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IT pros: Newly available Desktop Analytics service helps you take a data-driven approach to managing Windows endpoints

Today, we’re thrilled to announce the general availability of Desktop Analytics—the cloud-connected service that integrates with System Center Configuration Manager to help IT professionals take a data-driven approach to their management of Windows endpoints. Since announcing public preview in July, thousands of organizations have already benefited from the intelligence and insights generated by millions of enrolled endpoints. We’ve been hard at work delivering new features and improvements that address your feedback on the service.

Gain insight and intelligence with Desktop Analytics

The purpose of Desktop Analytics is simple: To provide insight and intelligence you can use to make informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows endpoints. By combining the data specific to your organization with aggregated insights from the millions of Windows devices connected to Microsoft’s cloud services, you can do some remarkable things:

  • Get a comprehensive view into the endpoints, applications, and drivers under management in your ecosystem.
  • Assess application and driver compatibility with the latest Windows feature updates and receive mitigation recommendations for known issues, as well as advanced insights for line of business apps.
  • Optimize the set of pilot devices that adequately represents your overall estate using the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Microsoft cloud.

Image of the Microsoft 365 Device Management dashboard, with Desktop Analytics.

What’s new in Desktop Analytics

Since announcing the public preview of Desktop Analytics, we made a point to deliver new features on a regular basis. For example, in August we helped streamline the workflow by eliminating the need to manually evaluate applications (such as system components published by Microsoft) that are known to be compatible with new feature updates. Then, in September, we delivered on one of our most requested features: The ability for customers to migrate existing data from Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness to Desktop Analytics during the onboarding process.

In addition to these updates, the 1906 release of System Center Configuration Manager further integrated Desktop Analytics with phased deployments, which means you can automate your pilot and production deployments with the health insights from Desktop Analytics. Looking ahead, we’ll soon enable customers who have already onboarded to migrate their administrator data. And we’re constantly investing in longer-running service enhancements like performance and reliability improvements.

Customers can upgrade faster with Desktop Analytics

We love hearing stories from customers, like Sandvik, who integrated Desktop Analytics into their update workflow and are excited about the results they’re seeing.

“Desktop Analytics provides us valuable information and insights about our devices, giving us confidence to move at a high pace with Windows 10 feature updates.”
—Ola Ström, Solutions Architect, Devices and Platform Services, at Sandvik

In talking with more than a dozen customers over the last month, I have consistently heard that the work of application and driver validations takes as much as 40 percent of the overall time and 60 percent of the overall budget of an upgrade to a new version of Windows. With Desktop Analytics, we automate this work and can remove most of the time and expense.

Start using Desktop Analytics today

As we’ve shared before, Desktop Analytics builds on what we developed with Windows Analytics by adding deeper integration with Configuration Manager and provides a ring-based approach to deployment using health signals. Soon we’ll also integrate Desktop Analytics into Microsoft Intune.

As you onboard and use the tool, don’t forget to give us your feedback on UserVoice or offer it directly in the Desktop Analytics portal—we look forward to reading it!

Learn more about Desktop Analytics and start using Desktop Analytics today.

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New innovations in voice, digital ink and touch make working and playing in Microsoft 365 more natural

Today at our Surface event, we announced several new devices to help make modern work more natural and intuitive for everyone, including busy professionals, parents, students, and teachers. Over the past several years, our engineering teams have invested countless hours of user research into understanding how people work in our apps and what they would like to see from Microsoft.

Last week, we announced several new capabilities that bring new inking capabilities to our Office apps, including inking in Slide Show while in PowerPoint on the web and Ink Replay to bring your presentations to life. Today, I’m excited to share our progress with you on a set of innovations to help people be more productive when away from their desk, utilizing voice, digital pen, and touch across Office 365 and our Surface devices.

Transcribe audio files or record your own while staying in the flow in Word

Image of an audio file being transcribed in Microsoft Word.

We spoke with researchers, reporters, lawyers, and teachers, and learned that people spend a ton of time recording audio interviews on their phone, and then spend even more time transcribing those conversations into Word.

Today, we’re announcing a solution that helps busy professionals upload their own audio files or record new ones on the fly, all within Word. Once your audio has been uploaded or recorded, Word—leveraging your OneDrive account to securely store the audio files and Azure Speech Services under the hood—displays a written audio transcription in the side panel and allows you to quickly and easily bring relevant snippets or the entire transcript into your document to edit. The transcript itself is automatically separated by speaker and into relevant chunks of content, and the interactive panel allows you to easily jump around the recording to find and verify the perfect quote.

Audio transcription in Word will be available in early 2020 in Word for the web, with integration into the Word desktop and mobile apps following in the spring. Exact plans and pricing will be announced closer to general availability.

Input data directly into your Excel workbooks with your digital pen

Animated image of a digital pen erasing and writing content in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Excel is an extremely powerful tool to do complex data analytics, but that doesn’t mean you need to be sitting at a desk to use it. Today, people fill out checklists, research reports, and more using paper and a clipboard and then must type those results into their computer later. Or they fumble to balance a computer to type while walking around. To address these issues, we’re elevating what your digital pen can do in Excel so Firstline Workers, busy professionals, students, and researchers can easily write, edit, or delete values using only their digital pen and tablet. Now it will be easier than ever to be productive and stay connected for workers who aren’t always able to find a desk to work.

Data entry using a digital pen will be available in Excel for the web and desktop in spring 2020 for Office 365 subscribers.

Create and reply to comments from anywhere using pen or voice

Image of a note written in digital ink in a sales analysis file.

With Ink Editor we’ve made it so that editing your documents is easier and more natural than ever, and now we’re extending those intelligent capabilities and the expressiveness of digital ink into the realm of commenting as well.

On devices with a touch interface and/or supported microphone, people will be able to create expressive ink comments directly from within the comment pane, or use dictation to provide feedback. Together, and combined with existing Ink Editor capabilities, anyone reviewing a document can now complete that task end-to-end using just their tablet, digital pen, and voice.

Expressive ink comments and easy entry to dictation in comments will be available starting with Word desktop in Spring 2020 for Office 365 subscribers.

Office + Surface are better together

Today at the Surface event, we showcased several new enhancements to Office that leverage the unique capabilities of Surface’s latest hardware advancements.

The new Studio Mics in the Surface Pro 7 offer best-in-class audio-capture with no additional hardware, which makes Office features such as dictation and transcription work at their best.

Image of Earbuds and the Surface Pro 7 displaying PowerPoint.

When using your Surface Earbuds together with PowerPoint, you get the benefit of incredible microphones to hear you clearly even as you walk around, allowing Live Captions and Subtitles and Presenter Coach in PowerPoint for the web to operate with better accuracy. The intuitive gestures can be used to navigate Slide Show and start/stop video without having to buy a separate clicker. You can even have just one in your ear for the best mic capture while keeping the other invisibly hidden in your hand to navigate slides.

Surface Earbud gesture support will be available in November, alongside the general availability of the Earbuds, in PowerPoint desktop for Office 365 subscribers.

Image of a hand removing a pen from the new Surface Pro X.

The ultra-portability of the Surface Pro X allows you to be productive on the go, whether that’s using Excel to enter data or Word to review documents. The Pro X offers a revolutionary new storage mechanism for your pen so you’ll always have it handy when you need it. Office leverages the fact that the Pro X knows when the pen is removed from its storage to automatically bring your inking tools front and center.

In addition, Office will now showcase everything you can do with your Surface accessories within each app, whether that’s the Surface Pen, Earbuds, or the Dial. If there are new capabilities available in an Office app you’re using, they will be displayed, so you always know you’re getting the best out of your Office + Surface combination.

Support for reacting to the Surface Pen being removed from its storage location is available now in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook for Office 365 subscribers. Surface tips in Office will first be available in November in PowerPoint desktop for Office 365 subscribers.

Listening to customers to improve the ink in PowerPoint experience

We recently announced a set of improvements to Office, including several additions to the overall inking experience in PowerPoint based directly on what we’ve heard from customers. This includes support for replaying pre-drawn ink in Slide Show, myriad improvements sourced primarily from educators who ink in Slide Show on Windows and Mac to teach their classes, and the beginning of bringing ink to Office for the Web, starting in PowerPoint Slide Show.

We’re happy to announce that all these capabilities are now rolling out to everyone.

Animated image of animated lettering being added to a slide in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Ink Replay is available in PowerPoint for Windows and Mac for Office 365 subscribers.

Animated image of inking used in a PowerPoint slide. It is a pop quiz about the solar system.

Inking is now available in Slide Show mode in PowerPoint for the web. Inking in PowerPoint Editor on the web will be available by the end of the year.

New templates for Microsoft Whiteboard

Microsoft Whiteboard helps you collaborate more effectively—whether you’re trying to brainstorm your next big idea or get everyone on the same page. New templates for Whiteboard can help you run more effective meetings with KANBAN sprint planning, SWOT analysis, project planning, learning, and more.

Animated image of sticky notes being arranged in Microsoft Whiteboard.

Pre-created layouts provide an immediate structure, so you don’t have to start from scratch. They’re perfect for collaboration scenarios like ad-hoc brainstorms, running meetings, and project planning. The Whiteboard canvas also dynamically expands to fit all your content. Read more about the new Microsoft Whiteboard templates.

Microsoft Whiteboard templates are in public preview for Windows 10 and rolling out to iOS this week. To add templates, click or tap the Insert button in the toolbar.

Microsoft Whiteboard

Meet the freeform digital canvas where ideas, content, and people come together.

Get Whiteboard

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New features in Office help you brainstorm, create and present

With school back in session and work schedules ramping up, this time of year can be hectic. So it’s the perfect moment to highlight app updates and enhancements that help you work more productivelywith the flexibility and mobility that modern life demands. We’re committed to empowering people to use the cloud to work and learn from anywhere, and Office for the web now fully enables this new productivity.

Today, we’re excited to announce new features to help you brainstorm, create, and present more effectively

Practice makes perfect with Presenter Coach in PowerPoint for the web

Public speaking doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. Our public preview of Presenter Coach in PowerPoint for the web uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to help business professionals, teachers, and students become more effective presenters.

When you enter rehearsal mode and speak into a microphone, Presenter Coach gives you real-time on-screen feedback to improve public speaking skills. This includes helpful tips on pacing, including inclusive language, using too many filler words like “basically” or “um,” and avoiding the sense that you’re just reading the slides.

At the end of the rehearsal session, a handy report highlights the areas for improvement. Currently, Presenter Coach only works in English. We’ll continue to add new capabilities and improve performance in the coming months.

Read about our product design research process.

Presenter Coach in PowerPoint for the web is now in public preview.

Present, annotate, and interact naturally with Inking in Office for the web

Today, we’re announcing new capabilities to help you create more effective presentations in Office for the web—including Inking in PowerPoint for the web. Now that you can present in PowerPoint for the web and ink and annotate in real-time, there’s no need for a laser pointer to highlight or point to important information.

Animated image of Inking used in PowerPoint on a pop quiz about the solar system.

Ink has come a long way since we first introduced it. Based on the great feedback, we made numerous improvements to Inking in Slide Show across all platforms. One of our top requests from customers—the ability to effectively animate process flows and diagrams—is now possible with the new Ink Replay in Slide Show feature. Ink appears, step by step, to create impactful animations that bring work and ideas to life.

Animated image of animations being used in PowerPoint to highlight the anatomy of lettering.
Ink Replay animations on PowerPoint for Windows and Mac, as well as annotating with digital pen in Slide Show on PowerPoint for the web, are available for Office Insiders and rolling out now. Additional Inking in Office for the web support will be coming soon.

Brainstorm together and get work done with new Microsoft Whiteboard templates for desktop

We’re also announcing templates in Microsoft Whiteboard to help you collaborate more effectively—whether you’re trying to brainstorm your next big idea or get everyone on the same page. These templates can help you run more effective meetings with KANBAN sprint planning, SWOT analysis, project planning, learning, and more.

Animated image of sticky notes being used in Microsoft Whiteboard.

Pre-created layouts provide an immediate structure—with helpful tips for running activities—and expand to fit all your content. Read more about the new Microsoft Whiteboard templates.

Microsoft Whiteboard templates is now in public preview for Windows 10 and rolling out to iOS within a few days. To add templates, click or tap the Insert button in the toolbar.

Bring your ideas to life with new 3D models and lesson plans in Office for desktop

Visual learning is essential for effectively educating students in the digital age. 3D in Office allows anyone to easily communicate their ideas by inserting their own 3D models or selecting one from our library of content. Based on overwhelming feedback from the Office community, we have added a set of 23 education-based 3D models and 10 lesson plans on topics, including geology, biology, and space.

Animated image of 3d models being used in Microsoft PowerPoint.

These engaging models help parents and teachers quickly communicate comprehensible and retainable information to students. Created by Lifeliqe, the new lesson plans complement the models to create a comprehensive learning experience.

The new 3D models and lesson plans are now generally available to Office 365 subscribers in Windows. To learn more about all our education-related news for September, please visit the What’s New in EDU blog.

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How we’re crafting Dark Mode experiences across Microsoft 365 that adapt to your daily flow

How we’re crafting Dark Mode experiences across Microsoft 365 that adapt to your daily flow

Jon Friedman

People often think of Dark Mode as a choice between a black or white screen, but this feature involves a wide spectrum of both grayscale and color gradients.

It’s an apt metaphor for why we love Dark Mode: human needs unfold across an equally broad spectrum. Whether you want to reduce eye strain, improve battery life, or it just has aesthetic appeal, Dark Mode exemplifies our ability to craft simple and powerful Microsoft 365 experiences that give you choice and flexibility.

Customer choice was why we first brought a darker UI theme to desktop apps in Office 2010, and we’ve brought it to more Microsoft experiences ever since due to its popularity.

A cross-company design collaboration propels us to seamlessly bring Dark Mode to the broader M365 product suite, and today marks the initial rollout of Dark Mode on Outlook for iOS and Android, as well as Office.com! The upcoming launch of iOS 13 will then extend this rollout to Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneDrive, Planner, and To-Do on mobile.

Today’s fast and fluid world constantly blurs the lines between work and life, and we believe in meeting people where they are. Our tools are used to keep up to speed on everything from work communication, to personal events that include friends and family, to changes in shared documents. This often means viewing email, calendars, or files in places where the default white mode may be less suitable, like darkened airplanes, movie theaters, or in bed at night.

Our design research specifically focused on these contexts where folks would want to use Dark Mode, and the response was very positive. While some Dark Mode experiences can be neon or overly bright, people felt that Outlook mobile kept the kind of relaxed feeling you might want in a dimly lit living room or bedroom. They described the experience as comfortable, crisp, clear, and aesthetically pleasing, a nod to how Dark Mode can reduce eye strain.

Dark Mode experiences on iOS. The colors pop for legibility without overwhelming the darker feel.

Dark Mode may also save battery life when you’re traveling or on the go for long stretches of time. We’re building in capabilities so following the next round of OS releases on iOS and Android, Outlook will automatically switch to Dark Mode depending on the preference you set. In the meantime, Outlook for Android automatically switches to Dark Mode when you choose Battery Saver. These perks all hold true for Dark Mode on Office.com.

Dark Mode experiences on web.

The seamlessness and flexibility that we’re building into Microsoft 365 design systems mirrors our own fluid creative process. We brought designers together from across the company to create a common Dark Mode experience for all our mobile and web apps. The creative energy that came from exchanging ideas and collaborating with new peers was one of the most fun parts of this entire effort.

Starting from the ground up and using the new gray palette for Fluent, our app teams began by aligning to the single palette. This included increasing contrast, brand color saturation, and consistency among details like how and when we use shadows when in Dark Mode.

We explored hundreds of color options against various backgrounds before selecting these muted color categories.

We’re excited to bring Dark Mode to even more of the Microsoft 365 product suite, starting with additional mobile experiences. Dark Mode comes to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for mobile with the launch of iOS 13, as well as iPad, where we know many people choose to use those apps. That same launch will also bring Dark Mode to SharePoint, OneDrive, OneNote, Planner, and To-Do on mobile.

There will be more experiences to follow — Dark Mode for Planner and OneDrive on web are coming down the pipe — so stay tuned for those rollout dates. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below!

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Check out the latest updates to Microsoft 365, including Dark Mode in Outlook mobile and Office.com

This month, we’re rolling out improvements to help you build a more productive, collaborative, and secure work environment for you and your organization. The new XLOOKUP formula for Excel helps you find data and improve calculation time. OneNote and Yammer mobile updates help you work on the go and find the answers you need more quickly. And the new FastTrack guidance will help ensure seamless Windows 10 migrations.

As always, every Microsoft 365 update reflects our commitment to improving the experience for you—so if you have feedback or ideas on ways we can improve, please let us know. Let’s look at what’s new in August.

Make work faster and easier

New features simplify data searches and calculation times and help you quickly visualize information.

Find and retrieve data quickly in Excel—We heard your feedback about the VLOOKUP formula for working with data in Excel—that it requires sorted data, fails to discover results on left-hand columns, and takes wildcards by default. So this month, we introduced XLOOKUP, our successor to the VLOOKUP, and HLOOKUP formulas. XLOOKUP addresses our most common user feedback and takes advantage of recent backend changes to improve calculation time. It‘s available today to Office Insiders, with general availability coming later this year.

Animated screenshot of XLOOKUP in Excel being used to find the dial code for Brazil.

Create work-in-progress diagrams and slides—Because we know it can be hard to express work-in-progress diagrams and models without stamping “DRAFT” on top of them, we built Sketched Shapes. With this new Office style, you can transform standard shapes in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel into rough outlines that look handdrawn and convey a sense of in-progress work. Sketched Shapes is perfect for building wireframes, drafting designs, or adding an artistic touch. You can also easily move between sketched and standard shapes. Sketched Shapes is currently rolling out to Windows Insiders and Office Insiders for Mac. To get started, insert a shape into your document and select your favorite sketched outline. You can also download the PowerPoint Wireframe toolkit for more information.

Animated image of Format Shape in PowerPoint being used to make a sketch of an iPhone look as though it were drawn freehand, by selecting the Frehand Sketch style.

New for PowerPoint on the web: Subscript, Superscript, and Change Case—Up to this point, users needed the PowerPoint Desktop App to add subscript, superscript, or change text casing in their slides. That made it tricky for professionals, educators, and students to communicate their equations and information in PowerPoint for the web. Now, you can simply select your text and click the new Subscript, Superscript, or Change Case buttons on the Home tab of the ribbon. This feature is rolling out to PowerPoint for the web.

Image of Superscript (under Font) in PowerPoint being used to superscript the "2" in the formula E=MC squared.

Work on the go

We introduced updates to OneNote, Yammer, and Office to help you find answers more quickly and stay in your workflow.

Add shapes, graphs, and Outlook meeting details to Microsoft OneNote for iPad—You can now insert shapes in OneNote for iPad, including straight lines, basic shapes, and graphs. Whether you want a straight line to keep things aligned, an arrow to point to information, or a graph to show a trend, you’ll find it under the Draw tab in OneNote. You can also add Outlook meeting details to OneNote for iPad and OneNote for Mac—including attendees, time, subject, and more.

Animated image of Shapes being used in OneNote, while in Text Mode.

Annotate your notes with ink in OneNote for iPhone—We also added Ink in OneNote for iPhone, so you can easily use your finger or a stylus to annotate with the natural feel of ink—even when you’re on the go. To get started, just tap on the squiggle symbol in the upper right-hand corner of your OneNote page and use the red pen and yellow highlighter to mark up, annotate, and highlight key information in your notebooks.

Animated image of inked text used in OneNote on a mobile device.

Stay connected and get answers with an enhanced Yammer mobile experience—Today’s employees need to be empowered while on the go. With this in mind, we recently announced a new Yammer mobile experience that brings live events, group search, updated feed and conversations views, enhanced encryption, and more to iOS and Android devices. Highlights include a modernized feed experience that reduces visual clutter and delivers improved readability, live events, and townhalls that you can view on the go; Seen Counts to let you know how many people have viewed your messages; and group search to cut down on search time and find the information you need. These features have rolled out to customers running the current Yammer for iOS and Android apps.

Image of three phones beside one another showing features in Yammer. One shows a comment under a townhall video stream, one a group conversation in Yammer's Water Cooler, and one the members of a group in Group Details.

Use Dark Mode in more of your favorite Microsoft apps—Today’s fast and fluid world constantly blurs the lines between work and life, and we understand you need experiences that adapt to your needs. We’re happy to announce this month that we’re starting to roll out Dark Mode to Outlook mobile and Office.com. Dark Mode is not only easier on the eyes and may extend battery life, it also enables you to comfortably continue using your device in places where the default bright mode isn’t appropriate, like darkened airplanes and movie theaters. Dark Mode is rolling out over the next couple of weeks to Outlook mobile and Office.com.

Image of Dark Mode in Outlook being used on a mobile device. The calendar shows September 16 meetings.

Streamline IT management

New tools and capabilities streamline Windows 10 migrations and meet data residency needs.

Migrate to Windows 10 with new FastTrack guidance—We know upgrading and updating complex technology environments is no small task. To support you through every step of your Windows 10 deployment, we introduced new FastTrack deployment guidance. This guidance helps customers upgrade from Windows 7 and Office 2010 to Windows 10 Enterprise and Office 365 ProPlus. FastTrack guidance is available to all eligible commercial customers. To learn more, watch our mechanics video or jump right in by signing in to microsoft.com/FastTrack and requesting assistance.

Image of the FastTrack homepage.

Meet data residency needs with new Microsoft datacenter capabilities—Now, new Microsoft Teams customers in South Korea will have their data stored in an in-country datacenter, helping organizations with data residency requirements meet their obligations. Additionally, Multi-Geo Capabilities is now available to customers in South Africa and United Arab Emirates with a minimum of 500 Office 365 services subscriptions. Multi-Geo Capabilities enables you to easily move users and data between Microsoft cloud geos to address data residency needs. Contact your Microsoft representative for details.

Also new this month

We also announced the following updates in August:

Have ideas or feedback on how to improve Microsoft 365? We look forward to hearing from you.

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Microsoft is a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Endpoint Management, 2019

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Unified Endpoint Management Tools, Chris Silva, Manjunath Bhat, Rich Doheny, Rob Smith—August 6, 2019.

Earlier this month, Gartner published their 2019 Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Unified Endpoint Management.

Just like last year, Gartner has positioned Microsoft in the Leaders Quadrant in the “2019 Magic Quadrant for Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) Tools, Worldwide,” based on its completeness of vision and ability to execute in the UEM market.” Microsoft is also highest in the “Ability to Execute” axis.

That’s good news, but, like any subjective measurement, the most important part of any UEM product is how it impacts the organizations who use it. When I meet with customers, nearly all of them seem to embrace three of the strengths called out by Gartner in the report:

  1. Extensive integration across products exposes capabilities that are difficult to replicate piecemeal.
  2. Exclusive integration with System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr), and incremental migration capabilities for PCs to Microsoft Intune and ConfigMgr co-management can reduce the complexity of the transition to UEM.
  3. Full integration with Office 365 mobile apps.

Whenever you study the placements within an MQ, it’s always interesting to consider what trends and market forces were driving the ultimate conclusions made by Gartner. For example, there’s no longer any doubt that complete endpoint management has to be inclusive of on-premises tools and processes to manage PCs. This is a point of view we’ve championed for years, and it’s the reason why we’ve pursued a unified solution that seamlessly attaches cloud capabilities to existing PC management infrastructure. It’s really exciting to see so many others in the community responding to this customer need.

Perhaps the most helpful way to look at all of this is to determine for yourself what a “modern workplace” looks like and what it means for your organization to modernize. In my opinion, the thing that makes a management tool “modern” is whether its insights and intelligence have cloud scale and cloud connection. This type of connection not only offers more control and insight to the IT teams using the tool, but it also allows the tool to be improved and refined in ways that were not possible in the past. This perspective guides every decision my team makes when we’re investing in and engineering Intune and ConfigMgr. This type of endpoint management benefits every person using it—even organizations that aren’t yet ready for a complete shift to cloud-based management.

I have written a lot about how seriously Microsoft emphasizes “customer-obsession” at every stage of our engineering process, but now the positive effects of this emphasis have moved beyond our company.  Over the past year, multiple UEM vendors have announced integrations with Intune and ConfigMgr so their customers can also benefit from Microsoft 365. The Gartner report goes so far as to note that the integration work done by these other vendors is a “key benefit” in their positive ranking within the MQ.  I think it’s awesome that Intune is not only a ubiquitous standalone solution but is also now used as a platform.

I am very proud of the work we’ve done with these vendors. Right now, we have a great partnership with the Android Enterprise team at Google, where we are one of the first partners to build on top of their advanced cloud management architecture, and the breadth and depth of our support for Apple’s macOS and iOS continues to grow.

Since most organizations already use ConfigMgr for their PC management, Intune (and, more importantly, Microsoft 365) is the ideal solution for most organizations. I recently announced that ConfigMgr and Intune are managing more than 175 million Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices—making it, by far, the most widely used endpoint management solution. And that number grows by one million each week!

The reason why this growth is so important to you is that those 175 million endpoints bring back the most complete and authoritative data set on enterprise devices—and the things we learn from that much signal gives us the insight necessary to build the tools and features you need. That’s the beauty of modern management: Learning at cloud-scale and then personalizing and applying what we learn to every organization—no matter how small or how big. This is uniquely a Microsoft 365 capability, and it’s awesome.

As you continue to plan for the needs of your organization and the demands on your infrastructure, please let us know how we can support the work you’re doing with Microsoft 365 by reaching out to your account team.

You can read the full report.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Microsoft.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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New to Microsoft 365 in July: Updates to Azure AD, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and more

This month, we’re announcing updates to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to help improve your security posture, updates to Microsoft Teams and Outlook on the web to help you be more productive, and updates to Desktop Analytics and Office 365 ProPlus to streamline IT management and improve efficiency.

Here’s a look at what’s new in July.

Strengthen security while simplifying processes

New capabilities help you protect against, discover, and remediate cybersecurity threats.

Go passwordless to reduce risk and improve account security—This month, we announced the public preview of FIDO2 security keys support in Azure AD. Now, with FIDO2 technologies, you can provide users with seamless, secure, and passwordless access to all Azure AD-connected apps and services. Additionally, administrators can assign passwordless credentials to users and groups and allow self-service sign-up. To get started, check out our step-by-step documentation on enabling passwordless sign-in for Azure AD.

Discover, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities in real-time—Last month, we announced the general availability of Microsoft Threat & Vulnerability Management (TVM). TVM delivers a new set of advanced, agentless, cloud-powered capabilities that provide continuous, real-time, risk-based vulnerability management. If you already have Microsoft Defender ATP, the TVM solution is now available within your Microsoft Defender ATP portal. If you don’t have a subscription, you can sign up for a trial of Microsoft Defender ATP including TVM.

Improve productivity and collaboration

New capabilities in Microsoft 365 help you collaborate easily with others, organize tasks, and quickly find answers.

Communicate and collaborate more easily with new capabilities in Microsoft Teams—This month, we added new capabilities to Teams including Read receipts and Priority notifications to help ensure time-sensitive messages are received and prioritized. We also announced the new Announcements feature to highlight important news and now post a single message across multiple channels.

Animated screenshot of Select channels being used in Microsoft Teams.

Finally, the new time clock feature in Teams for Firstline Workers brings clock in/out capabilities to the Team Shifts module. And the targeted communication feature enables messages to be sent to everyone within a specific role—such as sending a message to all cashiers in a store or all nurses in a hospital.

These updates for Teams will be rolling out over the next couple of months.

Add polls to your Outlook emails and book meeting rooms with Outlook on the web—This month, we’re announcing two new generally available features in Outlook on the web. With Microsoft Quick Poll, you can now add polls directly to your Outlook emails, so recipients can vote directly in the email or click the provided link and vote in a browser window. To get started, download the Quick Poll add-in for Outlook.

Additionally, you can now easily book meeting rooms in Outlook on the web. When creating a meeting, you can quickly see which rooms are available, search by city or room, and view rooms that are available during recurring events.

Animated screenshot of a Teams meeting being created in Outlook.

Make answers in Yammer more discoverable—Now, questions in Yammer will stand out from general discussions with new, unique styling. Post authors and group admins can also mark the best response to questions as a “Best Answer,” making it easier for users to find answers. These changes are currently in private preview and will roll out to all Office 365 subscribers later this summer.

Animated screenshot of a Best Answer being voted up in Yammer.

Work together on tasks in Microsoft To-Do—Now, you can assign a task to someone on a shared To-Do list and work together to knock out tasks more quickly. To get started, just @mention someone to assign them a task, and everyone on the shared list will be able to see it.

Animated screenshot of a task being assigned in Microsoft To-Do.

Streamline IT management

Data-driven tools help you deliver seamless software deployments and improvements for Office in virtualized environments.

Improve the quality and reliability of software deployments—This month, we announced the public preview of Desktop Analytics, a cloud-based service that provides intelligence for you to make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows clients ahead of new Windows 10 deployments. In combination with System Center Configuration Manager, Desktop Analytics is designed to create an inventory of the Windows apps running in the organization and assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10. Desktop Analytics is currently offered as an Office 365 service and requires an Office 365 subscription in your Azure AD tenant. To get started, enable Desktop Analytics in the Configuration Manager console.

Screenshot of Desktop Analytics dashboard.

Improve the Office app experience in virtual environmentsThis month, we announced new capabilities to help improve the user experience in virtualized environments. First, FSLogix technology, which improves the performance of Office 365 ProPlus in multi-user virtual environments, is now available at no additional cost for Microsoft 365 customers. Second, Windows Server 2019 will now support Office 365 ProPlus and OneDrive Files On-Demand in the coming months. Lastly, Outlook, OneDrive, and Teams are getting new capabilities to improve the user experience in a virtualized environment.

Drive digital transformation with new Microsoft cloud regions—Microsoft Office 365 services are now available from our new cloud regions located in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These local datacenters open the door for more organizations to embrace the benefits of the cloud with resilient cloud services that can help meet data residency, security, and compliance needs.

Other updates

  • Teams is now included in the monthly Office 365 updates for existing customers and will begin rolling out to existing installations over several weeks.
  • We retired the “Online” branding for the Office apps on the web. You’ll see this change reflected in the product experience in places such as the app headers, platform-specific commands, and help menus. This change reinforces that Office is a cloud-connected experience, which you can use through apps on the desktop, web, or mobile devices.
  • We recently announced OneDrive Personal Vault, a protected area in OneDrive that you can only access with a strong authentication method or second step of identity verification.
  • These five Outlook mobile tips and tricks can help small business owners save time and get more done quickly.
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Printing in the cloud—Lexmark digitalizes its future with a modern workplace and Microsoft 365

Today’s post was written by Brad Clay, Senior Vice President, Chief Information and Compliance Officer at Lexmark International.

This is a fascinating time to be talking about the printer industry. It’s no surprise that the digitization of business contributed to a decline in traditional printing. However, most people don’t know that in the last 10 years, Lexmark reinvented itself as a tech-enabled company to achieve what we call our “digital thread strategy.” Even back then, we saw the printer less as a standalone device and more of an Internet of Things (IoT)–enabled component of business. Today, our average printer is equipped with more than 120 sensors dedicated to collecting data that we use to feed our R&D function and to enhance customer service. All this is stored in a single globally managed print services platform that services millions of printing devices across 170 countries/regions.

But as customers’ expectations for capability and service at the individual printer level—what I call “mass customization”—accelerates, Lexmark must be ready with innovative new services that take advantage of the scale and AI of cloud computing. Part of my role as CIO is to make sure that Lexmark remains ahead of industry trends. To that end, we’re transforming our work environment so that employees can achieve the level of productivity needed to deliver the innovative services our customers require. Microsoft offers a complete interoperable suite of cloud services that now forms the foundation for our digital transformation story. We had come a long way toward IoT-enabling our business, but the ability to leverage the Microsoft cloud platform means we can deploy industry-leading offers that take the IoT capabilities of our managed service platform to the next level. We’re using everything from Microsoft Azure to Microsoft 365 to Microsoft Dynamics 365.

As we expand our existing IoT expertise and drive the printer industry into the digital age, we’re innovating and using the Microsoft cloud platform to solve our customers’ problems in amazing new ways. Our Connected Field Service takes data from our Lexmark IoT Hub, augmented by Azure Machine Learning, and feeds information into Dynamics 365, so we can make predictive diagnostics for individual machines and alert service technicians to be ready. We just launched Lexmark Cloud Print Infrastructure as a Service, which also works off the Microsoft cloud platform. This provides access to a modern, secure cloud-based print environment via a subscription service. Customers pay only for print capacity, rather than owning and managing their printers.

A year ago, we had no relationship with Microsoft. We used other providers for email, teleconferencing, collaboration, security, digital workplace, customer relationship management, and business intelligence. We were looking at the future of connected print service when our architecture team laid out the value of the Microsoft cloud ecosystem. It was easy to see the rationale of moving away from a best-in-class approach to technology.

A key component of our transformation plays out in the workplace, where we use Microsoft 365 to enable highly secure global collaboration at an unprecedented level. Across the business, we use Microsoft Teams for morning checkpoints, video calls, documentation authoring, file sharing, and persistent chat. Ubiquitous and contextual collaboration drives organizational agility and accelerates the business. It was a major driver behind adopting Teams and the move to Microsoft.

Empowering employees fosters innovation, and here, the digital transformation at Lexmark delivers another benefit. Tools like Teams contribute to a culture of empowerment, where employees don’t have to rely on IT to start the next great project or to work together on the next innovation for Lexmark customers. With these products and services being designed to take advantage of Azure and Dynamics 365 for Sales, it’s easy to see the value of an end-to-end Microsoft cloud computing platform.

Under our Global Optimization 365 (GO365) program, we completely retooled the business in less than a year, retiring 13 legacy solutions. Thanks to cloud computing, we’ve reduced our IT spend year over year by 25 percent, and our partnership with Microsoft heavily enabled that. As we take advantage of the integrated security tools that are built into the Microsoft cloud platform, we’re seeing alerts and events communicated behind the scenes, in a consistent way, providing insights into the threat landscape and helping meet our security requirements—with less effort from IT. Moving to the Microsoft cloud platform, we doubled our security operations capacity and performance in just one year based on the number and quality of the feeds coming into our security information and event management solution and the ability of our security operations team to clear incidents. And all the while, we continue to refine our competitive advantage: that idea of mass customization, where we can deliver IoT-enabled printing services to customers at a price point that we don’t think anybody else can touch.

As we build on the promise of the cloud in the world of printers, we’re looking forward to working with Microsoft all the way.

—Brad Clay

Read the full case study to learn more about Lexmark’s move to a modern workplace.

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New Desktop Analytics feature helps organizations keep PCs up to date

Based on our work with consumers and organizations of all sizes, across more than 800 million Windows devices, we’ve learned that it’s easier to deploy Windows 10 when using the powerful intelligence of the cloud and machine learning. Since the Windows 10 April 2018 Update release, we’ve leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) at scale to improve the quality and reliability of our release rollouts. And along the way, we’ve learned the best ways to help ensure devices have a positive update experience.

Today, we’re making these same learnings available to organizations through the public preview of Desktop Analytics, which is available now. Desktop Analytics provides the insight and automation you need to efficiently get current and stay current. Desktop Analytics is a cloud-connected service that integrates with System Center Configuration Manager and will integrate with Microsoft Intune in the near future. With Desktop Analytics, it’s easier to deploy with confidence and keep your PCs up to date with the latest Windows 10 capabilities your employees need.

“With Desktop Analytics, we’re able to automate our pilot plans to ensure all application and hardware scenarios can be tested and validated prior to upgrading to the latest release of Windows 10.”
—Jason Myers, End User Senior Lead, Mars

This service provides intelligence that helps you make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows clients. In combination with Configuration Manager, Desktop Analytics is designed to create an inventory of the Windows apps running in your organization and then assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10. By combining data from your own organization with data aggregated from millions of devices connected to our cloud services, you can take the guess work out of testing these apps and instead focus your attention on key blockers. Historically, getting a view of the compatibility of your apps with new Windows releases was a time-consuming and tedious process of human testing—but now this can be automated through the intelligence of what we learn at cloud scale.

Desktop Analytics brings you data-driven recommendations that allow you to quickly and easily run successful pilots that represent your entire application and driver estate. You can then use the health signals of your pilots to evaluate the readiness of your assets and implement an optimized production deployment plan with Configuration Manager.

As Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, explained last September, Desktop Analytics is the evolution of Windows Analytics, adding deeper integration with Configuration Manager and providing a ring-based approach to deployment using health signals.

To learn more and get started with the public preview, read our Desktop Analytics article. For additional resources, check out the new Desktop Analytics community and read more details on Tech Community.

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Improving the Office app experience in virtual environments

Microsoft 365 is designed to help organizations digitally transform workplace collaboration. Many customers that I work with use virtualization, and they’re always looking for ways to cut costs and improve the user experience. To help, we acquired FSLogix last November, and today I’m pleased to announce four new capabilities to further improve the user experience in virtualized environments:

  • FSLogix technology, which improves the performance of Office 365 ProPlus in multi-user virtual environments, is now available at no additional cost for Microsoft 365 customers.
  • Windows Server 2019 will add support for OneDrive Files On-Demand in the coming months.
  • Office 365 ProPlus, our flagship Office experience, will be supported on Windows Server 2019.
  • And we’ve added new capabilities to Outlook, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams in Office 365 ProPlus to improve the user experience in a virtualized environment.

Get the same reliable experience with Office apps in any environment with FSLogix

The FSLogix container technology is now fully integrated with Office apps in virtual environments. This technology improves the speed and reliability of virtualized Office apps to feel like the experience of using Office apps on a dedicated machine. The FSLogix containers work in virtualized environments, including those provided by Microsoft, Citrix, and VMWare. This technology is now included at no extra charge if you are licensed for any of the following Microsoft solutions:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5/Student Use Benefits/F1/Business
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3/A5
  • Windows 10 VDA per user
  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client Access License (CAL) and Subscriber Access License (SAL)

Learn more about FSLogix.

Easily access OneDrive Files On-Demand with Windows Server 2019

Using OneDrive Files On-Demand, people can access all their files in OneDrive while only downloading the ones they’re using to save hard drive space on their devices. In the coming months, Windows Server 2019 will support OneDrive Files On-Demand for virtualized Office apps users. This support will couple the fast access to files that users love, with reduced User Profile Disk storage requirements and cost savings that businesses need. Learn more about how to take advantage of this new capability with Windows Server 2019.

Run Office 365 ProPlus on Windows Server 2019

While Office 365 ProPlus provides the best experience when running on Windows 10, we know some of you rely on Windows Server to provide virtual desktop services for your users. For those still needing to migrate from Windows Server 2008/R2 before it reaches end of support in January 2020, or from Windows Server 2012/R2 before the October 2020 end of support for connectivity to Office 365 data, I’m happy to share that we’ll support Office 365 ProPlus running on Windows Server 2019. This enables you to take advantage of the Files On-Demand capabilities coming to Windows Server 2019 I mentioned above, and to leverage the latest Windows Server platform.

Get a better experience with Office apps in virtual environments

There are also significant enhancements to the virtualization experience for several apps in Office 365, including Outlook, OneDrive, and Teams.

  • Outlook Cached Mode improvements help people running Outlook on virtual desktops access email and calendars faster:
    • Sync Inbox before Calendar means people get faster access to email so they can start working right away.
    • Reduce the number of folders that are synced by default, and an Admin option to reduce the Calendar sync window; both of which help syncs complete faster.
  • OneDrive now features a per-machine installation option, allowing people to share a single installation of the OneDrive app while still maintaining their own individual folders and files as if they are on their own device.
  • Teams also has a per-machine installation for Chat and Collaboration. In the coming months, we’ll offer Calling and Meetings in Teams through Audio/Video Media optimization in collaboration with Citrix. We’re also planning additional Teams enhancements, including improved app deployment, support for Windows Virtual Desktop, performance enhancements, and optimized caching for non-persistent setups.
  • Windows Search per-user index allows each user profile to persist its own search index, so that search is fast and individualized.

If virtualization is an important part of your IT strategy, we think you’re going to love these new capabilities. If you’re interested in evaluating the Office 365 apps enhancements we announced today in your own virtual environment, please visit the Microsoft Download Center.