What does Microsoft 365 Informed Network Routing Do?

Microsoft 365 informed network routing is now available, if you have the right Cisco SD WAN network gear in your datacenter. This is a set forward to help network controllers make better routing decisions for Microsoft 365 network traffic by providing application-specific quality of service metrics instead of using artificial probes to detect network issues. Sounds good, but will it make a difference to your Office 365 tenant? Read on…

How OneDrive’s New Sharing Link Dialog Makes It Easier to Configure Settings

A new sharing link dialog for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online is rolling out to Office 365 tenants. The new dialog makes it easier to configure settings for copy links. This might sound like a small thing on the overall scale of Microsoft 365, but making it absolutely clear how to configure sharing links is a good step towards helping users send the right kind of links when they share documents with others.

December 2021 Update Available for Office 365 for IT Pros eBook

The December 2021 update is available for Office 365 for IT Pros, the only eBook updated monthly to document technology changes and new capabilities across Office 365 and relevant parts of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Subscribers for the EPUB/PDF version can download the updated files from Gumroad.com to make sure that they have the most up-to-date content available.

How Microsoft is Nudging Customers to Use the Teams Phone System

Microsoft is adding Audio conferencing to all Teams plans and making it easier to embrace the Teams Phone system with a new Teams Phone and Calling Plan product. The new offering is available on January 1, 2022 and replaces separate products targeted at the SMB and enterprise markets. While it’s good that Microsoft is simplifying their Teams Phone offering, buying a product is only the start of a journey to implementation.

Microsoft Extends Problematic Information Barriers Solution to All Education Tenants

Information barriers seem like a good idea. Implement policy-driven controls over who can communicate within a Microsoft 365 tenant. Microsoft is making the solution available to education tenants. In reality, they should spend some the engineering effort required to improve the current sad state of the information barriers solution. No GUI, horrible management, PowerShell with impenetrable errors, and a lack of visibility into how the solution works.

Meet Office 365 for IT Pros at the European Collaboration Summit 2021

The Office 365 for IT Pros team will be at the European Collaboration Summit (ECS) in Dusseldorf. Come to listen to Tony talk about sensitivity labels on Tuesday or Paul discuss tenant to tenant migration on Wednesday. ECS is a great community-led event that’s well worth attending if you find yourself in Europe and have the ability to travel to Germany. Don’t forget your mask!

How Microsoft Aims to Cure Azure AD Authentication Problems with New Backup Service

Azure AD has a history of outages which have caused problems for Microsoft 365 tenants over the years. Microsoft hopes to solve the problem with a backup authentication service that’s capable of keeping things going if the primary Azure AD service goes offline. Basically, the backup service has copies of successful authentications over the last three days which can be used to process authentication requests for most sessions when the primary service fails. It seems like a good idea.

Three Easy Steps to Start Using Viva Learning in Microsoft Teams

The Viva Learning app is available for deployment to Microsoft Teams users. The Viva Learning app delivers courseware to users to allow them to browse and access content created by Microsoft, the tenant, or external courseware providers such as Skillsoft and Pluralsight. In this article, we describe the three quick and easy steps to get Viva Learning up and running to help expand the minds of your Teams users.

Microsoft Teams Meetings Get Per-User Control Over Anonymous Joins

A new per-user policy setting for Microsoft Teams allows admins to exert per-user control over who can have anonymous people join their meetings. The new policy setting can be managed now with PowerShell and will co-exist alongside the current tenant-wide setting for a period. Microsoft will then deprecate the tenant-wide setting to allow the policy settings exert sole control.

How to Assign the Co-Organizer Role to Microsoft Teams Meetings

Microsoft Teams is introducing a new co-organizer role for meetings. The role allows people to share the workload involved in managing complex meetings, like webinars. The role is optional and likely to be used in a small minority of Teams meetings. Even so, it’s a useful feature to have available when you’re planning a large and complex meeting.

Don’t Worry if You See Unexpected Azure Costs for Azure AD Guest Access

Checking the details of the Azure subscription I had linked to Azure AD revealed that some unexpected costs were clocking up for premium Azure AD features. Microsoft promises that the first 50,000 unique guest user accesses are free each month, so why were those charges growing. It’s all down to how the Microsoft eCommerce system works, and everything is fine in the end.

How to Update the Microsoft Teams Feedback Policy

The Microsoft Teams feedback policy assigned to user accounts controls whether users can give Microsoft feedback through the Teams clients. Not every organization wants their users to communicate directly with Microsoft. If you’re in this category, you can disable the Give feedback option easily by updating the Teams feedback policy assigned to user accounts. All explained here!

How to Analyze Audit Records for SharePoint Online Sharing Events

When SharePoint users share information, Office 365 captures events in its audit log. By analyzing the events, we can build a picture of how people share information. The sad thing is that the audit events logged when someone extends the validity of a sharing link doesn’t contain as much information as you might like. Even so, we can still analyze the sharing events to build a picture of what happens in an Office 365 tenant.

How to Use SharePoint’s Expiring Access Policy for External Users

The SharePoint Online expiring access policy controls how long external users can use a sharing link. You don’t have to use this policy, but it’s a good idea to configure it. And once the policy is active, users will see notices when their sharing links approach expiration. The process to renew (extend) sharing links is quick and easy. And if you want even more protection, consider combining this policy with sensitivity labels.

How to Create a DLP Policy to Stop External Sharing of Teams Meeting Recordings

Teams meeting recordings can contain a lot of confidential information. It’s a quick and easy task to create a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policy to stop people sharing these files externally, In this post, we show just how simple the required policy is, and just how effective it is at stopping external sharing.

Microsoft Flags Need to Upgrade PowerShell Scripts to Use TLS 1.2

Microsoft is removing TLS 1.0 and 1.1 from Microsoft 365. This has been well flagged, but tenants might not understand the impact on PowerShell scripts which send email using the Send-MailMessage cmdlet and SMTP AUTH. In a nutshell, unless you force PowerShell to use TLS 1.2, attempts to send messages via Exchange Online will fail. It’s time to check those scripts and ,consider how to move away from SMTP AUTH and Send-MailMessage.

Synchronizing Sensitivity Labels to Update SharePoint Online Sites

The SharePoint Online admin center displays an insight card for the number of unlabeled sites in the tenant. For some reason, many of the labels assigned to Microsoft 365 Groups and Teams had not reached SharePoint. Some PowerShell does the job to fetch the sensitivity label information from Exchange Online and update sites with the missing label information.

How to Find When Azure AD User Accounts Receive Microsoft 365 Licenses

A reader asked how to find when Azure AD accounts received certain licenses. As it turns out, this isn’t as simple as it seems. PowerShell can tell use when user accounts are enabled with service plans, but to get dates for licenses (products or SKUs), we need to go to the Graph API, and those dates aren’t quite there yet. In any case, it’s an interesting question which deserves some exploration to see if we can find an answer.

How to Find and Use Office 365 and Microsoft 365 Icons

The Microsoft Fasttrack portal includes a branding toolkit full of Microsoft 365 and Office 365 app icons which are very useful for internal communications. That’s an important point. While you might like to use the icons in external communications, like blog posts or presentations given at conferences, Microsoft doesn’t license their use for those purposes. But will Microsoft come after you if you slip a SharePoint or Teams logo into your next presentation. Probably not, as long as you use the icons tastefully.

How to Use Microsoft Loop Components in Teams Chat

Announced at Fall Ignite 2021, the first implementation of Microsoft Loop components is in Teams chat. This functionality is available in preview and it’s very usable, providing everyone in the chat uses the right client and is enabled for preview. In this article, we review the functionality available through loop components and how the fluid files for the components are stored and shared.

Some Microsoft 365 Features Highlighted at Fall Ignite 2021 You Can Use Now

To help you recover from the blizzard of Microsoft 365 information released at Fall Ignite 2021, here are some notes about features and functionality you might have missed. Like any list created by a conference (virtual) attendee, it reflects my interests and what I was looking for. Feel free to disagree on the importance of any or all of the topics discussed here… and suggest some of your own in the comments.

How to Switch Azure B2B Collaboration (External Identities) to the Monthly Active User Billing Model

Office 365 tenants using Azure AD external identities (like Azure B2B Collaboration guest accounts with apps like Teams) are moving to a monthly active users (MAU) billing model. The new model replaces the 1;5 ratio for Azure AD premium licenses used up to now. Microsoft allows tenants to have the first 50,000 unique external identities free of charge each month and bills for access thereafter. If you don’t already have an Azure subscription, you’ll need one to link to Azure AD. Linking the subscription should be an easy task, until it’s not…

How to Update Custom Properties in the Site Property Bag in SharePoint Online

The site property bag is SharePoint Online’s way to allow tenants to add custom properties. This is useful if you want to add custom properties for search purposes, which is what you might need to do to use the new adaptive scopes for Microsoft 365 retention policies to find and process SharePoint sites. In this article, we explain how to add values to the site property bag, and how to make sure that you don’t leave sites in a position where custom scripting remains enabled.

Planner Can Move Tasks to Plans in Other Microsoft 365 Groups

The Planner development team likes to keep new features quiet, or so it seems. In September 2021, they released two new features, including being able to move tasks to plans belonging to other Microsoft 365 groups. While this doesn’t sound very exciting, it’s actually a useful feature. The only issue we’ve found is that some SharePoint attachments might need attention after moving tasks.

November 2021 Update for Office 365 for IT Pros is Available

The November 2021 update for Office 365 for IT Pros, the only book about the Microsoft 365 office system updated monthly, is now available for subscribers to download. Despite October being the month before Microsoft makes a bunch of announcements at their Fall Ignite event, we still found plenty to write about to improve the book even more. And next month, we get to consider the technology in the Ignite announcements. All part of the continual development of the eBook!

Microsoft Releases Preview for New Feedback Portal

After Microsoft decided to stop using the User Voice platform for product feedback, it needed a replacement. A new preview portal is available and Teams is the first product to embrace the platform, built using Dynamics 365. Microsoft has done a good job of bringing across a lot of data from User Voice to make the portal valuable immediately. It’s certainly worth a browse.

Microsoft Talks Teams and Forgets About the Rest of Microsoft 365 in FY22 Q1 Results

Microsoft’s comments about their FY22 Q1 results to market analysts covered lots about Teams and not much else about Microsoft 365. Is that a problem? Well, Teams is a barometer for the health of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. If it’s doing well, then all the component parts are too. Although Microsoft didn’t give any new numbers for Office 365 or Teams users, strong growth in seats and revenue were reported. And Azure AD now has 500 million monthly active users.

How to Use an Exchange Transport Rule to Copy Messages

Exchange Online transport (mail flow) rules are a powerful way to manipulate messages as they pass through the transport system. In this example, we look at how to BCC messages sent by some employees for management review. I’m not sure that this is a good idea (for many reasons), but the need does exist to copy messages automatically, so we explore the use of transport rules as a solution.

How Exchange Online Uses Mailbox Plans to Populate Mailbox Settings

Every Exchange Online tenant has four mailbox plans. Exchange uses the plans to populate some important mailbox settings based on the license assigned to the mailbox owner. This article explains the four mailbox plans, how to update the plan settings, and some of the things you can’t do with mailbox plans. We also include some PowerShell to report the mailbox plans assigned to users in your Office 365 tenant.

Microsoft Overselling E5 Capabilities Through Data Loss Prevention

Microsoft plans to surface recommendations to use communications compliance policies as part of its DLP workflow. That sounds acceptable, but it’s the second example of how Microsoft pushes high-priced premium features to Office 365 tenants through DLP. Apart from the undesirability of pushing features to customers through software, communications compliance is not something that you implement on a whim, so why does Microsoft think this is a good idea?

Praise History Coming to Viva Insights for Teams

The Viva Insights app will soon have the ability to display the last six months’ data about praises users receive and send. This stunning engineering achievement will bring joy to the folks who like to send praise around. It leaves me cold. I’m probably not the target audience interested in praise history.

Improved DKIM Configuration Page is Prompt to Check Domains

A new Microsoft 365 DKIM management page is a good prompt to check that all domains used to send email in n Office 365 tenant are configured properly for DKIM. The process of enabling DKIM and key rotation is easily done through the GUI or PowerShell once the correct CNAME records are in DNS.

How to Stop Teams Clients Auto Starting

After upgrading to Windows 11, you have Chat in the taskbar. This is really a Teams personal client, meaning that you end up with two Teams clients on the PC. To make life even more confusing, if you search Windows 11 for Teams, you see the personal version suggested first. Some pruning of clients is needed.

How to Use a Microsoft 365 Retention Policy to Manage Inactive Mailbox Content

Most Microsoft 365 tenants will have to manage the mailboxes of ex-employees. Retention policies are an excellent method to achieve this goal, if you remember to add mailboxes to a suitable retention policy before deleting their Azure AD account. In this article, we consider Microsoft’s recommendation to use a specific retention policy for inactive mailboxes and how to go about using such a policy.

Apple Mail App Clients Might Need Upgrading for Modern Authentication

The road to modern authentication for Exchange Online is littered with things to do. One action item is to check Apple iOS and iPad devices using Exchange ActiveSync to connect to mailboxes. If these devices were configured to connect to Exchange Online before iOS 12, they’re likely using basic authentication. Right now, the only way to move them to modern authentication is to remove Exchange from the mail app and add Exchange again. It’s a bump on the way to modern authentication in October 2022.

How to Mark an Obsolete Teams Channel as Defunct Before Removal

Every Teams deployment has some defunct or obsolete channels. In this article, we explore how to mark unwanted channels as defunct before their eventual removal. It’s a manual but very easy technique that’s very effective when explained to users. As long as everyone remembers to recover any required information from channel conversations before its deletion, everything goes swimmingly

Why SharePoint Online Will Allow Users to Delete Files with Retention Labels

Users attempting to delete SharePoint Online files assigned Microsoft 365 retention labels are blocked. That is, until a change arrives in November to make SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business behave in the same manner. It’s a good change because it avoid the scenario where users remove retention labels to delete files, which undermines the organization’s compliance strategy. Now, deleted items go into the preservation hold library and stay there until their retention period expires. My only complaint is that the control over the mechanism is not as simple as it should be, but that’s a small and relatively unimportant flaw in the overall scheme of things.

How to Manage Client Read Receipt Settings in OWA and Outlook for Windows

A reader request asked how to force users to send read receipts. This is a client-side feature so the settings involved differ from client to client. We explore how to control them in OWA and Outlook for Windows. A mixture of PowerShell and system registry settings help create a solution. We’re leaving figuring out how to manage other clients to our readers.

Teams Gets a New Search Results Page

A new Teams search results page (in preview) makes better use of space, presents results in a clearer manner, and is more accurate. Even after stripping away the normal Microsoft hyperbole and grand statements about artificial intelligence powering everything, there’s lots to like about the change, which should show up to all tenants in mid-November.

API Deprecations Signal the Demise of Exchange Web Services

A Microsoft October 5 announcement gives a clear signal that Exchange Web Services is on a short runway to oblivion. The first step is the removal of 25 APIs on March 31, 2022. It’s all part of the master plan to get Office 365 tenants and ISVs to move to the Microsoft Graph APIs. This is a perfectly laudable ambition but it’s complicated because of the lack of suitable Graph APIs to handle the volume of Exchange data involved in scenarios like backup/restore and migration. Teams has a new Graph Export API, but it introduces consumption metering and charging. Is a new Exchange API coming and will it use the same charging mechanism? We live in interesting times…