01 Sep

Office 2007 End of Life roadmap – Part II

As we reminded you last week, Office 2007 will reach End of Life on October 10, 2017. If you haven’t already begun to upgrade your Office 2007 environment, we recommend you start now.

Almost all Microsoft products have a support lifecycle during which new features, bug fixes, security fixes are provided to customers. Such lifecycle typically lasts for 10 years from the date of the product’s initial release. When Office 2007 reaches its End of Life on October 10, 2017, Microsoft will no longer provide:

  • Technical support for issues
  • Bug fixes for issues that are discovered
  • Security fixes for vulnerabilities that are discovered

In addition, as of October 31, 2017, Outlook 2007 will be unable to connect to Office 365 mailboxes, which means Outlook 2007 clients using Office 365 will not be able to receive and send mail. Microsoft customers have three options to choose from, which we shortly described in our previous blog post. Here we want to focus on upgrading to Office 365 ProPlus.

What is Office 365 and Office 365 ProPlus?

Office 365 refers to subscription plans that include access to Office applications and other cloud services, including Skype for Business, Exchange Online, and OneDrive for Business. Office 365 ProPlus is the version of Office that comes with many Office 365 plans. It includes the full versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, and Skype for Business. Unlike Office 2007, Office 365 ProPlus is a user-based service that allows people to access Office experiences on up to 5 PCs or Macs and on their mobile devices. For information about the new features available in Office 365 ProPlus, see What’s new in Office 365.

Here is a roadmap for your upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus:

  • Review the system requirements for Office 365 ProPlus – before upgrading to Office 365 ProPlus, you need to verify that your computers meet or exceed the minimum system requirements. The Office 365 ProPlus requirements are the same as the Office Professional Plus 2016 requirements. In addition, you should review the system requirements for your Office server workloads. For example, Exchange 2007 does not support Outlook 2016.
  • Plan for Office 365 – because Office 365 ProPlus comes with many Office 365 plans, you should review your current Office 365 capabilities as part of planning an upgrade to ProPlus. Prior to deploying ProPlus, for example, you should ensure that all your users have Office 365 accounts and licenses.
  • Assess application compatibility – to ensure a successful upgrade, we recommend identifying your Office applications, including VBA scripts, macros, third-party add-ins, and complex documents and spreadsheets, and assessing their compatibility with Office 365 ProPlus.
  • Assess your infrastructure and environment – to decide how to upgrade to Office, you should evaluate your infrastructure and environment, including the following:
  • Number and distribution of your clients, including required languages.
  • IT infrastructure, including operating systems, mobile device support, user permissions and management, and software distribution methods.
  • Network infrastructure, including connections to the Internet and internal software distribution points.
  • Cloud infrastructure, including existing Office 365 capabilities, user licensing, and identity.
  • Choose how you want to deploy Office 365 ProPlus – you can deploy ProPlus from the cloud, from a local source on your network, or with System Center Configuration Manager. Which option you choose depends on your environment and business requirements.
  • Choose how often to update Office – with Office 365 ProPlus, you can control how frequently your users receive feature updates to their Office applications.

Here are some special considerations you should take into account while preparing the upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus

The Office Customization Tool is not used as part of the Office 365 ProPlus installation. Instead, you can customize the installation for your users with the Office 2016 Deployment Tool.

Removal of InfoPath from Office 365 ProPlus. InfoPath 2013 remains the current version and therefore won’t be included in the Office 2016 version of Office 365 ProPlus. When you upgrade an existing installation of Office 2007 to the Office 365 ProPlus, InfoPath is removed from the computer. If your users still need to use InfoPath, the 2013 version of InfoPath will be available for installation on the Software page in the Office 365 portal.

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25 Aug

Office 2007 End of Life roadmap – Part I

On October 10, 2017, Office 2007 will reach End of Life. If you haven’t already begun to upgrade your Office 2007 environment, we recommend you start now. It is high time. Being Microsoft Certified Partner, Network It Easy can provide useful deployment benefits for cloud migrations and for on-premises upgrades.

So what does End of Life mean?

Office 2007, like almost all Microsoft products, has a support lifecycle during which company provides new features, bug fixes, security fixes, and so on. Such a lifecycle typically lasts for 10 years from the date of the product’s initial release, and the end of this lifecycle is known as the product’s End of Life. When Office 2007 reaches its End of Life on October 10, 2017, Microsoft will no longer provide:

  • Technical support for issues
  • Bug fixes for issues that are discovered
  • Security fixes for vulnerabilities that are discovered

In addition, as of October 31, 2017, Outlook 2007 will be unable to connect to Office 365 mailboxes, which means Outlook 2007 clients using Office 365 will not be able to receive and send mail. Because of the changes listed above, we strongly recommend that you upgrade as soon as possible.

This is a good time to explore your options and prepare an upgrade plan. You can:

  • Upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus, the subscription version of Office that comes with many Office 365 plans.
  • Upgrade to Office 2016, which is sold as a one-time purchase and available for one computer per license.
  • Upgrade to an earlier version of Office, such as Office 2013.

If you think you cannot manage that process on your own, contact us and will be happy to help. In our next post, we’ll show you what Office 365 ProPlus is, so stay tuned.

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03 Aug

Introducing Microsoft 365

Last month at Inspire, Microsoft unveiled Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, delivering a complete, intelligent and secure solution to empower employees. It represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers’ needs for a modern workplace.

With more than 100 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365, and more than 500 million Windows 10 devices in use, Microsoft is in a unique position to help companies empower their employees, unlocking business growth and innovation. To address the commercial needs from the largest enterprise to the smallest business, the company is introducing Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Business.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is designed for large organizations and integrates Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise and Enterprise Mobility + Security to empower employees to be creative and work together, securely. Microsoft 365 Enterprise:

  • Unlocks creativity by enabling people to work naturally with ink, voice and touch, all backed by tools that utilize AI and machine learning.
  • Provides the broadest and deepest set of apps and services with a universal toolkit for teamwork, giving people flexibility and choice in how they connect, share and communicate.
  • Simplifies IT by unifying management across users, devices, apps and services.
  • Helps safeguard customer data, company data and intellectual property with built-in, intelligent security.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is offered in two plans—Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5. Both are available for purchase as of August 1, 2017.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is built on the foundation of the highly successful Secure Productive Enterprise, which grew seats by triple digits in the last year. Going forward, Microsoft 365 Enterprise replaces Secure Productive Enterprise to double-down on the new customer promise of empowering employees to be creative and work together, securely.

Microsoft 365 Business is designed for small- to medium-sized businesses with up to 300 users and integrates Office 365 Business Premium with tailored security and management features from Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It offers services to empower employees, safeguard the business and simplify IT management. Microsoft 365 Business:

  • Helps companies achieve more together by better connecting employees, customers and suppliers.
  • Empowers employees to get work done from anywhere, on any device.
  • Protects company data across devices with always-on security.
  • Simplifies the set-up and management of employee devices and services with a single IT console.

Microsoft 365 Business is available in public preview starting August 2, 2017. It will become generally available on a worldwide basis in the fall (CYQ3) of 2017.

As a part of Microsoft commitment to small-to-medium sized customers, they’re also announcing the preview of three tailored applications that are coming to Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business:

  • Microsoft Connections—A simple-to-use email marketing service.
  • Microsoft Listings—An easy way to publish your business information on top sites.
  • Microsoft Invoicing—A new way to create professional invoices and get paid fast.

 

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30 Jun

New in Office 365 security and compliance—June update

Recent Microsoft updates for security and compliance include enhancements to Advanced Threat Protection, eDiscovery, Advanced Data Governance, Advanced Security Management and expanded support for Windows Information Protection. Read on to learn more about these updates.

Office 365 Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) were designed to keep your organization protected against cyber-attacks while supporting end-user productivity. The Office 365 team continues to enhance both EOP and ATP by offering deeper insights and more flexible controls. This month, they are introducing the following new capabilities:

  • Threat Protection status report—New reporting for ATP and EOP that adds visibility into malicious emails detected and blocked for your organization. This supplements the recently introduced reports in the Security & Compliance Center for ATP Safe Attachments.
  • Enhanced quarantine capabilities—Now all emails classified as malware from both EOP and ATP are quarantined. This builds upon the existing quarantine experience by allowing administrators to review and delete emails from quarantine.

Additional details on these new features can be found in the Microsoft Tech Community, as well as on the EOP and ATP product pages. EOP is offered across the enterprise E1, E3 and E5 suites. ATP is offered as both a standalone SKU or as part of E5.

Furthermore, Microsoft has recently released several new eDiscovery and Data Governance features in Office 365 in order to help you meet legal, business and regulatory compliance requirements. These features include:

  • Optical character recognition in Advanced eDiscovery—Extracts text from image files or objects within the files, significantly reducing the amount of manual remediation work required to analyze image files.
  • Rights management (RMS) decryptionin Office 365 eDiscovery—Automatically decrypts RMS-encrypted email messages at export time when you choose the MSG Export option.
  • Unified case management—Provides a consistent user interface spanning the eDiscovery capabilities in Office 365, from core to advanced, which helps to reduce potential human errors by streamlining eDiscovery case definition and eliminating several steps in the process.

Many organizations have the need to perform supervision of employee communications. This need stems from internal security and compliance guidelines, or from regulatory bodies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In both cases, failure to have a demonstrable supervision process in place could potentially expose organizations to liability or severe penalties. To address this need, Microsoft has released the new Supervision feature in Office 365 Advanced Data Governance. Supervision covers not only email communications, but also third-party communications streams, such as Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg and many more. Supervision is part of Office 365 Advanced Data Governance, which is available as part of Office 365 E5 or the Office 365 Advanced Compliance SKU.

 

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22 Jun

New PowerPoint and Word Viewers

Last week Microsoft announced a new, streamlined web experience for instantly viewing Word and PowerPoint files in One Drive and SharePoint Document Libraries. The PowerPoint and Word Viewers are new Office 365 features and you’ll begin seeing these new features in the coming days. You’ll notice the following with the viewers:

  • they load instantly, in line with your files, just like you’re used to with popular file formats like PDF, photos, and videos;
  • as much clutter on the screen as possible has been reduced so that you can focus on reading the content;
  • you still have access to the same capabilities you use in OneDrive and SharePoint – including editing the document in your browser or Word and PowerPoint clients;
  • you can share, rename, download or see file information (using the details pane of the file you’re viewing);
  • company Shareable Links for Word and PowerPoint files are now part of this experience;
  • the viewing canvas is getting a fresher look and feel with lighter colors and more purposeful spacing that helps you focus on the content – aligning more to other Office 365 experiences.

These features will be gradually rolling out in the following days, and the roll-out will be completed by the end of July. The best part is that you don’t need to do anything to prepare for this change, but you may consider updating your user training, and notifying your help-desk.

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12 Jun

Introducing Groups in Outlook for Mac, iOS and Android

More than 10 million people rely on Groups in Outlook every month to work together and get things done. Groups in Outlook has been proved useful as it offers huge improvements over traditional distribution lists, with a shared space for group conversations, calendars, files and notebooks, the convenience of self-service membership and much more.

In April, 2017 Microsoft launched Groups in Outlook for Mac, iOS and Android. Since Groups is already available in Outlook for Windows and on the web, now you can access your group conversations and content no matter which platform you use.

With these updates, you can:

  • View your group list.
  • Read and reply to group conversations.
  • Add group events to your personal calendar.
  • View unread messages sent to the group.
  • View group details within the group card (Outlook for iOS and Android only).

In addition to bringing groups to more Outlook apps, Microsoft has released several new features for Groups in Outlook on other platforms:

  • Give guest access—Last fall, Outlook on the web was updated to give customers the ability to set up guest accessfor people outside their organization, set group classification as defined by Office 365 admins, and view usage guidelines. Now, these same capabilities are available in Outlook for Windows.
  • Invite people to join—in order to simplify inviting multiple people to join a group, Microsoft released the Invite to joinfeature to Outlook on the web, which lets customers create invitation links and share them with others via email or other channels, giving them a quick way to join the group.
  • Multi-delete conversations—Group owners can now multi-select conversations and delete them from the group conversations space in Outlook for Windows.
  • Send email as a group—Office 365 admins can grant send-as and send-on-behalf-of permissionsto members of a group using the Exchange admin center. Group members who have these permissions can then send emails as the group, or on behalf of the group, from Outlook for Windows and Outlook on the web.

 

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29 May

New SharePoint and OneDrive capabilities accelerate your digital transformation

Earlier in May, Microsoft unveiled a new wave of innovations that build upon the vision they set forth last year to reinvent content collaboration and usher in a new generation of mobile and intelligent intranets. We already know that SharePoint and OneDrive in Office 365 empowers individuals, teams and organizations to share with confidence, transform business process, inform and engage the organization, and harness collective knowledge. These new announcements make it easier than ever for customers to drive such outcomes and accelerate their digital transformation.

Share with confidence

OneDrive lets you share files securely with anyone—inside or outside your organization. Its deep Office integration, which powers rich co-authoring, allows you to collaborate on these shared files with others in real time. And it lets you access all your Office 365 files, including your individual work files and files shared with you by individuals, teams and the organization—regardless of whether you’re on a PC, Mac, an iOS or Android device or a Windows phone.

See all your files in File Explorer with OneDrive Files On-Demand

Files On-Demand enables you to work with all your files in Office 365—both work and personal, across OneDrive and SharePoint—right from File Explorer, without having to download them and use storage space on your device.

 Share files directly from File Explorer on Windows and Finder on Mac

Starting this summer you will be able to share Office 365 files directly from File Explorer on PC and Finder on Mac. The sharing experience has been simplified, so you can share a file or folder with specific people or send a link that enables anyone who needs access, inside or outside your organization. In addition, you can now control how long a link provides access, and you can easily view and modify the permissions you have granted.

Connect SharePoint team sites with other Office 365 content and services

Over the last year, SharePoint team sites were modernized and connected with Office 365 Groups. Some additional enhancements—coming later this year—will further unify collaboration experiences in Office 365, including:

  • The ability to connect existing SharePoint team sites to Office 365 Groups, so you can augment existing sites with shared conversations, calendar and Planner.
  • Support for adding SharePoint pages as tabs in Microsoft Teams so you can add a tab with a news article or your team site’s homepage, for example. This builds upon the existing ability to add tabs for SharePoint document libraries in Teams.

Transform business process

SharePoint enables you, your team and your organization to streamline tasks, automate workflows and integrate processes seamlessly into your work—on any device and from anywhere you work.

Create custom SharePoint forms and digital experiences with PowerApps

Starting this summer, you will be able to use Microsoft PowerApps to easily create custom forms and rich digital experiences that surface right in the context of a SharePoint list or library. Users can then create, view and interact with data using your custom form or experience, rather than default SharePoint forms.

Inform and engage employees

An intranet lets you communicate to people—keeping them informed of news and information. And it enables you to communicate with people—to engage employees and foster open conversation. It is this engagement that is fundamental to driving digital transformation and culture change.

 Find people, expertise and content faster with powerful, personalized search

When you click in the Search box on SharePoint home in Office 365, recommendations appear instantly. You’ll see recent files, making it easy to get back to your work, as well as relevant content, sites and news. When you’re searching for knowledge, it may be found in content such as files, sites and news. And it might also be found through your colleagues. Now, your search results will include people whose skills, interests and projects—part their Office 365 profile—are relevant to your query.

Search results activate people cards, so you can learn at a glance about a person and the content they work on. One more click activates an extended view with richly detailed information from the user’s profile. These enhancements to search will roll out over the next few months.

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25 May

New OneDrive and SharePoint sharing experience

Microsoft has improved the sharing UI on the OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online websites and sync clients to provide easier collaboration and better security.

Share command

The Share command now sends shareable links by default rather than granting permissions to specific people like the old Invite people tab. This better matches user expectations that links sent in email can be forwarded to others by default. In other words, Share does the same thing as Copy link except it enables users to send the link immediately to recipients via email.

Both the Share and Copy link commands are now default to the same permissions and use the same link settings.

Users can change settings on sharing links to one of three possible permission levels:

  • Anyone with this link – this shareable link can be forwarded to others or people might be added to the thread. This option does not require recipients to sign-in and hence is the most convenient for recipients. It can be used for sharing content with others, including people outside your tenant.
  • Only people in [tenant] – users who open the link must sign-in or be signed-in to a non-guest account in the tenant. It can be forwarded to others or people might be added to the thread, as long as these people are inside your tenant. If any external user gets a hold of the link, they will not be able to use it. It can be used for sharing internal-only content.
  • Specific people – this link will only work for people who were granted permission (and others who already have access to the item). If recipients want to send this link to anyone else, they need to ensure those recipients have been granted permission to the resource, otherwise the link won’t work. This option produces behavior similar to the “Invite people” tab in the old sharing UI.

Tenant admins who wish to change the default link permission can do so in the OneDrive Admin Center and the SharePoint Admin Center. Users who want to explicitly grant permissions to an item without sending a link can do so by selecting “Manage access” and then selecting “Add people”.

The new sharing UI will be rolling out in late Spring on the following endpoints:

  • OneDrive for Business on the web
  • SharePoint Online document libraries on the web
  • Windows File Explorer context menu for sync’ed files (“Share” command)
  • Mac OS Finder context menu for sync’ed files (“Share” command)
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26 Apr
10 Jun

Get to know the Office 365 Video new features

In May, 2016 Microsoft introduced a lot of new features and functionalities, providing for the most integrated video solution within Office 365. Customers whose tenants are in the Government Community Cloud (GCC) and China data-centers now have Office 365 Video available to them for their dynamic, secure and private internal communications. With Office 365 Video we get a single tool for uploading, sharing and playing back videos anywhere on a company intranet, whether we use SharePoint Online or SharePoint Server on-premises. It brings us numerous features and capabilities, for instance improvements on upload experience, enhanced accessibility, developed analytics to provide aggregate trending patterns. Here is a closer look at some of the new features:

  • Video viewer statistics – provide insights into how our videos are being viewed and highlight viewing spikes. We get to know how many people have watched given video and how much time they spent doing it. We can easily view interactive viewer trends and graphs from the drop-down menu underneath each video.
  • Improved upload capabilities – now we can easily upload videos, adjust and add title and description. When we choose to upload multiple videos at a time we can see progress along the way, both on individual progress bars per video as well as on overall progress bar. All it takes is clicking the universal upload button in the navigation bar
  • Subtitle files – Office 365 Video supports the common webvtt format for subtitles which allows to add subtitles in various languages to each video. All we need to do is choose a language and upload captions file, while O365 Video player will do the rest when a viewer turns captioning on.
  • Choose your own thumbnail – we can select either one of the four auto-generated thumbnails, upload our own custom image or use a default thumbnail. The thumbnail of our choice will represent the video throughout O365, including Office Delve activity feed, SharePoint site and internal blog post.
  • Inserting a video into a SharePoint page or team site – an Office 365 Video button on the insert ribbon menu displays a dialog box in which we can search for a video and choose it from our O365 Video portal. Now embedding videos is simpler than ever.
  • Offline viewing – with Office 365 Video we can stay informed even if we are not connected to the Internet; it allows us to download a file and transfer it to any other device in order to view the video offline at any time.
  • Restoring a video from the Recycle Bin – videos deleted by users are kept in the Recycle Bin for 90 days and now it is possible to easily restore them, simply select the video and click Recover Selection.

 

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07 Jun

Five Ways Your Business Can Improve Its Search Engine Rankings

5 Tips for SMBs to Improve Search Engine Rankings…

In an age where most business happens online, not showing up in Google search results can really hurt you. While there’s no real shortcut to showing up consistently on web searches, there are a few quick fixes to get your site to show up on your potential customer’s search results…

1. HTML tags – Important HTML tags include the title tag, meta description and meta keywords. Make sure each page of your website has appropriate HTML tags. The title tag of each page should be unique and relevant to that particular page.

2. Alternative text images – Ensure that most of the images on your website have alternative text tags. Alt tags are basically descriptions for images. By adding relevant alternative tags to images, you are allowing search engines to recognize them, which will improve the likelihood of your page showing up in search results.

3. File hierarchy – How simple is your HTML file hierarchy? Check to see if your website’s pages are logically situated and avoid too many unnecessary folders. For example: ‘NFL=>Teams=>PittsburghSteelers’ is a better folder structure than ‘NFL=>Teams=>NFCEast=>PittsburghSteelers’, because here ‘NFCEast’ is redundant and only serves to push the Steelers page deeper down the order. This complexity makes your site less likely to show up on search results for people searching for Steelers websites.

4. Sitemap – A sitemap acts as a navigational guide for your visitors as well as search engines. Does your website have one? If not, then it’s time to put up a site map on your website.

5. Content quality – Read your website content to determine its quality. Is your content written for search engines or actual visitors? Is it stuffed with keywords? Does it truly add value to your audience, or is simply there to fill up the page? Answer these questions and make sure it has value for your audience. Value for your audience translates to better search engine rankings.

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31 May

Five Things You Should Do Right Now to Preserve Your Network and Systems

5 Things SMBs Can Do Right Now to Preserve Their Network and Systems

1. Backup Files Every Day – As catastrophic as data loss is, the number of businesses that still are not backing up their network is unbelievable. According to the Symantec Small to Medium Size Businesses (SMB) data, only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data on a daily basis and fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly. Any number of events can result in data loss, so the importance of frequently backing up your network cannot be overstated.

2. Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly – Many times business owners think that they have a backup system in place only to find out after it’s too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like your files are being backed up daily, however, the backup could have become corrupt or it is not backing up huge chunks of critical data. Check your backup procedures regularly to ensure they are working properly in order to be sure that ALL of your data can be recovered. In the age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on your employee’s personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys, so make sure you have a procedure in place to check those backups as well.

3. Make Sure Updated Virus Protection and Firewalls Are Always Enabled – Far too many companies either have no virus protection, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and unreputable websites. Further, because of inadequate firewall protection about 40% of small to medium businesses will have their network accessed by a hacker. Chances are, when these businesses are attacked they will be entirely unaware it is happening. In order to protect your valuable data and assets, ensure your virus protection is adequate, up-to-date and functioning properly and that your firewall is intact. Finally, don’t forget to update security patches and change passwords when an employee leaves in order to deter hacking attempts.

4. Monitor Server Drives – Dangerously full server drives can bring their own set of problems – ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your server can spare your business a lot of problems down the road.

5. Regularly Check Critical Built-In Logs – Very few problems with technology emerge suddenly. These problems typically progress over time and evolve into more serious problems. Frequently review your critical built-in log files to help identify the problem before it has gotten out of control and wreaks havoc on your business infrastructure.

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04 Apr

Skype for Business is a Game Changer for businesses

 

At the heart of great teams is great communication

We believe that the heart of productivity is great teamwork, and the heart of great teams is great communication. Productivity today is centered on conversations—sometimes a quick instant message or call, and sometimes a meeting planned in advance including voice, video and content sharing. Office 365 is a world-class productivity service that helps great teams to accomplish great achievements. At the heart of Office 365 Communications is the Skype for Business service connecting your teams with the experience they love, in the Office applications they use every day. With Skype for Business you can simplify your infrastructure with one platform for calling, conferencing, video, and sharing.

 

Office 365 Skype for Business

Click here for a page dedicated to Skype for Business

 

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21 Mar

New Office 365 admin center

On Friday, March 18th 2016 Microsoft announced the rollout of its new Office 365 admin center which makes managing O365 faster, easier and more efficient. We all have noticed that over last few years office 365 has been evolving rapidly. It of course has been to our great advantage: increasing number of features and functionalities made available to us on almost daily basis is something we simply must appreciate. But on the other hand the more options you have at hand, the more confusing it can get to stay informed.

 

Microsoft introduced the first preview of the new admin center in September, 2015 asking its customers for feedback. What we are getting now is the result of massive customer feedback and insights that have influenced the changes. According to Erin Michaels, Distribution Development Manager-Midwest at Microsoft Corporation, the new admin center includes some significant enhancements:

Simplification and discoverability— with the new admin center managing Office 365 is quick and efficient because it is showing frequent tasks directly on your dashboard. For many tasks there’s even no need to leave the dashboard as all is there at our fingertips.

Search— a new search bar has been added at the top of the admin center to help quickly find the required feature.  For now we can search for users and groups to look up details and make edits, but in the near future search possibilities will be extended.

Reporting— some users already have access to a variety of new reports that provide consistent insights across all workloads and deliver details down to the individual user level. Currently available reports include active Office 365 users, email traffic and Office activations, but this offer will be expanded in the coming months, adding for example reports for OneDrive, SharePoint, Yammer and Skype for Business activity.

This is now, but let’s see what else future holds for us:

Customization— soon it’ll be possible to customize both the dashboard as well as other areas of the admin center in a way that fits our specific needs.

Contextual help and detailed explanations of functionality will be available right next to the task, helping us to quickly change settings and use the admin center more efficiently.

Microsoft encourages us to send them feedback. So let’s keep them busy 🙂 we are already testing the new admin center and will certainly be sending our conclusions. After all, the better they are prepared, the easier our work will be.

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05 Feb

Simplify management of apps & devices with Microsoft Intune

In our daily work we all use many, both personal and corporate-owned devices, and we often share data with our coworkers. We expect to be productive across a variety of devices at hand and we expect to have a constant access to the applications these devices need. Now it is all so very simple with Microsoft Intune, which provides mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) as well as PC management from the cloud. With Intune we may gain access to corporate applications, data and resources from anywhere on almost any device, keeping these information secure at all times.

We get the ability to register and manage our devices and to install corporate applications from the self-service Company Portal, this means that we can access corporate resources with the Office mobile apps, which we all know so well, and be sure that none of the company data leaks outside the system. Due to secure device enrollment and compliance policies set by the admin our company data, including Outlook emails and OneDrive for Business documents, is always secure. The existing System Center Configuration Manager infrastructure can be integrated with Intune, providing management capabilities across devices on premises as well as in the cloud. Intune is also included as part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite, the most cost-effective way to acquire Intune, Azure Active Directory Premium, and Azure Rights Management.

With the mobile device management, Microsoft Intune provides secure management of personal and corporate-owned devices across the most popular platforms, including Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android. And thanks to Intune’s resource access policies we can restrict users from accessing corporate resources on an unenrolled or noncompliant device. We can also apply device settings that will enable remote actions such as passcode reset, device lock, data encryption, or full wipe of a lost or stolen device.

Furthermore with Microsoft Intune manageability and data protection is built directly into the most popular Office mobile apps and by restricting actions such as copy, cut, paste, and save as between Intune-managed apps and personal apps Intune prevents leakage of company data. Intune offers secure content viewing by means of PDF Viewer, AV Player, Image Viewer or Intune Managed Browser. We can also deny specific applications or URLs from being accessed and to further protect our data we can selectively wipe managed apps and data on devices that are unregistered, non-compliant, lost or stolen.

Through integration with System Center Configuration Manager we can manage PCs, Macs, and UNIX/Linux servers, as well as mobile devices, all from a single management console. With Intune we are protected against malware threats on managed computers and we can simplify administration by deploying software and configuring Windows Firewall settings. And since Microsoft Intune subscriptions are licensed on a per-user basis we don’t need to predict the number of devices per user.

You can also watch this short overview of Microsoft Intune here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/microsoft-intune

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20 Jan

How we get things done for the City of Chicago

The checks and balances of government offered NIE an opportunity to assist with the City of Chicago’s migration to Office 365. The City of Chicago – Committee on Finance runs systems that are separate from the main City of Chicago network. As their systems are separate from the City of Chicago, but play an integral role, they needed a qualified, accomplished, and reputable Microsoft partner to handle their migration to Office 365. It was business as usual for the Committee on Finance as NIE worked diligently and accurately to ensure their Active Directory environment populated Office 365 allowing them single point of maintenance going forward. Coupled with top notch migration tools to ensure all of the Committee on Finance’s data was migrated quickly and completely to Office 365, users were able to continue working during the process and after the migration without any issues. Office 365 allowed Committee on Finance to streamline their back end while leaving the end user experience for the most part unchanged with additional services available should they chose to use them. Even though we added additional functionality and all the services that Office 365 offers like spam filtering, malware protection, click-to-run Office suite with anywhere access to their documents; change management of the system became easier as our implementation centralized management in Active Directory. The end result is a streamline implementation with single point of maintenance, reliability of Exchange email, and the services they need to effectively manage their integral and important part in the running of our fine City of Chicago.

 

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07 Dec

Communications made easy

As you may already know Office 365 offers several communications services designed to modernize voice, video, and meeting experiences, while saving substantial costs in company’s communication infrastructure. Today I would like to shed some light on innovative services built on well-known Skype for Business. Being active in business environment requires great communication: a crazy mixture of instant messages, calls, meetings that include voice, video and content sharing. Nowadays we have so many various avenues of communication that we need innovative tools not to lose our track. Many of us still uses a private branch exchange system (PBX), that serves as a private telephone switchboard, to manage our telephone communications within our organizations. But now thanks to Skype for Business Cloud PBX we can make things easier, eliminating numerous PBX systems and transferring all necessary functions into the cloud. This solution allows us to manage phone numbers by using Office 365 admin console. The phone numbers, taken directly from Microsoft or transferred into Skype for Business, can be assigned or re-assigned to users as needed, and in case of large companies this process can be automated thanks to PowerShell scripting. Such a solution is simply brilliant, as now all of our communication needs (e-mails, collaboration, phone calls, online meetings) can be delivered straight from Office 365.

There is also another new feature, called PSTN Conferencing, which makes Skype meetings even easier to organize: anyone invited to take part in a meeting can simply dial in using a traditional or mobile phone. In addition thanks to PSTN Calling, Office 365 customers can subscribe to Microsoft calling plans. This option is now available for the U.S. market only, but we are promised that more markets will become available later on.

To see how this service works you can check out the last week’s Microsoft Mechanics, available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Cxawu9mIag&feature=player_embedded

Both Cloud PBX and PSTN Conferencing are included in Office 365 E5 or can be purchased separately. Contact us to learn more on how to improve your company’s communication with Skype for Business and Office 365.

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24 Aug

OneDrive for Business just got better

A year has passed since the OneDrive for Business integration within the Outlook Web App for Office 365 users was released. It enabled us to send OneDrive for Business files, set edit and view permissions using the simple menu bar. Such a solution made it easy to share cloud without having to leave the inbox. And this spring we were introduced to some improvements to this integration, that are supposed to make sharing and saving files to OneDrive for Business even easier.

So now we can save attachments that were received in our inbox directly to our OneDrive for Business folder. Thanks to this we can have an easy access to those files from anywhere we are. And what’s more we are able to collaborate with others in our community on these files in Office or Office Online without even having to keep track of multiple versions. You know how crucial that is, especially when you run home office and need to be in constant touch with others in your organization to edit changes or when you have a demanding customer who is located quite far from your premises.

And did I mention how simple that solution is? When you receive an e-mail with attachment just open the drop-down menu on the attachment and click Save to OneDrive or Save all to OneDrive, all chosen files are then being saved in OneDrive for Business folder called Email attachments. Now you can move them to any other folder or send as a cloud attachment.

There is yet another cool feature I want to mention. We all know how tedious and sometimes fallible sending large attachments can get. Such files usually take a long time to send and often bounce back. Now the Outlook Web App automatically notifies us when the attachment we are trying to send is over the message size limit. In such a case the option Send as attachment is greyed out and there is only an option to upload file to OneDrive for Business. This solution saves us a lot of valuable time and enhances our customers / partners satisfaction. And we all know how important that is, don’t we? The Outlook Web App will soon support uploading files up to 2GB directly to OneDrive for Business.

This update applies to Office 365 commercial, government and academic customers using the Outlook Web App and OneDrive for Business but these features are not supported in the Outlook desktop client.

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21 Jul

The new OneDrive API

Earlier this year Microsoft released a new OneDrive API, which allows us to integrate OneDrive into our apps so we can store and manage data across all major platforms, including Windows, the web, iOS, and Android. Thanks to this new application we can use a cloud storage platform which is available to users across the entire Microsoft consumer services family.

The OneDrive API is said to be a foundation for further evolution of the platform, to enable us full access to functionality of OneDrive. Its new, interesting features include the following:

  • ability to retrieve changes to files and folders to keep a large set of files in sync with minimal calls
  • resumable uploads of files up to 10 GB via file-fragment uploading for working with rich content, like HD videos
  • customizable file thumbnail images for delivering a more integrated experience across your app and OneDrive

And this is just a beginning, Microsoft experts are still working on more improvements and helpful features to be released throughout the year 2015. I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us! Stay tuned for more updates.

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09 Jul

Windows 10

Windows 10 release date revealed

It is said that the long awaited Windows 10 will be released late July, 2015. As Microsoft endorse it itself “Windows 10 isn’t for all of us, but for each of us”. This time around development of new OS is different than ever before. Microsoft is using valuable feedback provided by millions of people, which is to help shape the future of Windows.

Windows 10 feels familiar, simple navigation means that we don’t need to spend time learning new ways. In addition, we won’t have to worry about being up-to-date with the latest features or security updates, as Windows will automatically deliver – directly to your device – all updates as soon as they become available. The Store in Windows 10 will offer hundreds of thousands of apps including games, music, videos and a new version of Office.

A recent Microsoft update starts prompting Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to ‘reserve’ their free Windows 10 upgrade, but for our customers we would recommend NOT TO follow the wizard yet, since Windows 10 has not been tested on their network or with their software. Deploying Windows 10 without compatibility testing could cause major problems on the company network. We’ll make every attempt to block that patch from distribution (for customers who use our Managed Services) in order to avoid additional charges necessary for us to troubleshoot or fix problems later on.

Follow the tips provided below and stay connected to see what’s new in the IT world.

  1. Do not click on the upgrade prompt in the lower right corner (it appears as a Start button icon in the notification area on your taskbar):  w10

  1. However, if you do so, please don’t follow the wizard below (just close the window). If you have already followed this wizard, after July 29 you will receive a prompt to install Windows 10. DO NOT install it at that time.

  1. Please forward this information to all staff.
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