Saturday, December 24, 2011

I’ve seen the future

It isn’t all that often that I am really blown away with changes in technology. Sure, they are cool, interesting and in some cases astounding but something that really blows me away is rare. I can report that I have recently had one of those experiences with my Xbox.

 

Microsoft has just updated the interface on the Xbox to be more Metro like (a la Windows 8) but that isn’t the big change. The big change in my mind is the ability to allow third party apps to be downloaded and installed to the console. It goes to show you how powerful apps concept is in our technology world these days as pioneered by Apple. But even that is not what I found earth shattering. My epiphany came when I installed the ABC iView, SBS on Demand and YouTube apps.

 

The ABC iView and SBS on Demand apps allow you to watch TV from two popular channel here in Australia. This is fantastic but still does have some limited content in what is available. However, it is when I started to look at the YouTube app that my brain exploded.

 

With the YouTube app on my Xbox I can watch just about every YouTube clip right on my TV set! I started with watching some of the clips that I have saved as favourites on my channel. I then moved into looking at what YouTube recommended and then finally trawled through some popular picks including shorts for upcoming movies. I could have stayed up all night watching YouTube (which contrary to popular belief does have some very interesting and engaging content).

 

Think about this for a moment. ALL of the content on YouTube is now available on your TV. You can use the YouTube app to tee up what you want to watch during the day and then come home a play it. You can view all the latest movie trailers on your TV WHENEVER you want. Why would you ever go back to watching normal network TV? Why would you pay for cable TV? The Xbox makes this available ONTOP of all the other great things the Xbox does.

 

Now, also throw into the mix the ability to control and access your YouTube preferences from your mobile device (say an iPad). You can then potentially stream onto your TV or this device as well as you move about. YouTube becomes your personal TV station where you control the content. The possibilities are endless. The possibilities are also endless for Microsoft as it positions one of its devices into the living room of consumers.

 

The one thing that I waiting for is for my DVD services (Quickflix) to become available on the Xbox (HURRY UP). That will give me access to a huge range of movies and TV shows on demand. However, with iView, SBS on Demand and especially YouTube now available for the Xbox I think I’ll be busy enough until Quickflix becomes available.

 

It’s still early days for this but I can see what a potential game changer this is for traditional media businesses. With YouTube you can watch the content just about anywhere you have an internet connection. The integration of the service across devices like the iPad and iPhone but down to consumer devices like TVs is going to open up even more people to viewing the wonders of YouTube. Like I said, if you sit down and think of the possibilities here your head will explode!  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lync for iPad and iPhone here

Yes friends you can get Lync for iPad and iPhone right now. I have downloaded the iPad version and am playing with it as we speak.

 

More information soon!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I didn’t know it did that

I recently received an update to my Windows Phone 7. I am now at OS version 7.10.7720.68 but discovered something interesting about this update.

 

Wireless connectivity is bad and evil because it is insecure no matter what you do. The best you can do, if you REALLY need it, is to make sure that it is as secure as possible. One of the ways that you improve the security of your wireless networks is to use an Access Control List (ACL). In the case of WiFi you control connection to your Access Point by restricting which network cards can attach to the Access Point. You do this by using the ‘unqiue’ Media Access Control (MAC) address of your device’s network card in your Access Point and preventing access for all other devices that don’t have a matching MAC address. Here’s how you do it with Netgear:

 

http://support.netgear.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/13112/~/securing-your-wireless-network%3A-access-control-list

 

Thus, you enter a list of device MAC addresses you want to attach to you Access Point and deny everything else. If the network card attaching to the Access Point doesn’t match something in the list it can’t connect to your WiFi.

 

Not 100% fool proof but an additional way that you can make it more difficult for people to break into your WiFi. I have this enabled and have a list of all my devices in the WiFi Access Point so they can connect. Well, they could until recently. My Windows Phone 7 would see the WiFi but wouldn’t connect. What the hell? I retyped the details and tried again, still no go. Hmmm…

 

Then the Eureka moment! I had recently upgrade my Windows Phone 7 firmware and guess what? It had a new MAC address for the WiFi connector. Interesting. When I updated my WiFi Access Point with this new address it could connect again.

 

I am still puzzled why the MAC address of a Windows Phone 7 WiFi adapter would change during a software update? It doesn’t really matter, just have to make sure I remember that the next time my Windows Phone 7 updates. Strange I can’t remember my iPad 2 doing that when it was upgraded to iOS5 recently.

Missing Lync


If you aren’t aware, Microsoft has recent released its Lync client for MAC machines. I was configuring this recently as part of an Office 365 installation and seemed unable to connect. It turns out that Microsoft has recently added to the requirements for DNS records for Lync online. You need, in fact, to add 2 new CNAME records. They have documented this in the following article:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2566790

I didn’t have time to allow the DNS records to update the local name servers so you can also insert the following URL in both the internal and external server fields in the Lync MAC client:

sipdir.online.lync.com:443

Once I had done that the Lync client connected.

Microsoft also recently released Lync for Windows Phone 7. You will also note that Lync clients for iDevices (iPhone and iPad) as well as Android are coming soon, before 2012 if you believe the rumours.

Being a Windows Phone 7 user I eagerly downloaded the app and installed in on my phone but again I couldn’t seem to connect to Lync online. Same issue as before, you need to update your DNS records as detailed the above KB article. However, again, I couldn’t wait that long so once more I needed to make some manual settings.

To do this on a Windows Phone 7 toggle the “Auto-detect services” and enter the following as the “External Discovery URL”https://meet.lync.com/Autodiscover/autodiscoverservice.svc/Root. Chances are you’ll never be “internal” to the Office 365 network so leave the internal one clear for now.

Again, once I made these changes I could connect my Windows Phone 7 to Lync Online. Cool stuff.

I can’t wait to see the Lync client emerge for the iPhone and iPad devices as this will really open up the market for Lync. As I have said previously, Lync is one of the real selling points of Office 365 and the more places it can be used the better I say.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My stuff

It is probably good once in a while to list all the ‘stuff’ that I provide. So here is a list:

 

Free Stuff

 

CIAOPS downloads – www.ciaops.com/downloads [Whitepapers, e-Books, presentations]

 

CIAOPS blog – http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog

 

Docs.com - http://docs.com/@ciaops [Whitepapers, e-Books, presentations]

 

Slideshare – http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia [Whitepapers, e-Books, presentations]

 

CIAOPS YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/directorciaops [Video tutorials, how to’s]

 

Saturn Alliance YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/saturnalliance [Video tutorials, how to’s]

 

CIAOPS SharePoint v3 site – http://supportweb.ciaoips.net.au [Whitepapers, e-Books, etc]

 

CIAOPS email Newsletter archive - http://us1.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=e641b9327b1cf4c45ad4e593f&id=c851ddf6cf

 

Social Media

 

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/directorcia

 

CIAOPS Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/ciaops

 

WSSOPS Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/wssops

 

Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/in/ciaops

 

Publications

 

SharePoint Operations Guide – www.wssops.com [SharePoint and Office 365 information]

 

CIAOPS Bookstore - http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ciaops [Productivity, SharePoint]

 

CIAOPS Amazon store – http://amazon.ciaops.com [CIAOPS Recommended reading]

 

Amazon profile - https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A20868DH11YW50?ie=UTF8&ref_=ya_56 [Book reviews]

 

General Interest

 

Australian Battlefields of WW1 – www.anzacsinfrance.com

 

Travel locations – www.ciaops.org.au

 

Travel blog http://directorcia.blogspot.com

Microsoft apps come to iDevices

In the past few days there has been a flood of Microsoft apps making an appearance in the Apple Apps store.
Skydrive
The first of these is SkyDrive. Microsoft will give you 25GB of free ‘cloud’ storage space (limit of 100MB per file though). With the new app you can access all that information directly from your idevice (iPhone and iPad) as well as Windows Phone 7. This makes Skydrive a very compelling offering when compared to other ‘cloud’ storage offerings like Dropbox and box.net.

More information about Skydrive for idevices:
http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2011/12/13/introducing-skydrive-for-iphone-and-windows-phone.aspx



OneNote
Microsoft has had a OneNote application for the iPhone for a while but it has now released dedicated OneNote app for the iPad. The difference is quite marked and OneNote on the iPad takes full advantage of the additional screen real estate. It is again a free app but at this point in time you can only work with OneNote notebooks saved on Skydrive rather than something like SharePoint. However, the expectation is that this will change in the near future opening OneNote up to access notebooks on any shared medium.

More information about OneNote for the iPad:
http://appscout.pcmag.com/apple-ios-iphone-ipad-ipod/291719-microsoft-onenote-arrives-on-ipad



Lync
Lync is Microsoft’s ‘unified communications’ solution. Basically, it allows people to install client software and then communicate with each other via chat, video and voice. It also provides the ability to share things like desktops, whiteboards, PowerPoint presentations and more.
Microsoft has recently released Lync clients for the Mac as well as for Windows Phone 7. It is also expected that Lync clients will be available for most other mobile platforms by the end of December 2011.

More information on Lync for Mac:
http://www.microsoft.com/mac/enterprise/lync

More information on Lync for Windows Phone 7:
http://lync.microsoft.com/en-us/Product/UserInterfaces/Pages/lync-2010-mobile.aspx



Xbox
Microsoft has recently updated the interface on the Xbox device but it has also released apps for the iPad and Windows Phone 7. The iPad app again makes great use of the medium and allows you to perform a number of control functions on your Xbox (provided it is on). Although in its infancy it isn’t hard to see where this develop is heading. It is not hard to imagine a not too distant future in which you can login to your Xbox remotely and ask it to download movies, save TV shows, etc.

More information on Xbox for iPad:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/245653/microsoft_releases_xbox_live_app_for_iphone_and_ipad.html



Office
There are also very strong rumours that Microsoft will release its Office suite onto the iPad very shortly. There is still apparently a battle going inside Microsoft as to whether delivering Microsoft's most profitable product to a competitive device like the iPad is such a good idea given that holding it back may drive sales of the ‘proposed’ Windows 8 tablets or whether without Office on the iPad Microsoft Office is losing sales. Personally I’m in the second camp. To me Microsoft is a software company and the more platforms it can makes it software available on the better I say. Time will tell on this score.

More information on Office for the iPad:
http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/260910/20111205/ipad-ms-office.htm

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Viewing Exchange archive folders

One of the options available to Exchange 2010, whether online or on site, is the ability to create an archive folder and store emails there. It is possible to apply policies to automatically have items archived to these folders if desired. For most Office 365 plans users receive a 25 GB mailbox which can be shared between the normal inbox and this archived location (when enabled). With the Exchange Plan 2 and E 3 Suite in Office 365 this archive has an ‘unlimited’ capacity. Thus, on these plans you effectively receive an unlimited email box.

 

Have a look at these two screen shots.

 

image_2_7E6B1DAB

 

In this second one, note there is an additional item Archive – admin@ciaops365.com.

 

image_4_7E6B1DAB

 

The issue is that these are shots of a connection to the SAME Exchange Online mailbox using Outlook 2010. The first screen shot was with Outlook 2010 from Office 2010 Standard and the second (where the archive mailbox appears) was from Outlook 2010 from Outlook 2010 Professional Plus.

 

It turns out that you need Outlook 2010 from Office 2010 Professional Plus to see the Exchange Archive folder. Now this problem is not unique to Exchange Online via Office 365. Turns out it is a factor of Exchange 2010 Server whether onsite or in the cloud. Here a few links worth looking at to confirm this behaviour:

 

http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/160/t/7510.aspx

 

http://www.msoutlook.info/question/523

 

It all has to do with the licensing for Exchange server Enterprise. Information about that can be found at:

 

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/license-requirements-for-personal-archive-and-retention-policies-HA102576659.aspx

 

You can always view the archive folder using Outlook Web Access but it is a bit of a constraint if you can’t see your mailbox archive via Outlook. The issue is that traditionally only large enterprises used Exchange Archiving and thus they normally had access to Office 2010 Professional Plus. Problem now with Office 365 is that every business utilizing it has access to Exchange Archiving.

 

So how is this going to affect the different plans?

 

No issues

 

E3 suites – because Office 2010 Professional Plus is included as part of the license.

 

Major issues

 

Exchange Plan 2 – if sold to a business that doesn’t already have Office 2010 Professional Plus installed. They won’t be able to see their archived email folder (when enabled).

 

Minor problems

 

Remaining plans - unlikely they will have email archiving enabled as they are limited to 25GB in total spread between inbox and archive (i.e. why do you need archiving when you can put it all in your inbox?).

 

The place it will be an issue is when archiving is enabled. Why would people do that if they can safely store everything in their inboxes as mentioned previously? A good reason that they might want to enable an archive (even on the 25GB max inbox plans) is that they are looking to limit the amount of email that gets synced with the local Outlook via the OST files as archived emails are not cached locally.

 

Now those audiences with the major and minor problems above are probably small but they are still important. Why? For those on Exchange Plan 2 (with the potentially major problem) it is because this is the plan that many will opt for when they start to dip their toes into the ‘cloud’. They will pick Exchange Plan 2 because it provides an unlimited email box size and allows them to attach other products such as SharePoint and Lync as they become more familiar with the ‘cloud’ in the future. Those with the minor problems (most of the other plans with a limited 25GB mailbox) still need to have the ability to configure and utilize archiving, especially to reduce the amount of information they sync with the cloud.

 

In some ways I feel this is something that Microsoft overlooked when it brought the enterprise version of Exchange down to small business. I also don’t believe that it impacts a great audience at this stage but still it is something that Microsoft should address to prevent it being used as ammunition against them and Office 365. Maybe some additional update would be available for installations of Outlook 2010 that connect to Exchange online so they can view the archived emails not matter what version of Outlook 2010 they have on their desktop. Doesn’t seem that hard to do. At worst, maybe a separate version of Outlook for those using Exchange Plan 2 so they can take advantage of the feature?

 

For now it is something to be aware of when working with Exchange and archiving. It is also something to remember affects on site Exchange Enterprise 2010 as well as Exchange Online via Office 365. Is it a big issue? Probably not at the moment but should be rectified as soon as possible to ensure Office 365 continues to grow in acceptance across all businesses, large and small.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Office 365 updates

There have been some quiet improvements to Office 365 recently. Probably the best place to visit on a regular basis to see what these updates are on a month by month basis are:

 

Service updates for Office 365 for enterprises - http://community.office365.com/en-us/w/office_365_service_updates/service-updates-for-office-365-for-enterprises.aspx

 

Service updates for Office 365 for professionals and small business - http://community.office365.com/en-us/w/office_365_service_updates/service-updates-for-office-365-for-professionals-and-small-businesses.aspx

 

Some of the highlights include:

 

- Lync client for MAC

- Official support for a wider range of browsers including IE9 and Chrome

- 64 bit version of Directory Sync

- Access to SharePoint site for external users via Windows Live IDs

 

Another improvement is the provision of Self Service Password resets for administrators. Full details of this can be found at:

 

http://community.office365.com/en-us/b/office_365_technical_blog/archive/2011/11/30/office-365-self-service-password-reset-for-administrators-grid-user-post.aspx

 

What excites me the most are the improvements to SharePoint and these are covered in this blog post:

 

 http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/blog/Pages/BlogPost.aspx?pID=1002

 

The biggie here I reckon is the provision of Business Connectivity Services (BCS). This will allow SharePoint online to easily start connecting to external data sources. This should start to open up the flood gates for third party apps to hook into SharePoint.

 

Most interestingly of all is that most of these update have come under the radar, with little fanfare. What it does importantly illustrate is that Office 365 continues to improve and I’ll bet will continue to do so at an even more rapid pace.

Monday, December 5, 2011

SharePoint Guide breakout

The CIAOPS SharePoint Guide is now going into its fourth year and continues to add content and information. Here is some subscriber feedback:

 

"The Computer Information Agency and their Windows SharePoint Operations Guide has made a considerable difference in the way we deploy and integrate SharePoint Services within our client sites. CIAOPS regular testing of new software releases and associated updates gives us the confidence to go to our clients with the best advice”

 

Part of the Guide has been the inclusion of information around Office 365 since SharePoint Online was part of the Microsoft offering. However, from January 1 2012 things will be changing.

 

From the first of the New Year the Office 365 information in the Guide will be broken out into a new product with a different subscription model and a different offering. More information about this will be announced soon. However, all existing SharePoint Guide subscribers will continue to receive access to the new product as part of their existing subscription as long as they stay subscribed to the SharePoint Guide.

 

This means, that if you have ever thought about being a CIAOPS SharePoint Guide subscriber and if you sign up before December 31, 2011 you will not only receive the SharePoint Guide but also the new Office 365 Guide for the duration of your subscription. After that date you’ll have to purchase each separately. Thus, for $ 299 ex GST up to the end of year you will also get the Office 365 Guide for free.

 

If you want the best information on SharePoint and Office 365, including documents, videos, tutorials, support, etc then you have until the end of the month to sign up for the existing CIAOPS SharePoint Guide. Come January, the Office 365 information produced will only be available with an additional subscription (details to be announced).

 

For all the information about the CIAOPS SharePoint Guide visit – www.wssops.com.

Big Picture Experience – Customer Day

So it was back to Darling Harbour in Sydney for the second day of the Microsoft Big Picture Experience. Today is the day for customers.

 

As expected there was certainly a rush in the morning but far more than I expected. I’d start off doing a SharePoint and Lync demo to a few people at the desk and look up a few minutes later a find over 30 people all crowded round watching intently. There were also plenty of questions from the crowd which really kept me busy most of the morning with demo after demo.

 

The early afternoon was a little slower but still a constant stream of demos and speaking with customers but in this case they seemed to have more specific questions. The customers came from a range of businesses both large and small, which was great to see. Many where interested in Office 365 and specifically Lync which most were not aware of. Easy to present some real ‘WOW’ features when they haven’t seen the product.

 

I thought the day was going to wind down by early afternoon as the number of attendees started to thin out, however I found myself still talking to customers even as they were turning the lights out and ushering people out.

 

So the day started out with more general sessions, demonstrating to groups of people and as the day wore on those discussions became more and more specific as people sought answers to specific questions. This to a great extent I think was the success of the overall event. You could come, walk around and see the latest from Microsoft but if you have specific questions you could find someone to chat with to help you better understand how to make it all work for you business.

 

Judging from the outside I’d say these events have been very successful and kudos to Microsoft for trying something a little different with the format. I think it worked well for everyone. My big take away was how well all the Microsoft technologies such as Exchange, Office, Lync, SharePoint etc. work together. They are simply so much more powerful when implemented together rather than piece meal. This event was a perfect opportunity to see and experience that.

 

Finally, thanks to all who attended and spent some time with me, I hope I helped you. Thanks to Microsoft for the opportunity to represent them at the event I hope I lived up to expectations. Now all I need is a good lie down!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big Picture Experience – Partner Day

So the first day of the Microsoft Big Picture Experience here in Sydney and an opportunity for me to be on the other side of ledger for a change. This means that I donned the Microsoft shirt, badge and was tasked with helping to explain technologies such as SharePoint, Lync, Office 365, Windows InTune, etc to those in attendance.

 

The day started early and I was kinda of expecting to be bowled over in the rush when the doors opened at 8am, that was to come later. There was steady traffic up till about 9am when the keynote started. I took a wander to see how many attendees were in attendance and was surprised at the number so early.

 

Once the keynote was over then things started to really hot up as people came through each location seeking information. I have to say that all this Microsoft technology is pretty impressive when you see it all tied together and working. Making Lync video calls, connecting to complex SharePoint sites, received voice mail in Outlook, etc. Sure, at the moment all of this is not available in Office 365 yet, but that is the key thing to remember – YET! When you see it all working together in a single integrated environment you begin to appreciate the power that Microsoft can bring to desktops with their suite of products. Imagine what it will be like when all of this is available through Office 365 down a business as small as one person? Very, very powerful.

 

I also have to congratulate Microsoft on trying a different format where employees (and moi) are out there giving people hands on, one to one, demonstrations of the products and answering questions. Very different from simply having people sit and look at demos on stage. Now sure, there maybe times when certain locations get busy and individuals may not get the attention they want but hey there are plenty of other things to see. So, circle around and come back in a little while. All in all I think the themed ‘zones’ at the front and ‘lecture halls’ at the back worked well. I didn’t get a chance to attend the lecture session but they were well attended from what I saw.

 

I was very pleased to ‘run into’ a number of other resellers taking in the technology. I find it interesting how many simply see this even as something to come and look at only. To me, this is a fantastic opportunity to come and meet local Microsoft people face to face, press the flesh and make a connection. Not only that, the hall is also filled with other resellers with whom you can network. Too many simply never ‘make the time’ to attend, seeing it as low priority to their business. I’d be saying the exact opposite, make time, attend the sessions, talk to people, hand out business cards and generally make good opportunity of this rare occurrence.

 

All in all a very successful day for those that attended and I hope I was able to help people who I spoke with. I thank those people who made time and came up for a chat. The scary thing now is that TWICE as many people are registered for the customer day tomorrow. It is going to be busy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Out and about

I’m going to be busy for the remainder of the week and thought I’d let people know where I would be in case they wanted to catch up.

 

Tomorrow (Wednesday 29th) and Thursday (Thursday 30th) I’ll be at the Microsoft Big Picture Experience event at Darling Harbour helping Microsoft explain their technologies, including Office 365 and Windows InTune to partners and customers. I’ll be very interested to see how this event pans out as it seems like a bit of change from Microsoft normally does.

 

On Saturday (3rd of December) I’ll be presenting at Infrastructure Saturday in Brisbane. My topic is -

 

Integrating Office 365 with AD and Exchange

Identity in Office 365 is an interesting and often confused topic. Everyone wants to know their options, including how to manage Office 365 customer and partner accounts, domain controller configuration, active directory synchronization, as well as creating a federation trust between a on-premise and Office 365. This session will compare the pros and cons of the approaches as well as guidance on how to set up the requirements. Additionally, the session will cover general information about available Office 365 options and plans.

 

So if you are in the neighbourhood during either of these event please let me know and we’ll catch up. Otherwise follow along on my Twitter feed (@directorcia) to see what happens.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Windows SharePoint Tutorials EBook

I’ve just released the second book in my Windows SharePoint Master Class Series:

 

Windows SharePoint Master Class:Tutorials

 

Windows SharePoint Master Class: Tutorials

 

This book is designer for those that want to take Windows SharePoint Services v 3.0 beyond the basics. Implementing things like workflows and integrating with Microsoft Office allows you to unleash so much more of the power behind SharePoint. Every chapter in this book will give your techniques you can use with SharePoint to make it work better in your business.

Apart from workflows you’ll learn how to create linking with Office products to create updating charts, the ability to take SharePoint information offline and more. Even though this book focuses on Windows SharePoint Services v3.0 the information is relevant for all versions of SharePoint and provides a quick way for readers to get up to speed with this powerful tool from Microsoft.

If you want to make the most of Windows SharePoint Services then this book is for you.

 

It is available for download now for only $2.99. Visit

 

http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/windows-sharepoint-master-classtutorials/18686901

 

to purchase.

 

Also don’t forget the other eBooks that are also available:

 

Windows SharePoint Master Class: Optimizing Search = $ 2.99

 

Getting started with Companyweb = $ 1.99

 

As well other title available in our store.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Power User Cookbook


Here’s a good book that  I recently helped review that maybe worthwhile for SharePoint types. You’ll find it at:

http://www.packtpub.com/microsoft-sharepoint-2010-power-user-cookbook/book

The power of Microsoft SharePoint as the Enterprise collaboration platform is ever-growing; due to the wide range of capabilities it offers, SharePoint 2010 can help transform your business so you can quickly respond to the changes and challenges that you face. For End Users, SharePoint helps you and your team work "better, faster, and smarter". This book will take your SharePoint knowledge further, showing you how to use your skills to solve real business problems.

As the description says, it is designed to take you beyond just the basics and help you improve your skills with SharePoint Server 2010.

If you are interested in posting a review of the book to the web in return for a free e-copy of the book please contact me (director@ciaops.com).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Office Web Apps and iOS, now working

I wrote a post a few weeks ago highlighting the fact that Office Web Apps (the ability to view and edit Office documents in a browser) on Office 365 still wasn’t working with the upgrade to iOS 5.0. I was interested to find out yesterday that it is now in fact working.

 

So what changed? Well, I have upgraded to iOS 5.01 but don’t think that was what resolved the issue. The reason is that at the same I last tested Office Web Apps on iOS 5.0 I also tested it on Android 3.2.1 and got similar problems. Now however, it seems to work on both platforms. This to me indicates that the backend has been changed. Thus, it seems we’ve had an update on Office 365 which is great news.

 

Things are certainly much better but they are far from prefect. In my testing on both iOS and Android I have found Office Web Apps on Office 365 to be very fragile. I still get plenty of browser crashes, document lock up and text ending up in unexpected places. This is totally understandable considering the complexity of Office Web Apps but it indicates that there is some work to be done to ensure stability on mobile platforms.

 

Importantly I can now report to users that Office Web Apps on Office 365 does work in edit mode, which it never used to, but in my testing so far it is still a little fragile.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Office 365 plans - Exchange

The next in a series of blog posts on the differences between the plan offerings in Office 365.

 

Product

1 – Lync

2 – SharePoint

3 – Exchange

4 – Enterprise Suites

5 – Small Business Suite

6 – Office Web Apps

7 – Office 2010 Professional Plus

8 – Kiosk Suites

 

Feature

Exchange Online
Kiosk

Exchange Online
(Plan 1)

Exchange Online
(Plan 2)

Mailbox size

500 megabytes (MB)

25 gigabytes (GB)*

Unlimited**

Outlook Web App
(regular and light versions)

Yes

Yes

Yes

POP

Yes

Yes

Yes

IMAP

No

Yes

Yes

Outlook Anywhere (MAPI)

No

Yes

Yes

Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync®

No

Yes

Yes

Exchange Web Services

No***

Yes

Yes

Inbox rules

No

Yes

Yes

Delegate access

No (cannot access other users’ mailboxes, shared mailboxes, or resource mailboxes)

Yes

Yes

Instant messaging interoperability in OWA

No

Yes (requires Lync Online or Microsoft Lync Server 2010)

Yes (requires Lync Online or Microsoft Lync Server 2010)

SMS notifications

No

Yes

Yes

Custom retention policies

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multi-mailbox search

Yes

Yes

Yes

Personal archive

No

Yes

Yes

Voicemail

No

No

Yes

Legal hold

No

No

Yes

*25 GB of storage apportioned across the user’s primary mailbox and personal archive

**25 GB of storage in the user’s primary mailbox, plus unlimited storage in the user’s personal archive. Refer to the personal archive section of this document for further information regarding unlimited storage in the archive

***Direct access to Kiosk user mailboxes via Exchange Web Services is not permitted. However, line of business applications can use Exchange Web Services impersonation to access Kiosk user mailboxes

 

All subscriptions include organization-wide capabilities such as journaling, transport rules, and premier anti-spam and antivirus filtering via Forefront Online Protection for Exchange.

 

User subscriptions are not required for conference rooms and shared mailboxes. These special mailbox types do not have login credentials—instead, licensed users with the appropriate permissions manage them via delegation.

 

Office 365 Suite E1 = Exchange Online Plan 1

Office 365 Suite E2 = Exchange Online Plan 1

Office 365 Suite E3 = Exchange Online Plan 2

Office 365 Suite E4 = Exchange Online Plan 2

Office 365 Suite P = Exchange Online Plan 1

 

Exchange online has messaging limits (refer to http://help.outlook.com/en-us/140/dd630704.aspx#RecipientLimits). Summary:

 

These limits are applied to every e-mail message.

 

Message size limit   The maximum total size of an e-mail message. The total size includes the message header, the message body, and any file attachments.

Note   An e-mail client may limit the size of an individual file attachment to a value much less than the message size limit. For example, in Outlook Web App, the maximum individual file attachment size is 10 MB.

Limit = 25 MB

File attachments limit   The maximum number of file attachments allowed in an e-mail message. Even if the total size of all the file attachments doesn't violate the message size limit, there is still a limit on how many attachments are allowed in the message.

Limit = 125 attachments

Subject length limit   The maximum number of text characters allowed in the subject line of an e-mail message.

Limit = 255 characters

Multipart message limit   The maximum number of message body parts that are allowed in a MIME multipart message.

Limit = 250 parts

Embedded message depth limit   The maximum number of forwarded e-mail messages that are allowed in an e-mail message.

Limit = 30 embedded messages

 

Recipient and sender limits

 

Recipient limit   The maximum number of message recipients allowed in the To:, Cc:, and Bcc: fields.

Limit = 500 recipients

Message rate limit   The maximum number of e-mail messages that can be sent from a single e-mail client per minute. The client is identified by the user account.

Limit = 30 messages per minute

Recipient rate limit   The maximum number of recipients that can receive e-mail messages sent from a single cloud-based mailbox in a 24 hour period. After the limit has been reached, messages can’t be sent from the mailbox until the number of messages sent in the past 24 hours drops below the limit. The recipient rate limit applies to messages sent to recipients inside and outside your organization. For more information, see Bulk E-Mail and Daily Recipient Rate Limits.

  • Microsoft Live@edu   Limit = 500 recipients per day
  • Office 365 for professionals and small businesses     Limit = 500 recipients per day
  • Office 365 for enterprises   Limit = 1,500 recipients per day

Installing the SBS Essentials Office 365 module

Microsoft recently announced the open beta of the Office 365 Integration Module for SBS 2011 essentials. In a nutshell this allows you to easily provision and manage your Office 365 accounts from your SBS 2011 Essentials server. It does not provide the ability to do Single Sign On (SSO). It will however provide the ability to sync local account passwords with those in Office 365 PROVIDED the account names are identical.

 

In this post I’ll run through the installation of the integration module on SBS 2011 Essentials.

 

image_2_01268803

 

Once you have downloaded the software to your SBS 2011 Essentials server double click on the file to launch. Select Yes to install the feature pack.

 

image_4_01268803

 

Click on I Accept to accept the license agreement. Remember this is still beta (pre-release) software.

 

image_6_01268803

 

Allow the update to install on your server.

 

image_8_01268803

 

When complete you will need to reboot your server.

 

image_10_01268803

 

When the server has rebooted launch the SBS 2011 Server dashboard. On the front page at the bottom you will see a link Set up Microsoft Office 365 Integration. Click this to continue.

 

image_12_01268803

 

This will run the integration wizard. By default, the wizard will assume that you have not already obtained an Office 365 license. If you do already have an Office 365 license simply click the option I have a subscription for Office 365 at the bottom of the screen before proceeding.

 

image_14_01268803

 

If you proceed without selecting the option indicating you have an Office 365 subscription you will be taken to the page that allows you to select which subscription you may wish to purchase or trial.

 

It is interesting to note here that clicking any of these options takes to a page that runs javascript which can’t normally be displayed in the browser on the server due to security restrictions. Also, it appears that it takes you to an international subscription page for Office 365 which is not how you obtain licenses for Office 365 in Australia for 25 seats and under.

 

Thus, the best advice would seem to be make sure you have already obtained your Office 365 subscription prior to running this module and check the option in the previous step.

 

image_16_2F13DABB

 

If you proceed after checking the option that you already have an Office 365 subscription you will see the above window prompting you for an administrator login for your Office 365 account. Enter the appropriate details and press the Sign in button to continue.

 

image_18_2F13DABB

 

The details will checked and the system configured appropriately.

 

image_20_2F13DABB

 

When successfully complete you should see a screen like shown above. Press the Close button to complete the wizard.

 

image_22_2F13DABB

 

When you now view the SBS 2011 Essentials console you should see an additional Office 365 button at the top right of the dashboard. Clicking this should display a screen like shown above with information about your Office 365 subscription.

 

I’ll more details on how to use the Office 365 Integration Module with SBS 2011 Essentials in upcoming posts. However, remember that it is still beta software and the final product may differ from what is shown here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Migrating early to Office 365

Here in Australia Telstra is offering existing BPOS customers the ability to upgrade to Office 365 early. Most BPOs customers should have already received an email inviting them to do just that. The first step in the process is to complete the early consent form here:

 

Telstra early migration consent form - www.telstra.com/business/office365consentform

 

There is also information at:

 

www.telstra.com/business/office365migration

 

However, two worthwhile documents that provide checklists on the migration process are:

 

Early Transition Guide - http://g.microsoftonline.com/0rmcm00en-us/5040

Administrator checklist - http://g.microsoftonline.com/0rmcm00en-us/5003

 

Importantly, remember that Exchange Online in Office 365 doesn’t support Outlook 2003. That means that anyone using BPOS with Outlook 2003 will need to migrate before hand. That’s why those checklists are good as they give you things you need to be aware of prior to any migration.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Office 365 Desktop and Office 2007 SP3

Unfortunately, it seems that the Office 2007 Service Pack 3 doesn’t work with Microsoft office 365 Desktop. If it is installed then it should be uninstalled. Here’s a reference link:

 

http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/175/t/3843.aspx

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It’s more than that



Recently, I have had so many people contact me and ask how can I make SharePoint “look like a drive letter” or say “I want my users to navigate a whole SharePoint site through Windows Explorer”. It parallels the concept that people want to simply ‘dump’ all their static file share data (which hasn’t probably been touched for centuries) up into SharePoint and use it like a big disk.

No, no, no and NO! If you are going to simply use SharePoint as a storage location for all the ‘crap’ you have on a hard disk then you are much better off with something like Box.net. SharePoint is a collaboration tool, it includes features that static file shares have. To name but a few:

- Check in/check out
- Version control
- Filtering
- Meta data
- Tagging
- Ratings
- etc

Most resellers seem to simply want to ‘dump’ a customers data into SharePoint and run away. These are exactly the same people who bemoan the lack of opportunity and revenue afforded by the ‘cloud’. The idea is to help your customers understand the new features that SharePoint has and help a customer incorporate these into their business, and (shock, horror) get paid a consulting fee to do it!

There is just so much more to SharePoint that people fail to realize. Like any tool you need to learn about to get the most from it. Why do people use < 10% of the functionality of other Office applications like Word, Excel, etc? Because they never venture past the default menu options (that’s why the ribbon interface was invented to try and expose all the features).

Sure you can use SharePoint as a big disk and map it to a drive just like you used file shares back in the 15th century. But hey, how about you actually spend some time and learn what SharePoint (and other Office products) can do and really improve your productivity? It may even help you and your customers get your job done quicker and easier. How novel!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Installing SharePoint Services SP3 on SBS 2008

Here’s a little video I’ve just done on installing Windows SharePoint Services SP3 on Small Business Server (SBS) 2008.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIEYRRHyUME

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIEYRRHyUME

 

Pretty straight forward really but remember that you need the 64 bit version of the Service Pack which is at:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=27828

 

and it will automatically run the configuration wizard. Manually running the PSCONFIG command is only for updates on SBS 2011 and SharePoint Foundation 2010.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Good business

Here’s an email that Office 365 users in Australia recently received in conjunction with the outage that was experienced in April.

 

image_2_662148A7

 

Nothing is perfect and Office 365 is still in its infancy but I for one am heartened to see that the right thing has been done and customers affected have been duly compensated (as Microsoft provides a financial guarantee on its service level agreement). It would have been nice for this to have come out earlier but hopefully it will not need to again.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who you know


I recently reached what many may believe as only a minor milestone but upon reflection is quite important to me. What was that event? I needed to get more business cards.

Sounds pretty routine but when I stopped and thought about it I realized that it was more significant than I first imagined. It meant that I had managed to hand out my business card to over 1,000 people since the last printing. That’s a lot of people in anyone’s language. Of course it has taken me quite a while to accomplish this but it was much faster than the time before. Why was that? Because I’d learnt a very important lesson.

At my core I’m a technician. I like to build things and solve problem. The issue is in trying to achieve this, other people get in the way. They take away your focus, present you with alternate points of view and generally make things harder. For years I always believed that the better technician I was the more work would come my way as people sought out my superior skills. In some ways this works up to a point but beyond that you need to develop other skills.

The power of any network grows exponentially based on the number of nodes connected. Thus, one fax machine is pretty useless but two connected together start making sense. Continue adding fax machines all connected together and pretty soon they become an invaluable business tool. The same applies with personal contacts. As the old saying goes, ‘it is not what you know, it is who you know’.

Two books that really helped me shape the way I go about networking these days are “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and  “Linked” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. In essence, they explain the power of networks and the components that make them up. The challenge was now to start applying those principles to business.

The details of that applications goes well beyond the scope of a single blog post like this. It was the subject of a recent presentation that I gave and I’m happy to pass along a copy of the slides from that presentation IF you connect up with me via Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  My main argument is that social networking represents a huge opportunity for everyone’s career, no matter what it is. Opinions from people like Seth Godin, Tom Peters and so on just can’t be ignored and I for one have to agree with the statement that it is the one things that has really propelled my business to the next level.

However, social media for business is not a set and forget strategy. It is something that requires settings goals, monitoring and adjusting but the potential leverage it provides is phenomenal. As with most technologies we find available via the Internet, you can take advantage of the huge value of leveraging independent of the financial resources you have.

My new aim is to get rid of the new pile of business cards I now have in even quicker time. How am I going to do that? Take what I have learnt and ramp it up even more. I’d encourage you to do the same and if you ever want to discuss with me your strategy or how I use social networking to maximum effect, you should by now know how to contact me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Office Web Apps and iOS 5, still no go for editing

A little while back I wrote an article about using an iPad with Office 365 in which I lamented at how the iPad works fine as a reading device with Office Web Apps but struggles when it comes to editing.

 

My hope with the updated release by Apple of iOS 5 that things would get better, unfortunately they haven’t.

 

photo_46275E8C

 

Here is what happens when I attempt to edit a Word document using Office Web Apps on an iPad 2 running iOS 5, the document cannot be opened for editing.

 

photo2_46275E8C

 

We get a similar result when attempting the same thing with Excel Web Apps.

 

Damm! Is all I can say. I know that Office Web Apps work well in most other browsers on most other platforms, yet here, no go. It is a real pity as an iPad is such a sweet device and would work well for remote users.

 

So as it stands an iPad works really well as a SharePoint reading device and for working with SharePoint data. Where it falls down is when you actually want to edit Microsoft Office documents (whether in the browser or offline). Hopefully, both Apple and Microsoft can work a little closer together to make this functionality complete but whether that will happen is anyone’s guess.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Office 365 plans-SharePoint

The next in a series of blog posts on the differences between the plan offerings in Office 365.

 

Product

1 – Lync

2 – SharePoint

3 – Exchange

4 – Enterprise Suites

5 – Small Business Suite

6 – Office Web Apps

7 – Office 2010 Professional Plus

8 – Kiosk Suites

 

Things are not so straight forward now with SharePoint and the different plans because you can purchase SharePoint Online as an individual SKU (Plan 1 or Plan 2, shown below).

 

 

SharePoint Online(Plan 1)

SharePoint Online (Plan 2)

Team sites

Yes

Yes

Simple public facing web site

1

1

Ribbon Site designer tool

Yes

Yes

SharePoint Designer 2010

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Custom workflows

Yes

Yes

Sandbox solutions

Yes

Yes

My Site

Yes

Yes

Enterprise features (Forms Services, Excel Services, Visio Services)

No

Yes

Access Services

No

Yes

Business Connectivity Services

No

No

Site collections

Up to 300

Up to 300

Search (across site collections)

Yes

Yes

Extranet users

50 free

50 free

Storage

10GB + 500MB per USL

10GB + 500MB per USL

Buy additional storage

Yes

Yes

Administration

Yes, Tenant level

Yes Tenant Level

 

or as part of a suite as shown below.

 

 

For Small Businesses SharePoint Online in P1

For Kiosk Workers SharePoint Online in K1/K2

For Information Workers SharePoint Online Plan 1 in E1/E2

For Information Workers SharePoint Online Plan 2 in E3/E4

Team Sites

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Simple Public-Facing Website

1 Basic Public-facing site included

No

1 Basic Public-facing site included

1 Basic Public-facing site included

Site Designer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

SharePoint Designer 2010

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Custom Workflows

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sandbox Solutions (PTC)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

My Site

No

No

Yes

Yes

Enterprise Features (Forms Services, Excel Services, Visio Services)

No

No

No

Yes

Access Services

Yes

No

No

Yes

Business Connectivity Services (BCS)

No

No

No

No

Site Collections

Single Site Collection

N/A

Up to 300

Up to 300

Office Web Apps

View & Edit

View only for K1

View and Edit for K2

View only for E1

View and Edit for E2

View & Edit

Search (across Site Collections)

N/A

Yes

Yes

Yes

Basic External Document Sharing

Yes

N/A

Yes, add-on

Yes, add-on

Storage

10GB + 500MB per USL

10GB + 0MB per USL

10GB + 500MB per USL

10GB + 500MB per USL

Buy additional storage

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Max Org Users

Up to 50

TBD

TBD

TBD

Admin

Single Site Collection

No

Yes Tenant level

Yes Tenant level

Support

Community*

24x7 phone support for Admin

24x7 phone support for Admin

24x7 phone support for Admin

 

There are come inconsistencies to note here with SharePoint plans:

 

- The Small Business and Professional suite includes most of the features SharePoint Plan P1 but also includes the single enterprise feature of Access Services.

- The Small Business and Professional suite is limited to a total of 2 site collections, one public and one intranet.

- The Small Business and Professional suite does not allow you to purchase additional storage beyond what is provided initially (10GB) plus the amount per user (500GB).

- The Small Business and Professional suite includes the ability to read and write using Office Web Apps.

- In Australia 24x7 phone support is provided with the Small Business and Professional suite via Telstra, elsewhere it is only community support.

- Intranet SharePoint sites use https (secure) while public facing web sites only use http. However the Small Business and Professional plan only allows http for all web sites (see link for details).

- Intranet SharePoint domains are of the form https://<custom_name>.sharepoint.com.

- External SharePoint support vanity domains i.e. http://www.domain.com.

 

Another point to consider is that Business Connectivity services has been announced for an update to Office 365 coming in November. I am unsure whether at this stage it will be available in the P plan.