Friday, July 19, 2013

Lync Online July Updates

July Lync Updates

This July 2013, there have been some new releases leases to both the Lync Client and Lync Mobile Clients which are really exciting. These features will be made to Lync Online and Office 365.

These feature updates are truly awesome. They are just further enable to people to communicate better virtually and have more rich web meetings, regardless of the device. It is a true differentiator and shows Microsoft’s commitment to providing an evergreen service to its Office 365 customers.

Some of these features will knock your socks off if you really use Lync a lot.

Embedded Images

The updated Lync client is now supported embedded images. This is super cool. Why? I am a heavy user of Lync. All the time I am IMing with people and I want to show them something really really really quickly. Even those is it really easy for me to share my screen or an application, now I can share an image right into the IM conversation. So quick screenshot, drop it in, and keep on IMing. Love it.


Meetings View

Again something really cool, I do not need to be in outlook to see my web meetings. I can see all my Exchange Online calendar in Lync and then just join the meetings from there. This just shows me how the Office 365 user experience is continuing unifying the user experiences.


IM Mute

Yes. Very cool. I have actually been busted in meetings doing too much IM. Plus I have been leading meetings where people are IMing too much and IM is actually becoming a distraction to a formal web meeting. Now presenters can just block IMing during a meeting.


Question and Answer Manager

Again very awesome. I have run meetings so many times where I want to have formal way to allow people to ask questions and ensure that the person I am responding to knows it is for them. It is can be hard to answer IM questions from 20 people in a meeting. Using the Q&A manager provides a really good capability to run web meetings. This could even be used in concert with the IM Mute feature I discussed above.


Lync Mobile >> Transition to Lync Meeting

Now with Windows Phone, iPhone, or iPad it is really easy to bring others into your conversation and then just hit the call button and start talking. To me, that is a big deal for mobile because typically will not IM as long on a mobile device as I do on a laptop.


Lync Mobile >> Transition to Lync Meeting

Ability to see meeting content view when on Windows Phone and iPhone. That is AWESOME! I no longer have to say, I cannot see the slides, shared application or share desktop because I am mobile. My mobile device can allow me to participate in the meeting.


Lync Mobile >> Meeting Participation

Yes some of those other new capabilities will be consistent to the connecting mobile devices. For instance you have the ability to see your Exchange Online calendar from the Lync App to make it easy to join meetings. Additionally users attending meetings from their Lync mobile app can have their IM muted and participate in Question / Answer discussions.


Like I said, Microsoft is going full steam. The features and capabilities being released are aligned to what people want and it is continuing to improve how people communicate.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Office and OWA Apps for iPhone and iPad

New Announcements

Office 365 has again expanded support for iPhone and iPad. There are always been support for ActiveSync for Exchange Online, Lync App, Office Web Apps, SharePoint Online, and OneNote App.

There have been two announcements in June and July 2013 for more solutions for iPhone and iPad. First there was an announcement for Office for iPhone; very similar what users get by default on a Windows Phone. Second there was an announcement for Outlook Web App (OWA) for iPad.

Office for iPhone

Read the announcements, details, and watch a video here -

This capability provides:

  • Integrated log in with your organizational IDs
  • Connect to SharePoint and SkyDrive Pro
  • Word, Excel and PowerPoint (note there is already a OneNote App)


OWA for iPad and iPhone

Hot off the presses, the new Outlook Web App (OWA) for iPhone and iPad. Read the announcements with tons of screenshots and details -

This capability provides:

  • Email status notifications
  • Rich email, calendar and contact management
  • Voice commands
  • Information Rights Management support with AD Rights Management Server (AD RMS)
  • Outlook and OWA Apps Support
  • Exchange Online user configuration management
  • And more….


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Office 365 Power BI Announcement


There was a really exciting new announcements made this week by Microsoft for Office 365. This week they announced Power BI for Office 365. This is a huge leap forward to self-service BI. This is something I talk with a lot of people about. Organizations know Excel, and with Excel Service you can create powerful dynamic reports and dashboards in the same tools that organizations have expertise in.

The Office 365 BI Power tools

If you know SharePoint Online, you know there is Excel Services which provide a powerful BI capability today. Additionally today you may know about Power Pivot and Power View. New additions are Power Query and Power Map.

  • Power Query – is a new capability which allows people to easily search and access data that may reside publically or within their organization with Excel.


  • Power Map – is a new visualization tool that good for mapping, exploring and interacting with data.


  • Power Pivot – is a solution in Excel to build complex data models. This supports the ability to in-memory analytics and modeling against large volumes of data.


  • Power View – is a powerful solution in Excel to build interactive charts, graphs, KPIs, etc.


Together these tools can be brought together build a BI experience right in Office 365.

But there is more…

Wait, there is more exciting stuff here.

  • New Refreshing you data – This is long been a discussion topic I have had with organizations reviewing Office 365. Up to this point, Excel Services in SharePoint Online work great but it only has the ability to work with data in the Excel spreadsheet itself. There were some creative solutions out there to fresh your Excel spreadsheets with data in SharePoint Online ( Now there will be a new capability that will use the Data Management Gateway which allows you to refresh data. This is super EXCITING! Now you can have Excel Services running in the cloud that securely access your line of business data repositories.


  • New BI Sites – There have been dashboard and reporting site templates around for a while now. With this new release of Power BI, there will be a new site template available to support these activities. The really cool thing this does is allows you to centrally manage your reports and data connections. You can then re-use these data connections across reports. Remember you can still add in other SharePoint capabilities to create dashboard that incorporate social, content and business processes.


  • New Natural Language Query capability – There is a new natural language capability is available that will allow every data end users to enter statements and then query the reports, without having to use a bunch of fields and controls. This is really interesting as it will allow end users to go in and discover data without having to engage a developer.


  • Easy to Access – Additionally these new Power BI solutions will be available through apps and browser to allow users access to the reports regardless of the device they are using.


Commitment to the Evergreen Service

This is yet again another example of how Office 365 makes good on its commitment to being an Evergreen Service. I speak with organizations about this all the time. You do not have to wait for a major release to get new features and capabilities. With the Office 365 cloud, organizations can get new capabilities quickly and start seeing immediate returns on their cloud investment.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Exchange Online and Social Network Contacts

Another nice capability has been released for Exchange Online. In Outlook Web App (OWA) you now have the ability to connect your social networks contacts into Exchange Online. This has been possible with Outlook 2013, but now it is available in OWA too.

All you need to do is select “Connect to social network” and then follow the steps to bring in your social network contacts.


Reference -

New Lync Online Reports

A lot of organizations have asked for reporting with Lync Online. Microsoft responded by providing some reports to customers which are now available.

If you Global Administration rights to your Office 365 tenant, you will now see some Lync reports are available. You now can see break outs on the number of sessions for IM, audio, video, application sharing, file transfer, web conferences, application sharing, web and dial-in conferences. This is spread across four different reports. This can be really value information to understand how Lync is being utilized and should probably be reviewed on a regular basis.


Here is a screenshot from a tenant that I created. I literally have almost no data <g> however if there was more, it would be showing. You can look at data by day, week or month.


When you click on the View Table button you see a breakout of the numbers that was being viewed.


Office 365 PowerShell

A lot of customers want and need to do automated administration of services provided in Office 365. This is done through PowerShell. With the new Office 365 release, the story around this has become well rounded. The newest release will be supporting for Lync Online PowerShell.
Here are some good references for getting started with PowerShell and Office 365:

New Yammer Integration with Office 365 and SharePoint Online


As many of you know Microsoft acquired a company called Yammer who provides a really powerful social platform that is highly utilized by businesses. SharePoint 2013 made some significant strides in providing some new OOB social capabilities such as the new community site template, micro-blogging, a complete facelift to MySite with SkyDrive Pro, improved sharing capabilities, etc. The addition of Yammer strengthens social solutions for Microsoft, not just for SharePoint.

As of today, Microsoft and Yammer are starting to unify the purchase process. For more information, read there:

However the objective of this blog is show you some of the recent updates that have occurred in June 2013 between Office 365, SharePoint Online and Yammer.

Up to this Point

Up this point there were some options to get Yammer hooked into SharePoint Online. These are solutions that people could do while they waited for some integration to be built between SharePoint and Yammer.

  • SharePoint Sandbox Solution - First you had the ability to use some web parts that had been written on SharePoint 2010 as sandbox solutions. If you clicked on this link ( and scrolled down you will see a file you can download that was built for SharePoint Online. Basically deploy the WSP.
  • Yammer Embed – This is an HTML / Javascript solution that can install basically into any type of web application to bring social into that application. It is easy enough to bring in this code into SharePoint Online to get it to work.

New Office 365 and Yammer Integration

What has been initially released is basic integration. In the roadmap ( it was stated Basic Integration would be achieved by:

  1. Global Navigation Integration
  2. Yammer App for SharePoint

Well I am happy to say both are available, announcement -

Remember the reason why customers come to Office 365 is it is an evergreen service. Microsoft wants to continue to deliver new features and capabilities on a regular basis – this is just another example of that commitment.

Let’s walk through both of these.

Global Navigation Integration

What this solutions basically does is replace the Office 365 default “Newsfeed” link.


With a new link to “Yammer”.


What this effectively does is instead of driving a user to the SharePoint Online Newsfeeds page, the user will be driven to Yammer Newsfeeds instead. This was done to centralize group discussions so that end users do not get confused between SharePoint versus Yammer newsfeeds. This makes it very simple for end users.

Note that this does not remove the “Newsfeed” capability from SharePoint Online; it is still available. The SharePoint Online Newsfeed web part can still be added to pages to allow users to follow SharePoint Online sites, document and tags.

Here is an article on that fully explains how to configure it - Note it does take some time for this change to fully complete. The article notes it could take 30 minutes for Yammer link to switch in. I personally saw it switch in pretty quick but it did take longer for it to show completely everywhere. It did complete.

New Yammer App for SharePoint

The second new solution available it the Yammer App for SharePoint which is using the new Apps model - The app is free and really easy to get added into SharePoint Online. Here is a quick article discussing the app -

Right now the app is initially focused on bringing Yammer groups into SharePoint Online to enable augment social collaboration in sites and on content.

Here are some quick steps on getting this set up.

There are numerous ways you can purchase and put rules around how apps will be purchased in your organization. That is not in scope for me right now for this blog. First I just went into SharePoint Online Administration >> Apps >> clicked Purchase Apps.


I was taken to the SharePoint App store. I searched for the Yammer App for SharePoint and was take to this page. I just clicked Add It.


Then I waited for the Yammer App for SharePoint to be added.


I was then given a confirmation of when it was completed.


After that you can do a lot of things around management of the App but again not in scope for this blog.

Next I went to a SharePoint Online site that I wanted to add the Yammer app to. There are tons of ways to add an App. I just went to Site Contents >> clicked Add An App button.


The Yammer App for SharePoint was returned.


I then added it. I was given a prompted to see if I trust it.


Once that is done the Yammer App for SharePoint is now available to this site.


If you click the Yammer App for SharePoint link on the Site Contents page you will be taken this screen which will provide a description of the app.


Next I create a page in my site to add the Yammer App for SharePoint too. I clicked on Add App in the ribbon and then select the Yammer Feed app.


Once that is done the Yammer Feed app is on the SharePoint Page and I need to configure it.

Note – if you have any errors associated to an IFrame and the web part not rendering, you probably have not set up trusted sites. Recommend you read this -


When I click sign in, this screen comes up where I put in my username and password for Yammer.


Once that is completed the Yammer Feed is ready to go. All you need to do is select what type of feed you want to show.


First I need to select the Network that the group is on.


For demonstration purposes, I pre-created a Yammer Group. Then I selected the Yammer Group I wanted to show by select the 7 digit ID for the Yammer Group.


Then the feed from the Yammer Group is displayed. Easy. If I were to take some more time, I could then start adding document libraries, calendars, HTML content, Excel Services, etc. to the screen creating a mash-up where Yammer enriches the collaboration experience.


On a side note, Yammer App for SharePoint is very exciting for me to see. I have written about this before; I find the SharePoint Apps model very exciting. Why? For years I have built custom SharePoint solutions. One of the biggest challenges I have seen is well-intended developers do is build great solutions however many of these solutions are not architected well. These custom solutions in many cases are too coupled to SharePoint and create agility challenges. SharePoint Apps alleviate this as you are forced to decouple. Apps can be brought into SharePoint quickly and do not have a major impact to the SharePoint environment itself; that is huge. These apps can continually be extended and it is easy to bring these changes in. This allows organizations to be truly agile with SharePoint.


I believe this level of integration is a good first step. The long-term objective to bring the Office 365 and Yammer closer together by providing even deeper integration between the two platforms so both can leverage one another.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Exchange Online Protection (EOP) Excel Reports

Many of you may know that when the new Exchange Online (Exchange 2013) in Office 365 that Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) was changed to Exchange Online Protection (EOP). There were several new capabilities released along with unifying the administration of EOP directly into the Exchange Admin Center. I will go into some of these details in some other blogs, however I really wanted to write about this new capability that not so many people know about.

With EOP you now have the ability to run reports in the EAC but you can run reports out of Excel 2013. Go here to download the report (

Using Excel 2013 allows you to pivot and drill down into the data more that is being capture in EOP.

Here is some additional information about the reporting capability is here -

This new Excel 2013 report is actually just connecting to the new Web Services that are available from EOP. Here is a reference about these new Web Services - What this will allow you to do is write your own solutions to pull this data and do reporting.

I have had people ask me how long the data available? That is actually captured here - As of this writing it is saying that “Report summary and detail data may not be available for 12 hours. Report summary data is available for 60 days. Report detail data is available for 7 days.” So if someone wants to keep the data longer you do have the ability to use the Web Services to pull that data down and save it to a database, etc.

Here is a quick little drive through the set up and download of this reporting tool.

First go here ( and download the tool. Then a wizard kicks off.


Accept the agreement.


Companies do have the ability to just purchase EOP because they are hosting Exchange on-premise. Just make sure you select the right option for you.


Quick check to make sure you have the required software. Excel 2013 and .NET 4.5


Then we are done.


It is installed a nice short-cut onto my desktop (yes I am on Windows 8 and I keep my desktop clean <g>).


When I open it the first time, I am prompted to verify.


Next the spreadsheet is open but you will see it is blank. All you need to do is press the Query or Refresh button to get connected.


You will be prompted to enter your credentials. If you do not have the proper roles assigned in Exchange Online you will not be able to connect.


I was then asked what is the slide of the data that I want query.


Then an OData connection to the Web Service was made from Excel 2013.


If finished refreshing the data.


Now some data is appearing in Excel 2013. You can use the slicers to cut through the data. As you can see there are detailed views on the Traffic, Spam, Malware, and DLP that you have access. This is quick little tenant that I created so I do not have a very large set of data to show you here.

This is really cool because it allows you have access to the data and allows you to create your own reports.