Friday, August 30, 2013

Exchange Online mailboxes double

Hot on the heels of the increased capacity with SkyDrive Pro Online Microsoft has just announced that Exchange Online Mailboxes will double in size. Here’s the announcement:

You’ll see that it is basically across all plans and all mailboxes, including shared mailboxes.
Existing users won’t need to do anything, their mailbox will automatically increase sometime between now and November.
This is yet further evidence to my mind of how fast Microsoft is bringing improvements to Office 365 so expect to see further updates coming thick and fast.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SkyDrive Pro online storage gets better

Microsoft has just announce 3 improvements to SkyDrive Pro Online:

1. SkyDrive Storage for all users will be increased from the current 7GB standard to 25GB.

2. You can purchase additional storage for SkyDrive Pro beyond the new 25GB limit up to 100GB.

3. New Shared with Me view to located documents shared with you.

This is great news and another indication of how cheap online storage has become. I would expect to see this limit continue to increase over time.

The ability to add more storage to SkyDrive Pro was a limit for some users but now no more. 100GB of personal space is a HUGE amount of data for one person!

As I have mentioned many time here in this blog, the future of collaboration is all about sharing and anything that makes that easier is good.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review–Otterbox Defender Series for Lumia 920

Full disclosure – the review unit was supplied by Mobilezap. You can find this device and others at the Mobilezap category page at:

One of the downsides to mobile devices these days is that they are generally pretty fragile. If they get dropped from typically waist height they seem to have an alarming ability to twist in the air and fall on their screens or a corner. In the worst case this results in a unusable device, in other cases a fairly damaged unit.

Now many people need to use their phones in hostile environments where they really need more protection than a standard case or ‘bump’ can provide. This is where the Otterbox comes in.


It is basically an enclosed shell that you insert your phone into and then you encapsulate that in a neoprene like skin. The result is a very protected device.


Initially when I opened the Otterbox I couldn’t work out how to get it open to insert the phone. Turns out that you need to remove the neoprene like skin from the Otterbox and then you can open the case to insert the phone.


It fits snuggly and everything clips together with a resounding ‘click’. Once you place the neoprene-like skin back around the box holding the phone you need to ensure that it mated all the way up to the lip of the box.

With all the done your phone is now pretty much indestructible. You can them clip the phone into the holder which you can attach to your belt. Again, there is a resounding ‘click’ when you mate the Otterbox to the holder. That says ‘it ain’t going nowhere’.

Now there are some minor issues with the unit. Firstly, the hole for the external headphone jack doesn’t line up with the phone jack. You can of course still open the flap and still use any headset but seems strange that it doesn’t line up. The unit does have a number of locations where the elements could gain access to your phone, so don’t go thinking this is a waterproof container.

Here’s a quick video demonstration of the unit I did so you can get a better idea:

Having all this protection does make the phone that much bulkier and you really need two hands to get it on and off the belt holder which may prove a little tricky at times, however as something that will provide almost 100% protection for your Lumina 920 then this is the protective case for you.

In summary, if you really need high end protection for your Lumia 920 so it will survive incidents that would render a other phones inoperative then this is the protective case for you.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great Windows Phone ad

If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a great add for the new Nokia 1020 Windows Phone.

It is getting plenty of acclaim out there and I still believe the Windows Phone platform to be superior to everything that is currently out there. If you haven’t looked at a Nokia Windows Phone then I’d suggest you go and have a look at how good these things are.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The second fundamental difference between Office 365 and Google Apps

If you haven’t read what I believe is the first fundamental difference between Google Apps and Office 365 then you’ll find it here:
The second fundamental difference is that Google Apps does not understand collaboration and here’s a few reasons why.
Google Apps and Office 365 are mainly about a suite of products. The main product most focus on is email. You know what? Email is a commodity. So many suppliers do it and there is not much real value or differentiation you can apply to email, in, as long as a business gets their emails who generally cares beyond that right? From a functionality point of view email is email and thus a commodity. Therefore whatever email functionality one provider has is generally the same as another provider so let’s agree to say hosted email systems are pretty equal.
What I will tell you is that email is an ‘old world’ technology. Today’s world is all about sharing and making information public so that it can be shared rather than siloed in someone’s inbox never to be seen again. Why do you think Facebook has over one billion users? Today people want to SHARE information. As a business I need to collaborate on all sorts of information quickly and easily including, files, folders, calendars, contacts, tasks and so on.
I will also tell you that those entering the work force now have little concept of traditional drive letters. They have no concept of C: and D: drives. They have no concept of network drives. They have no concept of mapped drives. To them it is simply data and the technology that gives them access is search. So the concept of files and folders in ‘traditional’ folders is really old world stuff.
When you take a look at how Google Apps approaches data they seem to me to still be locked into that old world of files and folders.
When you put files into Google Apps it goes into it’s own separate drive area. This is just like my old C: drive right? Can I add more columns or metadata around these files? Not from what I can see. Sure you can add a star but what about if I want to categorize files by customers? Again, just dumb old files and folders. How is that ANY different from what I did on my PC XT in 1984 in DOS?
SharePoint by contrast provides a single web location for files AND folders AND calendars AND tasks AND everything in ONE PLACE in what is known as a Team site. In the repository within the SharePoint Team Site that holds files and folders you can add as many columns as you like to describe your data. These columns can be text, numbers, dates or your a set of your own choices. You can sort and filter on multiple columns. You can create multiple views of the same data. For example you can change what file listings actually display to be just the file name if you want.
That is collaborative thinking not simply migrating old world thinking to hosted storage as what Google Apps have done.
In Google Apps if I want to move from Drive to my Calendar I click Calendar from the menu across the top. That opens a new browser tab with my calendar. But wait, isn’t that similar to opening a new application on my desktop computer by double-clicking an icon? Yup, it is. What happens if I return to the Drive tab again and click Calendar again? Just like double clicking on a desktop icon again it opens ANOTHER browser tab to show my calendar AGAIN, even though I ALREADY have a calendar tab open. Now I have two calendar tabs open. Again, old world thinking now just brought to you in a browser.
In SharePoint, click on the team site calendar you are taken there. Click on tasks, you are taken there, just as you would expect in a modern web environment!
Now let’s say that I want to create somewhere dedicated to a project. This will need a location for files and folders, calendar, contacts, emails, tasks and so on just for starters. How do you do that in Google Apps? I can go into another area and create a Google Site but then how do I get a common calendar there? How do I display my files? How do I create a shared tasks list? Again, old world thinking being one app for one job. I NEED collaboration not just storage.
Ok, so let’s take something that Google should be good at, search. If I am in my Google Apps Drive area and I want to search for an item in a calendar I can’t, I can only search in my files. Why is that? If I need to find something I want to search from anywhere and find it. Again, I don’t want to be constrained in a siloed ancient world. I NEED collaboration. I NEED to get to my information from anywhere as I might not know where it is.
When I use the Search option across the top in Google Apps I end up searching the whole web not just my data. This reinforces my first fundamental difference concept between Google Apps and Office 365. Google Apps is provided by an advertising business, who are principally seeking to maximise advertising revenue.
Look at what is the top result when I attempt to search in Google Apps. IT IS AN ADVERTISMENT! Again, see my first fundamental difference.
If I need to find something in SharePoint I go to the top right and and enter what I am after in the search box. Bingo, as you can see from the above I get results from file name, file contents, calendars, contact, tasks and basically everything on that site. I also get a preview of some document content embedded automatically on the page. With a few clicks I can expand that search to every SharePoint site I have access to. I can filter the results by file type, author, date and so. Isn’t this what modern collaborative search is all about? I should be able to search across everything I have access to in one hit. I also don’t see ANY results or options to search any information but my own and I don’t get advertising unlike with Google Apps.
As I said previously, the new world is all about social. What happens when I try to be social in Google Apps?
I am asked to join Google’s public social network Google Plus. What happens when I join there? Is my information private? Nope. Am I pushed more advertisements? Most likely. Without question, failing to integrate your environment with social abilities is really old world thinking.

SharePoint by contrast has private social networking built in. It allows the integration with Linkedin and Facebook out of the box if desired. Microsoft is integrating the enterprise social networking product Yammer into SharePoint and Office 365 every day bringing more and more social functionality to their products. Why? Because social is the new way to collaborate, it is how things will be happening going forward in the modern age.
I could go on and on with example after example of how Google Apps just isn’t a modern collaboration platform. Likewise, I could mention in contrast how SharePoint has inbuilt automation with workflows, how it allows you to work with groups of documents known as document sets, how it has inbuilt eDiscovery and more, oh so much more. Microsoft has been developing SharePoint since 2001 as a modern collaborative platform because it understands what collaboration means. Google Apps is still no where near a modern collaboration platform from what I see. They have a long way to come to even be in the ball game. When you boil their solution down, it is just like a normal desktop PC just with a different storage location. Old world stuff I am sorry to say.
Now honestly ask yourself which product understands and supports the concept of true modern collaboration? Which product is continuing to modernize their collaboration platform with the way that people will work in the future? I hope you understand why I can honestly say with my hand on heart that only Microsoft does because Google Apps just doesn’t understand collaboration, or as they would say in Hollywood:
Google has brought email to a collaboration fight.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The fundamental difference between Office 365 and Google Apps

I see a lot of chatter out there about whether Google Apps is better than Office 365 and you know what? I think they are overlooking a very fundamental issue. You can debate the various technical merits of each solution, compare the features point by point but I think this missing a far greater business distinction when it comes to these products.
I covered this in a recent podcast I did on Eagle Tech Genius podcast but I’ll reiterate it here because I think it is very important.
As a business, everything I generally do is focused in helping my business succeed. Success is generally measured via profit. Thus, this blog, my publications, YouTube channel, free downloads and so on is aimed at promoting my business with the aim to generate it more profit.
Likewise Google and Microsoft are businesses. They have shareholders and it is their fiduciary responsibility to maximize the profits for these shareholders. However, what most people overlook is that Google generates the vast majority of its profit (over 80% I believe) from advertising.
Now there is nothing wrong with this business model and it is very successful, however you need to appreciate that products like Google Apps are aimed at assisting the maximization of advertising revenue and thus profit for Google. I am not saying they are doing anything nefarious with Google Apps when it comes to advertising. What I am saying is that products is one of a suite that Google has whose aim is to generate additional advertising revenue.
Microsoft on the other hand generates the majority of it revenue through selling software. Thus, it’s business model is about selling more software.
As a business that chooses between Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 you need to be comfortable what the business does who makes the product you use. Like I said, both products solve problems for customers but as a business are you more comfortable with a product from an adverting company or a software company? At the end of the day, how are they looking to maximize your contribution to their profit?

Eagle Tech Genius Podcast

Thanks to Peter Moriarty from IT Genius, I was a recent participant on the Eagle Tech Genius podcast last Thursday the 15th of August 2013. You can find a recording of the episode at:
In the episode I spoke about the challenges of IT security as well a key differentiator between Google Apps and Office 365 (which I’ll do a separate upcoming blog post on).
I feature in the first part of the show but I encourage you to listen to the whole episode for some other great information for businesses.
Once again, many thanks to Peter for inviting me on and I hope to be able to come back and share more information with listeners.

Windows PowerShell module for Lync Online

If you are an IT Professional then you really need to be looking at PowerShell. Even for products like Office 365, PowerShell is the premier method of configuring and automating your work with the product.
Until recently the only PowerShell commands that were available for Office 365 was basically user and Exchange commands. That changed a short while ago with the addition of the PowerShell Module for SharePoint Online and Microsoft has just released the PowerShell module for Lync Online which you can find here:
I would expect that all PowerShell modules for online components in Office 365 will increase in functionality over time, so make sure you check regularly for updates. Also, make sure that you spend some time at least learning the basics of PowerShell if you plan to manage these systems. I will plug my own book – Getting Started with PowerShell for Office 365 as a great place to start when it comes to PowerShell and Office 365.

Review–Power Jacket for Lumia 920

Full disclosure – the review unit was supplied by Mobilezap. You can find this device and others at the Mobilezap category page at:
When I upgraded to the Nokia Lumia 920 one of the biggest issues I noticed was how quickly the battery drained compared to my previous phone. Admittedly, I have been using it more intensively but it would be hard pressed to get through a full day’s usage from the standard battery.

Now the external battery for the Lumia 920 seems to the job of providing an extended charge for the phone. This is really handy for those who need the extended life and may not always have the ability to recharge throughout the day.
At first I though it was a battery extender but what it really is an external battery, much like those USB charging bricks you carry around.
The unit can be charged stand alone via the same standard micro USB cable you use with the phone.
On the back you’ll find an on/off switch and a number of charging lights letting you know how much charge the external battery has.
The phone slips neatly into the external battery case and has a nice neoprene/non-slip feel to it. It does add some bulk to the phone but that is to be expected given what you are trying to achieve. Even with the external battery connected, I still found the phone fitted snuggly in my hand.
The external battery comes with an arm you can extend so you can prop up the phone on a desk for viewing. I found the arm to lack a ‘grippy’ end. This meant that it tended to slide around a little on a smooth desk when you tried to use the phone. Maybe some form of neoprene tip would prevent that? However, in practice the arm worked well and allowed me to watch a video on the phone with relative ease.
The basic process is that you charge up the external battery and connect it to the phone. When the phone runs low you press the on/off switch on the back of the battery and the battery then charges the phone. You can repeat this process until the external battery is exhausted, then you can use the normal battery in the phone.
I found this process to be pretty straight forward and convenient. I think it is also a much better idea than having to cart around a generic USB charger brick.
If you look at the ‘standard’ type cover I had previously you can see that it has a front lip that comes almost up to the glass on the phone. The extended battery doesn’t have this lip, which means the front face and some of the sides are somewhat exposed. If you therefore accidentally drop the phone with the external battery attached and it hits at just the right angle (which it always does when you drop it right?) you may find your phone subject to more damage that with the standard case.
It should also be noted that the instructions for the external battery say that you shouldn’t drop it, which kind of means that it isn’t really meant for that sort of protection even though that is the most likely thing that is going to happen right?
Another thing I noticed is that the ‘standard’ case has recessed areas for the buttons on the side of the phone as shown above. The extended battery doesn’t cover these buttons but with the unit on the phone these buttons can be a little hard to operate.
The final issue I will note is that with the external battery unit on the phone plugging a headset into the phone can be problematic. A ‘non-standard’ headset (i.e. didn’t come with the phone) doesn’t fit flush onto the phone so it may operate correctly. A jack with a finer plug, like the headset that comes with the phone, would be ok but there probably needs to be a greater recess around the headphone jack at the top of the external battery to allow for this if you, like me, have a ‘non-standard’ set of headphones you like to use.
All in all I think this is great unit for the Nokia Lumina 920. It is a much better bet than a USB charging brick. I like the power button and charging lights on the rear and even though it does make the phone more bulky with it added that is small price to pay for the extended charging range it provides. I think it is most handy in the car when you want to use GPS and the like without having to always have it plugged into the charger. I like the fact that I can throw the external battery into my bag and attach it when I need it to extend my trips between power points. Apart from a few minor ergonomic quibbles I think this external battery is a very handy addition for Lumia 920 owners who are heavy phone users and need more battery life than the standard phone battery provides.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Exchange Online protection

One of the big improvements with Exchange Online and the upgrade to Wave 15 is the integration of many of the protection features of email directly into the administration console. Previously, you actually had to ‘shell out’ to the Forefront protection console to work on much of this.


Now you simply login to the Office 365 console as an administrator.


From the Admin menu option in the top right select the Exchange from the pull down menu that appears.


Now select the protection option on the left hand side to display the screen shown above. Now across the top on the right you will see a number options, with malware filter being currently selected.

You can learn more details about Exchange Online anti malware here:


If you edit the default policy (by selecting the pencil icon) and select settings on the left hand side you will see the above window.

In there you can set a number of different options for how messages containing malware are handled.

If you return to the previous screen you can now examine the anti-spam protection options. More details about these options can be found at:


If you now examine the connection filtering policy you will see the above options that allow you to white and black list specific IP addresses.


If you return to the previous menu and edit the content filtering policy you will see the above listed.


In the advanced options you will find even more settings for how content in email is handled.


Finally if your return to the previous menu and select quarantine you will see any messages that are currently being held.

For more detailed information about quarantine have a look here:


The other area when it comes to protection is reports. This has again been significantly improved and integrated directly into the console. This allows you to display real time results as shown above.

So, if you job is to manage and monitor email protection, spend some time looking at the protection area inside Exchange Online administration.

Aston goes Office 365

I’m pretty keen on my cars and it was of interest that I discovered that Aston Martin has now gone Office 365.

You’ll find the complete case study at:

which does make for interesting reading. Turns out Aston is also a big SharePoint user! Hopefully, their Australia branch needs some help.

SharePoint Online file size increases

In the SharePoint Online Storage FAQ post I wrote recently I noted with interest that the maximum file size had increased from 250MB to 2GB.


Now when I actually tested that in a browser I received the above error indicating that the file could not be uploaded.


Unfazed, I broke out the SkyDrive pro client app and used that to sync the same file from my desktop and as you can see from the above screen shot SUCCEESS! Yeah! In the above screen shot you see a file of size 414,262 KB. Thus, you CAN upload a file of greater than 250MB to SharePoint Online. Just seems you have to use SkyDrive pro client app from the desktop.


If you look at the SkyDrive Pro location on your desktop you will also see it there.

I get the feeling that the browser is probably not the best vehicle for transferring large files (as time outs are involved). I did do my initial tests with Chrome and Internet Explorer and expect the same issues with all browsers.

However, ring the bells, SharePoint Online now supports file sizes greater than 250MB. Another great leap forward fro Office 365!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I’ll be at TechEd Australia will you?


During the first week in September I’ll be up on the Gold Coast participating in Microsoft Tech Ed Australia. While I’m there I’ll be giving the following sessions:

Managing Microsoft Office 365

Date:Wednesday, September 4
Time:9:45 AM - 11:00 AM
Room:Theatre 2
Session Type:Instructor-Led Lab (ILL)
Technical Level:300

During this lab, tour the Microsoft Office 365 admin and user portal. Throughout the lab, review areas of the user interface and perform tasks highlighting administration features of Office 365 Technical Preview. You are encouraged to explore all areas of the portal covered and not covered in the lab in order to become familiar with Office 365.

Administering Office 365 for Small Business - 74-324

Date:Wednesday, September 4
Time:3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Room:Exam Cram
Technical Level:100

The Administering Office 365 for Small Business Exam Cram session will prepare you to take the 74-324 Certification exam through a mixture of course work and real world exam questions. These skills are key to administering Office 365 for Small Business clients and are especially designed for Microsoft partners looking to achieve a Small Business Competency. This session will also provide you with a greater insight on the capabilities and opportunities around the Office 365 product for SMB customers.

Deploying Microsoft Office as a Service

Date:Friday, September 6
Time:9:45 AM - 11:00 AM
Room:Theatre 3
Session Type:Instructor-Led Lab (ILL)
Technical Level:300

During this lab, you prepare for, deploy, and manage a Microsoft Office 365 Professional Plus deployment.

So if you are also attending TechEd please let me know ( and we can catch up. Even if you are not going but will be in the area I’d love to hear from you. So again get in touch.

I get a lot of questions from SMB resellers about whether TechEd is worth attending. So my initial response to that is to go and have a look at the session content. From there you’ll probably see that much of it is enterprise focused. That doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant for SMB but you should be aware that it is more ‘M’ than ‘S’ here.

There are still heaps of sessions that are totally relevant and anyone who works in IT field will learn something. However, from a business side you need to factor in the cost of attendance, travel, accommodation, meals and finally time away from your business. That can be tough for a smaller reseller to justify.

Finally, I would also tell you that many of the sessions (especially from other TechEd’s around the world) are recorded and made available online for free after the fact. So if you like the content just keep an eye for when the presentations are posted online.

However, the major benefit in my experience is business networking, the people you meet and the relationships you build during the event have the greatest value. If you are keen to build and you’ll be in the vicinity during the first week in September, let me know, I am always keen to catch up with people. If you are attending TechEd I hope I’ll see you in one of my sessions.

SharePoint Online Storage FAQ

Which Office 365 plans include SharePoint Online?

- Small Business Suite (P1)

- Small Business Premium Suite (P2)

- Mid Sized Business Suite (M)

- Enterprise Plan 1 Suite (E1)

- Enterprise Plan 3 Suite (E3)

- Enterprise Plan 4 Suite (E4)

- SharePoint Online Plan 1

- SharePoint Online Plan 2

- Office Web Apps Plan 1

- Office Web Apps Plan 2

How much storage to I get with SharePoint Online?

Every plans that includes SharePoint Online comes with:

- 10 GB of Shared Storage

- Adds 500MB to Shared Storage per licensed user. e.g. 7 users adds 3.5 GB to the initial 10GB making 13.5GB of shared storage

- 7GB of private (via SkyDrive Pro) storage per licensed user. Thus, in the above with 7 users you would have a total of 13.5GB of shared storage and 49GB of private storage shared amongst users. 

Can I add additional pooled storage beyond the default that is provided?

Yes, all plans support the purchasing of additional pooled storage space. However, beware as of the date of this blog post (August 2013) this option is not available for P1, P2 or M plans although it should be available very soon.

There is currently no option to purchase additional private (SkyDrive Pro) space for any plan.

What is the maximum pooled storage capacity I can have including additional storage?

- Small Business Suite (P1) = 100GB

- Small Business Premium Suite (P2) = 100GB

- Mid Sized Business Suite (M) = 2,000GB

- Enterprise Plan 1 Suite (E1) = 25,000GB

- Enterprise Plan 3 Suite (E3) = 25,000GB

- Enterprise Plan 4 Suite (E4) = 25,000GB

- SharePoint Online Plan 1 = 25,000GB

- SharePoint Online Plan 2 = 25,000GB

- Office Web Apps Plan 1 = 25,000GB

- Office Web Apps Plan 2 = 25,000GB

How many site collections can I have in pooled storage?

- Small Business (P1) = 1 internal + 1 public

- Small Business Premium (P2) = 1 internal + 1 public

- Mid Sized Business (M) = 20 internal + 1 public

- Enterprise Plan 1 Suite (E1) = 3,000 internal + 1 public

- Enterprise Plan 3 Suite (E3) = 3,000 internal + 1 public

- Enterprise Plan 4 Suite (E4) = 3,000 internal + 1 public

- SharePoint Online Plan 1 = 3,000 internal + 1 public

- SharePoint Online Plan 2 = 3,000 internal + 1 public

- Office Web Apps Plan 1 = 3,000 internal + 1 public

- Office Web Apps Plan 2 = 3,000 internal + 1 public

Can I allocate user SkyDrive Pro space as pooled storage?

Basically no. Each user get 7GB of storage for their ‘personal’ use. This space cannot be reallocated elsewhere. However, it is certainly possible to change the default security settings on each users personal SkyDrive Pro and make the 7GB per use available to all users as a ‘de-facto’ addition to pooled storage. In that case, you could think of this configuration as another site collection added to the total available space. No the recommended method but certainly possible.

What is the maximum file size that I can upload?

All plans now say they support a maximum of 2GB per file. The previous limit was 250MB.

Interestingly, when I attempt to upload a file of > 250MB to my E3 tenant I get an error, however the specs certainly now say 2GB is the limit for individual files. I am sure this will change when tenants are upgraded over time.

How much space do I get with my public website?

With all plans by default you receive 5GB of space which can be increased to 100GB for your public SharePoint Online site.

Where can I find more information about SharePoint Online storage?

SharePoint Online: software boundaries and limit - 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Office 365 Mail flow trouble-shooter

One of the most common problems you see with Office 365 (or any email system actually) is people asking why their email’s aren’t being received. Microsoft has now created a Mail Flow Analyser to help you track down any issues.

You can find it at:;en;3568&showpage=1
They have also made available this nice graphic overview of email operations

to help you understand the process of sending and receiving emails.

CIAOPS Virtual Technical Meeting September–Register Now

So there is a slight change of dates for our September meeting as I will be presenting some sessions TechEd Australia on the Gold Coast during the first week in September. Thus, I have shifted the meeting back a week to the second Wednesday in September (11th from 4.00 – 5.30pm.

After being held over from last month September will feature presentation on Yammer.
All about YammerIn this session you'll receive an introduction to the Yammer product and learn how it will be integrated into Microsoft products such as SharePoint Online.
Presenter = Robert Crane, Office 365 MVP

I will also endeavour to record the session and make it available after the fact but if you attend the meeting you’ll be able to ask specific questions and interact with other attendees during the general discussion part of the meeting. If you haven’t already I urge you to register for the event at:
The event is free and I hope to see you there.

Lync Web Scheduler

Many Office 365 Lync users don’t realize that it is possible to schedule a Lync meeting directly from a web page. Here’s how you do it.

Navigate to:

Login with your Office 365 credentials


You’ll then be taken to the Create New Meeting tab. Complete the details (times, etc) of you meeting.


and the Save the details.


If you now select the My Meetings tab you should see a list of all your scheduled meetings. Select any of the meetings from the left hand side to view their details.

After you do this you can select a number of buttons on the right.


If you select the View Meeting Join Info you will see window like that shown above that provides the URL for the meeting that you can copy and paste and send to people.


If you then select Export as iCalendar you will be able to save a calendar invite with the meeting details as shown above. You can add this to your own calendar or forward it to others.

As you can see, Lync meetings can be directly scheduled and managed all via a web page. For more details on all the options that are available visit the following reference link:


Monday, August 12, 2013

Lesson in selling Office 365

I see so many IT resellers now realizing they need to sell and support Office 365 because their clients ARE asking for and using it. Unfortunately, most have sat on their hands, denied the momentum of the cloud and so. They find themselves in a world of hurt, falling further and further behind the eight ball in terms of what Office 365 offers.

The simple answer to understanding how to sell Office 365 is to USE IT! All Microsoft partners are eligible to qualify for a free partner Office 365 tenant of their very own. Get, configure it and use it. Simple.

One of the easiest things to get up and running is Lync. Lync allows messaging, video conferencing and more. It is also something that few clients have seen so it has a real impact when you show it to them.

By default Lync only allows connection to users within your Office 365 tenant, however you can enable ‘federation’ with outside parties also using Lync or even Skype. To my way of thinking you should enable this ‘federation’ immediately and being to connect with others.

To enable federation to external parties login to your Office 365 portal as an administrator.


Select the Admin menu item from across the top and then the Lync option that appears in the drop down menu.


In the Lync admin centre select organization from the menu on the left. You should then see the options for external sharing as shown above.

It is recommended you set external access to On except for blocked domains and enable public IM connectivity.

Once you have made these changes it will take 15 or so minutes for the federation update to flow through the system but once complete you can now connect up with others using Lync or Skype.


If you now select the users menu on the left you will see all your users who are licenses to used Lync.


If you select and edit any of these users you will find that you can control their individual rights to external communication if desired as shown above.


If you return to your Office 365 portal and look at a users license you will see whether they are enabled for Lync. In the above example, this user is enabled for Lync as part of the E3 suite. Remember, you can always remove the Lync option here to prevent access to any of the suite products. However, also be aware that removing a single product from a user doesn’t magically give you one more license you can assign to a new user.


With all that enabled you can now install the full Lync client on your desktop (it comes with Office 2013) and then login with your Office 365 login details.

Once you have logged in you can search for other users via their login details within your organization and externally if you have enabled that (and you should).

All CIAOPS Office 365 and SharePoint Guide subscribers are free to connect with me via Lync and use that as quick and easy method to contact me for support if needed. If you are not a Guide subscriber (and you should be) then feel free to email me ( and request to be connected via Lync.

Now that you have Lync working, spend some time learning how to create and schedule meetings. Work out how to do remote presentations and record them. Work out how to share files and chat online all directly from Office documents. You’ll find an eBook on Getting Started with Lync Online in my publications area. It is only AU$4.99 and it will show you everything you need to know about getting up to speed with Lync options.

Once you have those skills go out and start showing clients. Start running webinars. Start demonstrating your knowledge of the product. Look at how a product like Lync can be used to improve your clients business. Once you work it our for a few I’m pretty sure you’ll find it applies to just about every other one in the same way.

Office 365 products are extremely powerful, full of features that most businesses have never seen and ultimately full of endless opportunities for those who sell and support them. So stop procrastinating, get in there and USE them, because that is the best way to work out how to sell them. Simple.

Web Browser Cookie Forensics

There is a lot of talk these days about tracking, cookies and so on. You can read a lot of good and lot more bad information about the role that cookies play on your system but rather than go through a whole heap of stuff here I’ll refer you to:

which will not only explain to you about all the different forms of cookies but also test your system to let you know where you are potentially expose.

The first step to being is more secure is having an understanding of what being secure actually means. The above site should put you well down that path.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mick Dundee vs the Indian phone scammers

Most people are pretty aware these days of people from foreign countries cold calling you claiming there are issues on your PC and kindly offering to help (for a fee of course). If they are given access to your PC system then things go downhill pretty quick for you from there.

However, even with all the publicity out there about the scams they just keep calling so there must still be people getting scammed. Now what happens if these scammers call a security MVP like Troy Hunt who recently gave a presentation for the CIAOPS Virtual Technology meeting (which you should go and look at after this)?

Watch and enjoy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

CIAOPS Virtual Technical Meeting August recording now available

If you missed the CIAOPS Virtual Technical Meeting on Wednesday all about the upcoming Windows 8.1 release by Microsoft Technology Evangelist Jeff Alexander then you’ll find the YouTube recording here:

You’ll also find the slide deck at:

What you won’t find is some of the great discussions and questions that were also part of this session. To get that you really need to attend the event live.

Registrations are now open for the September meeting and you’ll find those at:

The September meeting will be the SECOND Wednesday in September as I’ll be at TechEd AU during the first week of September. The topic for the September meeting will be an Introduction to Yammer. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Reasons SharePoint Migrations fail

I couldn’t have said it better! Here is a great presentation from the guys at Sharegate as to why migrations to SharePoint 2013 fail.

Embedding an Office 365 document in a webpage

One of the handy things that you can do with web based storage these days is embed a document from them into a web page. This can give the web page viewer almost full document functionality via a web page if you want.

SharePoint Online via Office 365 can also provide this same functionality. Simply upload an Office document to a SharePoint Document Library.


Select the ellipse (three dots) to the right of the name.


You should then see the preview window as shown. You’ll need to do this with current browser so you get all the features.

Just below the document preview you will see a small menu icon. Select this to display the menu shown above. In this menu you will see an option Embed Information, select this.


You will then a snippet of HTML code that you can copy and paste into a HTML page.


Now don’t forget that documents generally stored on SharePoint Online are secured so only certain people can access them. This means that unless you alter the security people will need to have a login to view the document.


You can of course alter the security of that file. In this case we’ll alter it so everyone (i.e. anonymous internet users) can have read only access.

If you return the file preview, just under the preview you will probably see a link that says Only shared with you. Select this to change the security on that file.


You’ll then be shown a dialog that displays the current file security. At the moment you can see that only I have access to that file. To change this select INVITE PEOPLE from the lower part of the screen.


You should now see a dialog that allows to select whom you wish to invite and what rights to the file they have.

For complete anonymous access to the file (i.e. anyone, anywhere on the Internet can view that file) enter Everyone into the Invite people field and change the access to Can view won the right. Also ensure that the Require sign-in option at the bottom of the page is unchecked.

Press the Share button when complete.


Immediately after doing this, you should see a message appear in the top right as shown above that tell you the document is now shared via a guest link.


If you return to the properties of the document again you will notice that the security options now say Shared with lots of people and Open to anyone via a guest link as shown above.


If you select the Open to anyone via a guest link you will be shown a dialog like that above that gives you a public link to that document. Thus, if you send that link to someone via email and they click on it they will be able to view the document.


If you select the link lots of people to view the securities you should now see something like shown above. Remember, EVERYONE means EVERYONE!

With all that done hopefully people can see the document embedded in your page as shown below.

If you can’t see the document or there is an error it is probably because I have forgotten about this post and deleted document but hopefully you understand how to embed it for yourself.

Monday, August 5, 2013

CIAOPS Virtual Technology Meeting–Agenda update

Our original speaker for the August meeting, Microsoft Technical Evangelist Jeff Alexander, has been gracious enough to change his travel arrangements to accommodate presenting on Wednesday the 7th of August 2013 as initially advertised. As you can appreciate, having access to Jeff is something that just can’t be passed up so I have slotted him back in for the event and pushed the Yammer presentation back.
Here is what Jeff is planning to speak on:
Title:  Windows 8.1 Update!
Abstract: Windows 8 has been out for a few months now and we have received a ton of feedback.  In this session on Windows 8.1; Jeff Alexander will talk and demo some of the new changes and how they benefit small business’s and larger enterprises.  He’ll go through what’;s changed and show some of the cool new features including the update start screen, UI enhancements, desktop enhancements, the start button, new search and many more.  We will also cover enterprise features such as assigned access, mobile device management and workplace join.
To attend the event simply visit the registration site at:
which after registration will present you with all the information you need to connect up to this webinar on Wednesday the 7th of August from 4pm Sydney time.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly on

Thursday, August 1, 2013

CIAOPS Virtual Technology Meeting update

Our meeting next Wednesday 7th of august at 4pm has had a change of agenda. Unfortunately, Jeff Alexander from Microsoft discovered a scheduling conflict and is unavailable. Have no fear, I think there are plenty of people who’ll be interested in the substitute topic:
All about Yammer
In this session you'll receive an introduction to the Yammer product and learn how it will be integrated into Microsoft products such as SharePoint Online.

Presenter = Robert Crane, Office 365 MVP

I will also endeavour to record the session and make it available after the fact but if you attend the meeting you’ll be able to ask specific questions and interact with other attendees during the general discussion part of the meeting. If you haven’t already I urge you to register for the event at:
The event is free and I hope to see you there.

SkyDrive to be renamed

For everyone who found all this SkyDrive stuff confusing you’ll be interested to hear that Microsoft is going to re-brand the whole suite of products after losing a trademark dispute over the name. You’ll find more information about that here:
This would also indicate that SkyDrive Pro in SharePoint 2013 will be renamed as well. No indications on what it will be called yet. My vote is for something like Azure drive. What do you reckon works?

Office Mobile for Android now available

Not unexpectedly Microsoft has now released Office Mobile for Android much like the recent release for iOS. You’ll find all the details at:
Once again, like the iOS version, it is a phone rather than a tablet app and you’ll need an active Office 365 Business subscription to gain access to all the features.
As I have said many times in this blog, you do need to give Microsoft credit for the speed at which it is now bringing these apps to different platforms, especially mobile ones.