Support Lifecycle changes for Office ProPlus & 2016 (a.o.)

Outlook 2013 IconIn a surprise – but welcomed – move, Microsoft announced yesterday that the office support lifecycle for Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2016 are extended to January 2023 (EOL of Windows 8.1) and October 2025 respectively. In addition, Office 2016 connectivity support for Office 365 services will be extended to October 2023 (was 2020).

Other announced changes in product support lifecycles were extending Windows 10 Enterprise & Education support from 18 to 30 months. Also, for Windows 7 Professional & Enterprise, paid security updates (Extended Security Updates) will be offered, and those Windows 7 ESU devices will be supported through January 2023 – parallel to Windows 8.1 – with Office 365 ProPlus.

The intention of these changes is to provide customers more flexibility in adopting modern desktops on the client end (i.e. Windows 10) and upgrade their Office suite, preferably to the susbscription-based ProPlus. The release cadence of the cloud has significant impact on organizations, which were told in February to keep in line with product releases as a lot of product support lifecycles were going to end in 2020.

Extending those dates not only gives them more flexibility to plan and upgrade, but also might prevent organizations to do only to the minimum, which is likely the reason many organizations are still on Windows 7 and why it took many organizations a long time to get rid of Windows XP.

 

Exchange Mailboxes and Signatures

vote!One of the longest standing requests of the community regarding Exchange features is the request to have the ability to share e-mail signatures between Outlook for desktop, Outlook Web Access (OWA) and mobile clients like Outlook for iOS. Several 3rd party vendors have been filling this gap with solutions with the possibility of adding standardized signatures on the transport layer or through application add-ins for the WYSIWYG approach.

The Outlook products don’t share signatures; Outlook Web Access does store the signature in a so-called Folder Associated Item (FAI) in the mailbox, making the signature persist when moving the mailbox around. But that unfortunately is only for Outlook Web Access; Outlook for desktop signatures are stored in files in one’s user profile, and Outlook for iOS only allows you to configure a single line, which often is used to apologize for any typos in the message, more common when using mobile devices, by setting it to ‘Mail sent using mobile’ or text of similar nature.

However, after a recent discussion with the relevant product groups by Jeff Guillet, the product groups challenged MVPs that there is indeed a significant demand for this feature by getting people to vote on UserVoice. Jeff with the MVPs designed a functional specification for this feature, which will be shared with the product groups at a later date. There is no reason why we can’t expect this feature to work for both Exchange Online as well as Exchange on-premises. Part of the request will also be to be able to manage the signature through PowerShell, similar to how the Outlook Web Access signature can now be managed using Set-MailboxMessageConfiguration.

So, power to the community and get your voice heard if you want this feature. You can vote on UserVoice here. Thank you.

Comparing Sets of Cmdlets

powershellWith the speed of development in Office 365, it is sometimes hard to track which changes have been made to your tenant. Of course, there is the roadmap and message board which you can use to keep up to date, but those are in general high level descriptions. Sometimes you may want to see what are the changes at the cmdlet level in your tenant, between tenants, or Azure Active Directory module. And there is also the occasional gem in the form of a yet undocumented cmdlet or parameter which could hint at upcoming features.

For this purpose I have created a simple script which has two purposes:

  1. Export information on the current cmdlets available through Exchange Online or Azure Active Directory.
  2. Compare two sets of exported information, and display changes in a readable way.

The script is in PowerShell (of course), and is called Compare-Cmdlets.ps1. To export information, you need to be already connected to either Exchange Online or Azure Active Directory (or both).

To export cmdlet information, use:

.\Compare-Cmdlets.ps1 –Export

For Exchange Online and Azure Active Directory, separate export files are created. The files are prefixed with a timestamp and postfixed with the Exchange Online build or Azure Active Directory module version, e.g. 201803121814-ExchangeOnline-15.20.548.21.xml or 201803121815-AzureAD-2.0.0.137.xml.

After a few days/week, or when connected to another tenant or using a new Azure Active Directory PowerShell module, run the export again. You will now have 2 sets of Exchange Online or Azure Active Directory cmdlets, which you can compare using the following sample syntax:

Compare-Cmdlets.ps1 -ReferenceCmds .\201801222108-ExchangeOnline-15.20.428.21.xml -DifferenceCmds .\201803120926-ExchangeOnline-15.20.548.21.xml

image

A progress bar is shown as comparison might take a minute. When the script has finished checking the two sets, you will see output indicating changes in cmdlets, parameters or switches, e.g.

image

Download
You can find the script on the TechNet Gallery or GitHub.

The UC Architects Podcast Ep64

iTunes-Podcast-logo[1]Episode 64 and last episode of The UC Architects podcast is now available. Contrary to the belief of some, people’s agendas rather than lack of contents made it more and more difficult to get sufficient people together for recording. Thanks for the great 5 year ride, people!

This episode is hosted by Pat Richard, who is joined by Tom Arbuthnot, Stale Hansen and John Cook. Editing was done by Andrew Price.

Topics discussed in this episode are:

  • 5 years of The UC Architects podcast.
  • What made it fun, the friendships, the guests, the topics, and how social media has changed how info gets disseminated about Skype for Business, Exchange, Office 365, Teams, and more.
  • We talk about what the crew are up to these days, and their involvement/sessions at Ignite.
  • Skype for Business v.Next and Teams.
  • Some of the issues that arise when deploying Skype for Business when there is no Exchange in the org.
  • The upcoming Ignite and UCDay events.

You can download the podcast here or you can subscribe to the podcasts using iTunes, Zune or use the RSS feed.

About
The UC Architects is a community podcast by people with a passion for Unified Communications; our main focus is on Exchange, Skype for Business or related subjects.

Office 365 Engage 2017 Wrap-up

Last week the inaugural Office 365 Engage conference took place in the small but charming city of Haarlem, The Netherlands. With hotels for speakers and attendees close by, the event took place in the Philharmonie, a venue normally used for concerts and theater performances. This lead to some amazing shots on social media of sessions being held in “Room A” (the theater), “Room B” (with bar) and “Room E” (the concert hall).


“Room A”

With Tony Redmond being the chair for this non-Microsoft event, one of the few big Microsoft-technology related events remaining in Europe, organizer BWW Media Group managed to attract an amazing line-up of speakers. Amongst them were quite a number of Microsoft MVP’s, some like Paul Robichaux or Chris Goosen even flying in from overseas. Being sort of a home game to me, it was other speaker’s turn to having to cope with jetlag.

Sessions presented were on all things Office 365 related, such as Azure AD, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Groups and Teams, and also more dev-oriented sessions on things like the Graph API. Also, more generic topics were also put to the table, like the roadmap and coping with continuous development, GDPR or hybrid strategies.


“Room B”

On Monday, Jaap Wesselius and I held a full-day workshop on PowerShell for Office 365. The attendees were coming from all over Europe, which shows that there is a demand for an European event of this size on this topic. On Tuesday, I presented a session on Managing Exchange Online using PowerShell, Tips & Tricks. Pending feedback from evaluations, the workshop and session went very well. For those that attended our workshop on Monday, PowerShell for Office 365, or my session on Tuesday on Exchange Online and PowerShell Tips & Tricks, the slide decks will be made available later through the organizer. Sample code from the session is available from the TechNet Gallery here.

Image may contain: one or more people and indoor
“Room E”

Finally, a big thank you to BWW’s Megan Keller, their CEO George Coll, and all the other staff as well, who made speakers and attendees feel welcome at this event, which was small and intimate, a different experience from more massive events like Microsoft Ignite. Also a big thank you to the folks of Quadro-Tech for sponsoring the post-conference drinks.

With everything being walking distance, and with pleasant summer weather, the after-conference hours for catching up with peers and attendees were very enjoyable. BWW was also so kind to offer us speakers a boat trip, where we could experience Haarlem from the waterside, including the obligatory snapshots of windmills, fields and cows.

Note that the organizer is still looking for feedback on the event. Share with them what you like or didn’t like, so they can improve next year’s conference. I am really looking forward to next year’s event, to be held in June 2018, and would highly recommend it to anyone. Hope to see you there next year!

The UC Architects Podcast Ep63

iTunes-Podcast-logo[1]Episode 63 of The UC Architects podcast is now available. This episode is hosted by Pat Richard, who is joined by Steve Goodman who’s joined by John Cook. Editing was done by Andrew Price.

Topics discussed in this episode are:

Exchange

  • Exchange 2007 was end of life on April 11th

Office 365

  • Microsoft Teams is GA
  • Microsoft Teams Bandwidth Calculator
  • Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection
  • Google Suite vs Office 365

Lync/Skype for Business

  • Skype for Business updates for Mac
  • Skype for Business Online Trusted Application API
  • Consult Transfer option
  • Lync 2013 CUs for March 2017
  • Skype for Business 2015 CUs
  • RUCT updated
  • Convert-SonusSBCConfigToWord

Events

  • MS Cloud UG
  • UC and Cloud Day UK
  • Office 365 Engage

You can download the podcast here or you can subscribe to the podcasts using iTunes, Zune or use the RSS feed.

About
The UC Architects is a community podcast by people with a passion for Unified Communications; our main focus is on Exchange, Skype for Business or related subjects.

Ignite 2016 Sessions + Downloader

imageNote: Due to Microsoft putting Ignite 2016 contents on YouTube and a new portal, I had to rewrite the download script. Mattias Fors was also working on this, and after integrating his contents pointers, I present you Ignite2016Download.ps1. Check the description on Technet Gallery page for usage options.

Today, the Ignite 2016 event will kick off in Atlanta, US. The agenda contains the whopping number of 1412 sessions, of which 395 touch Office 365 and 133 Exchange in some way or another.

With those numbers it is impossible to attend every session for folks interested in these topics, but luckily Microsoft will also publish Ignite 2016 sessions on Channel 9 this year.

Some of the interesting sessions to watch out for are (links should resolve to on-demand sessions, as they become available):

Session Description Speaker(s)
BRK1021 Unplug with the Microsoft Outlook experts Julia Foran, Gabe Bratton, Allen Filush, JJ Cadiz, Eduardo Melo, Amanda Alvarado, Victor Wang, James Colgan
BRK1044 Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming in Outlook on the web Dave Meyers, Eduardo Melo
BRK2033 Discover Office 365 Groups – overview, what’s new and roadmap Amit Gupta, Christophe Fiessinger
BRK2035 Learn about advancements in Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Jason Rogers, Phil Newman
BRK2053 Connect your business critical applications to Outlook and Groups David Claux
BRK2044 Discover what’s new and what’s coming for Office Delve Cem Aykan, Mark Kashman
BRK2093 Design your Exchange infrastructure right (or consider moving to Office 365) Boris Lokhvitsky, Robert Gillies, Adrian Moore
BRK2139 Protect your business and empower your users with cloud Identity and Access Management Nasos Kladakis
BRK2170 Discover what’s new with Microsoft Exchange Public Folders Sampath Kumar
BRK2215 Debate the top 10 reasons not to move your Exchange on-premises mailboxes to Exchange Online Tony Redmond, Greg Taylor, Steve Conn
BRK2216 Unplug with the experts on Exchange Server and Exchange Online Greg Taylor, Timothy Heeney, Jeff Mealiffe, Ross Smith IV, Wendy Wilkes
BRK2217 Discover modern support in Outlook for Exchange Online Julia Foran, Amir Haque, Gabe Bratton
BRK2218 Move from Exchange 2007 to Modern Exchange Greg Taylor, Steve Conn
BRK2219 Meet twin sons of different mothers – Exchange Engineers and Exchange MVPs Tony Redmond, Jeff Mealiffe, Andrew Higginbotham, Jeff Guillet, Karim Batthish
BRK2220 Peer behind the curtain – how Microsoft runs Exchange Online Paavany Jayanty, Eddie Fong, Karim Batthish, Mike Swafford
BRK3000 Unplug with the experts on Microsoft Exchange Top Issues Nino Bilic, Nasir Ali, Amir Haque, Shawn McGrath, Timothy Heeney, Gabe Bratton, Angela Taylor
BRK3001 Explore the ultimate field guide to Microsoft Office 365 Groups Tony Redmond, Amit Gupta, Benjamin Niaulin
BRK3007 Investigate tools and techniques for Exchange Performance Troubleshooting Nasir Ali, Jeff Mealiffe
BRK3019 Manage Microsoft Office 365 Groups Eric Zenz, Vince Smith
BRK3023 Understand how Microsoft protects you against Spoof, Phish, Malware, and Spam emails Jason Rogers
BRK3045 Use Microsoft Graph to reach users on hybrid Exchange 2016 Venkat Ayyadevara
BRK3046 Build intelligent line-of-business applications leveraging the Outlook REST APIs Venkat Ayyadevara
BRK3074 Discover what’s new in Active Directory Federation and domain services in Windows Server 2016 Sam Devasahayam
BRK3109 Deliver management and security at scale to Office 365 with Azure Active Directory Brjann Brekkan
BRK3139 Throw away your DMZ – Azure Active Directory Application Proxy deep-diveThrow away your DMZ – Azure Active Directory Application Proxy deep-dive John Craddock
BRK3216 Plan performance and bandwidth for Microsoft Office 365 William Looney, Ed Fisher
BRK3217 Run Microsoft Exchange Hybrid for the long haul Timothy Heeney, Nicolas Blank
BRK3219 Migrate to Exchange Online via Exchange Hybrid Michael van Horenbeeck, Timothy Heeney
BRK3220 Deploy Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Brian Day, Jeff Guillet
BRK3221 Understand the Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Architecture Ross Smith IV, Mike Cooper
BRK3222 Implement Microsoft Exchange Online Protection Jennifer Gagnon, Wendy Wilkes
BRK3227 Ask us anything about Microsoft Office 365 Groups Eric Zenz, Darrell Webster, Christophe Fiessinger, Martina Grom
BRK3253 Experience Scott Schnoll’s Exchange tips and tricks Scott Schnoll
BRK3254 Cert Exam Prep: Exam 70-345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Vladimir Meloski
BRK4031 Overcome network performance blockers for Office 365 Deployments Paul Collinge
BRK4032 Dive deep into Microsoft Exchange Server High Availability Andrew Higginbotham
PRE18 The previous decade called…they want their Exchange Server back Michael van Horenbeeck, Greg Taylor, Sampath Kumar, Andrew Higginbotham, Timothy Heeney, David Espinoza, Nicolas Blank
THR1005R Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming in Microsoft Outlook 2016 for Windows Misbah Uraizee
THR1011R Dive deeper into what’s new and what’s coming in Outlook mobile Allen Filush, Victor Wang, James Colgan
THR2007R Fight back with advancements in Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Phil Newman, Atanu Banerjee
THR2054 Understand the risk and value of your public folder data BEFORE you migrate Dan Langille
THR2190R Secure your sensitive email with Office 365 message encryption Gagan Gulati, Ian Hameroff
THR3001R Migrate DL to Microsoft Office 365 Groups Siva Shanmugam, Loveleen Kolvekar
THR3015 Use RMS in Microsoft Office 365 Nathan O’Bryan
THR3040 Automate Exchange deployment with Powershell Desired State Configuration Ingo Gegenwarth
THR3082 Secure Office 365 in a hybrid directory environment Alvaro Vitta

For those that wish to view sessions offline, there is a script to download the slidedecks and videos. It does so by scraping the Ignite portal, downloading slidedecks from the portal itself, and videos from the related YouTube video link using an utility youtube-dl.exe (which you can also use to download playlists, quite neat). The script can take some parameters:

  • DownloadFolder to adjust the download folder.
  • Format to alter the dimensions and quality of the downloaded videos (see help for supported formats).
  • Title to filter on title keyword
  • Keyword to filter on description keyword.
  • Start to use a different version number to start scraping. Scraping is done sequentially; in the output you will notice a (#nnn) next to the title. That is the current post number.
  • NoVideos to skip downloading videos.

You can download the script from the TechNet Gallery here.

The UC Architects Podcast Ep59

iTunes-Podcast-logo[1]Episode 59 of The UC Architects podcast is now available. This episode is hosted by Steve Goodman, who is joined by Dave Stork and special guest, Gareth Gudger AKA Supertekboy. Editing was done by Andrew Price.

Topics discussed in this episode are:

  • Gareth Introduction
  • Help us test Exchange 2013/2016 to Exchange Online public folder migration
  • Focused Inbox
  • Announcing .NET Framework 4.6.2
  • Outlook for Mac Public Folders
  • Office 365
  • Microsoft Bookings
  • Introducing Skype Bots
  • Launching #Skype4B Survival Guide as Technet Wiki. Downloads, resources and community tools
  • Q&A Topic
  • Microsoft Ignite
  • UC Day (Oct24)
  • Unity Connect (Nov16-18)
  • VMworld, MVP Adam Ball speaking (Aug28-Sep1)

You can download the podcast here or you can subscribe to the podcasts using iTunes, Zune or use the RSS feed.

About
The UC Architects is a community podcast by people with a passion for Unified Communications; our main focus is on Exchange, Skype for Business or related subjects.

Outlook for iOS adds Contacts support

imageA short notice on an update received today for Outlook for iOS 2.09. This update adds the much requested feature of integrating Outlook for iOS with the (native) Contacts in iOS:

“Your Office 365 and Exchange Contacts can now be saved to the iOS Contacts app. This will allow you to easily see the name of a contact when you receive a call or text message from them. Head to your Advanced Settings to turn on this feature.”

This does away with the requirement of resorting to setups like having the iOS Mail app sync with your Office 365 or Exchange On-Premises account, just to sync those contacts with your device. To disable syncing contacts through the Mail app, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and click the account you wish to disable syncing contacts for. Then, disable syncing its Contacts by toggling its switch:

image_thumb.png

You will get a warning contacts synced through this contact will be removed from Contacts, but since we are going to use Outlook for this, you can proceed.

Next, open up the updated new Outlook app, and go to Settings. Click the account from which you want to sync contacts to your device, and select Advanced Settings. In there, you will find a new switch, Save Contacts to Device. Behind it is the number of contacts available on this account:

image

Toggle the switch to start syncing contacts directly from your Office 365 or Exchange On-Premises account to Contacts, giving the Outlook app permissions to access your Contacts when requested. After this, you’re ready to go.

Note that all synced contacts will contain a line in the Notes field, stating:

Exported from Microsoft Outlook (Do not delete) [outlook:..:..]

This is to indicate this is a synced contact, and you must not edit or remove it using the device, rather remove it from the originating source as it might get recreated or overwritten during synchronization.

Finally, the sync is one-way, so although you can edit properties on your phone through the Contacts app, they won’t be synced back to the originating source. Also, when editing properties through Contacts, those edits are not propagated to the People view in the Outlook app, as those are the contacts from your Office 365 / Exchange On-Premises accounts. This can be confusing, but having to set up an e-mail account just once with a one-way sync seems more efficient and less confusing to me than having to configure the Mail app only to get your contacts on your phone.

Knowledgebase RSS feeds

Update: Added Exchange 2016 and Skype for Business 2016 feed.

rss[1]Note: This is an update of an article from January, 2010.

Like most people I still use RSS feeds to keep track of news and updates from various sources. But did you know you can also keep track of Microsoft’s knowledgebase articles per product using RSS feeds? Great for keeping track of updates in RSS readers like Outlook or sites like Feedly, or creating triggers on sites like IFTTT (If-This-Then-That) to automatically send e-mail notifications.

Here are some RSS feeds on knowledgebase articles that might be of interest to you:

Exchange Server

Outlook

Office 365

Lync/Skype for Business

For a complete list of the knowledgebase articles RSS feeds check here.