Need to Know Podcast–Episode 98

We’re joined again by Microsoft Senior Technical Evangelist Jeff Alexander to talk about the latest with Windows Server 2016. Jeff tells us about all the latest cool features that are now available and where the direction of this product is headed. We talk about virtualisation, Nano servers, containers, PowerShell, Azure and more.

You’ll also get a round up of the latest Office 365 and Azure new from us including information on Azure Resource Manager, increased SharePoint Online Team Site storage and more. Listen in to stay up to date with the latest in the Microsoft Cloud.

You can listen to this episode at:

or subscribe to this and all episodes in iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send me any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show. 


Jeff Alexander –

Free Windows 10 eBook for IT Pros

Exploring Nano Server

Getting Started with Nano Server

Azure SDK

Azure Resource Manager Basics

Windows 10 update information

Windows 10 update history

Version numbers for update branches for Office 365 clients

Office 365 client branch releases

Updated Delve profiles

Office 365 Team Sites storage increased

Azure Resource Manager basics

One of the challenges of working in a virtual infrastructure envionment is that you need to keep track of all the different resources. Things like virtual machine images, storage, network cards, etc all need to be assembled into a completed virtual machine.

Typically, all of this has been done piecemeal and by hand. Microsoft’s best practice is to move away from this IaaS version 1 to IaaS version 2 or using something it calls Azure Resource Groups.

You can basically think of Azure Resource Group as a container into which you put everything your need for your infrastructure configuration. Because everything is now in a single object it makes it easier to build and delete if necessary. That way it makes it easier to build is that you can now basically script the whole process.

The following will take you through a very basic process of creating a single Azure virtual machine using the Azure Resource Manager so you get an idea of the differences from the ‘classic’ method of building infrastructure.

The easiest way to deploy using Azure Resource Manager is to use Visual Studio. However, don’t install Visual Studio first! You’ll have problems if you do.


Instead, visit the following location:

and select the link to Download Azure SDK and then run the download.


This will launch the Web Platform Installer as shown above. This will download not only the free Visual Studio Community Edition but also add the appropriate Azure components for you automatically.


You should now see the installer for Visual Studio Community 2015 with Microsoft Azure SDK displayed as shown above.

Select Install to continue.


Ensure you have enough free space on the machine to install all the components. The total size of the installation is displayed as shown above.

Select I Accept to continue.


The installation will then commence. This whole process of downloading and installing the appropriate components will take a fair amount of time, so generally allow 45 – 60 minutes for the process to complete.


You’ll see the progress displayed on the lower bar along with the total of components that have been installed so far.


When the process is complete, you’ll see the above screen.

Select Continue.


You’ll then see a summary of installation process.

Select Finish.


You’ll then be given the option to download additional components if desired.

Select Exit.


Run Visual Studio. Select File | New | Project.


On the left hand side of the dialog that appears, open Installed | Templates | Visual C# | Cloud. On the right, you should see Azure Resource Group at the bottom of the list, as shown above.

Select Azure Resource Group, provide a name for the project and press the OK button to proceed.


You’ll then be prompted to select an Azure template. In this case Windows Virtual Machine will be selected.

After selecting the template, press OK to continue.


This will open Visual Studio proper on your desktop like shown above.


In the top right you’ll see the Solution Explorer box as shown above. In here will be a Templates folder that you need to open. You should then find two .JSON files inside.

Select WindowsVirtualMachine.json to continue.


This should open the file in a large window in the center of the page.

Take a look through the file to see all the options. If you want to customise your virtual machine deployment you’ll need to do it in this file.

However, don’t make any changes to the file at this stage.


Right mouse click on the project name in the Solution Explorer box in the top right of the Visual Studio desktop.

From the menu that appears, select Deploy and then New Deployment from the submenu.


This will open a new window as shown above. Here select Add an account.

You’ll then need to add the login details for the Azure account in which the new Virtual Machine will be created in.


When you have added your Azure account most of the remaining fields will be populated has shown above.

Select the pull down option for the empty Resource group.


From the pull down menu that appears select .


Enter a name for the Resource Group. This will the container in which all the assets live.

Next, select a region where this Resource Group and the items it contains will reside. Here, Australia East has been selected.

Select Create to continue.


You’ll be returned to the previous window. Here, select the Edit Parameters button.


Enter the virtual machine administrator login name in the adminUsername field.

Enter the virtual machine administrator password in the adminPassword field.

Enter a name in the dnsNameForPublicIP field. This fieldmust be in lowercase and not contain special characters (i.e. !@$%- etc is not supported).

All of these values could have be entered in the configuration JSON if desired.

It is also recommended that you select the option Save passwords, otherwise you’ll be prompted top continually enter all these details during the creation process.


When complete, select the Save button to continue.


Select the Deploy button.


The deployment of the Resource Group will now commence. You can view the progress in the Output box at the bottom of the Visual Studio desktop.


The results of each step in the deployment process will be displayed. If there are any errors they will also be displayed here.


If you now look in the new Azure portal, as shown above, under the Resources groups area, the Resource Group just created should appear. Select this.

This will then display all the assets contained within that group. Select any whitespasce in the lower part of this blade.

Doing so will open the Resources blade where you can see each individual resource as it is created. Select the Refresh button at the top of the page to see new resources as the configuration progresses.


After a while the Output box on the Visual Studio desktop should show you that the deployment process is complete as shown above.


If you then return to the Resource Group and drill down into the virtual machine, you should see something like shown above. That is a running virtual machine.

So, that’s the way to get a single basic virtual machine up and running with Azure Resource Manager. It may seem like more work but as you begin to scale and manage large and more complex configurations it makes life much easier.

It is also interesting to note, as I have said many time here before, the future is about software. Azure Resource Manager shows how important it is to be comfortable with coding, which is not something I see with most IT Professionals. So now is the time to start getting comfortable!

You can also do all of this using PowerShell, which will be post coming in the future. For now, be fruitful and multiply using Azure Resource Manager for your IaaS environment.

Cloud App Discovery coming to Office 365

One of the handy features of Azure AD Premium was the ability to install a small program on each workstation and then have it report on cloud based applications used. All the data was collected by Azure and then reported in a handy dashboard.

That way you could see what cloud based applications were in use, how much data was flowing through them and whether they were being used outside the Azure AD Single Sign On Web Portal.

A good example I have seen is where cloud app discovery uncovered the fact that a number of employees were sharing large amounts of corporate information using Dropbox which had been banned from the workplace. Cloud Discovery allowed these users to be identified along the times sharing was taking place. The business could then take appropriate action.

According to this post from Microsoft:

Cloud App discovery is a new feature, amongst others, coming to Office 365. To quote:

Office 365 cloud app discovery gives you the ability to understand which other cloud services your users are connecting to. From the Office 365 admin portal, you can view a dashboard on network activity. For example, you can see where users are storing and collaborating on documents and how much data is being uploaded to apps or services outside of Office 365.

Not quite sure how exactly it works but I expect it will be a slightly cut down version of what is available in Azure AD Premium, like many other enhanced features of Office 365 are.

There are also some other great security enhancements announced in that blog post so check it and be ready for the new features arriving in an Office 365 near you soon!

Getting Started With Skype For Business Online


I am happy to report that the ePUB and MOBI versions of our book Getting Started With Skype For Business are now available. You can find these versions here:

ePUB –


as well as the original


I am also pleased to report the book is also now available on Kindle here:

Amazon –

We are expecting a version to be shortly available on the Apple iBookstore and Barnes and Noble Nook, with a printed version also available shortly thereafter.

We thank everyone who supported us through this process and those who pre-ordered the book. We hope every one who does purchase the book gets value from it and we’d love to get your feedback and suggestions about the content. Email your comments directly to (

Find this and other books from me on SharePoint, Office 365, etc. at:

Windows Phone 10 Continuum is key

I continue to be a big supporter of the Windows Phone platform for many reasons, even as the market dwindles below one percent. I agree that there certainly aren’t as many apps as there are on Android and iPhone but that is not the whole story here. So let me explain my thinking on why Windows Phone is going to be so much more relevant in the future and thus why you shouldn’t write it off.

The growth in mobility is huge. Mobile devices out sell traditional desktop PCs by more than five to one with that growth only accelerating. Clearly, mobile is where it is all going. As our mobile devices become more and more capable we use them more and more and our traditional desktops less and less. You would then probably agree that there will come a day in the not too distant future, when the majority of users will have a mobile device as their primary device at work.

If a mobile phone is now your primary device all you really need is the ability to hook it up to a large screen and normal keyboard and ‘voila’, you now effectively have a desktop. So it would seem that the future holds people having a mobile phone they plug into some sort of docking station when they want to use it like a desktop.

Let’s turn our attention to the growth of the mobile phone market for just a second. Apple were the first to market with the modern mobile phone as we know it today. They still dominate the market because they have continued to capitalise on that innovation. Android emerged as a strong, and now dominate, competitor because it allowed more apps to be developed on its platform more easily than Apple. The analogy would be the state of play when it comes to desktop software, i.e. Apple Mac vs PC. Microsoft has a platform that was much easier and more widespread to develop for. Thus, it became the dominate player in the market.

Ok, so how do these concepts relate to Windows Phone you may ask? In one word. Continuum.

Continuum is a Windows 10 technology that allows the device to automatically reconfigure itself depending on its form factor. If you take a Windows 10 Surface machine and detach the keyboard, thanks to Continuum, it instantly changes the interface to be that suit for a tablet.

That’s great for PC’s with detachable keyboard BUT now think about Continuum on phones. You have a phone that you plug into a docking station that converts it to a desktop. As I mentioned before, this most agree, is the direction we are heading with mobile devices. That indicates to me that Microsoft is already ahead of the game with this concept. Android and iPhone don’t have that ability as yet to my knowledge, so Microsoft is already gaining experience in what will be the future of the way the majority of people use mobile phones.


I have a Lumia 950 XL phone that is running Windows 10 (and Continuum). I also have the phone docking station( (shown above) that allows you to connect your 950 XL to and then connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, an external monitor as well as plug in USB storage.


The dock small enough to be carried just about anywhere, so now I can transform my phone effectively into a desktop PC anywhere I am.


The way you do this is to plug the phone into the dock and then select the Continuum app from the list of apps on the phone.


You then let the phone know how you’ll be connecting to the dock, either wired or wirelessly. Again, note here that Microsoft has recognised that wirelessly connecting is going to be the easiest way for people to use this. That is, as long as the phone is near the dock, it will seamlessly connect to your full size keyboard and screen, transforming into a desktop PC .


Once Continuum is active the phone screen becomes a mouse pad, as shown above, and you have a Windows 10 desktop on the large monitor you are connected to. Thanks to my Bluetooth keyboard and mouse I effectively now have the full desktop experience.


You can go in and adjust the setting for Continuum on the phone as shown above.


You can adjust the display as well.


As well as controlling the desktop experience.

Now thanks to Continuum I have a Windows 10 desktop and a phone. Even with Continuum in operation, I can still use the phone as a phone, make and receive calls, run apps, etc.

You’ll get a much better idea of Continuum from the above video.

Thanks to phone based apps like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc you can still get your work done directly using the phone. Apps have to be written to support Continuum which many still need to be converted but for example apps like FitBit, TED and Audible are Continuum ready. I would expect to see more and more apps become Continuum ready in the future.

Of course the naysayers are going to point to the fact that you can’t run ‘normal’ desktop apps that businesses need to work because they only run on an Intel platform. Agreed, but the Windows 10 phone has a Remote Desktop app that allows to connect to any any desktop.


You’ll find that app here:

So now with this Remote Desktop app on my phone and with my phone connected to a large keyboard, screen and standard mouse I would suggest to you that I now have a complete desktop replacement.

In my case I used this Remote Desktop app to connect to an Azure VM without issue and run normal desktop apps just as you would on a PC. So now with the power of Windows 10 phone and Azure do you really need to have traditional servers and desktops inside the business? I’m thinking not.

So now, thanks to the Remote Desktop client, you have full access to all the software that is written PC’s anywhere, all directly on your device.

If you step back and take a look at what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10 phone in light of Continuum, I see them investing in a key mobile trend that most agree is the direction we are headed (just like Apple did with the iPhone). I see Microsoft allowing users the ability to connect to their legacy apps and continue to develop on existing platforms yet have these accessible via the device, thus giving users access to the greatest range of software (much like Android).

Thus, many have written off Windows Phone, however I’d suggest that people are overlooking how rapidly this market continues to develop and to be truly succeed you need to be play where ‘the ball is going, not where the ball currently is’. I don’t see Apple or Android investing in this replacement desktop paradigm, it is only Microsoft. In my mind that gives Microsoft a HUGE advantage in the mobile space and is the reason I see Windows Phone as a platform with far more potential than many see.

Those who look to the future and prepare stand a better chance of winning than those who only consider today. There is still a long way to go and much more development will be required but importantly (like Apple and iPhone), I think Microsoft and Windows 10 Phone is well placed to lead the pack going forward. So, ignore Windows 10 phone at your peril.

Getting Started With Skype For Business Online–PDF version


I am pleased to announced that the PDF version of our “Getting Started With Skype For Business Online” is now available for purchase at:


This book is designed to get you up and running with Skype for Business Online fast! It takes you step by step through using everything in Skype for Business Online, showing you each item in detail, including screen shots at every stage. This book will help you use and better understand the capabilities of Skype for Business Online and the power that is can bring your business. Most importantly, it will show you how to be more productive by using the tools you already have to communicate better. If you use Office 365 but are not yet familiar with Skype for Business then this book is for you.

This book contains over 200 pages of detailed information and screen shots of every option.

The book will soon be available from Amazon, iBooks and in printed format but we don’t have exact dates on that yet. if you are wondering what topics the book contains here’s the index:

– Preface
– What is Skype for Business Online?
– What is Lync?
– What is the difference between Skype and Skype for Business?
– What does this document contain?
– How can I use Skype for Business Online?
– Installing Skype for Business on a PC
– Using the Skype for Business client
– Types of Meeting Members
– Scheduling a meeting in Outlook
– Scheduling a meeting using the Web
– Attending a meeting
– Instant Messaging
– File Transfer
– Call Monitor
– Phone
– Video
– Sharing
– Participants
– More Options
– Mobile Access
– Recordings
– Exiting a meeting
– Skype for Business Web Apps
– Conclusion
– Where to go from here
– Glossary
– Useful Links
– Useful Videos
– About

I take this opportunity to thank my co-author Greg Plum for all the effort he was invested in this book and his help in making this a reality. We hope it helps people adopt Skype for Business as a central part of their business.

Watch out for other formats coming soon.

SharePoint Online Team Site storage now 1TB

Today is a GOOD DAY! Microsoft have delivered on their promise to increase the default starting Team Site pooled storage from 10GB to 1TB as announced in this blog post:

Auditing, reporting and storage improvements for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business

and I quote:

1 TB additional space for overall pooled SharePoint Online storage allocation

The amount of content in Office 365 is growing 300 percent year over year. To meet your needs for more storage, we’re increasing default storage to 1 TB plus 0.5 GB per user to use across SharePoint Online, Office 365 Groups and Office 365 Video—up from the previous allocation of 10 GB. This is in addition to the unique default per-user OneDrive for Business storage space and individual storage provided for user email inboxes.

I can also happily report that I am seeing this increase inside my own tenant already:


It has taken quite a while to get the old 10GB limited upgraded to 1TB and that is going to make life so much easier for businesses moving to Office 365. This is because the area in which shared information for people needs to go is into Team Sites NOT OneDrive for Business as I have said many times. Now having 1TB as a starting point means most businesses won’t need to purchase additional space for their shared information. It should also place the focus back on the more powerful Teams Sites for business information and away from OneDrive for Business which is designed for individuals.

I really believe this is such an important upgrade and will remove one of the major restrictions businesses have had around moving from traditional on-premises servers to Office 365.

Happy days!

Working with Remote SharePoint Drop Off Libraries

A while ago I detailed how to set up SharePoint Drop Off Libraries so documents would be automatically routed within a Team Site. You’ll need to review that post:

Working with SharePoint Drop Off Libraries

because this post will show you how to route documents using Drop Off Libraries between two different Team Sites.


The most important thing you need to ensure is enabled in the source Drop Off Library location is that the option for Sending to Another Site is enabled in the Content Organizer Settings as shown above.


You’ll then need to follow the same procedure as the the initial post detailed about enabling a Drop Off Library in the destination Team Site. You’ll need to configure the appropriate rules so that any document uploaded to the destination Drop Off Library ends up in the correct location within that local Team Site.

To link the source Drop Off Library to the destination in another location, navigate to the Content Organizer Settings in the destination site. Scroll to the bottom of the page and there you’ll see a heading Submission points as shown above. Copy the URL that is shown there. that URL should end with something



You’ll then need to navigate to the SharePoint admin center and select the Records Management option from the menu on the left.

Select option New Connection, then paste the URL into the Send to URL box as shown above. Also, enter a description into the Display name field, make any other changes and save the configuration.


Now navigate to the source Drop Off Library location and create or edit a Content Organizer Rule. Complete all the details as before but for the target location, as shown above, you should be able to select a target as Another content organizer in a different site. You should then be able to select the connection display name you just created in the SharePoint Admin center. Save the rule when complete.


In this case, there are now two rules for the source Drop Off Library based on what is entered into the Title field. One rule routes to a local Picture Library in the current site (the top rule), the other routes to a Picture Library in a completely different Team Site (the second rule).


If a document is now uploaded to the source Drop Off Library and submitted with the appropriate condition (here the Title field is set to Team).


The document is corrected routed to the subsite as shown above.


Where it is the routed by the local Drop Off Library to the final destination as shown above.

So in summary, to route a document from a source Drop Off Library to a destination library in another Team Site requires configuring a connection to the destination in the SharePoint admin center, then using that connection as the destination for the Content Organizer rule.

A little bit of configuration, but once operating it provides a powerful way of automatically routing documents to the correct location ANYWHERE with SharePoint Online. That means less time is wasted by users working out where to put documents and secondly it allows routing to multiple location using rules. Thus, you could in theory have a single drop off point in SharePoint routing to various locations. Now wouldn’t that make life easier for everyone?