Microsoft says a change to Outlook shared calendaring is arguably the biggest made since 1997. That’s all marketing hyperbole because many other more important technical advances have occurred in that time, including drizzle mode synchronization, Autodiscover, and Outlook Anywhere. What’s your favorite Outlook feature since 1997?
Exchange Online’s calendar assistant is good at responding to meeting requests for rooms. It can be even better with just a little customized text to remind those who book the rooms about meeting etiquette. Even though we might never get back to physical meetings in conference rooms, some face to face gathering will happen in the future, so now’s the time to prepare for bookings to be handled in a nicer fashion.
Teams supports several methods to import email. Outlook for Windows can drag and drop messages into Teams conversations. It’s a quick and easy way to move the focus of a conversation, but there are some downsides to be aware of.
A new phishing attack is circulating from an Office 365 tenant. The attack attempts to lure recipients into clicking a link to download a document. The phishing email is not quite as crude as other attempts and might lure users into doing the wrong thing, especially as the message is delivered to inboxes.
You can configure Exchange Online distribution lists so that they reject messages sent to them as BCC recipients. I’m not sure how much use this feature will get, but it’s nice to have it anyway. PowerShell is the only management tool to configure distribution lists for the new block until Microsoft gets around to updating the Exchange Admin Center.
Exchange Online tenants can activate external email tagging, which causes Outlook clients (not desktop yet) to highlight messages received from external domains. The feature can replace custom implementations to mark external email, usually done with transport rules. It’s easy to implement and control, but the mail tip offering to block an external sender seems a little over the top.
From April 2021, Exchange Online will apply hard limits for the number of messages a mailbox can receive per hour. The limit remains the same (3,600), but now Exchange will block the mailbox receiving any more email for an hour. The new version of the Exchange Admin Center (EAC) promises to highlight problem mailboxes so that admins can ask owners why their mailboxes receive so much email.
A change made to the storage location in SharePoint Online for email sent to Teams channels caused problems for people who created Flows based on a known location. Instead of having one big folder for email messages sent to a folder, it seems like Microsoft plans to use a new folder for each month. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it would have been nice if Microsoft warned people using the folder for automated processing that a change was coming. They didn’t.
Exchange dynamic distribution lists allow messages to be sent to sets of recipients determined by a query against the directory. A custom filter is a powerful way to find the right set of recipients. In this case, we want to find mailboxes with certain job titles whose Azure AD accounts are not blocked for sign-in. Here’s how to create the filter, make sure it works, and create the DDL.
Exchange Online Dynamic Distribution Lists are a powerful way to address changeable groups of recipients. The query against the directory is the big thing to get right, but you’ve also got to make sure that the directory data is accurate and reliable. Once you’ve got a good directory, it’s easy to create dynamic distribution lists which are easy to use and never go out of date.
Exchange Online supports dynamic distribution lists, a great way to address sets of recipients found by resolving a filter against the directory. In this example, we explore how to create a dynamic distribution list to address mailboxes marked as preferring a specific beverage. It might even be useful some day!
At the Ignite 2020 virtual conference, Microsoft ISV Code Two Software demonstrated a new Outlook API to make email signature management easier across all Outlook clients. The Signature API supports web add-ins that work on all Outlook platforms to allow users to select which corporate email signature to apply before sending messages. The new API should be available at the end of 2020 and we can expect updates from multiple ISVs in the email signature management space to exploit the new capability.
Power Automate (Flow) can forward email from Exchange Online mailboxes to external recipients. This isn’t a great idea if you want email kept within the control of your data governance framework. Power Automate now inserts x-headers in the email it sends, which allows the use of transport (mail flow) rules to detect and reject these messages if required.
Characterizing backup of Exchange Online mailboxes to PSTs as brain-dead might have been harsh, but it’s an accurate assessment of the worth of this idea. Plenty of cloud-based backup offerings exist that can process Exchange Online data more securely and at scale. If you want to backup Office 365, stay away from PSTs and use a different product, after asking some questions to ensure that the backups deliver the value you expect.
Exchange Online Protection monitors outbound email to pick up signs of potential compromise in Office 365 tenants. This can lead to EOP restricting a tenant’s ability to send outbound email and force the administrators to check for compromised accounts or connectors and other problems before contacting Microsoft Support to ask them to lift the restriction.
Exchange Online Protection monitors email traffic in and out of Office 365 tenants. When a mailbox exceeds limits, it might end up being restricted, such as in the case when the mailbox might be compromised. We tried to find out when Exchange Online Protection restricted mailboxes and what to do afterwards. Here’s what we discovered.
Exchange Online will soon drop processing email to create calendar events for things like restaurant reservations. The good news is that travel details are still supported, meaning that you won’t have to extract and enter details like flight numbers, departure times, and so on. And notifications for your Amazon deliveries continue too.
Covid-19 dealt a blow to Microsoft’s plans to remove basic authentication from 5 connection protocols for Exchange Online and forced them to postpone the removal from October 13, 2020 to sometime in the second quarter of 2021. The news is disappointing because basic authentication is a weakness exploited by many hackers. But you can’t plan for a pandemic and Office 365 tenants need more time to be ready for the deprecation.
Microsoft has revealed that Outlook for iOS is getting a new rich text editor to brighten and embellish email messages. The new editor is in build 4.27.0, but there’s no news if Outlook for Android will get the same editor.
Outlook Mobile now supports delegate access to Exchange Online mailboxes. By granting fuil access to a delegate, they can open and work with a mailbox, and send messages using the SendAS or SendOnBehalfOf permissions. The new feature underscores the advantage Outlook mobile enjoys over other mobile Office 365 email clients.
Exchange transport rules are a powerful way to apply different conditions to messages as they pass through the transport service. In this case, we add a disclaimer to calendar meeting requests with a pretty simple rule that works on the basis that it detects a special x-header in meeting requests and applies the disclaimer when the x-header exists.
OWA now includes Files in its “module switcher”). The new module allows fast access to attachments stored in any folder in an Exchange Online mailbox. It’s a neat feature that will please many people simply because it makes finding often-elusive attachments just that bit easier.
Not many Office 365 users choose OWA as their mobile client, but those who do will soon be forced to use the new OWA because Microsoft is removing the toggle to allow people to switch between the old and new versions in February, just like they did for workstation versions last July. The new OWA is a fine client, but its usefulness on mobile browsers is not as good as the functionality offered in Mobile Outlook, which continues to be our choice as the best mobile Office 365 email client.
Office 365 users might receive a phishing attempt to say that they’ve just been paid by a UK healthcare group. The message shows some obvious signs to tell the recipient that it only contains trouble, but these signs are easier for humans to pick up than they are for machine learning. The combination of good message hygiene and user education should be enough to deflect phishing attacks.
Outlook for iOS finally supports the Do Not Disturb feature to suppress notifications for new email, something that Outlook for Android has been able to do for 18 months. iOS and Android are obviously different ecosystems, so the delay might have been caused by problems dealing with the Apple notification service. In any case, you can now snooze some or all of your email accounts. In other news, some of the more interesting features available to U.S. email accounts are still not available outside the reach of Cortana.
The Microsoft Immersive Reader exists to make messages more readable for those who need a little help. It’s built into Office apps like Teams and OWA. Most people don’t know this or don’t need to use the reader, but those who do need support to access and understand text will find the Immersive Reader very helpful.
In a session recorded at Microsoft Ignite 2019, Tony Redmond discusses the question of will Microsoft Teams take over from email. The session covers the strengths and weaknesses of both technologies and makes recommendations for how organizations can take full advantage of Teams and email.
In a surprise development, Microsoft reversed course for Exchange Online auto-expanding archives and imposed a 1TB limit. The promise of a bottomless archive that continually expanded to cope with user data is removed. Although it’s reasonable for Microsoft to restrict the consumption of resources, suddenly implementing a limit is not, especially when you don’t communicate with customers.
The fight against spam and malware goes on unabated. ZAP, or zero-hour auto purge, is an Exchange Online Protection (EOP) feature that’s getting some extra features to deal better with spam and phish malware. New policy controls are available to control the feature.
OWA now supports Office 365 Sensitivity Labels, which means that users can apply labels to mark and/or protect messages with encryption just like they can with Outlook. The update adds to the ways that sensitivity labels can be applied to Office 365 content, with the next step being to achieve the same support for the other online Office apps.
You can configure Send As and Send on Behalf of permissions to allow Exchange Online users to send messages for an Office 365 Group. All is well if the messages arrive, but if they don’t, the NDRs might not get to where you think they should go, such as a folder in the Recoverable Items structure. That’s OK if the sender was told that a problem exists with a message, but they don’t know anything happened.
Outlook 2013 introduced the concept of hybrid mode (sometimes called Exchange Fast Access) to allow clients configured in cached Exchange mode to fetch data direct from the server when possible. The mode works well, except when you’re connected on a poor network as the attempts to fetch data from the server might cause Outlook to hang. A registry setting gives a way to force Outlook to operate in classic cached mode and use the OST exclusively when it needs data.
A question about how best to set auto-replies for Exchange Online shared mailboxes to respond to messages arriving during a public holiday gives another chance for PowerShell to show how useful it is. You could do the work with Flow, but PowerShell is more flexible and capable when dealing with multiple shared mailboxes.
Following a configuration change, the Exchange Online Focused Inbox ran into a problem on July 24 and delivered all messages to the “Other” view. This caused problems for users who didn’t receive notifications of new mail. Software can have bugs, but configuration changes should be tested before getting to production.