Use ORCA to Check Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Settings

ORCA is a project to help Office 365 tenant administrators validate their anti-spam and anti-malware settings against recommendations from Microsoft. ORCA is installed as a PowerShell module with just one cmdlet. After running Get-ORCAReport, you’ll have a report containing recommendations and observations about your configuration.

Testing the New Exchange Online REST-based PowerShell Cmdlets

Nine new REST-based PowerShell cmdlets are available for Exchange Online. They offer the prospect of better performance and reliability. Here are the code samples we used to test the new cmdlets for a theater session delivered at the Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference. Anyone wanting to explore the new cmdlets can use these examples to get going.

Office 365 Groups to Support Sensitivity Labels

At the Ignite 2019 conference in Orlando, Microsoft announced that Office 365 Groups will soon support sensitivity labels, but only to mark group containers with levels of sensitivity. The actual content of the containers, like the messages in Outlook Groups or Teams, will remain unaffected by the labels. For now.

Microsoft Clamps Down on Auto-Expanding Archive Mailboxes

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.

OWA Embraces Office 365 Sensitivity Labels

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.

How to Report Exchange Online Mailbox Quota Usage Over a Set Threshold

Some Exchange Online mailboxes are quite small (2 GB for frontline users). Tenant administrators might want to monitor mailbox usage to make sure that quotas aren’t unexpectedly exhausted. This post explains how to use a PowerShell script to calculate the percentage of mailbox quota used and highlight the problem if a threshold is passed.

Safe Links and Safe URLs Delay Email Delivery For the Right Reasons

The Office 365 E5 plan includes Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), which builds on the anti-malware capabilities of Exchange Online Protection. ATP the includes Safe Attachments and Safe Links features, both of which can delay email delivery. I don’t notice the delay but others do. In any case, the more protection you have against malware, the better.

Basic Authentication Dead for Exchange Online Connections

Microsoft has announced that basic authentication for multiple email connection protocols won’t be supported after October 13, 2020. You won’t be able to connect with EWS, EAS, IMAP4, POP3, or Remote PowerShell unless you use modern authentication. There’s just over a year to prepare, but there’s some work to be done.

Why Office 365 Users Receive MyAnalytics Messages and How to Stop the Messages

Microsoft is now rolling out MyAnalytics access to Office 365 accounts with an Exchange Online license.The first sign that anyone gets is when they receive one of MyAnalytics’s well-intended messages to help them organize their work life smarter. Funnily enough, some people don’t like the idea of Office 365 analyzing and reporting their work habits, which is why you might need to disable MyAnalytics for some mailboxes.

Disconnected Mailbox Content Not Available for Office 365 Content Searches

Microsoft has confirmed that disconnected Exchange Online mailboxes are not included in the sources scanned by Office 365 content searches, thus clearing up some misunderstandings that might have existed in the field. The bottom line is that if you want to search mailboxes that don’t belong to accounts, you should use inactive mailboxes.

How to Stop Users Adding Personal Retention Tags to Exchange Online Mailboxes

Exchange Online allows users to add personal retention tags to their maiboxes through OWA settings. Some organizations don’t like this, so they can deploy user role assignment policies to block the feature. It;s something that you could consider doing if you’re preparing to switchover to Office 365 retention policies to impose the same retention regime across multiple workloads.

How Microsoft Deploys New Outlook Mobile Features

Deploying new features to a massive 100-million plus user community takes a lot of planning and careful management. Outlook Mobile caters for both consumer and commercial users, and different methods are used to deliver new features to the two groups. Sometimes this means that different users in the same tenant can’t access a new feature even if they have the right software.

Shared Mailbox and Dark Mode Support in Outlook Mobile

Outlook mobile users now have shared mailbox support in both iOS and Android platforms. The work to upgrade the backend service is also progressing and is past 50% rollout. And dark mode is coming too. It’s available in beta today to Testflight users (only for iOS), and it’s also been enabled for some users who run the latest version of the clients.

Populating Location Data for the Outlook Places Service

The Outlook Places service is used by Outlook clients to present metadata about meeting locations to users. Currently, OWA is the only client that consumes the service. You can update location metadata with details to make it easier for users to select the right location for their meeting, including geocoordinates that can be used to display map directions to the location.

How to Configure and Use Outlook People Favorites

Outlook people favorites give Exchange Online users fast access to their most important email correspondents. OWA has the best implementation but the feature is also available in Outlook mobile. As usual, Outlook desktop lags. It’s a small feature that could turn out to be very important to some users. Office 365 is full of such examples.

Outlook’s Hybrid Mode Helps in Flaky Network Conditions

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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.

Microsoft Introduces New OWA Setting to Control Access to Storage Providers

Microsoft has announced that the AdditionalStorageProvidersAvailable setting in OWA mailbox policies will now control access to both first-party and third-party storage providers. The new setting is now available and becomes active in August. Before then, you might want to adjust some of your OWA mailbox policies.

How to Set Auto-Replies for Shared Mailboxes with PowerShell

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.

Focused Inbox Has Problem Delivering to the Right Place

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.

New OWA Becomes The OWA on July 22

Microsoft has announced that the switchover to the new OWA interface will start on July 22 when Office 365 tenants in targeted release will lose the chance to toggle back and forth between the two interfaces. By the end of September, everyone will use the new OWA. Let’s hope that Microsoft has fixed all the functionality gaps by then.

Microsoft Breaks PowerShell Command Logging in Exchange Online Admin Center

The ability to see the PowerShell commands executed by Exchange administrative centers has existed since Exchange 2007. Now something has changed in Exchange Online and the command log is blank. It’s sad because many administrators learned to use PowerShell by examining how Microsoft used it to manage Exchange. Let’s hope that Microsoft fixes this bug soon.

What’s Happening with the MailItemsAccessed Audit Event

Microsoft launched the MailItemsAccessed audit event (to capture when email is opened) in January, reversed the roll-out in April, and now might restart sometime in Q3. It’s an odd situation that isn’t really explained by a statement from Microsoft. Are they going to charge extra for this audit event? Will they be analyzing the events? Or does Office 365 capture too many mail items accessed events daily?

Removing Office 365 Accounts Fast

Removing Office 365 accounts is easily done through the Admin Center. You can also restore deleted accounts within 30 days, but what if you want to remove accounts in such a way that they can’t be restored? The answer is that it can be done using a two-stage process. And if the mailboxes belonging to those accounts are on hold, they are kept as inactive mailboxes.

How to Add Shared Mailboxes to Outlook Mobile

Microsoft has announced that it will deploy the ability to add shared mailboxes to Outlook Mobile by the end of July. But if you want to see the feature early, you can join the Testflight program and install the beta version of Outlook mobile. Using Outlook for iOS with Testflight also forces the upgrade of your Office 365 tenant to the Microsoft Sync Technology.

Shared Mailbox Support Soon for Outlook Mobile

Microsoft has announced that Outlook Mobile (iOS and Android) will include support for Exchange Online shared mailboxes “in the next several weeks,” which probably means early July 2019. The update comes as good news for many people who have been forced to use an IMAP4-based workaround to access shared mailboxes. Microsoft is also making some other changes to improve the Files view and calendar sync in Outlook mobile.

Outlook Increases 500 Shared Folder Limit to 5000

Microsoft has implemented a new synchronization mechanism in Outlook ProPlus to deal more efficiently with shared folders. The new approach increases the limit from 500 to 5,000 folders and is a more elegant and precise solution. Users who manage other peoples’ mailboxes will appreciate the change after they install build 11629.20196 or later.

New OWA Includes Office 365 Groups Management Interface

The new version of OWA boasts new abilities for owners to manage Office 365 Groups. The new UI is pretty slick and a welcome upgrade to the previous capabilities. You’ll still need to revert to PowerShell to manage some aspects of Office 365 Groups, but not as many times as you used to.

Handling Calendar Appointments for IMAP4 Clients

Despite the age of the protocols, you can cheerfully connect a wide range of IMAP4 and POP3 clients to Exchange Online. If you do, you might need to consider how to handle calendar appointments, and if you want to use iCAL, you’ll need to make some adjustments with PowerShell.

Excluding Inactive Mailboxes from Org-Wide Retention Holds

Exchange Online supports inactive mailboxes as a way to keep mailbox data online after Office 365 accounts are removed. Inactive mailboxes are available as long as a hold exists on them. You can update mailbox properties to exclude all or some org-wide holds. If you exclude holds from a mailbox, you run the risk that Exchange will permanently remove the mailbox. If that’s what you want, all is well, but if it’s not, then you might not be so happy.

Outlook Mobile Gains Ability to Create Teams Meetings

Outlook Mobile clients can now schedule Teams meetings, even if your tenant isn’t using the newer version of Outlook’s mobile connection architecture. The Office 365 tenant setting for Skype for Business Online co-existence mode has to be configured to use Teams, and once everything is in place Outlook is happy to schedule Teams meetings.

The Side-effects of Using Address Book Policies to Limit Teams Search

You can use Exchange Address Book Policies (ABPs) to limit the ability of Teams users to chat with each other. Everything works as expected until you look for some new teams to join only to find that Teams can’t suggest any teams to you. The problem seems to be with filtering the set of teams returned by the Microsoft Graph to take account of the scope applied to the user. At least, that’s what I think is going on.

Office 365 Reaches 180 Million Monthly Active Users

At their Q3 FY19 earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Office 365 is now used by 180 million monthly active users. Office 365 is now growing at more than 4 million users per month. The earnings call also noted success for Enterprise Mobility and Security and the Outlook mobile client, both of which are now used by more than 100 million people.

Outlook’s Option to End Appointments and Meetings Early

Outlook for Windows (ProPlus or click to run) now boasts settings to allow users to schedule meetings and appointments to end some minutes earlier than expected. Brian Reid is very excited by the prospect, but we’re not sure if this qualifies as one of StÃ¥le Hansen’s famous lifehacks. In any case, ending meetings early won’t solve the problem of badly-organized or managed meetings or how people behave during meetings, but it might give you a quiet feeling of satisfaction to have a neater calendar.

Unified Labeling Version of Information Protection Client Now Generally Available

Microsoft has released the GA version of the Azure Information Protection client, which reads information about Office 365 sensitivity labels and policies from the Security and Compliance Center. It’s one more step along the path to making it easy for Office 365 tenants to protect their data. Work still has to be done, but at least we can see light at the end of the encryption tunnel.

Microsoft’s “New Migration Experience” from G Suite to Exchange Online

Microsoft announced a new migration experience from Google G Suite yesterday, which is nice. Under the covers, the venerable Mailbox Migration Service (MRS) does the work to extract mailbox data from Gmail using IMAP4 and moves it to Exchange Online. But after the move is done, there’s still lots of work to do to help users make the cultural change to their new mailbox in the cloud.

OWA’s ThirdPartyFileProvidersEnabled Setting

The ThirdPartyFileProvidersEnabled setting in OWA mailbox policies controls if Exchange Online mailboxes can access services like Drop and Dropbox for attachments. Office 365 tenants need to decide if they want to allow this kind of access. There’s both good and bad in the feature, but it’s easily turned off if you feel the need.

Outlook’s Background Moves

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It’s hard for a program that’s been around for 22 years to surprise, but Outlook has done it by introducing background moves. The implementation is good and it closes a gap that’s existed in Outlook for a very long time. So long that most Outlook users probably assumed that the program would never mend its ways. But then again, because people don’t move items between folders like they used to, perhaps no one cared.