by May.
- This is an “opt in” feature and configure in the site settings – not at a tenant level.
- When you enable this, you'll have an option to configure various languages for the site and nominate translators (people within your tenant, not third-party services) to translate content. Based on the user's settings, the content will be shown in the language, if the content has been translated.
- New Update for Office 365 Pro Plus on the monthly channel appears
- If you use the Office Content Distribution Network then they'll be nothing to do, but if you download updates for distribution then this will affect you. An issue with Outlook and third-party applications has been identified (which prevents apps sending email) and this update resolves that.
- This is an update to version 2002 which was originally released on the 25th of February
Siegfried is a Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He has great expertise in Office 365 implementations with a special focus on Security, Messaging and Identity for international customers.