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 Ståle 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

Outlook logo

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.

Microsoft Halts Deployment of MailItemsAccessed Audit Records

Announced in January, paused in March – that’s the fate of the MailItemsAccessed audit record generated by Exchange Online for the Office 365 audit log. Microsoft found some problems that they are fixing, which is good (because you want audit data to be reliable). And when the fixes are available, the deployment of the new audit record will restart.

The Irritation of Exchange Online’s Inconsistent Mail Tips

MailTips are a pretty useful way of drawing the attention of users to potential issues with email. Exchange Online supports several MailTips, but Outlook clients insist on supporting MailTips in different ways. It’s a small but irritating part of Exchange Online that could be done better.

How to Use Microsoft 365 Compliance Search Purge Actions to Remove Exchange Online Messages

Office 365 content searches now support a hard-delete (permanent deletion) option for the purge action, but only for mailbox items. You can purge up to 10 items at a go. If you have more to purge, you just have to keep on purging until everything is gone. Or use the Search-Mailbox cmdlet, which keeps on proving its usefulness to administrators who need to remove lots of mailbox items quickly.

New Information Protection Service Plans for Office 365

Azure Information Protection and Office 365

Microsoft announced that the Office 365 E3 and E5 plans will receive new Information Protection licenses. They’re preparing for the introduction of sensitivity labels and the increased use of encryption to protect access to content in Office 365 apps like SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, and Teams. You don’t have to do anything to prepare for the new licenses, but it’s nice to know what they are and how the licenses are used.

Microsoft Launches Series of Outlook Mobile Seminars

Microsoft will deliver a set of five seminars about Outlook Mobile starting on March 14. It’s always good to gain some knowledge about an important technology. Outlook Mobile is important to Office 365 because it is the most functional email client available. If you don’t believe me, attend some of the seminars and make your own mind up.

Phishing: Your Document Has Been Completed

Phishing attacks through email happen all the time. A new relatively crude one arrived today. It’s easy for the trained eye to detect phishing, but do your Office 365 admins know how to use the tools available in Exchange Online Protection to suppress malware, and do your users know the signs of bad email? In this case, it’s an invitation to click to get to a PDF document to bring you to digitaloceanspaces.com. Some interesting things might happen afterwards, but I really don’t want to find out what occurs when I click the link.

Microsoft 365 Licensing, Yammer and Teams, Office DPIA, and Exchange

Office 365 changes all the time, which is good because it keeps the Office 365 for IT Pros writing team busy and happy. Discussions this week included Microsoft’s response to a Dutch DPIA, the effect large Teams have on Yammer, how Exchange Online validated a fix to a security problem, and graphics to help understand the components of the Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 plans.

Azure Active Directory Still a Weakness for Office 365

The January 24-25 Azure Active Directory outage demonstrated once again how important AAD is to Office 365. Microsoft’s Post Incident Report tells us what happened to deprive 1% of the users in Europe of service. That doesn’t sound a lot, but you’d be mad if you were affected.

Exchange Page Patching and Native Data Protection in Office 365

Some backup vendors think that corruption can lead to data loss within Office 365. The possibility exists, but the page patching mechanism for databases incorporated into Exchange Online DAGs makes corruption a lot less likely, especially when mailboxes are protected by four database copies and Exchange applies many other techniques to ensure the consistency of the databases.

New OWA Now Generally Available to Office 365 Tenants

The new version of OWA (sometimes called Outlook on the Web, or Outlook Web Access) is now generally available to all Office 365 tenants. Although the new OWA has some nice features, you might want to turn off the user choice (toggle) to move the new UI until you’ve had time to prepare the help desk, documentation, and that sort of thing.

Exchange Online Transport Rule to Encrypt Sensitive Email

Microsoft has released details of an Exchange Online transport rule to encrypt outbound email containing sensitive data types like credit card numbers. The rule works (after fixing the PowerShell), but needs to be reviewed and possibly adjusted to meet the needs of Office 365 tenants.

Teams Compliance Records Focused on by New Report

A new report commissioned by Microsoft explains how Exchange Online and the Security and Compliance Center meet the electronic records requirements of regulatory bodies like the SEC and FINRA. Within the report, there’s some news about changes to the way that Office 365 handles Teams compliance records stored in Exchange Online. And after all that, we consider how some backup vendors treat Teams compliance records as equivalent to the data stored in the Teams Azure services.

Good and Bad Marketing (Technical) Blog Posts

The internet makes it easy to find material to read about technical topics. Unfortunately, a lot of content is rubbish. In this post, we compare two recent technical articles and explain why we think one marketing post is good and the other isn’t up to scratch.

New OWA Maturing in Different Ways

The new version of OWA is maturing and new features are turning up on a weekly basis. You can now schedule a Teams meeting from OWA and the prospect of joyful animations hang in the air. But only for Office 365 users as there’s no sign that the new OWA will come to Exchange on-premises servers.

Service Domain Prefix Appears and Disappears in Exchange Online Cmdlets

A change made to fix a problem in Exchange Online introduced another problem in that service domains started to show up as prefixes in the data returned by PowerShell cmdlets. Microsoft has reversed the change, but the way things happened creates some questions.

Applying Autosignatures with Transport Rules

Office 365 tenants can use Exchange transport rules to apply autosignatures to outbound email, including messages protected with encryption. You can even include some properties of the sender extracted from Azure Active Directory, and you can add an exception so that the autosignature isn’t applied to replies.

Using Exchange Session Identifiers in Audit Log Records

Exchange Online now captures session identifiers in its mailbox and admin audit records that are ingested in the Office 365 audit log. That’s interesting and useful, but how do you access and interpret this information on a practical level?

How to Create Global Contacts in an Office 365 Tenant

You can use a public folder to store and share global email contacts, but a better approach is to use Exchange mail contacts. These objects show up in the Exchange GAL and OAB and are available to all Outlook clients (and some third-party clients too).

Sending Email with PowerShell and Exchange Online

You can use the Send-MailMessage cmdlet in a PowerShell script to send mail messages via Exchange Online. And sometimes your IP address might be listed as a spammer, which is bad. All in all, authenticated client submission seems best.

Sending Protected Email to Teams, Yammer, Groups, and Shared Mailboxes

Encrypted email is becoming more common within Office 365. Things usually flow smoothly when sending protected messages to email recipients, but other Office 365 recipient types like Teams and Yammer might not be able to handle protected email.

Searching for Encrypted Office 365 Information

Making it easy to protect Office 365 content with encryption is great, but it has some downsides too. One of the obvious problems that we have is that encrypted documents in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business libraries can’t be found unless their metadata holds the search phrase.

How to Track the Processing Done by Exchange Online’s Managed Folder Assistant

The Exchange Online Managed Folder Assistant (MFA) runs in the background on a workcycle basis to make sure that mailboxes are processed at least once a week. Most of the processing involves mailbox and Office 365 retention policies and runs smoothly, but how do you know what MFA has done?