Blog Archive

How Does Premium Assurance Differ From CSA?

How Does Premium Assurance Differ from Custom Support Agreements?

We detailed the new Premium Assurance in a previous blog post.  At a high level it looks similar to an existing Microsoft service called Custom Support Agreements.

They are very different beasts though.  Custom Support Agreements are where organisations cannot move off an older software version and take out a support contract with Microsoft.  They are typically expensive, not off-the-shelf and thus taken by larger organisations with complex needs.  They cover different products, are sold and supported by different Microsoft teams, have different objectives, business rules and pricing.

Premium Assurance is a standard add-on to Software Assurance and is listed in the price list.  It’s easy for customers to purchase, for partners to sell and for everyone to understand.

Will Premium Assurance spell the end of Custom Support Agreements?  Microsoft hasn’t elaborated at this stage but so far it looks like all existing CSA products in the market today will continue unchanged.

Premium Assurance

  • Software Assurance Add-on (requires SA)
  • Only for Windows Server and SQL Server starting with 2008 versions
  • All eligible servers must be included
  • Up to 6 extra years of support
  • Includes ‘critical’ and ‘important’ security updates
  • Available through certain volume licensing programs
  • Published prices
  • Sold via Worldwide Licensing with commissions paid to sellers
  • Discounts and price-protection for signing up early

Custom Support Agreements

  • Premier Support Add-on (requires Premier)
  • Software Assurance not required
  • Covers multiple products including Windows and Office but does not cover Windows Server or SQL Server
  • Typically last 1-3 years, not 6
  • Customer can cover just a subset of affected licences and pricing is tiered according to numbers
  • Only includes ‘critical’ updates but ‘important’ can be included sometimes for a fee
  • Bought when a product goes end-of-support; no discounts for buying early
  • Sold through Microsoft Premier and Services staff
  • Faster support through Premier-level support services and Technical Account Managers

Per-Core Licensing FAQ

Windows ServerWindows Server 2016 (Standard and Datacenter Editions) and System Center 2016 will be changing to per-core + client access licence (CAL) when they are released towards the latter part of 2016.  We briefly blogged about the change earlier and we’re seeing a lot of the same questions so why not use that as an excuse for another post?

Why change?

The world is becoming cloudier and these licensing changes enable customers to operate more easily across on-premises servers and private and public clouds because we can just use a consistent currency of cores that simplifies licensing of hybrid use cases.  For example, a two-processor licence of Windows Server 2012 R2 on-premises today is translated into 16 cores of Microsoft Azure use right benefit.  If both of these environments are core-based it’s a nice easy transition.

Will I Still be Able to Virtualise with Standard Edition?

The case for licensing Datacenter Edition is for high-density virtualization, private clouds and hybrid cloud use.  The keys to making that successful are automation and being able to define networking, storage and the like with software rather than physically connecting network cables.  So Datacenter Edition will provide advanced software defined datacenter capabilities to make it the ideal for highly virtualized or private cloud environments.

Standard edition will not these features or will have them in more limited form.  Hyper-V is still included in both editions however and you can still virtualise in Standard Edition.  It will continue to be ideal for low density virtualized scenarios, including the use of containers and in some instances it makes financial sense over Datacenter Edition.

If you’re concerned that your solutions running on Windows Server 2012 Standard edition may not work after an upgrade, fear not; no pre-existing features are being moved from Standard to Datacenter.  Datacenter will be a superset and contain all the features of Standard edition.

Even though we’re writing about licensing in this post, we should cover a couple of Windows Server features just because they might affect how you licence.  Namely, Hyper-V containers, Windows Server containers and Nano Server.

Hyper-V Containers and Windows Server Containers

Historically, each server application would run on its own physical server; a 1:1 application to server ratio to ensure no conflicts with existing applications and workloads.  This resulted in a large number of physical servers, all typically with low utilisation.

Virtualisation of multiple applications onto a single physical server is now prevalent and we enjoy significantly higher consolidation ratios, greater utilisation and faster application deployment times measured in minutes rather than hours or days in a purely physical datacenter.  Plus all the benefits of virtualisation such as higher levels of redundancy and mobility.

There is however, a new and increasingly popular way to build, ship, deploy and instantiate applications: containers.

Whereas virtualisation is still 1:1 application to OS, albeit a virtual OS, containers can run multiple isolated applications on a single OS known as the control host.  And containers can run on a host OS which itself could be physical or virtual, so that’s fantastic flexibility.

That’s the difference between a Windows container and a Hyper-V container.  A Hyper-V container has a virtual host OS.   A Windows container uses the physical OS as the host.

With Windows Server 2016 Datacenter, you can run unlimited containers just as you can perform unlimited virtualisation.  With Standard Edition you are entitled to have unlimited Windows Containers, because they run with the physical OS as the control host.  Hyper-V containers follow the same rules as virtual operating system environments (VOSE) in that you are allowed two virtual control hosts every time you completely licence all physical cores on the server.

 

Virtualisation Licensing for Windows Server 2016

 

But why do we need containers?  What do containers provide that virtual machines can’t?

For the developers, containers unlock the ability to build an application, package within a container, and deploy, knowing that wherever you deploy that container, it will run without modification, whether that is on-premises, in a service provider’s datacenter or in the public cloud such as Azure.  You can also have complex multi-tier applications, with each tier packaged in a container.

Nano Server

So that’s containers in a nutshell.  What about Nano Server?  Is that a special edition for my granny?

If you are hosting lots of VOSEs, the last thing you want is for the host OS to reboot because that means everything I’m running on that host either needs to migrate to another server or also reboot.  You want to minimise what’s running to reduce the resources used and the surface area open to bugs and attacks. Yes, I used the B word.

Windows Server 2008 came up with Server Core which was a hugely reduced installation intended to just support specific workloads such as hosting VOSEs.  Windows server 2012 improved Server Core so it was more modular and you could install and configure the server and then switch into Server Core whereas in 2008 it was an either-or choice at installation.

 

Windows Server Core between 2003 and 2012

 

Windows Server 2016 goes further with Nano Server.  Just to give you an idea of the scale here, the charts below compare setup time, disk footprint and VHD size between the already trimmed Server Core installation and the new Nano Server.

 

Windows Server 2016 Nano Server

 

Now the big question here is how do you licence Nano Server?

Well, Nano Server is a deployment option within Windows Server 2016.  It’s included as part of the licensing of both Standard and Datacenter editions so there is no unique or separate licensing for Nano Server.  Good news.

Look Like an Expert with these Extra Facts

Q – Will the Core Infrastructure Suite SKU also be core based licensing?

A – Yes, Core Infrastructure Suite is a single SKU incorporating both Windows Server and System Center at a discount.  This will also be core based when Windows Server and System Center are released.

Q – Is the Windows Server External Connector available at the release of Windows Server 2016?

A – Yes, the Windows Server External Connector license will still be available for external users’ access to Windows Server.   Just like it is today, an external connector is required for each Windows Server the external user is accessing.

Q – How should I think about hyper-threading in the core based licensing?

A – Just count the physical cores.  Windows Server and System Center 2016 are licensed by physical cores, not virtual cores.  So you only need to inventory and license the physical cores on the processors.

Q – If processors (and therefore cores) are disabled from Windows use, do I still need to license the cores?

A – No, if the processor is disabled for use by Windows, the cores on that processor don’t need to be licensed.  For example, if 2 processors in a 4 processor server (with 8 cores per processor) were disabled and not available for Windows Server use, only 16 cores would need to be licensed.  However, disabling hyper threading or disabling cores for specific programs does not relieve the need for a Windows Server license on the physical cores.

 

Don’t Forget CALs

Windows Server Standard and Datacenter editions will continue to require Windows Server CALs for every user or device accessing a server (See the Product Use Rights for exceptions).

Some additional or advanced functionality will continue to require the purchase of an additive CAL.  These are CALs that you need in addition to the Windows Server CAL to access functionality, such as Remote Desktop Services or Active Directory Rights Management Services.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions – we love to hear from you!


Using Tags in OneNote

onenote main

 

Using Tags in OneNote can be an effective way to fight against information overload. One of OneNote’s most powerful, yet underutilised features is tagging. Tags help you extract and organise data across notebooks. Every note or item marked with a particular tag will show up in the search results when you search for that tag. A summary can also be created to pull out and group all tagged items. This can be extremely useful when making a to-do list or focus on particular information.

To use tags:

  1. Click on the Home ribbon
  2. In the Tags group, click the drop-down arrow to see a list of the built-in tags

NOTE: Custom tags can also be created in this section

Using tags in OneNote

Use tags to organise your data. For example, you could mark important items with the ‘Important’ tag, To-do items with the ‘To Do’ tag or questions with the ‘Question’ tag and so on. Keyboard short-cuts can be used to tag items faster. You can apply more than one tag to an item.

Using Tags in OneNote
  1. Click the Find Tag button

By default, all tagged items will show grouped by tag name. You can also change the search options to include the current section, the current notebook or even all of your existing notebooks.

Using Tags in OneNote
  1. Click Create Summary Page
Using Tags in OneNote

A new page will be created in your notebook that contains all of the tagged items organised in to groups. This is a great way of creating to-do lists and organising your data more efficiently.


More Free Events for Partners

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Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face a complex and changing landscape when it comes to understanding all of the different ways new technologies can help their businesses.

Many Microsoft partners are capitalising on the opportunity to grow their businesses by expanding their roles to that of a trusted advisor and business consultant — looking for ways to help SMBs modernise across the IT platform.

Microsoft is focused on helping you deliver solutions that address your customers’ key goals and business challenges. So you can use technology to help make them be more successful, whether by improving operational efficiency, protecting data, helping employees be more productive, or better connecting with customers. In fact, only Microsoft offers a complete platform with the flexibility to deliver the solutions your customer’s need, from server to cloud, desktop to mobile devices.

ModernBiz Technical Series

The ModernBiz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions to SMB organisations. This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help customers get the benefits of the modern business by providing solutions and services that span the entire IT ecosystem, from server, to cloud, to devices.

In this training, you will:

  • Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.
  • Get the skills you need to build real-world SMB solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with SMB customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.

Any of the ModernBiz Technical Series courses can be attended as a standalone course or as a part of the complete series.

Who should participate: The ModernBiz Technical Series course is for Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners who work with small and midsize organisations. The training is designed for those who are ready to learn more about meeting the technical needs of SMBs with Microsoft solutions.

Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers

Level: 200 (Technical) This training aligns to the Microsoft ModernBiz campaign for SMB partners.

There are free one or two day courses for each of these key technology areas.

Current Schedule:

South:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 12th January (Reading)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 13th January (Reading)

Grow Efficiently Track 3 – 26th January (Reading)

Business Anywhere – 27th January (Reading)

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 2nd February (London)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 10th February (London)

Grow Efficiently Track 3 – 11th February (London)

Connect with Customers Track 1 – 1st March (Reading)

Connect with Customers Track 2 – 2nd March (Reading)

Safeguard your Business – 8th March (London)

Business Anywhere – 9th March (London)

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 22nd March (Reading)

Midlands:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 3rd February (Birmingham)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 16th March (Birmingham)

North:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 4th February (Manchester)

Business Anywhere – 15th March (Manchester)

Scotland:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 19th January (Edinburgh)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 20th January (Edinburgh)

Grow Efficiently Track 3 – 24th February (Edinburgh)

Business Anywhere – 25th February (Edinburgh)

 

Grow Efficiently

These courses are designed to help you migrate customers off legacy infrastructure and get the most out of their technology. Example topics are Windows Server 2012 on-premises, Azure infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Windows 10, Office 365, and Azure.

Grow Efficiently Track 1 is designed to teach you how to migrate SMB customers off of legacy infrastructure to either Windows Server 2012 on-premises or Azure IaaS

Track 2 covers how to migrate SMB customers to Windows 10 and get started with Office 365

Track 3 teaches how to integrate on-premises infrastructure with Microsoft Azure

Safeguard Your Business

In this track, learn how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions that help SMBs protect company information and improve business continuity. Modules in this track include Azure Backup and ASR, Securing Windows 10, Data Loss Prevention in Office 365, eDiscovery and Archiving in Office 365, and Office 365 and Azure AD Premium RMS.

Connect with Customers

These training modules cover Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as well as Office 365 collaborative services.

Track 1 is devoted to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, including Introduction to CRM Online, CRM Online Integration with Office 365, and CRM Online Integration with Power BI

Track 2 teaches how to implement Office 365 collaborative services and business intelligence to solve business problems. Example modules include Modern Collaboration, SQL Server 2014 Data Platform, Azure Relational Database Services, Creating and Exploring a Power BI Dashboard, and Reporting from On-premises Analysis Services with Power BI.

Business Anywhere

Here, you’ll learn how to enable SMBs to work from anywhere on any device. Topics include Windows 10 Management (with IE 11 and Edge); Mobile Device and Identity Management with Intune, EMS, and Office 365; Remote Desktop Service and Azure Remote App; Deploying Office 365 ProPlus; Skype for Business Conferencing; and Securing Windows 10.

Imageframe are pleased to be running many of these courses so come along and say hi!

Keep up to date with these and more on the Microsoft Partner Network UK blog.


Licensing Office 365 E5

December 1st marked two extraordinary launches: a brand new Office 365 plan called E5 and Microsoft becoming a Telco.

We described the key new features and capabilities in an earlier post and we’re going to concentrate on the licensing concepts in this blog post.

Some of the new features will be included via updates to the E1 and E3 plans.  Most of the new features will be included in the E5 plan with the exception of PSTN Calling which will be an add-on subscription.  All of the new features will be available as standalone subscriptions which will suit customers that don’t require all of the E5 functionality but do want one of two of the new capabilities.

This does mean that Office 365 E4 plan follows E2 in being discontinued.  E4 will remain on the pricelist until the end of Microsoft’s financial year, June 30th, 2016.  Customers on E4 will be able to renew it as E4 prior to that date but should look to transition into E5 or into E3 with the Cloud PBX add-on.  If customers want to maintain E4 functionality after June 30th, they can transition to the E3 plan and add the new Skype for Business Plus user subscription licence (USL) that was released on the 1st December.

Microsoft Office 365 Plan Features

Table 1: Office 365 E1, E3 and E5 plans with new or enhanced features highlighted in orange

 

How can customers licence Office 356 E5?

Office 365 E5 is available as a:

  • Full User Subscription Licence (USL) for new users
  • Step-up licence for existing Office 365 E3 and E4 customers
  • From SA USL for customers who currently own licences for and have active Software Assurance (SA) on Office and a Client Access licence (CAL) Suite
  • Add-on licence for customers who already subscribe to the Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS)

At launch, what you’ll see on the price list is Office 365 Enterprise E5 without PSTN Conferencing.  Office 365 E5 and Cloud PBX is available worldwide, however the PSTN conferencing feature is only available in fifteen countries from the 1st December.  Lucky UK; we’re one of those fifteen.  The remaining 191 countries (bonus points if you can name them all; I had to source from the United Nations) cannot enjoy PSTN conferencing yet so it‘s unfair to sell them full E5.

Where PSTN Conferencing is available, customers will purchase Office 365 Enterprise E5 without PSTN Conferencing and Office 365 Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing
Where PSTN Conferencing is not available, customers will purchase Office 365 Enterprise E5 without PSTN Conferencing
At some point in the future, we’ll announce a single Office 365 E5 licence on the pricelist which is likely to be priced the same as the combination of E5 w/out PSTN Conferencing and the Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing licences.

 

What channels are the new plans available through?

Being a telco brings tax and regulatory responsibilities.  Microsoft needs to sell these PSTN features in the right way so whilst the Office 365 Enterprise E5 without PSTN Conferencing SKU is available worldwide and through all licensing channels, currently Office 365 Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing is only available through direct channels: the Microsoft Online Subscription Program (MOSP) and direct Enterprise Agreements.

 

How can customers licence the new features as standalone subscriptions?

Table 2 lists the new standalone licences along with the relevant pre-requisite.

Office 365 E5 Standalones

 

Table 2: Office 365 E1, E3 and E5 plans with new or enhanced features highlighted in orange

 

How can customers licence the PSTN Calling Plans?

These are not available as of December in the UK.  In fact they are only available in the US but the UK should be able to enjoy this in the first half of 2016.

There are two PSTN Calling Plans: Domestic and International.  Domestic will have a set price per user/per month for 3,000 minutes of national calls.  The International Plan will include the domestic quota and add 600 minutes of international calls.  These quotas will be allocated to the organisation as a whole, rather than each user so a customer with 10 USLs for the International PSTN Calling Plan will have 30,000 national minutes and 6,000 international minutes.

 

What do the PSTN features include?

At launch, PSTN Conferencing includes the ability to advertise a national, non-freephone number (e.g. 0118 for Reading, 020 for London, etc.).  The person dialling into the conference will pay for the call charges.  Customers can also dial-out to a phone using a national phone number in order to bring someone into the Skype conference.

In 2016, there will be a consumption billing model, similar to Azure consumption billing, where customers can maintain a balance of monetary credit.  This can then be used to advertise Freephone numbers to conferences and dial-out to international phone numbers to bring people into the conference.  The call charges will be met using the consumption balance.

The same goes for the PSTN Calling plans.  If a customer exceeds their quota of minutes, or a customer subscribing to the Domestic plan wants to make international calls, the charges will be drawn from their consumption balance.

E5 and the PSTN features mark a very exciting chapter in Microsoft’s online capabilities.  Keep a close eye out for the release of UK PSTN Calling plans and the consumption billing in 2016.  We’ll continue to keep you up to date with blog posts.

 


Office 365 E5 Plan

We should be used to Microsoft announcing new capabilities and investments in Office 365 but December 1st marked two extraordinary launches.

Firstly, a brand new Office 365 plan called E5.  This joins the current enterprise plan line up of E1, E3 and E4 and becomes Microsoft’s new ‘hero’ plan.  We’ll cover what it contains in a moment.

The second extraordinary launch is Microsoft is becoming a telecommunications provider (or simply telco in modern syntax).  Microsoft has extraordinary capacity in its global data network and is putting it to good use by offering PSTN conferencing and PSTN calling plans for Skype for Business.

Before you worry that Microsoft will start making adverts starring Maureen Lipman about ‘ologies, these PSTN capabilities are aimed squarely at organisations rather than consumers at this point.

What do I need to know from the December launch?

The key new features and capabilities are below.  There’s a post on Microsoft’s Volume Licensing site covering how to licence Office 365 E5 and the standalone features.

 

Microsoft Office 365 Plan Features

 

PSTN Conferencing

PSTN Conferencing (Public Switch Telephone Network) offers audio conferencing within Skype for Business web conferences.  If people can’t connect to a conference over the internet, it’s nice to give them a phone number so they can dial-in and listen to the audio.  Currently you need to set up an account with one of the audio conferencing providers in the Office 365 Marketplace, or have on-premises Mediation Servers and PSTN gateways.

Dial-in conferencing allows meeting attendees to dial into Skype meetings through a local phone number and in the near-future, a Freephone number (when consumption billing is released for Office 365).

Dial-out conferencing enables presenters in the web conference to add others to the meeting by dialling their phone number.  It also allows attendees to join the audio portion of the meeting by asking Skype for Business to call them on a specified phone number.

Cloud PBX

PBX stands for private branch exchange and is the internal phone system an organisation uses.  Cloud PBX can offload that requirement entirely to the cloud, or connect cloud PBX to an on-premises PBX in hybrid configurations.

It includes all the features you’d expect including calling by name & number from Softphones, IP Phones and mobile devices, Call History & Redial, Call Hold/Retrieve, Transfer, Forwarding, Call Waiting, Simultaneous Ring, Team Calling, and so on.

Like the rest of Office 365, updates are delivered over the cloud so customers can avoid the headache of upgrading their on-premises PBX.  A notable update in the pipeline will be PBX features for call centres.

Cloud PBX can be connected to the PSTN through two different capabilities.  First, a customer can purchase a PSTN calling service add-on to Office 365, available initially in the US only.  Alternatively, a customer can use Skype for Business software on-premises to provide PSTN connectivity.

PSTN Calling

Which brings us nicely onto PSTN Calling.  This is an add-on to Cloud PBX that provides national and international calling services directly from Office 365.  Instead of a customer contracting with a traditional telco and using an on-premises IP-PBX, they can purchase the Cloud PBX from Microsoft and add on PSTN Calling for a complete enterprise telephony experience for end-users.

So Microsoft is becoming a regulated carrier in each geography that this will be available.  Customers can get new phone numbers for users or have phone numbers ported to the PSTN Calling service.  Number provisioning will be done directly through the Office 365 admin portal or of course, via PowerShell.

Power BI Pro

Power BI Pro is a business analytics service that enables information workers to visualize and analyse data with greater speed, efficiency and understanding.  Users are connected to live data through dashboards, interactive reports and visualizations that bring data to life and make it meaningful to their role.  And don’t underestimate the live data here; this could come from Internet of Things (IoT) devices, wearables for example and be up to the second.  Power BI provides a Power BI Desktop tool and Power BI mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows.  Excel also has Power BI enhancements such as being able to merge and use queries from multiple data sources, including public sources like Twitter alongside corporate data.

Delve Analytics

You may have heard or perhaps used Delve.  Delve allows an individual to see and search the documents and sites that are important to people connected to you.  It surfaces knowledge according to what and who you’re working with.

Delve Analytics on the other hand, allows managers to discover how their team or organisation works.  It provides insights into important business problems like organization collaboration, who’s talking to whom, siloed team detection, identification of most connected employees, types of meetings taking place across the organization and work-life balance; which teams are consistently working beyond their shifts.  Individuals can gain a fresh perspective about the way they work including time management, network analysis and influence and reach indicators.

Both Delve and Delve Analytics use Office Graph and sophisticated machine learning to map the relationships between people, content and activity that occurs across Office 365.

Customer Lockbox

One of the common cloud topics is that organisations want to have full control over their content stored in cloud services.  Office 365 has evolved so nearly all service operations performed by Microsoft are fully automated and any human interaction is highly controlled and kept away from customer content.  Only in very rare cases does a Microsoft engineer have any reason to access customer content.  Microsoft employees do not have automatic access to service operations.  All access is obtained through a rigorous access control technology called Lockbox.  An extension to this is Customer Lockbox and if an organisation has Customer Lockbox, they have the keys to that engineer access.  The customer is notified when their content needs to be accessed by service administrators and the have total control to approve or deny such access.  They can set up Just-In-Time access to specific scopes of data and all access control activities are logged and audited.  So access currently goes through a secure workflow process but Lockbox makes the customer part of that process.

Customer Lockbox will be available for Exchange Online first and for SharePoint Online in Q1 of 2016.

Advanced Threat Protection

Advanced threat protection has been available for a few months now.  It combats unknown & sophisticated threats in email.  Let’s say you get an email with a short link, a Bit.ly link for example.  When you first receive the email, the link is fine and directs you to the Sugababes fan club site as expected.  However, sometime in the future that shortlink redirects you to a malware site and before you know it you’ve downloaded a One Direction virus.  Safe Links provide time-of-click protection against such malicious URLs by wrapping external links in special URLs that check the destination link for threats before opening them.  There’s also Safe Attachments which opens email attachments sandboxed virtual environments to detect malicious behaviour.  And Click Trace keeps a record of every user who has clicked on a URL for additional protection so if you do need to take remedial action, it’s easier to know exactly where.

Equivio Analytics for eDiscovery

Back in January, Microsoft acquired Equivio, a provider of machine learning technologies for eDiscovery and information governance.  If an organisation goes through a law suit, it’s extremely expensive and time consuming.  Data on a given topic needs to be found and collected and once it’s harvested, typically lawyers are paid lots of money to go through that data and determine relevance.  Equivio simplifies the eDiscovery process by using machine learning, tagging and predictive coding to identify relevant email and documents and reduce the amount of data that’s returned.
All of these new capabilities form part of Office 365 E5 and with the exception of the PSTN Calling plans are available as standalones licences.

In the next blog post, we’ll go deeper into the PSTN features and what they include.


Action Items in Outlook

In the Office 365 Exchange Admin Centre there are several default apps that can be turned on in Outlook by your administrator such as Action Items, Bing Maps, Suggested Meetings or Unsubscribe. These apps can help to streamline your daily workflow and save you time.

All emails received into your inbox will be scanned. If Outlook notices anything that needs to be ‘actioned’ it will flag these items to you in the form of buttons above the reading pane.

In the following example, Outlook has picked up and flagged an address and an item that needs to be actioned.

ActionItems4

Click on Bing Maps to see the exact location of the address.

ActionItems5

Click on Action Items to see what items need to be actioned. In this example, Outlook has picked up that the sender has asked me to download a form from the files library. It has flagged this with a suggested action of adding it into my tasks lists for follow-up.

ActionItems6

So next time you receive an email, take a glance at the bar above the reading pane for Bing Maps, Action Items, Suggested Meetings etc. These can be really helpful and time saving little apps!


Outlook Search Folders

Do you forever find yourself running the same search over and over again in Outlook? Maybe you frequently have to search for emails from your manager that contain attachments?

Outlook has a really useful search feature that you can use to find your emails but wouldn’t you rather be able to find what you are looking for in one click? Creating Outlook Search Folders for your frequently searched for email items is a great way to cut down on the amount of time you spend searching for emails.

  • Click the Folder tab
  • Click New Search Folder
Search Folder

You can choose to select the items you would like to search for from the default list presented, i.e. if I want to create a search for all emails from my manager, I would select ‘Mail from and to specific people’ and then select my managers name by clicking ‘Choose‘.

search folder 2

However, if you would like to create a folder that searches using multiple criteria you will need to create a Custom Search.

  • Scroll down in the list and select Create a Custom Search Folder
  • Click Choose
  • Add a name for your search folder
  • Click Criteria
name

You can select criteria for your search from any of the three tabs. In this example, I want a search folder that quickly searches for all emails from David that contain attachments.

options 1

options 2

  • Click OK

A new folder will be created under Search Folders in your folder list. Click on the folder to run the search.

save folder

I think you will agree it is worth taking the time to setup some search folders in your Outlook as it will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend searching for emails.


The Dynamic Duo – Cortana and Microsoft Edge

Using Cortana within Microsoft Edge

There are many great partnerships in life; Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Yin and Yang and of course the humble Cheese and Pickle sandwich.

Dynamic Duos

Introducing the Dynamic Duo –  Cortana and Microsoft Edge. These two separate applications seamlessly interact to provide you the consumer with a much more fluid and full browsing experience.

Lets back track a little. If you are reading and this and thinking ‘What in the world is Cortana?‘, then you are not alone.

Cortana is your clever new personal assistant! Cortana will help you find things on your PC, manage your calendar, track packages, find files, chat with you, and tell jokes. Yes, I said tell jokes. That was not a typo. The more you use Cortana, the more personalized your experience will be.

Now if you are anything like me, the words ‘Microsoft’ and ‘Assistant’ may conjure up this image in your mind…

Remember this guy?

paperclip

Ah, Mr Clippy. Everyone’s favourite letter writing obsessed friend. The good news is, Cortana is very different to previous Microsoft Assistant tools and it can be utilised very effectively from within Microsoft Edge.

Turn on Cortana

  • Before you can use Cortana in Microsoft Edge you need to turn it on in System Settings.
  • Click the Windows button in the bottom left-hand corner OR press the Windows logo key on your keyboard
  • Start typing ‘Cortana’ to search
  • Select ‘Cortana & Search settings’
cortana1
  • Use the slider to turn Cortana on
cortana2

 

Once Cortana has been turned in, you can now ‘Ask Cortana’ questions directly from your we pages as you are browsing.

Ask Cortana when browsing the web

For example, I was looking at the BBC News website this morning and I was reading an article on the Falkland Islands. I was curious as to where the Falkland Islands were located so I utilised Cortana within my Edge browser.

  • Highlight the word you would like to search
  • Right-click and select ‘Ask Cortana’
cortana3

Cortana will load information related to your search in a pane on the left-hand side of the screen.

NOTE: You must ensure you turn Cortana on within settings in order for ‘Ask Cortana’ to show in the menu when you right-click.

 

 

 

 

 


8 Useful Tips in Microsoft Word 2013

8 Useful Tips in Word 2013

Tip 1: Recover Unsaved Documents

Hands up if this applies to you. You’ve spent hours working on an awesome document, typing and formatting like a mad thing, switching from one window to the next when suddenly….ahh! You’ve accidently closed the document you were working on without saving. *Cue lots of colourful language and crying*. Fortunately, Word 2013 allows you to recover your unsaved documents.

  • Click File to go to the backstage area
  • Click Info
  • Click the Manage Versions drop-down arrow
  • Click Recover Unsaved Documents
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  • Select your document and click Open

A yellow warning message will display across the top of the document.

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  • Click Save As
  • Save your document as normal

Tip 2: Edit a PDF in Word 2013

If there is one thing sure to infuriate me, it’s receiving a form or document that I need to complete in PDF format! For years, PDF was the ‘go to’ file format if you wanted to prevent others from editing your document. Well not anymore! In Word 2013, you can easily edit and make changes to a PDF document. You can almost hear the sound of Microsoft users everywhere rejoicing!

  • Click the File menu to go to the backstage area
  • Click the Open tab
  • Navigate to the correct folder and select the PDF file
  • Click Open

A dialogue box will appear informing you that your PDF file will be converted to an editable Word Document. It is worth noting that if your document contains a lot of images or graphics it might not look exactly like the original PDF and may need some ‘tweaking’.

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  • Click OK

Tip 3: Preserve your eyeballs and switch to Read Mode

Read Mode is a great option to use if you find yourself spending time reading or checking long documents. Also, if you are like me and find it easier to read text on a darker background, you can switch the background colour and give your eyeballs a well needed break from black on stark white. All of the document review options you know, love and need are still available in Read Mode.

  • Click the View tab
  • Click Read Mode
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The document layout will change to an easy-to-read, two page per screen format.

  • Click the grey arrow to move to the next two pages
  • To maximise the ‘real estate’ on the page, you can hide the toolbar by clicking the ‘Auto-hide reading toolbar’ button in the top-right corner
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To change the background colour of the page

  • Click View
  • Select Page Colour from the menu
  • Select Sepia or Inverse
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Tip 4: Replying to comments

Collaborate smarter on documents by utilising Word’s reply to comment feature. This is an inline option that enables you to directly reply to any comments added by colleagues ensuring a smoother workflow.

  • Ensure that you have comments showing
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  • Right-click on the comment icon within the comment
  • Select Reply to Comment from the menu
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  • Add your reply comments. These will appear slightly indented underneath the original comment and will display under your name.
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  • Click on any colleagues name in the comments section to directly IM, Call, Video Chat or Email without leaving Word.
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Tip 5: Permanently delete cropped areas of a picture 

This was something that I didn’t discover until recently. Did you know that if you crop a picture in Word and then send that document to a colleague, they can see the full, uncropped picture and restore it to the original? Imagine the embarrassment of cropping out a company logo or sensitive information only for it to re-appear again with a simple click of the Crop button by a ‘Word savvy’ colleague. Don’t be an amateur, ensure you permanently delete all cropped areas before sending.

  • Select a picture in your document
  • Click the Picture Tools contextual ribbon
  • Click the Format tab
  • Click Crop
  • Select Crop from the drop-down menu
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  • Drag the handles to select only the part of the picture you would like to retain
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  • Click Crop again

Once the picture has been cropped ensure that you permanently remove the cropped section so that it cannot be restored by a colleague.

  • Select the picture
  • Click Compress Pictures
  • Place a tick in the ‘Delete cropped areas of picture’ tickbox
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  • Click OK

Tip 6: Touch/Mouse Mode

In an increasingly mobile world it is becoming extremely important to be able to access and work on documents and files ‘on the go’. Mobile devices play a huge role in this with more and more people working from Smartphones and tablets. The new Touch/Mouse Mode in Word (available across all Office applications) optimises the spacing between commands for use with a mouse or a touchscreen. Yes, Microsoft have developed a solution to ‘fat finger’ syndrome. Hoorah!

  • Select the Touch/Mouse Mode icon on the Quick Access Toolbar
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  • Select Touch
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Tip 7: Border Painter Tool

This new feature in Word 2013 enables you to fully control your border style and placement in a table. Go crazy with your painting and decorating and really make those tables stand out!

First, setup the colour, weight and line style for the border

  • Select the table
  • Click the Design tab under the Table Tools contextual ribbon
  • Set the desired Border Style, Pen Colour, Line Weight
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  • Click Border Painter. The curser will change to a paintbrush
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  • Paint over a border of the table to apply the new style
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Tip 8: Adding online video

Have you found a really awesome video on YouTube or Bing that you would love to be able to insert into your Word document to really make it come alive? Utilise Word 2013’s Online Video feature to search and add any video into your document.

  • Click the Insert tab
  • Click Online Video
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  • Select Bing Video Search, YouTube video search or paste the video embed code directly.
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  • Select a video
  • Click Insert
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The video will be inserted into your document.

  • Click the Play button

You can also share the link to the video on social media from within the Word document.

  • Click the Share icon
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  • Select a social media service to share the link on.
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