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Microsoft 365 January updates boost productivity, aid compliance

More organizations are embracing a modern workplace, and new features for Microsoft 365 help you meet compliance obligations, empower Firstline Workers, and enrich your Office app experience.

Here’s a look at what’s new in January.

New capabilities to help organizations address compliance-related challenges

Today, we announced new information protection and compliance solutions to help organizations meet their privacy and compliance commitments in a simple, integrated, and intelligent way.

Access your compliance and privacy tools in a specialized workspace—The Microsoft 365 compliance center is now available, providing your privacy and compliance teams a specialized workspace with easy access to features including Compliance Manager, sensitivity and retention labels, and tools to help respond to regulatory requirements like GDPR, to deliver a unified experience with actionable insights.

Image of a tablet displaying the new Microsoft 365 compliance center.

Simplify the eDiscovery process with new integrated capabilities—New capabilities in Advanced eDiscovery help you efficiently manage discovery workflows with new features to notify custodians or employees related to a case or investigation, isolate case-related contents for processing, and use the new built-in review and redact capability to modify sensitive portions of documents before exporting them as part of a legal matter.

Meet communications monitoring compliance obligations for regulated industries—The Office 365 Supervision feature for communications monitoring requirements now includes Microsoft Teams content as well as expanded policy configuration, data classifications, and integrated review to simplify the employee communications review process.

These new capabilities will be available to all Microsoft 365 E5 or Information Protection and Compliance SKU subscribers.

Empowering Firstline Workers to achieve more

This month, we announced new capabilities in Teams to empower Firstline Workers, including the ability to securely communicate while on the go, provide peer recognition, and have visibility into shift scheduling.

Enable Firstline Workers to communicate securely—A new, customizable Teams mobile experience lets Firstline Workers securely communicate and effectively collaborate from anywhere. This new mobile experience is a simple and secure, with several new mobile-only features that specifically benefit Firstline Workers, including location sharing and smart camera. Additionally, IT admins can now apply a prepackaged policy or create a custom policy to give employees role-based access to the Teams modules they need. The customizable mobile experience is now available for all Office 365 subscribers.

Image of three phones displaying Chat and call recording in Microsoft Teams.

Manage schedules directly in Teams with Shifts—Managers can create shift schedules and team members can update their availability, review schedules, and request time off directly in Teams. You can now integrate Shifts with your existing workforce management system through the Graph API for Shifts, available in public preview later this quarter.

Boost motivation and team morale with new Praise tool—The new Praise tool, rolling out this quarter, gives managers and employees a simple way to recognize coworkers, right in the Teams app where the whole team can see it.

Updates to help you easily access Office 365 and your files on Mac and deliver better content

New, integrated features bring more ways on Mac to improve productivity, deliver engaging content, and enhance learning.

Download the Office 365 suite with just one click on the Mac App Store—This month, we announced that that Office 365 is now available on the newly redesigned Mac App Store. With one click, Mac users can download the cloud-connected, always-up-to-date version of the Office suite—including full installs of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive.

Image of a MacBook open displaying Dark Mode in PowerPoint.

Free up space and easily access your files with OneDrive Files On-Demand for Mac—Files On-Demand is now also available for Mac, making it easier to access all of your files in Office 365 directly in Finder without taking up valuable storage space on your device. You can take files offline for when you’re without an internet connection and free up storage space when you no longer need a local copy of the file. Files On-Demand is now available to all customers running MacOS Mojave.

Image of a Mac displaying OneDrive Files On-Demand.

Engage employees with new interactive visuals and features—Microsoft Photos now makes it easy to create videos with music and narration, text and filters, and even add 3D effects. In February, customers will be able to enhance PowerPoint content by adding Microsoft Stream videos into presentations. And coming soon, teams will have a new way to seamlessly add Microsoft Forms quizzes and polling directly into Microsoft Stream videos.

Image of a tablet displaying PowerPoint slide.

Other updates

  • The Office Cloud Policy Service is now in public preview to help administrators manage policies for all Office 365 ProPlus users in their organization.
  • New improvements to the no-cost SharePoint Migration Tool will help you accelerate your migration to SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Teams.
  • Office 365 now saves new documents to OneDrive or SharePoint Online by default, helping provide users access to their files from anywhere and start collaborating with ease.
  • Integrate conversations from any Yammer group, topic, user, or home feed into any SharePoint page, news article, or site with the new Yammer conversations web part.
  • Microsoft Forms is now available to Office 365 U.S. Government GCC and GCC High environments.
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New features in Microsoft 365 help prepare for the next wave of privacy regulations

Since the enactment of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we’re seeing two fundamental changes in the world that require organizations to think about privacy. First, GDPR started a global wave of countries and regions implementing their own privacy laws—starting with California, Brazil, and more to follow. Second, we’ve seen a shift in consumer attitude towards privacy and protecting personal data. For example, according to a recent survey published by Forrester, 43 percent of U.S. consumers are likely to cancel an online transaction if they read something in the privacy policy that they don’t like.

Today, we’re sharing details of several new Microsoft 365 features to help you get ahead of these trends and deliver on privacy and compliance commitments in a simple, integrated, and intelligent way.

Simplify compliance and privacy management with the new specialized workspace

For compliance professionals, who need to protect and manage their organization’s data privacy risk, we’re announcing a dedicated workspace called the Microsoft 365 compliance center.

In the Microsoft 365 compliance center, you can easily access solutions to help you assess your compliance risk through Compliance Manager, protect data through features like Data Governance, and respond to regulatory obligations like Data Subject Requests. Along with the new Microsoft 365 security center, these specialized workspaces are designed for security and compliance professionals to centrally manage Microsoft 365 services with a unified experience and insights powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

Screenshot of the Microsoft 365 compliance center dashboard.

Microsoft 365 compliance center shows actionable insights to help improve your GDPR and ISO compliance.

We’ll gradually roll out the new experience starting today. Read the Tech Community blog to learn more.

Safeguard sensitive data consistently across Mac, iOS, and Android

To help protect sensitive data consistently across various platforms, we’re announcing new Microsoft Information Protection capabilities that enable users to classify content and apply labels to documents and emails directly from Office apps on Mac (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook) and Office mobile apps (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel on iOS and Android). For example, a user working on a Mac can assign a “Highly Confidential” label while working on an important Word document. This results in the application of the appropriate protection policy, such as adding encryption and access restrictions or adding visual markings. Learn more about new labeling capabilities in Office apps that help you protect sensitive information.

Screenshot of the data sensitivity dropdown shown on Mac, iOS, and Android.

Classify content and apply labels to add encryption, access restrictions, or visual markings to documents and emails directly from Office apps on Mac, iOS, and Android.

Manage data governance processes with insights and granular controls

We’re also releasing expanded label analytics capabilities that enable customers to analyze and validate how sensitivity and retention labels are being used across both Office 365 data and non-Office 365 data. The new label analytics capabilities in the Microsoft 365 compliance center are currently in preview.

Screenshot of label analytics in the Microsoft 365 compliance center. Label analytics is in preview.

View Office 365 and non-Office 365 data classification and policies together from the new label analytics dashboard in the Microsoft 365 compliance center.

Other enhancements in Advanced Data Governance include the file plan manager, which helps customers migrate governance policy configurations. With the file plan manager, you can map complex retention schedules from your existing records management solution or on-premises repository into Office 365.

Read more about all these new updates in Advanced Data Governance.

Reduce risks with built-in eDiscovery capabilities

During litigation- and investigation-related tasks and workflows, keeping more content in place can help reduce costs and risks associated with handling sensitive data. New capabilities in Advanced eDiscovery can help you communicate with custodians (for example: employees related to a case or investigation), isolate case-related contents for processing within a static set, and use the new review and redact capability to modify sensitive portions of documents before exporting them as part of a legal matter. Watch our video and read more about these updates to Advanced eDiscovery.

Streamline compliance requirements for regulated customers in Microsoft Teams

Regulated industries, such as financial services, need the ability to monitor and audit communications for specific roles in their organization. Now, Supervision includes Microsoft Teams content and additional capabilities to flag sensitive data types and offensive language classifiers. Learn more about these updates in the Tech Community blog.

Screenshot of the Security and Compliance center, where the user is choosing a communication to review. She has checked "internal."

Monitor Teams content in the new integrated supervisory review experience.

To help regulated customers meet specific immutability and retention requirements, we’re also announcing the availability of a new SEC 17a-4 regulation compliance assessment completed by Cohasset for Exchange-based storage, including email, groups, chats, and other communication types. Learn more about updates to Advanced Data Governance in the Tech Community blog.

Learn more about the Microsoft cloud

Privacy and compliance are deeply ingrained in the culture at Microsoft and embedded in the practices that are at the core of how we build and deliver our products and services.

  • Watch Microsoft executive leadership and a leading privacy analyst from Forrester Research share their insights on how organizations are investing in privacy as a differentiator with their customers.
  • Read our online e-book on how Microsoft runs on trust.
  • Learn more about the new Information Protection and Compliance offering in Microsoft 365 today.
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Red Wing Shoes stays one step ahead in retail industry with Microsoft 365 workplace

The Red Wing Shoes logo.

Today’s post was written by Marc Kermish, chief information officer at Red Wing Shoe Company.

Image of Marc Kermish, chief information officer at Red Wing Shoe Company.In business for 115 years, Red Wing Shoe Company embodies its staying power in each pair of Red Wings produced. That brand tenacity and the family-oriented culture of caring for customers—whose work boots are as important a tool as a hammer—attracted me to the company. I also like that this traditional, midmarket U.S. manufacturer is expanding globally in a retail space that’s stagnating at best. Fifteen years ago, everyone who worked here lived in Red Wing, Minnesota. Today, we have 700 retail locations, two footwear manufacturing facilities, one tannery, and three U.S. warehouses, with an additional 45 global retailers and sales offices in Norway, Scotland, Dubai, and Japan.

When I came on board, our IT team wanted to support expansion into new markets, while retaining our corporate culture and delivering a workplace tool set that would empower 2,300 employees to excel in a digital world. Red Wing chose Microsoft 365 and Azure to advance these business strategies.

Shifting to this cloud-based tool set has had an immediate and tangible impact on the way we do business. We use Office 365 apps to reduce silos and connect people everywhere. For example, marketing folks in Houston, Scotland, Norway, and Dubai collaborate on RFPs faster than ever using Office 365 video capabilities, Microsoft Teams, Office mobile apps, and OneDrive file storage. Now that we replaced shared files with cloud storage, accessing corporate information takes one click, and everyone knows where to get the latest updates and financial, inventory, and month-end reports.

Today, our 200 sales reps stay hugely productive on the road because they use the Outlook mobile app and other Office mobile apps to work on price lists and product catalogues. And, to safeguard corporate data, we are starting to use Microsoft Intune to manage sales reps’ mobile devices.

As the hub for teamwork and project management, it’s a fantastic platform for collaboration internally and with our partners, retailers, and supply chain. For instance, our reps, accountants, controllers, and business process specialists created Teams channels to take advantage of persistent chat and track conversations—streamlining a complicated project that included a partner in Kansas City. We also saved 10 to 15 percent of total project time when we launched a new billing process for customers who provide vouchers to their employees to buy Red Wing work boots—that’s about 60 days of labor. In what could have been a chaotic environment, we shared and collaborated on files to build a set of deliverables, assign and track tasks, and meet our report deadlines—all from one highly secure Teams workplace.

Mobility has also affected how we structure our work weeks at Red Wing. Thanks to the easy virtual collaboration with Office apps, more people work from home—a preferred way of life for many of our employees. Our marketing team, almost all of whom have long commutes, particularly appreciate the flexibility and ability to work from home. Our teams are starting to loop in outside agency partners by inviting them to Teams channels for close collaboration.

Maybe the most exciting story for me is how we’re using Microsoft cloud-based tools to support innovation at Red Wing. We started using Azure for our Cobble IT Hacking for Value initiative, where we create apps to bring to life ideas from the business. As we iterate back and forth on new ideas, we use Office 365 apps to collaborate better between IT and the business.

One of our most promising innovations takes advantage of Azure Machine Learning and infrared camera technology to augment our workers’ capability to analyze the quality of the leather we use for our boots. The more hides we can turn into finished inventory, the better it is for our bottom line. We visualize and share company data through Microsoft Power BI, which we’ve made available to employees as our analytics engine. I can also see Teams as a strategic tool; for example, we can use it to drive collaboration between our manufacturing, quality, and product teams to get answers quickly on any given issue.

Individual productivity is also up at Red Wing. For example, after using MyAnalytics to review how we work, IT staff have reduced by approximately 10 percent the number of conversational emails cluttering our inboxes by switching to Teams. We get a boost from the artificial intelligence throughout Office 365 as well. Thanks to PowerPoint Designer, my decks rival those in marketing! And we are investigating how to use voice commands for our store associates to ask Cortana about our inventory for a shoe style, so they can respond faster to customers.

All this collaboration happens in a highly secure work environment, thanks to the multi-layered security approach Microsoft takes. As I move data to the cloud, I’m automatically improving my security posture versus what I could’ve done with my limited IT budget. I’ve got identity and access management plus data loss protection capabilities and protection from phishing attacks—all inherent in Microsoft 365. And to further protect our executive staff, we use Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.

At Red Wing, we equip working people with footwear that lasts. And with Microsoft 365, we’re not only able to empower our employees to work more effectively, we’re innovating and expanding. This will further support our staying power and push us to succeed in this digital world.

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Brooks runs ahead with a modern, intelligent Microsoft 365 workplace

The Brooks logo.

Today’s post was written by Mark McKelvey, vice president of information technology at Brooks Running Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

Image of Mark McKelvey, vice president of information technology at Brooks Running Company.I’m a runner and I work in IT, so I couldn’t have found a better fit than Brooks Running Company, where we get deep into the biomechanics and technology of creating great running shoes. In 2001, our CEO, Jim Weber, pivoted the brand to focus solely on running. This corporate running culture encourages a single-minded focus on doing one thing really, really well: providing runners with the best running footwear, apparel, and accessories to promote a healthy lifestyle. My role in IT is to work with the business to provide the technology to support that strategy.

That’s why we are very heavily focused on cloud computing at Brooks. Cloud technology reduces barriers to productivity so we can continue to hone our specialty products. For IT, that means not wasting time with on-premises servers, so we can work with IT solutions directly related to our business. And for the workplace, that means each employee enjoys easy access to the tools and the information they need for their role, from anywhere. Microsoft cloud computing forms a big part of this strategy. We’ve been on the cloud journey for a while, and with Microsoft 365 E3 we’ve taken another step toward winning the race to productivity.

I am really excited about the possibilities inherent in a unified Microsoft cloud platform, from Microsoft Azure to Dynamics CRM to Microsoft 365. This platform is a cost-effective way to boost agility and deliver IT services to the business. The public cloud has also helped a whole new set of small, agile players to deliver innovative solutions based on the same Azure cloud platform that we use. For example, it was a seamless process for Brooks to take advantage of a great new B2B solution from Neocles, a small company in the Netherlands. We deployed the platform worldwide and introduced a mobile app—all to rave reviews from our retailers. When we make it easier for retailers to do business with Brooks, it’s good for their business and ours.

We’re also disrupting the industry and leveraging our biomechanical expertise using the Azure platform to build an app that helps customers find the best running shoe for their personal gait. “Run Signature” is a gait analysis tool that’s breaking new ground in delivering customized support for customers. All the information that we capture from this app flows to Azure, where it’s stored for our biomechanics team to further advance the science of running—and our competitive advantage.

That’s why it’s so important that we protect our intellectual property. We use the multilevel security capabilities in Microsoft 365—multifactor authentication, data loss prevention, and legal hold—to add layers of security to our modern workplace. And we have completed our Windows 10 deployment, which supports highly secure, mobile access to data on any device. We are a global company, and we expect Windows 10 to be a boon for protecting the information on employee devices as they travel from our Seattle headquarters to our factories in Asia or our sales offices in Canada and Europe.

Enhancing collaboration among employees around the world is another benefit we’re exploring with our intranet, called “Inside Track,” which is based in SharePoint Online. With different time zones and work environments, we use Microsoft 365 real-time collaboration apps and highly secure mobile access to data as the foundation for a more flexible way of working at Brooks—from changing the physical layout of our headquarters to supporting work from home, hotel rooms, or airports. These tools, just like our gear, deliver what it takes to run your best race.

—Mark McKelvey

For more on the Brooks move to a modern workplace, read the full case study.

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MyAnalytics, the fitness tracker for work, now more broadly available

MyAnalytics—the fitness tracker for work—is now available to everyone using Office 365 and Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Business suites that include Exchange Online. Previously, MyAnalytics was only available with an Enterprise E5 plan or as an add-on to E1 and E3 plans.

Via a personal dashboard, an Outlook add-in, and weekly emails, MyAnalytics summarizes how you spend your time at work, then suggests ways to work smarter—from cutting unproductive meeting time to reducing time spent working after hours. It even uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help you stay on top of your to-dos by flagging commitments you’ve made in email.

The MyAnalytics dashboard.

New insights give a more complete picture of how you spend time at work

As we continue to evolve the product, today we’re also making MyAnalytics insights more well-rounded. MyAnalytics currently provides insights based on time spent in Outlook emails and meetings, and Skype for Business calls and chats. This month, we’re adding new insights based on your Microsoft Teams calls and chats, as well as signals from documents you’re working on that are saved in OneDrive and SharePoint. With 329,000 organizations and 87 of the Fortune 100 using Teams, this takes us one step closer to providing you with a more complete picture of how you’re spending time at work.

MyAnalytics Outlook add-in and weekly email.

A recent Gallup study found that two-thirds of full-time employees say they experience burnout at work. Multiple factors are contributing to burnout—such as the increased pace of work, a rise in collaborative work like chats, emails, and meetings, and the continuing trend of technology blurring the lines between work and life. Our customers tell us they’re looking for ways to address these challenges by helping employees find time to focus, improve work-life balance, build better meeting habits, and create deeper connections with their colleagues. By making MyAnalytics features more broadly available to our millions of customers, it is our goal to make work days around the world a little more balanced and fulfilling.

Availability: MyAnalytics insights from Microsoft Teams and documents saved in OneDrive or SharePoint will begin rolling out to existing customers with MyAnalytics in January 2019. MyAnalytics features will start rolling out to the new suites in the next couple months. With today’s updates, MyAnalytics features are now available for Office 365 and Microsoft 365 suites: Business Essentials, Business Premium E1, E3, and E5 plans.

Note: Today, we’re also announcing new security and compliance packages for our enterprise customers. Please read Introducing new advanced security and compliance offerings for Microsoft 365 to learn more.

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Introducing new advanced security and compliance offerings for Microsoft 365

When we first introduced Microsoft 365 bringing together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), our vision was two-fold: 1) deliver a great experience for customers to empower employee creativity and teamwork, and 2) provide the most secure and easy to manage platform for a modern workplace. We’ve been thrilled with the response, as customers like BP, Gap, Walmart, and Lilly have contributed to triple-digit seat growth since its launch.

A big driver of customer adoption of Microsoft 365 is the need for security and compliance solutions in an age of increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats, as well as complex information protection needs due to regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). To help address these needs, we are introducing two new Microsoft 365 security and compliance offerings that will be available for purchase on February 1, 2019.

  • Identity & Threat Protection—This new package brings together security value across Office 365, Windows 10, and EMS in a single offering. It includes best of breed for advanced threat protection services including Microsoft Threat Protection (Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), Windows Defender ATP, and Office 365 ATP including Threat Intelligence), as well as Microsoft Cloud App Security and Azure Active Directory. This offer will be available for $12 per user per month.*
  • Information Protection & Compliance—This new package combines Office 365 Advance Compliance and Azure Information Protection. It’s designed to help chief compliance officers perform ongoing risk assessments with a compliance score across Microsoft Cloud services, automatically classify and protect sensitive data, and efficiently respond to regulatory requests leveraging artificial intelligence (AI). This offer will be available for $10 per user per month.*

All the value in these new offers remains available as part of the full Microsoft 365 E5 suite, which also includes business analytics and our enterprise grade phone system and audio conferencing. The full Microsoft 365 E5 suite includes not only security and compliance capabilities, but also offerings in business analytics featuring Power BI, and communications with audio conferencing and advanced phone system value. Additionally, customers can continue to purchase security and compliance components on a standalone basis.

There are no price increases or service impacts associated with any of these changes. The new Identity & Threat Protection and Information Protection & Compliance offerings are designed to provide customers with simpler purchase, deployment, and adoption of these security and compliance workloads.

As we speak to customers about the future of work, we know security and compliance are some of the highest organizational priorities and we hope these new offerings will help them achieve their security and compliance goals.

*Pricing for Microsoft 365 E3 customers before volume discounts.

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Belgian police move into the digital age nationwide, solve crimes faster with Microsoft 365

Today’s post was written by Wim Liekens, director of Police Information and ICT (CIO) at Belgian Federal Police.

As the son of a field police officer, I grew up with firsthand knowledge of how teamwork and tools go together to facilitate great police work. In my 25 years as a police officer and 17 years at the Belgian Federal Police, I’ve worked with our IT team to help create a safer society for the 11.4 million people who live in Belgium and a more secure workplace for our 55,000 employees. Since 2015, we have been building a modern, efficient work environment for police officers through digital tools that support collaboration. Today, more than ever, our police officers depend on secure, mobile access to good information and the ability to share that information to solve crimes.

We chose Microsoft 365 E3 to support our workplace modernization journey. A unified Microsoft cloud platform delivers strategic value for a police organization because it creates a sustainable, agile, and highly secure workplace culture. As we take a leadership role in our journey to the cloud, we’re using Microsoft 365 tools to improve collaboration—and help solve crimes in the process.

When we launched Yammer, police officers who hadn’t seen each other since graduating from the academy began to reconnect. Colleagues now use Yammer to share project-based data while investigators use it to pose questions about their ongoing cases. Police coworkers contribute their knowledge and expertise to answer those questions, which can help resolve investigations faster. It’s been a huge step forward to see how suddenly the whole police organization can help each other in real time.

We recently used the online meetings capabilities in Office 365 as an improvised “war room” to brainstorm how to solve a sudden emergency. The meeting occurred in the evening, but no one had to come into the office to participate. The operational chief managed the call, and people used the video and chat functions to make important decisions as quickly as possible.

We also collaborate more effectively because we use Microsoft Teams to better support units within the force. For example, our Belgian Dog Support Group has 35 dog teams that are dispatched to join local units when needed. This means that the teams lose their connection to the central canine support office. Today, we use Office 365 and Teams to create a digital central dog unit. The dog teams connect to this space from their mobile devices to share their experiences in the field. This builds important team comradery and provides a platform to increase our collective knowledge.

We plan to use Teams and other Microsoft 365 tools to bridge projects across the organization. We are digitizing our IT department and introducing a goal-oriented project management approach to our workplace culture. The collaborative Teams environment with unified communications will help us manage our daily business more efficiently.

To support this modern, cloud-based workplace, we need to protect our environment in a new way. The move to a solid, highly secure IT environment was a big factor in our decision to adopt Microsoft 365. We feel that Microsoft meets the complex security and compliance needs of a national police service. With Enterprise Mobility + Security, we have the tools to improve our security posture and keep us aligned with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. Today, police officers carry smartphones and mobile devices loaded with proprietary police applications, and we use Microsoft Intune to manage 5,000 devices. We’ve deployed Azure Active Directory Premium Plan 1 for conditional multifactor authentication and access and identity management. In addition to our other cybersecurity protection measures, we also use Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks. We retain control of security and access to information through this combination of authentication, device management, and authorization services. Additionally, we’re speeding up our national deployment on Windows 10, so 55,000 employees will soon benefit from having Windows Defender Antivirus on their devices.

As the Belgian police rise to the challenge of digital transformation, we are confident that we have the tools to promote teamwork in a highly secure modern environment. And we’re in a better position to fulfill our responsibilities to citizens who expect us to solve crimes faster and our services to adapt to the digital world. The future of our force lies in the interconnection between police officers and the citizens they serve—we are ready.

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New to Microsoft 365 in December: AI-powered tools to help you create your best work

This month, we released new features in Microsoft 365 that enable you to reach broader audiences, increase your efficiency, and focus on your most important tasks.

Here’s a look at what’s new in December.

Reach more people and create your best work

New AI-powered features across Microsoft 365 empower you to deliver presentations that are accessible to broader, more diverse audiences and to be more efficient in your flow of work.

Present more inclusively with live captions & subtitles in Microsoft PowerPoint—A new feature, powered by Microsoft AI, enables presenters to reach and engage all audiences with live presentation captions and subtitles that automatically appear in real-time. With live captions & subtitles in PowerPoint, you can ensure your presentations are understood by everyone, across languages and hearing access needs. This feature will support presenters across 12 spoken languages and display on-screen captions or subtitles in one of 60+ languages. Starting in January 2019, this feature will be available for Office 365 subscribers worldwide for PowerPoint on Windows 10, PowerPoint for Mac, and PowerPoint Online.

Get tricky acronym definitions automatically in Microsoft Word—Using the Microsoft Graph, Microsoft AI makes suggestions for acronym definitions specific to you and your organization while you read documents. This makes it easier for you to read documents with clarity in the flow of your work. To get started, click the Acronyms button on the Review tab to launch the Acronyms pane and see suggested definitions for acronyms. This feature is now available for all Office 365 subscribers.

Reuse existing slides in new PowerPoint presentations—Instead of recreating slides from scratch, quickly find and reuse slides from your files or from others in your organization with the help of Microsoft AI in PowerPoint. Simply click the Reuse Slides button on the Home tab to surface existing PowerPoint decks in the sidebar to browse through recommended PowerPoint decks that you have access to, view the slides in each presentation, and insert them into the deck you are creating. This feature is now available for all Office 365 subscribers.

App updates to help you achieve more

We’re introducing enhancements to some of your favorite Office apps that make it easier to focus on your work.

Faster, more focused experiences with the new design of Outlook for iOS—We’re starting to roll out updates to Outlook for iOS tailored to help you get things done faster. With more context available at a glance, you can connect, organize, and get more done. The new design includes recognizable avatars for instant recognition, optimized swipe with haptic feedback, and dynamic scrolling to easily see more inbox messages.

Increase your focus with support for macOS Mojave Dark Mode—Office for Mac support for macOS Mojave Dark Mode makes it easier on your eyes when you want to focus on your work or you’re working in low-light environments. And the updated user interface (UI) for Office for Mac makes it easier to find the features you’re looking for with crisper and sharper icons. macOS Dark Mode and UI refresh for Office for Mac will roll out to all users over the next few weeks.

Other updates

  • The password-less protection for access management white paper is now available to help guide you in reducing your risk exposure with alternatives to passwords such as biometrics and public key cryptography in Windows 10 PCs and many of the latest mobile devices.
  • New features in Microsoft Bookings help you better manage your appointments with enterprise-grade security controls, an improved mobile app, and integrations with Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, and third-party payments.
  • New Graph APIs in Teams provide automation capabilities to help streamline the process of creating and customizing teams.
  • Files uploaded to Office 365-connected Yammer groups will now be stored in SharePoint, providing enhanced security and compliance capabilities, including DLP, eDiscovery, conditional access, and retention policies.
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Introducing Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit — a solution to launch and scale your freelance workforce

With increasing participation in the gig economy—the contingent labor market made up of independent workers who contract for short-term engagements—enterprises are beginning to test and include freelance talent to support projects. According to the Future Workforce Report, 47 percent of hiring managers at enterprise organizations utilized freelancers (up from 44 percent the prior year), while roughly 9 in 10 hiring managers say they are open to engaging freelancers rather than temporary workers through a staffing firm. To help enterprises digitally transform or complement their conventional contingent staff solutions, we’re launching Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit, a curated set of tools, templates, and best practices to help our customers launch, execute, and manage freelance programs at scale. 

The gig economy, which includes freelancers, consultants, contractors, and solopreneurs, is on the rise. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, the total spent on gig work in 2015 was $792 billion. Experts believe that within 10 years a larger proportion of the U.S. workforce will participate in the gig economy. In addition, according to Field Nation, 86 percent of independent workers intentionally choose freelancing.

The implications for enterprise companies are profound. To thrive in a highly competitive environment with rapidly changing technology and customer needs, enterprises must be agile and adapt to new business models to get work done with external talent. While adding on-demand freelance talent to the mix offers measurable results in speed and efficiency, the path to transforming existing policies and processes is largely undefined.

Our launch partner for this toolkit is Upwork, one of the largest online global marketplaces with over 375,000 freelancers in over 180 countries. We specifically are partnering with Upwork Enterprise, their end-to-end compliance and freelance talent sourcing solution.

The Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit offers solutions for the main friction points enterprises encounter when deploying a freelance program, including: internal communications and awareness, team-wide collaboration, data analytics, and workflow automation.

Internal communications and awareness

One of the major challenges of launching an enterprise freelance program is driving awareness and education among internal stakeholders and adopters. Employees need a place where they can get started to learn how the program works, access required training, and review best practices for engaging with freelancers.

Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit solves for this with the SharePoint communication site template—a “one-stop shop” for program details to help accelerate freelance adoption and onboarding, including:

  • Repository for relevant documentation and presentations about the program.
  • Use cases to show employees the kinds of projects they can get done with freelancers.
  • FAQs seeded with the top questions from enterprise employees.
  • An engagement template to help you connect with freelancers in the SharePoint expert talent pool.

See our SharePoint communication site infographic to learn more.

Team-wide collaboration

The nature of enterprise freelance projects requires team members to collaborate on multiple files, manage varied tasks, and communicate across time zones. To keep cross-functional, multi-geographical teams moving in the same direction, the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit provides guidance around using Microsoft Teams as a powerful hub for teamwork that brings chats, meetings, calls, files, and apps into one shared workspace.

With Teams, enterprises can manage their freelance communication and collaboration needs, specifically through:

  • Communication—Public and private teams for members to engage in discussion.
  • Task management—One place to track progress and align each team member’s workflow via integration with project management tools like Microsoft Planner.
  • File storage—One place to store shared files and retrieve them through intelligent search.
  • External guest access—The ability for external users worldwide to collaborate in all aspects of freelance projects through the free version of Teams.
  • Security—External guest access to project-specific teams keeps your information safe without giving wholesale access.

See our Teams infographic to learn more.

Data analytics

A major challenge in scaling an enterprise freelance program is capturing, tracking, and communicating performance KPIs. The Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit leverages Microsoft Power BI, a business analytics service that deliver insights by collecting real-time data from multiple sources, simplifying data prep, and producing customized, easy-to-understand reports and dashboards.

Power BI helps enterprise program managers to:

  • Make data-driven decisions.
  • Compare freelance program results to conventional staffing solutions.
  • Identify the teams within your organization currently leveraging freelance talent by discipline type to help identify future opportunities within your company.

To enhance the core functionality of Power BI for a freelance environment, the freelance toolkit offers:

  • A Power BI template with sample visualizations.
  • A Power BI connector to pull data from disparate sources into dashboards.
  • An engagement template to help you connect with freelancers in the Power BI talent pool.

See our Power BI infographic to learn more.

Workflow automation

An enterprise freelance program requires provisioning, compliance, and monitoring, all while providing a frictionless process for your employees. To reduce the need for manual completion of repetitive tasks, Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit uses Microsoft Flow to create automated workflows between apps and services that send notifications, synchronize files, and collect data.

For example, Microsoft Flow can help business decision makers automate the following scenarios:

  • Employee training and compliance. By visiting the freelance program SharePoint communication site, employees can sign up for the pilot by completing a compliance training video supported by Microsoft Stream.
  • Internal community signup. After an employee completes the compliance training video, the employee is automatically added to an internal Teams channel where employees can collaborate with others who are part of the program and share experiences.
  • Upwork account creation. After the employee is added to the Teams channel, their account information, which includes their name and email address, is sent to Upwork for account creation on their platform, so they can start posting jobs on the platform.

In addition to core Microsoft Flow functionality, the freelance toolkit offers:

  • Case studies to show how you can use Microsoft Flow within an enterprise freelance program.
  • An engagement template to help you connect with freelancers in the Microsoft Flow talent pool.

See our Microsoft Flow infographic to learn more.

Our journey and what we learned

Like many of our customers, Microsoft is also in the process of navigating how to responsibly weave freelance engagements into our enterprise environment. Over the past year, we completed over 2,000 freelance projects across writing, research, video editing, translation, design, and data science—spanning 25 internal teams and hundreds of employees.

But getting to this point was not easy—we had to internally transform ourselves, and we needed to build an infrastructure that could support the complexities of an enterprise freelance program. This led us to develop the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit, which combines our leading enterprise productivity apps with curated tools, templates, and best practices to address the specific needs of enterprise freelance programs. The work has paid off. To date, we’ve seen measurable cost and time savings.

Get started

Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit is available for no additional cost as part of an Office 365 Enterprise or Microsoft 365 Enterprise subscription. Learn more about Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit and a Microsoft 365 Enterprise subscription.

Please note: Each enterprise will need to evaluate and determine its own needs—including such things as data handling and compliance requirements—and should use their existing Microsoft 365 investments they determine appropriate.

Learn more about the freelance toolkit journey with Upwork.

New to Microsoft 365 in November: Tools to keep you in your workflow and fine-tune content

This month, we released new features in Microsoft 365 that help users stay focused in their workflow while delivering richer, more engaging content.

Here’s a look at what’s new in November.

Stay in your flow of work

We’re launching new capabilities in Microsoft 365 to help simplify common tasks in your workflow and save you time.

Keep track of to-dos and collaborate with others with new AI features in Word—Now you can more easily focus on your writing when working in Word. When you type a to-do item, like TODO: finish this section or <<insert closing here>>, Word recognizes and tracks them as to-dos. When you come back to the document, you’ll see a list of your remaining to-dos, and you can click each one to navigate back to the right spot. Additionally, when you @mention someone within a to-do, Word emails them a notification with a “deep link” to the relevant place in the document. This new capability is available today in preview for Word on the Mac for Office Insiders, with availability for all Office 365 subscribers coming soon.

Animated screenshot of a Word document open using the AI-powered To-Do feature.

Perform more tasks on the go with new features for Microsoft Teams on iOS and Android—The updated Teams mobile app now empowers you to be more productive on the go with features like the ability to schedule meetings and search for colleagues within your organization’s directory. With Quiet Hours, you can focus on other activities with greater control over push notifications. These features are available now via the Teams mobile app.

Image of a phone screen displaying Microsoft Teams, with quiet hours set from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Manage tasks without breaking your email flow in Outlook on the web—The updated Tasks feature in the new Outlook on the web now lets you create a task by dragging and dropping an email into your Tasks pane or easily schedule a task by dragging it from the Tasks pane to your calendar. Your tasks then travel with you on the To-Do app. The new Tasks pane capability will start rolling out to customers who opt in to the new Outlook on the web in December 2018.

Animated screenshot of tasks being added in Outlook on the web.

More ways to sign in to Outlook on the web—We listened to your feedback about wanting an easier way to sign in to Outlook on the web. Starting in December, users with an Office 365 account who use Outlook on the web can now sign in to their work or school accounts through www.outlook.com. When a user signs in through www.outlook.com, Outlook redirects them to their organization’s sign-in page, which is pre-populated with the email address they entered. From there, they just follow their organization’s sign-in process.

An animated image showing a user signing in to Outlook.com.

Create richer, more engaging content

We’re introducing new intelligence capabilities in Microsoft 365 to help users create richer content within PowerPoint.

Improve your writing with Editor in PowerPoint—Editor leverages machine learning and natural language processing to provide an intelligent proofing and editing service that delivers recommendations in context. For example, Editor highlights and provides suggestions to fix awkward word choices and incorrect grammar and offers guidance on clarity and conciseness. Editor in PowerPoint will be available to all users with an Office 365 subscription beginning December 2018.

An animated image showing the new Editor feature in PowerPoint.

Engage your audience with interactive forms and quizzes in PowerPoint—Microsoft Forms is now integrated with PowerPoint for Office 365, providing a seamless way for speakers, trainers, and educators to connect and interact with participants. Now, presenters can get real-time audience feedback via forms and quizzes without asking them to leave PowerPoint. To get started, in PowerPoint under Insert, click the Forms icon to create a new form/quiz or insert one you’ve already created.

Other updates

  • Today, we unveiled redesigned Office app icons to honor the heritage of Office and welcome in the future. These app icons provide flexible visuals that reflect product changes and the new ways in which people are working.
  • AI features like facial detection to identify speakers in videos, speech-to-text and closed captions, and transcript search and timecodes are now available to all Office 365 Enterprise, Firstline Worker, and Education plans through Microsoft Stream.
  • You can now use Windows Hello or a FIDO2 device to sign in to your Microsoft account on the Edge browser instead of using a username and password.
  • The Office Customization Tool is now available, enabling IT pros to easily customize deployment of Office 365 ProPlus and other Click-to-Run managed Office products using a simple, intuitive, and web-based interface.