Posted on Leave a comment

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.
Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

New to Microsoft 365 in June—updates to Microsoft Cloud App Security, PowerPoint, Outlook

This month, we’re announcing updates to Microsoft Cloud App Security and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Conditional Access policies that help you improve your organization’s security posture, updates to Microsoft Teams and Yammer that help you meet compliance obligations, updates to PowerPoint Designer that help you build visually impactful presentations, and updates to Outlook that help keep you in your workflow.

Here’s a look at what’s new in June.

Secure your organization

New capabilities help you protect your company’s data, monitor access, and improve your security posture.

Discover Shadow IT with Cloud App SecurityDiscover the apps and services that are running on top of your IaaS and PaaS subscriptions, whether they are running on Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud Platform. Gain visibility into those apps and services, including which users are accessing them, transactions, IP addresses, and how much traffic is being transmitted. To get started, click the Discovered resources tab in the Cloud App Security portal or start a free trial today.

Screenshot of discovered resources in the Cloud App Security dashboard.

Manage how company resources are accessed—This month, we announced the availability of Azure AD Conditional Access policies for Microsoft 365 Business, designed for small and medium-sized business subscribers. These policies help you maintain control over your Office 365 environment and how your company resources are accessed. For example, you can define a conditional access policy that evaluates sign-in connections from mobile devices to Exchange Online, and requires employees use Outlook for iOS or Android to successfully access their work email and calendar. Microsoft 365 Business customers can enable Conditional Access policies via Azure AD.

Screenshot of cloud apps in the Azure Active Directory admin center.

Improve your organization’s identity security with tailored recommendationsIdentity Secure Score, now generally available, helps you discover opportunities to improve your organization’s identity security. Recommendations are coupled with the guidance and workflows necessary to help security administrators implement the recommendations. Navigate to Identity Secure Score in the Azure portal to get started.

Screenshot of Identity Secure Score in Microsoft Azure.

Tackle tough compliance obligations with powerful new capabilities

New features in Microsoft 365 help you meet compliance requirements.

Avoid conflicts of interest with information barriers in Teams—You can now limit the disclosure of information by restricting communications between groups of users in Teams with information barriers. This is particularly helpful for organizations that need to adhere to ethical wall requirements and other related industry standards and regulations, such as preventing the sales department from talking with research teams. Check out the documentation on how to define policies for information barriers to get started today.

Meet data residency requirements with Yammer—Yammer now offers local data residency to help organizations in the EU meet data residency requirements. This feature is available to all new Office 365 customers associated with a tenant in the EU. In the coming months, Yammer content will also show up in eDiscovery searches, bringing advanced security and compliance capabilities to Yammer groups connected to Office 365 Groups.

Address data residency needs with Office 365 Multi-Geo Capabilities—Starting this month, the minimum seat requirement for Multi-Geo Capabilities in Office 365 will be reduced from 2,500 seats to 500 seats. This licensing update brings Multi-Geo Capabilities to a wider range of organizations looking to address their regional, industry-specific, or organizational data residency requirements.

Improve your workflow

New features across Microsoft 365 help you streamline collaboration and document creation so you can save time.

Create professional presentations using your company’s branded templates with Designer in PowerPoint—Earlier this month, we announced several new updates to PowerPoint. Designer now works with company-branded templates, helping people create on-brand presentations with ease. Additionally, just by adding text on a slide, Designer now recommends high-quality photo backgrounds that are fully licensed for commercial use, along with theme styles and complementary colors for your presentation. Support for branded templates is available to Office 365 Insiders on Windows 10 and Mac, and the theme updates are rolling out to all Office 365 subscribers.

Quickly find documents and view previous versions seamlessly across your devices—This month, we announced that our Microsoft Office desktop apps now support Recommended Documents, which provides you with a curated set of documents to help you find files and get back to work quickly. Recommended Documents is available now on iOS and Mac with Win32 rolling out now. We also announced that we’re bringing Version History to Office for the web, enabling you to see what changes have occurred and revert to an earlier version if necessary. Version History is rolling out now, starting with PowerPoint on the web.

Stay in the creative flow with inking in Outlook—We are bringing the inking capability from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote to Outlook for Windows. Inking in Outlook enables you to use your digital pen or finger to annotate and make notes. You can also easily mark up photos and images directly in your emails. To get started, select the Draw tab on the ribbon to see all your new pens and start inking.

Animated screenshot of inking in Outlook.

Share your most recently used files in Outlook for iOS—You can now share your most recently used files in Outlook for iOS, creating a coherent experience with files in your Office 365 apps and services, your most recently used files from SharePoint and iCloud, and local files on your iOS device. You can continue to share files through email from OneDrive for Business, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox cloud storage. Additionally, if you choose to add a link in your email rather than attach a file, the permissions to access it will align automatically with those set by your company. This feature is rolling out to iOS users now.

Screenshot of files being attached in Outlook for iOS.

Other updates

  • The Microsoft To-Do app is now available in the Mac app store—download to get started.
  • Now you can give collaborators a “thumbs up” in Microsoft Whiteboard to show you like others’ content. This feature will be available in Microsoft Whiteboard for Windows 10 and iOS in the next few weeks.
  • Excel now pulls Nasdaq and Refinitiv data, including current financial information for the full range of U.S. exchange-listed equities—like stocks on the Nasdaq Stock Market—right into the Excel Stocks Data Type.
  • Azure AD now supports a maximum password length of 256 characters, which can help you improve the security of your organization by making your passwords harder to hack.
Posted on Leave a comment

Microsoft introduces new cloud experiences and developer tools for all creators at Microsoft Build

Company releases new AI-driven collaboration and hybrid-cloud innovations across Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure

REDMOND, Wash. — May 6, 2019 — Monday at Microsoft Build 2019, Microsoft Corp.’s annual developer conference, the company showcased new technologies for developers of all kinds to create intelligent and productive solutions. Microsoft customers and partners, including Starbucks, J.P. Morgan, Kroger, Spatial, Epic Games and others, are showcasing new solutions that deliver more intelligent, customer-centric experiences.

Announcements include new collaboration and productivity services across apps and the web as well as AI capabilities in Microsoft 365 to further address the changing nature of work. In addition, Microsoft is delivering new open source technologies and developer tools in Azure and Windows. Microsoft’s trusted, extensible cloud platforms — spanning infrastructure, data, AI and mixed reality, productivity and collaboration, business applications, and gaming — bring together a global collective of developers and technology capabilities toward creating breakthrough new experiences for organizations and individuals. In his opening keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined the company vision and developer opportunity across Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Gaming.

“As computing becomes embedded in every aspect of our lives, the choices developers make will define the world we live in,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Microsoft is committed to providing developers with trusted tools and platforms spanning every layer of the modern technology stack to build magical experiences that create new opportunity for everyone.”

Microsoft 365: the world’s productivity cloud

Microsoft 365 delivers integrated, secure productivity experiences for everyone — from the largest companies to small businesses and from knowledge workers to Firstline Workers. Foundational to Microsoft 365, Microsoft Graph is one of the most comprehensive graphs of organizational activity available. It securely maps the relationships between people, information and activities within the context of an organization to show connection points and insights to improve the ways people work, and work together.

Today’s news includes:

  • Today we are creating new opportunities for developers to build on Microsoft Graph, with the general availability of Microsoft Graph data connect. Microsoft Graph data connect is a service that helps organizations bring together productivity data from the Microsoft Graph with their own business data securely and at scale using Azure Data Factory. This balances customers’ demands for a new class of insight-powered applications — those driven by at-scale datasets — with IT administrators’ needs to consider the challenges inherent to moving and managing significant amounts of organizational data.
    • Microsoft Graph data connect is now generally available as a feature in Workplace Analytics and as a standalone SKU for independent software vendors (ISVs).
  • To give people and teams new ways to create together, today we are announcing Fluid Framework. This is a new web-based platform and componentized document model for shared interactive experiences. Fluid will break down the barriers of the traditional document as we know it and usher in the beginning of the free-flowing canvas. Fluid is expected to be available to developers later this calendar year through a software development kit. Also, later this year we expect to deliver the first Microsoft 365 experiences powered by Fluid. Its capabilities include:
    • Enabling content, e.g., from the web or productivity apps, to be deconstructed and reconstructed into modular components so people can more easily create together.
    • Delivering high-performance, multiperson, co-authoring experiences at speeds not yet achieved in the industry.
    • Creating room for intelligent agents to work alongside humans to co-author, fetch content, provide photo suggestions, identify experts, translate data and more.
  • Today we’re announcing new features for the next version of Microsoft Edge that address some of the fundamental frustrations with browsers today, including:
    • IE mode — addressing the more than 60% of businesses using multiple browsers today, IE mode integrates Internet Explorer directly into the new Microsoft Edge via a tab. This allows businesses to run legacy Internet Explorer-based apps in a modern browser.
    • Privacy tools — additional privacy controls allowing customers to choose from three levels of privacy in Microsoft Edge: Unrestricted, Balanced and Strict. Depending on which option you pick, Microsoft Edge adjusts how third parties can track you across the web, giving customers more choice and transparency for a more personalized experience.
    • Collections — addressing the information overload customers feel with the web today, Collections allows you to collect, organize, share and export content more efficiently and with Office integration.
    • These features and more will begin to roll out over time as we get closer to the broader launch of the next version of Microsoft Edge.
  • Today we announced our vision for the future of intelligent agents. This new approach is focused on building powerful conversational interfaces from data and machine learning instead of from rules, intent and code. We envision a world where every organization has an agent, just like today where every organization has a website. And, the experience is completely natural with multiturn dialog, spanning multiple domains and, importantly, working across multiple agents. With the addition of the Semantic Machines team we’re accelerating our work here. This technology is going to be integrated into our conversational experiences going forward, including Cortana, and made available to developers in the Microsoft Bot Framework and Azure Bot Service.

More information on today’s news across Microsoft 365, including more detail on new developer tools from Windows, Office and Microsoft Teams, can be found at this blog post.

New open source technologies and developer tools to create intelligent apps from cloud to edge

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is one of the fastest-growing services in Azure used by global companies like ASOS to manage cloud app container infrastructure at scale, providing greater reliability and flexibility. At Build, Microsoft is delivering several new features and capabilities to power and safeguard Kubernetes workloads:

  • Kubernetes Eventdriven Autoscaling (KEDA) is an open source component that supports deployment of serverless event-driven containers on Kubernetes created in collaboration with Red Hat. Now in public preview, KEDA presents a new hosting option for Azure Functions that can be deployed as a container in Kubernetes clusters, bringing the Azure Functions programming model and scale controller to any Kubernetes implementation, both in the cloud or on-premises with OpenShift.
  • Azure Policy for AKS applies at-scale enforcements and helps safeguard AKS clusters in a centralized, consistent manner. Azure Policy blocks any violations happening at runtime and performs compliance assessments on all existing clusters for up-to-date visibility across the environment.

Quantum is an exciting new frontier for developers. Microsoft designed Q# specifically for quantum programming, delivering an approachable, high-level programming language with a native-type system for qubits, operators and other abstractions. At Build, Microsoft is open sourcing Q# compilers and simulators to grow the community of Q# developers and unlock new opportunities for partners and startups to enhance their offerings for their own businesses.

Developers spend most of their day toggling between applications, services and tools. To help streamline, Microsoft has brought the world’s most-used enterprise identity system — Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to GitHub. This enables GitHub Enterprise customers to gain the benefits of Azure AD identity management and security, along with synchronization of accounts across systems. Developers can now also use their existing GitHub account, including Azure Portal and Azure DevOps, to sign in to Azure. This update enables GitHub developers to go from repository to deployment with just their GitHub account.

Supporting and managing the exponential growth in application data and building a foundation for AI capabilities is an essential element to developing any modern cloud application. The new Hyperscale (Citus) option in Azure Database for PostgreSQL joins Azure SQL Database Hyperscale to enable developers to build highly scalable, low-latency applications using their existing skills. Azure Database Hyperscale significantly scales out compute, storage and memory resources as needed, allowing developers to focus on building app experiences without worrying about performance and scale limitations. Azure is the only cloud that lets developers scale across multiple engines — both proprietary SQL databases and open source databases such as PostgreSQL.

Developing solutions to secure the election process

We believe technology can play a critical role in securing elections and that technology companies have a responsibility to support them. Today Microsoft is announcing two new solutions aimed at addressing the security of voting systems around the world:

  • ElectionGuard is a free, open source software development kit, developed in partnership with Galois, that provides security and public verifiability for elections, as well as guidance and tools to build more accessible voting systems. Microsoft is asking developers around the world to build on and integrate ElectionGuard into existing and new voting systems. The ElectionGuard SDK will be available this summer on GitHub, and Microsoft has partnered with several leading election technology providers to pilot this service in preparation for future elections.
  • Microsoft is also announcing Microsoft 365 for Campaigns. This new service, also available in June, will provide the high-end security capabilities of our Microsoft 365 Business offering to political parties and campaigns, initially those for federal office in the United States. It will do so in a streamlined way and at a low price, preconfigured to optimize for the unique operating environments campaigns face, including their fast pace and high-security-risk profile. Microsoft 365 for Campaigns builds on the AccountGuard threat-detection and nation-state attack notification service we announced in 2018 and simplifies security for political organizations by providing specialized wizards that campaigns can use to easily and efficiently harden their security posture from the ground up. Interested campaigns can sign up by visiting

Deepening our investments in partners

Partners are critical to developing solutions that meet customers’ industry-specific needs, and Microsoft is committed to supporting them. Since introducing Microsoft’s first co-sell program that brings the global scale of Microsoft’s sales force to our partner community, nearly 3,000 ISVs running on Azure have generated over $5 billion in revenue in the past 12 months. The original program is designed to help enterprise customers in their digital transformation by introducing relevant solutions from Azure-based ISV partners. Today Microsoft is announcing two expansions to this program:

  • Expanding co-sell to Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to create deeper collaboration in selling line-of-business applications.
  • Expanding sales incentives to Microsoft channel partners when they resell eligible ISV solutions through Microsoft’s cloud solution provider (CSP) program. For all ISVs, small and large, this effectively offers “channel as a service” to accelerate customer acquisition through one of the world’s largest distribution channels.

With the introduction of transactable seat-based SaaS capabilities for AppSource and Azure Marketplace, Microsoft will provide customers in over 141 countries with faster access to innovation from partners through Microsoft’s cloud marketplaces or through its worldwide reseller channel.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777,


Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at

Posted on Leave a comment

New to Microsoft 365 in April—new tools to streamline compliance and make collaboration inclusive and engaging

This month, we released new features and services in Microsoft 365 to help you meet your compliance requirements, manage security policies, and reach more audiences with your content.

Here’s a look at what’s new in April.

Assess and reduce risk and protect sensitive data

We’re releasing new solutions designed to help you assess your compliance risk and manage policies to protect sensitive data both inside and outside of your organization.

Manage sensitive and high-risk data—Today, we announced the availability of several new compliance capabilities to give you more control over data privacy across your organization. Compliance Manager now allows you to create custom risk assessments of any application used by your organization. Office 365 Advanced Message Encryption enables admins to revoke and expire encrypted emails. Additionally, the new data investigation capability in the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center enables you to search for high-risk content, such as phishing emails and leaked sensitive data, and take actions to remediate risks.

Screenshot of the Exchange admin center.

Address data residency needs with Multi-Geo Capabilities in Office 365Multi-Geo Capabilities now enables customers to control where SharePoint Team sites and Office 365 Groups content are stored at rest, in addition to Exchange and OneDrive data. Multi-Geo Capabilities helps multinational companies address their regional, industry-specific, or organizational data residency requirements in Office 365 by enabling them to control where each employee’s Office 365 content is stored at rest. Contact your Microsoft representative for more information.

Deploy security policies tailored to your organization’s security needsSecurity Policy Advisor is a new service that uses behavior-based analysis to help IT admins quantify the risks and benefits of applying a tailored policy and then monitor policy health over time. Admins can also deploy policies with one click and easily update or even roll back policies. Together, these capabilities help IT admins streamline their workflow and manage across their policies. This service is now available as a preview for all organizations with Office 365 ProPlus. To get started, administrators can visit the Office client management portal.

Image of Recommendations for targeted users in Microsoft Office Client.

Improve your security posture with Azure AD Password Protection—Earlier this month, we announced that Azure AD Password Protection is now generally available. Azure AD Password Protection proactively helps users avoid choosing weak and vulnerable passwords, lowering the risk of being compromised by a password spray attack. To get started, sign in to the Azure Portal with a global administrator account.

Screenshot of a banned password list in Microsoft Azure.

Reach and engage more people

New capabilities help you connect with more people and create more engaging content across multiple languages.

Connect and engage both inside and outside of your organization with Microsoft Kaizala—Earlier this month, we announced that Microsoft Kaizala, a simple and secure work management and messaging app, is rolling out to Office 365 customers globally and will become part of Microsoft Teams over the next 12–18 months. Kaizala enables you to securely connect and engage with large groups outside your organization’s directory—including contract workers, vendors, partners, and customers—using a phone number-based identity for easy onboarding and a simple mobile user experience. You can download Microsoft Kaizala today from the iOS and Android stores.

Screenshot of Microsoft Kaizala.

Break down language barriers with multi-language support for Editor in PowerPoint—Receive suggestions on grammar, word choice, and conciseness regardless of which languages are included on your slides. Editor in PowerPoint even supports multiple languages on the same slide—perfect for all-hands, global presentations, lesson plans, and inclusive learning. Multi-language support for Editor in PowerPoint will begin rolling out to Office Insiders this month.

Animated screenshot of multi-language support utilized on a Microsoft PowerPoint slide.

Other updates

  • IT administrators can now determine the level of diagnostic and related data that Office sends to Microsoft to help ensure your Office apps are up to date, secure, and performing as expected.
  • A new Mini toolbar in OneNote now appears above text when content is highlighted with contextual formatting tools for faster editing.
  • There are now nearly 350 new icons to choose from when you insert an icon throughout Office 365, including new categories like accessibility, holidays, and process.
  • We released new 3D guidelines in Office 365 to help designers and professionals create custom 3D objects that are compatible with the Office ecosystem.
Posted on Leave a comment

Helping IT reduce costs, increase security and boost employee productivity

Today, we’re announcing several new Microsoft 365 enhancements to help IT reduce costs, increase security, and boost employee productivity.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Windows Virtual Desktop is now in public preview, providing the best virtualized Microsoft 365 experience across devices.
  • Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) now supports Mac, extending Microsoft 365 advanced endpoint security across platforms.
  • The new Microsoft Threat and Vulnerability Management (TVM) capability in Microsoft Defender ATP will help detect, assess, and prioritize threats across endpoints.
  • Office 365 ProPlus will now include the Microsoft Teams app, enabling a new way to work.
  • We’re reducing the time it takes to apply Windows 10 feature updates, making it easier to deploy and service Windows 10.
  • We’re enhancing Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune with new insights and deployment options to make it easier to manage your devices across platforms.
  • Microsoft 365 admin center is now generally available.

Virtualize Windows 10 and Office 365 on Azure with Windows Virtual Desktop—now in public preview

Today, we’re happy to announce the public preview of Windows Virtual Desktop. Windows Virtual Desktop is the only service that delivers simplified management, multi-session Windows 10, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments in a shared public cloud. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes, with built-in security and compliance.

For more information about Windows Virtual Desktop or how to get started with the public preview, read the full announcement and watch the new Mechanics video.

Address risks and protect more of your Microsoft 365 devices and endpoints with Microsoft Defender ATP—now in public preview

New today, we’re extending support for our Microsoft Defender threat protection platform to Mac. And because we’re extending support beyond the Windows ecosystem, we’re renaming the platform from Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). Starting today, Microsoft Defender ATP customers can sign up for a public preview. For more information, visit our Tech Community blog.

We’re also announcing Threat and Vulnerability Management (TVM), a new capability within Microsoft Defender ATP, designed to empower security teams to discover, prioritize, and remediate known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations exploited by threat actors. Using TVM, customers can evaluate the risk-level of threats and vulnerabilities and prioritize remediation based on signals from Microsoft Defender ATP. TVM will be available as a public preview for Microsoft Defender ATP customers within the next month. Learn more about it in our Tech Community blog.

Today’s security announcements are an important milestone in our Microsoft 365 endpoint security journey. For more details, check out Rob Lefferts’s post on the Microsoft Security blog.

Enable a new way to work with Office 365 ProPlus and Teams—starting in March

Starting in March, new installs of Office 365 ProPlus will include the Teams app by default. As a “hub for teamwork,” Teams combines chat, voice, video, files, meetings, and calls into a single, integrated experience.

In addition, the default installation for ProPlus will now be 64 bit, enabling better reliability and more effective use of newer PC hardware. If you have earlier 32-bit installs, a soon-to-be-released in-place upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Office 365 ProPlus will allow you to upgrade the Office apps without uninstalling and reinstalling.

Reducing the time required for Windows 10 feature updates—starting with version 1709

We made important changes to the Windows update process. Starting with Windows 10 version 1709, devices are updating up to 63 percent faster. Additionally, with the release of Windows 10 version 1703, we’ve seen a 20 percent reduction in operating system and driver stability issues.

Simplify and modernize management with Configuration Manager and Intune

Configuration Manager current branch offers CMPivot for real-time queries and updates to management insights that help with co-management readiness. What’s more, you can now take advantage of new deployment options, including phased deployments and configuring known-folder mapping to OneDrive.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) Security Baselines are now in preview in Intune. These baselines are a group of Microsoft-recommended configuration settings that increase your security posture and operational efficiency and reduce costs. We’re also announcing several new Intune capabilities for unified endpoint management across devices and platforms.

Check out What’s new in Microsoft Intune and Configuration Manager for more detailed information on our broad unified endpoint management investments.

Manage Microsoft 365 with a new admin center—rolling out now

We’re also announcing the that the new Microsoft 365 admin center, previously in preview, will become the default experience for all Microsoft 365 and Office 365 admins. is your single entry point for managing your Microsoft 365 services and includes new features like guided setup experiences, improved groups management, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for admins, and more.

For more information on this new release, check out the detailed post on the Microsoft 365 Tech Community blog.

More at Microsoft Ignite: The Tour in Amsterdam

We’re sharing more on each of these announcements this week at Microsoft Ignite: The Tour in Amsterdam. I’ll be there to co-present a session with Jeremy Chapman on “Simplifying IT with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus.” You’ll have a chance to learn more from many of my colleagues in the teamwork, modern desktop, and security sessions. I hope to see you there!

Editor’s note 3/21/2019:
Blog post was updated to correct information regarding Configuration Manager current branch.

Posted on Leave a comment

New to Microsoft 365 in March: tools to enable teamwork, enhance security in the workplace

This month, we released new features in Microsoft 365 to help you boost teamwork, save time, and streamline your IT management.

Here’s a look at what’s new in March.

Collaborate more easily

New features and services give you more ways to collaborate with colleagues and LinkedIn connections across platforms.

Boost meeting productivity and meet compliance obligations with Microsoft Teams updates—Last week at Enterprise Connect, we announced several new features in Teams including the ability to improve the effectiveness of remote meetings by replacing your background during video chats and increasing inclusivity with live captions & subtitles during Teams meetings. We also announced the generally availability of live and on-demand events in Microsoft 365, which enable you to deliver compelling communications to up to 10,000 employees, customers, and partners. We also announced new compliance capabilities in Teams such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in chats and conversations to help you keep information secure and meet your obligations.

Animated image showing customizable backgrounds utilized in Teams.

Improve whiteboard ideation and collaboration—Two new intelligent inking features in the Microsoft Whiteboard Windows 10 app help improve the collaborative ideation experience. Now, you can easily capture a picture of a physical whiteboard and convert it to digital ink in the Whiteboard app using ink grab. Additionally, the new ink beautification feature can help increase the readability of jotted notes by analyzing handwriting and automatically replacing it with more legible strokes. Together, these intelligent inking features decrease the time spent on managing content, so you can spend more time collaborating on a digital whiteboard. Both are now available in the Whiteboard Windows 10 app.

Animated image demonstrating ideation and collaboration in Microsoft Whiteboard.

Work seamlessly with first-degree LinkedIn connections—When you securely connect your LinkedIn account with your Office 365 account, you can now view others’ LinkedIn profiles in Outlook on the web, and in OneDrive and SharePoint in Office 365, and see relevant insights about the people you’re working with, both inside and outside your organization. Now rolling out to Targeted Release customers is the ability to send emails to and coauthor documents with many of their first-degree LinkedIn connections.

To get started, type a connection’s name in the To or Cc field when composing a new message or sharing a document in Outlook on the web, OneDrive, SharePoint, Word Online, PowerPoint Online, and Excel Online.

Animated image showing a user finding LinkedIn profile information in Outlook on the web.

Create more engaging content and get more done

New Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook on the web features help you create beautiful content and save you time.

Make your presentations stand out with 3D objects on your Mac—Create stunning visuals and engaging content on your Mac with 3D embedded animations in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Improve comprehension and retention, increase engagement, and entertain audiences with content that seemingly comes to life. Select scenes and insert 3D models from a vast library of free content and rotate 3D objects to tell your story from every angle. 3D objects on Mac will start rolling out to Insiders next month.

Animated image showing 3D animation in PowerPoint on Mac.

Prepare for and schedule meetings faster with new intelligent features in Outlook on the web—Powered by Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI), Outlook on the web will now help you prepare for meetings by showing you relevant information you might need. It will also automatically suggest that you create a meeting directly from an email conversation and show you available days and times for people you include in a meeting invite. These features will begin rolling out to Outlook on the web users in the next few weeks.

Image showing a Deep Dive on a Meeting Card in Outlook My calendar.

Enhance security and streamline IT management

New capabilities help you better protect your organization and streamline IT management.

Ensure a healthy security posture with updates to Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)—Last week, we announced that we’re extending our endpoint protection platform to support additional operating systems with Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for Mac, available now in limited preview. With this expansion, we’re also renaming the Windows Defender ATP platform to Microsoft Defender ATP. We also announced that we’re making Threat and Vulnerability Management (TVM) capabilities available in Microsoft Defender ATP to discover, prioritize, and remediate threats and vulnerabilities—preview coming soon.

Image showing the Windows Defender Security Center dashboard.

Access your security and investigation tools in the new Microsoft 365 security center—The Microsoft 365 security center is a new unified security experience that provides your security professionals with a dedicated workspace to manage and take advantage of the comprehensive security capabilities of Microsoft Threat Protection. The Microsoft 365 security center is now generally available. Get started with features and capabilities such as Secure Score, Advanced Hunting, and security alerts by visiting

Image of the Microsoft 365 security center dashboard.

Manage your Microsoft 365 services with the new Microsoft 365 admin center—Last week, we announced that the new Microsoft 365 admin center will begin rolling out as the default experience for all Microsoft 365 and Office 365 admins. The Microsoft 365 admin center is designed to serve as a single entry point for managing services across Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) in a more powerful, efficient, and personalized way.

Image of the Microsoft 365 admin center dashboard.

Other updates

  • Now, when opening links to Office 365 documents from the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook desktop apps, you will have the option to open them directly in the desktop apps instead of the web.
  • Teams users can now add a Yammer tab to a Teams channel that loads a specified group or topic feed from Yammer.
  • Microsoft Forms Pro, our new enterprise survey solution to professionally distribute surveys, is now available in public preview.
  • OneNote now supports syncing edits of files embedded in your notebooks, eliminating the need to save copies of embedded files.
  • The custom policies feature in Azure Active Directory B2C is now generally available and gives you more control over identity experiences to help you deliver personalized user journeys in your customer-facing applications.
Posted on Leave a comment

Wales to become one of the first countries in the world to give schools free access to Microsoft 365

Wales is helping nearly half a million young people improve their digital skills by becoming one of the first countries in the world to give all local authority schools free access to Microsoft 365.

The Welsh Government will pay for all 1,521 “maintained” schools to have access to programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, in a bid to boost the use of technology among pupils and reduce costs for families and headteachers.

As part of the £1.2 million investment, which is expected to benefit around 467,000 young people, all teachers and students will be able to download and install the latest version of Office 365 ProPlus on up to five personal devices. Pupils can then collaborate and continue learning at home using the same programs as they do in the classroom.

Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “I’m proud to say we’re one of the first countries in the world to take this progressive approach to providing schools with this software. Through our curriculum reforms we want all learners to have relevant high-level digital, literacy and numeracy skills, and access to these applications is an important step towards achieving that.

“This will reduce the burden on schools to pay for their own licensing fees and also ensure all our schools have the same level of access to the digital tools they need to progress these skills in our learners. This is vital as we aim to reduce the attainment gap and increase standards in our schools.”

The deal also includes Minecraft: Education Edition, which contains Code Builder. This version of the popular block-building game will allow teachers and students to learn coding using Tynker and Microsoft MakeCode, and supports the Welsh Government’s Cracking the Code plan to encourage coding in every part of the country.

Users will be able to securely access Office 365 ProPlus in Welsh or English via the government’s Hwb digital learning platform, which is available to all maintained schools and actively used by more than 85%.

Online versions of the software will continue to be available through Hwb for use in public spaces such as libraries.

Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK, said: “The introduction of Office 365 will be transformational for both teachers and pupils, empowering them to collaborate more effectively, saving time and generating better learning outcomes. Equally, Office 365 provides students with valuable skills to help them obtain employment following school.

“Additionally, the accessibility tools built into Office 365 will mean all students gain the confidence to contribute to learning discussions. Similarly, with Minecraft: Education Edition, students will develop computational thinking skills in an immersive and classroom-friendly format that sparks creativity and innovation. This agreement ensures Wales retains its position as a world leader in digital education delivery.”

The Office deal comes just days after the Welsh Government announced that Flipgrid, the social and personal learning program used by millions of teachers in more than 180 countries, will also be available to schools in Wales via Hwb.

Flipgrid lets teachers see and hear from every pupil in their class by posting questions to online discussion boards, called grids. Students answer by creating short videos but can practice and perfect their response before posting, helping to increase confidence and improve public speaking.

The move to make Office 365 ProPlus and Flipgrid available to schools will support the Welsh Government’s Digital Competence Framework (DCF), which was launched in 2016 and aims to help people develop the skills that will help them thrive in an increasingly digital world.

According to the US Department of Labor, 65% of today’s students will end up working in jobs that don’t exist yet, and more than 500,000 highly-skilled workers will be needed to fill digital roles by 2022 – three times the number of UK computer science students who graduated in the past 10 years. Just 5% of computer scientists are female, while people returning to work and those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are also vastly underrepresented within the sector.

The DCF aims to tackle this issue by setting out the digital skills to be attained by students aged between three and 16, including communication, collaboration, creativity, data, problem solving and online behaviour.

Tags: , , , , ,