Tune and optimize performance of your Office 365 connection

We are pleased to announce new resources to help Office 365 customers receive optimal performance when connecting to Office 365. As a software as a service (SaaS) offering, Office 365 has a number of layers between the servers that Microsoft manages and the end user.

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Microsoft runs Office 365 in datacenters around the world; these datacenters are connected by a network to over 1,500 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) at over 50 network peering points on the Internet. This network is one of the three largest networks in the world and provides a substantial benefit to Office 365 customers. Between the Microsoft infrastructure and end users there is the public Internet, the customer on-premises network and Internet connection, and important client application configuration steps. The two new content areas we have focused on are:

  1. Capacity and other planning for network connectivity to Office 365.
  2. Tuning and troubleshooting performance issues connecting to Office 365.

We have a new Network Planning and Performance Tuning landing page on TechNet. It includes new content on troubleshooting performance issues due to SharePoint Online page customization. It also has a new Internet bandwidth capacity planning tool for SharePoint Online.

We have published a new course on Office 365 Performance Management  at the Microsoft Virtual Academy, which contains 11 modules across planning and troubleshooting areas including:

  1. Office 365 Performance Management Course Introduction
  2. Office 365 Datacenters and Network
  3. Planning for Office 365 Internet Capacity – Exchange Online
  4. Planning for Office 365 Internet Capacity – Lync Online
  5. Planning for Office 365 Internet Capacity – SharePoint Online
  6. The Baselining Model for Internet Capacity Planning
  7. Best Practices & Real Customer Projects Planning Internet Capacity
  8. Planning for Office 365 Firewalls Whitelisting
  9. Performance Troubleshooting Process and Tools Used
  10. Performance Troubleshooting Tests
  11. Troubleshooting SharePoint Online Customizations

We have specific Office 365 engineering teams who focus on performance improvements and this is improving performance for all users. The Microsoft Global Network Services team is working to improve network peering with more ISPs and does continued work to manage and improve the global network between datacenters and ISPs.

 

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Introducing built-in mobile device management for Office 365

As more and more businesses adopt a bring your own device (BYOD) approach to phones and tablets, keeping corporate data secure on mobile devices is becoming a top challenge. As part of our commitment to making Office 365 the business productivity service suite with the most advanced security and compliance capabilities, we’re excited to announce new mobile device management (MDM) features built in to Office 365 that will help you meet this challenge.

These new MDM capabilities, set to roll out in the first quarter of 2015, will help you manage access to Office 365 data across a diverse range of phones and tablets, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, so you can:

  • Help secure and manage corporate resources—Apply security policies on devices that connect to Office 365 to ensure that Office 365 corporate email and documents are synchronized only on phones and tablets that are managed by your company.
  • Apply mobile device settings—Set and manage security policies such as device level pin lock and jailbreak detection on devices to help prevent unauthorized users from accessing corporate email and data when a device is lost or stolen.
  • Perform a selective wipe of Office 365 data—Remove Office 365 corporate data from a device when an employee leaves your organization, while leaving their personal data, photos and apps intact.
  • Preserve Office 365 productivity experience—Unlike third-party MDM solutions that have replaced productivity apps with restrictive all-in-one apps for corporate email, calendars and documents, MDM for Office 365 is built directly into the productivity apps your employees know and love. You can set access policies to help secure company data while keeping employees productive.
  • Manage policies with ease—Administer mobile device policies directly from within the Office 365 administration portal, through an easy to use interface with wizard-based set up. View reports on which devices are connected to Office 365 and identify devices that have been blocked due to non-compliance.

These capabilities will be included with all Office 365 commercial subscriptions, including Business, Enterprise, EDU and Government plans.

Advanced mobile device and application management with Microsoft Intune

These MDM capabilities built in to Office 365 are powered by Microsoft Intune, our comprehensive device management and app management solution for phones, tablets and PCs.  Organizations that need protection beyond what’s included in Office 365 can subscribe to Intune and get additional device and app management capabilities, including:

  • Mobile application management—Enable your workforce to securely access corporate information using Office mobile apps while protecting your company’s data by restricting actions such as copy/cut/paste/save in your managed app ecosystem. Intune also extends these capabilities to existing line-of-business apps with the Intune app wrapper and enables secure viewing of content using the Managed Browser, PDF Viewer, AV Player and Image Viewer apps.
  • Manage devices from the cloud, or integrate with existing System Center Configuration Manager on-premises—Intune can manage devices from the cloud, with no infrastructure required, or Intune can be connected to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to manage all of your devices including PCs, Macs, Unix/Linux Servers and mobile devices from a single management console.
  • Comprehensive mobile device management—Deploy certificates, Wi-Fi, VPN and email profiles automatically once a device is enrolled, enabling users to access corporate resources with the appropriate security configurations. You also have the ability to bulk enroll corporate devices to set policies and deploy applications on a large scale and can provide your users with a self-service Company Portal where they can enroll their own devices and install corporate apps.

The built-in MDM for Office 365 service we announced today, the advanced protection available with Microsoft Intune, or a combination of the two may be right for your organization depending on your needs.

Mobile computing is changing the world we live in. Microsoft is committed to delivering the best and most secure mobile productivity experiences on the planet. This includes creating great Office experiences across today’s mobile platforms and providing you with the tools to help keep your corporate data and apps secure.

For a deeper look into MDM for Office 365, watch this week’s Garage Series hosted by Jeremy Chapman:

— Zohaib Haider Ali

 

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Office 365 news round-up

Humans have always longed to know the future, to see what lies ahead and just out of sight. In ancient days, we consulted oracles or shamans. Today, we may seek the advice of futurists, who analyze current patterns and trends to predict future events. At Microsoft, however, we agree with legendary management consultant Peter Drucker, who said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

That’s exactly what we’re doing with Office 365 and our other cloud services—creating the future—and we recently offered our customers two new opportunities to lend a hand.

First, we expanded the Office for Android tablet preview that we initially introduced in November. Now anyone can go to Google Play to download the Word, Excel and PowerPoint preview apps and then provide feedback that will help us deliver a world-class Office experience on a range of different Android tablets when we launch the official apps. Second, we broadened our preview program for Sway, the intelligent app that can help you organize, format and share your content in more expressive and interactive ways. Although we initially released Sway for iPhone in New Zealand only, we have since made it available to customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Australia and many other countries where English is an official language.

We’ve also continued to improve Office in a number of ways. For example, the big news of the week coincides with recent announcements for Windows 10 and how Office has been redesigned for touch on Windows tablets and phones.

You can now save your Outlook.com email attachments to OneDrive with one click and send email directly from your Access 2013 apps. We’re also using IP throttling in Office 365 to reduce spam. In addition, we’ve introduced several new improvements to make Office Online even more accessible to people with disabilities.

And that’s not all. Our recent acquisition of Equivio will enable us to bring the power of machine learning to Office 365, strengthening its eDiscovery capabilities for customers who face the significant legal and compliance challenges that come with managing enormous amounts of data every day. We’re also transforming education technology by integrating Moodle and Office 365 to provide a more productive experience for teachers and students.

At Microsoft, we’re always looking ahead and working toward a brighter future for the millions of businesses and individual users worldwide to rely on Office 365 and our other products.

Below is a round-up of some key news items from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Korvac Holdings migrates to Office 365 for improved employee collaboration—Discover how Singapore-based Korvac migrated to Office 365 to improve employee collaboration.

Maryland and Microsoft partnership provides free Office 365 for students—Learn how Maryland became the first state school system to receive free Office 365 and IT Academy Programs from Microsoft.

Rail solutions provider gets everyone on board quickly—Discover how Wabtec Corporation saved money and increased efficiency with Office 365.

Building a digital workplace with Office 365—Learn how Office 365 is transforming the way people work and businesses operate.

Electrosteel leverages Microsoft Cloud to halve IT costs—Find out how Electrosteel Limited of India cut IT costs in half by adopting Office 365.

Stanford University moves to Office 365 and Exchange—Discover why Stanford University chose Office 365.

Share and collaborate in the Enterprise with Office 365 Delve—Find out more about Office Delve and how organizations are making it work for them.

Introducing Skype document chat in Office Online

The Office Online real-time co-authoring feature makes it easy for you to work together with others on a document from your browser. Whether you are putting the final touches on a contract with your business partner or collaborating on an essay for a school project, Office Online lets you work seamlessly with others no matter where they are.

Today we are happy to announce upcoming improvements to the Office Online co-authoring experience:

  • Document chat is available when collaborating with others in real-time in Word and PowerPoint. Simply click the Chat button to begin chatting with everyone working in the document.
  • Continue to chat with those same people after leaving the document via Skype on your desktop or phone. Know when your team is working on the document and chime in.

Introducing Skype document chat in Office Online 2

 

 

Introducing Skype document chat in Office Online 1 v2

 

We’ll begin rolling this out over the coming weeks at www.office.com!

Garage Series: Bringing Data Loss Prevention to SharePoint and first look at new Office 365 Message Encryption Viewers for iOS and Android

On this week’s show we invite back Asaf Kashi, a lead engineer on the information protection team. We introduce the information protection updates coming to Office 365 and demonstrate the upcoming Data Loss Prevention capabilities in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, the upcoming Office 365 compliance center, one-time passcodes for viewing encrypted email and the just-released Office 365 Message Encryption Viewers for iOS and Android. 

Last time we invited Asaf Kashi on the show was in May this year where we presented updates to information security and protection. At the time Asaf shared that Data Loss Prevention (DLP) was coming to SharePoint and OneDrive for Business and today we actually go deeper to take a first look and show DLP in action – both the user and admin experiences. This capability will allow you to define policies in one place in the forthcoming Compliance Center where you will be able to control Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, so you only need to author compliance rules in one place and those will apply across the services. Asaf and his team are in the process of building DLP for SharePoint now, so we give you a sneak peek of what’s coming soon.

Beyond DLP though, we’ve recently added new ways to view encrypted Office 365 email. In October, we announced one-time passcodes for Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) protected emails. That means recipients of your encrypted Office 365 emails do not need to have an Office 365 or Microsoft account to securely view email from their browser. Instead they receive a time-limited passcode to securely view messages. We also recently implemented a 12-hour window for one-time passcodes; so if you receive multiple OME messages daily, you don’t need to keep entering the passcode if you’re within the 12-hour window.

Today, we have new Office 365 Message Encryption Viewer apps for iOS and Android. These apps enable secure, encrypted email communication to these platforms.  At 11:40 into the show, I demonstrate the experience of receiving an email using in my case Yahoo Mail – but it could be any email service – and viewing an encrypted message via the Office 365 Message Encryption Viewer for Android. You can find out more or download the apps today:

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Experience in Office 365 Message Encryption Viewer for iPhone

Be sure to check out the show to see everything in action. This will be the last Garage Series of 2014 and next year we’ll be back with more inside information for Office 365 tech enthusiasts.

Office 365 now available from datacenters in Japan

In October, we announced the availability of Microsoft Azure from Australia.  Then we showcased new productivity experiences for the iPhone, iPad and Android tablets.  Last month I shared our plans to move forward with delivering locally hosted versions of our cloud productivity suite, Office 365, and our cloud business application, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, from Japan.  Today, I’m excited to announce that Office 365, from Japan, is generally available.

Offering Office 365 services from local datacenters helps customers in sectors such as financial services, healthcare and central and local government better comply with regulations that require data to be kept in Japan.  Of course it also delivers the ubiquitous collaboration, personalized insight and people-centric compliance that customers have come to expect from Office 365.

As a result, customers such as, Kameda Medical Center, Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and local governments including, Toshima-ku and Satsumasendai City, have signed up to use Office 365—getting all the benefits of the world’s leading productivity suite—while storing their data in Japan to address data sovereignty concerns and providing improved reliability.  Our existing Japanese Office 365 customers will have their data moved from Asia-Pacific (APAC) to Japan so they can enjoy these benefits, more information can be found here.

Extended email retention for deleted items in Office 365

If you are an Office 365 administrator, this means we’ll be updating the Default MRM Policy for everyone using Exchange Online over the next month. As an administrator, you also have control over this behavior. If you want to keep the 30-day policy or set a custom retention period, that can be done as well and you don’t even need to wait for the change. Also, if you have already created a custom MRM policy, (as long as it has a name other than “Default MRM Policy”), you don’t need to do anything and the change will not impact you.

Create a custom retention policy

You can either edit the name of the Default MRM Policy or create a new policy to opt out of this change. To change the policy name in Office 365 navigate to Office 365 Admin > Exchange admin center > compliance management > retention policies. Next, select Default MRM Policy, click the edit icon and then change the name of the policy.

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Exchange admin center for compliance management and retention policies.

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Editing experience for retention policies.

PIN lock and other updates to Outlook for iOS and Android

IT controls

While our first release focused on bringing a great end-user experience to market, we are also well underway building the IT controls that our business customers require.

PIN lock

Outlook now implements password enforcement using Exchange ActiveSync. If your company email policy requires that devices have a password in order to sync mail, Outlook will enforce this at the device level. How this works on iOS and Android devices varies slightly, based on the available controls provided by Apple and Google.

On iOS devices, Outlook will check to make sure a passcode is properly set. In the event a passcode is not set, it will prompt users to set one up in iOS settings. Until the passcode is setup, the user will be unable to access Outlook.

Outlook for iOS only runs on iOS 8.0 or later. These devices are shipped with built-in encryption, which Outlook uses once the passcode is enabled to encrypt all the data Outlook stores locally on the device. Therefore, iOS devices will be encrypted whether the Office 365 or Exchange policy requires this or not.

iOS passcode

Outlook for iOS enforces simple passcode. Encryption is enabled by default.

On Android devices, Outlook will enforce screen lock rules. Further, Google provides controls that allow Outlook to honor additional Office 365 and Exchange policies regarding password length and complexity requirements and the number of allowable screen-unlock attempts before wiping the phone. It will also encourage storage encryption if it is not enabled. Outlook will guide users through this process with a step-by-step walkthrough.

Devices that do not support these security settings will not be able to connect to an account.

Android setup device mangement

Outlook for Android enforces passwords including length and complexity requirements, storage encryption and will monitor screen-unlock attempts to prevent un-authorized access.

Quicker remote wipe execution

We’ve also made improvements to how quickly admin-led remote wipes are executed—they now happen within seconds. As before, this is an app-level wipe, not a device wipe. The Outlook app will reset and Outlook email, calendar, contacts and files data will be removed from the device, as well as from Outlook’s cloud components. The wipe will not affect any of the user’s personal apps and information.

User-focused features

We’ve also delivered on several of the top feature requests we’ve received in the past two weeks.

IMAP support

Outlook now supports the ability to sync mail from email providers that support IMAP, like AOL.com and Comcast.net. We use IDLE whenever possible, which means Outlook can provide push-like behavior even with IMAP accounts. If the IMAP server doesn’t support IDLE, Outlook will sync every few minutes.

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Outlook now connects to email services that support IMAP.

Toggle conversation view for iOS

By default, Outlook organizes your email into conversations, where all messages with the same subject line are grouped together. In iOS, you can now turn this feature off if you’d prefer to see each email individually in your mailbox. Just go to Settings > Organize Mail by Thread and adjust the toggle to match your desired preference.

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Use ‘Organize Mail by Thread’ to toggle conversation view on/off.

We expect to bring this capability to Android soon.

Customize swipe gestures on Android

Outlook’s swipe gestures make rapid email triage literally a one touch experience. You can swipe right or left to take actions like archive, delete, move, flag, mark as read/unread or schedule. Unlike other email apps, Outlook lets you personalize these swipe gestures to match your unique email habits. Customization was previously only available on iOS, and is now available on Android.

Go to Settings > Swipe Options to customize your swipe gestures.

 

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Customize your swipe gestures to match your email habits in Settings.

Change folders for swipe gestures

For the Archive and Schedule swipe gestures, you can now choose and change your default folders at any time. Previously, Outlook prompted you to choose a folder for these actions during first use. Now when your email habits change, you can adjust these by going to Settings > Choose an account > Advanced Settings > System Folders.