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.

Office 365 Partner admin mobile app now available

If you are an Office 365 partner managing your customers Office 365 tenant, hopefully you are already using the Office 365 Partner admin center portal, which gives you several tools to manage customers including, a view of all of your customers, the service health of individual customers, and the ability to manage service requests and perform administrative tasks on behalf of a customer.

Today we are extending the Partner admin center experience with a new Office 365 Partner admin mobile app, available now for Android and iOS and coming soon for Windows Phone. The Office 365 Partner admin mobile app gives partners additional flexibility to manage and administer your customers. If you have access to the main Office 365 partner admin center portal, you can sign in to the Office 365 Partner admin app using your same credentials.

Here are some of the key things you can do with the Office 365 Partner admin app:

  • Easily view, search and access customer information for which you have delegated admin privileges.

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  • View each of your customer’s current service health status.

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  • View a customer’s open service requests.

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  • View a customer’s Message Center communications for important service information.
  • Take action to manage your customer including accessing user accounts taking action like resetting user passwords.

New user experiences in Office 365 on the web

Today we are introducing a set of new user experiences in Office 365 on the web that provide quick access to notifications, help and what’s new feature introductions, contextual and immersive settings and the integration of Skype for Business conversations – all within the context of your work. These new features will be available across Office 365 web applications via a set of persistent icons in the top right of the navigation bar.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s new:

Quick access to notifications

A new notifications pane displays real-time updates on your system alerts, personal reminders and communications, including new mails and group likes. You can access the notifications pane via the persistent notification bell icon. The notification bell will display the corresponding number of available notifications.

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Updated Help pane and “What’s new” feature introductions

The new Help pane delivers quick access to help content via a search box, as well as What’s new feature introductions  related to the application you are currently working in. Features included in What’s new include links to additional information, quick actions like “create group” and in some cases a call out on the application canvas about the new feature being introduced. The help pane question mark icon will show a snowflake alert to call attention to new features in a non-intrusive way.

The Help pane will also include an organization support card for admins to set the support contact information for their organization including email, phone number and website. The organization support card, once enabled from the company profile tab of the admin portal, appears at the bottom of the Help pane for all users within your organization.

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Integration of Skype for Business conversations

Conversations and real-time access to colleagues across locations, time zones, or even just down the hall have become commonplace for many of us. You will now have the option to start an instant message, voice and/ or video conversation with one or several of your colleagues right from the productivity of your inbox, OneDrive for Business or calendar application. Conversations will provide you with real time, direct access to the information you need directly from your colleagues and persist across applications.


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Contextual and immersive settings

Finally, a new Settings pane provides direct access to contextual settings for the application you are working in, and quick access to the full Office 365 settings experience. In this way, you can personalize and customize your work environment without having to leave what you’re working on. Quick updates to your notifications settings, your password or your automatic replies are only a few clicks away.

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These new features deliver a more consistent, personalized, and productive experience within Office 365 on the web—enabling you and your team to achieve more with the Office 365 web experience.

Announcing first network partners to offer ExpressRoute for Office 365

A key part of delivering ExpressRoute for Office 365 are the network partners that provide connectivity between Office 365 services and your on-premises network. Network Service Providers manage and extend the customer’s WAN, routing it for direct connectivity to Office 365 and Azure services. Exchange Providers offer connectivity at the carrier neutral facilities where ExpressRoute is available. You can have a layer 3 connection directly at the carrier neutral facilities into your network equipment or contract another network company to provide a link to your premises.

Today, we are pleased to announce the launch partners that will first offer this service, starting this summer.

  • AT&T will offer ExpressRoute for Office 365 as a Network Service Provider via AT&T NetBond at Microsoft Office 365 locations including Dallas, Silicon Valley and Washington DC.
  • BT will offer ExpressRoute for Office 365 as a Network Service Provider at all of their available global locations including Amsterdam and London.
  • Equinix will offer ExpressRoute for Office 365 as an Exchange Provider at all of their available ExpressRoute locations including Amsterdam, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Washington DC.

Updated portal and new languages for Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms portal improvements

We are introducing significant improvements to the Forms portal page. With the new design, users will see a snapshot of each form, which includes the form title, background image and number of responses. The new search box, on the upper right corner, will help users quickly find a form either by its title or owner’s name.

Image shows an updated Forms portal page, displaying snapshots of each form and the new search box.

Updated Forms portal page.

Image shows a Forms portal page with the search results for forms with “quiz” in the title.

Search in Forms portal page.

More languages and right-to-left reading support

With this update, we’re introducing 26 new languages to Forms—bringing the total to 68 languages. We are also enabling RTL (right-to-left) reading support for Hebrew and Arabic users, so users can create and respond to forms, as well as view forms results.

Image shows a form using right-to-left reading support.

An early look at Cortana integration with Office 365

Office 365 is about helping you be more productive so you can make the most of every moment. We believe the future of productivity involves technology that is truly personal and can work on your behalf. This belief is a driving force behind Microsoft’s personal digital assistant Cortana, which is coming to PCs and tablets, with Windows 10. Cortana learns your preferences to provide relevant recommendations, fast access to information, and important notifications. Cortana in Windows 10 can help you at home, at work and on the go.

We’re pleased to announce the ability to integrate Cortana in Windows 10 with Office 365 for businesses, available in the latest Windows Insiders preview build. Cortana in Windows 10 will be now able to connect to Office 365 to help you accomplish more at work. You can preview this initial integration between Cortana and Office 365 starting today if your company is opted into First Release for Office 365, and you are enrolled in the Windows Insider Program and running Windows 10 preview bits.

Today, Cortana is already great at letting you quickly see what your day is going to look like, see when and where you first meeting is, get a sense of travel times to work, or even get updates for upcoming trips from your calendar.

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Quickly glance at your day, know what’s next and take action.

Cortana gets even better when connected to Office 365. For instance, at work many of us spend significant time and energy on meetings. By integrating with Office 365, Cortana can proactively help you prepare for an upcoming meeting. Cortana brings you helpful information about the people you’re meeting with, recent documents they’ve worked on, and reminders about when and where you need to be next so you won’t be late.

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Be better prepared for meetings with rich insights. See when and where you need to be next.

People are the heart of the workplace. Everything we do, whether it’s sending an email or preparing a presentation, all comes back to the people we work with and having a great relationship with them. Through Office 365, Cortana can pull together insights to help you be more connected—like how you and your colleagues are connected to each other, documents you share and your upcoming meetings with them. Cortana will even deliver reminders when that important person contacts you.

If you’re enrolled in the Windows Insider Program, running the Windows 10 preview bits, and have an Office 365 account at work, you can connect Cortana with Office 365 starting today. In addition, Office 365 admins can opt-out of Cortana connectivity in the Office 365 Admin portal.

Office 365 users gain one-click access to third-party apps

This week, we’ve started deploying an Office 365 Store to make third-party solutions manageable in the same way, where external web applications can be launched with a single click—all within the Office 365 experience and with no admin configuration or additional sign in steps.

Rolling out to Office 365 customers in the First Release program, the Office 365 Store is accessible through an icon in the app launcher “waffle” in the top navigation bar (see below).

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Clicking the icon takes you to a special version of the Office 365 Store, in which applications registered at the tenant level of Office 365 appears at the top the page (see below).

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You can add these third-party solutions to your My Apps page with three clicks, which includes granting the app access to specified Office 365 data. Once loaded into My Apps, solutions can then be “promoted” to the app launcher simply by clicking the ellipsis next to the target app tile and “pinning” the app to the launcher. From there, you can launch any of these apps with no further sign in—existing Office 365 credentials do the job! You can also unpin or even remove apps you no longer need.

Initially we’re working with a select list of pioneering partners for the apps in the Office 365 Store, but over time we plan to add hundreds of popular third-party solutions as Single Sign On apps to the Office 365 Store.

Improved communications and tools help you stay better informed during service incidents

As an Office 365 admin, you play an important role in delivering the best possible productivity for your users and organization. We share in this mission and remain committed to providing you a reliable service and transparency into our operations. Office 365 is designed with service continuity at the very center and we stand by this commitment through our financially backed guarantee of at least 99.9 percent uptime.

Reducing the frequency and impact of service incidents remains an important part of our continuous improvements. We do not take lightly the imperative we have to earn your trust through reliability. This is why we invest in resiliency and redundancy at every layer of Office 365 and design with the core principle of ensuring a highly available service.

As with any cloud service—and despite all our efforts—incidents can and do occur that may impact your experience. We realize that in these critical moments, it’s how we respond that makes all the difference for you and your organization.

We’ve heard your feedback that receiving actionable communications that are timely, targeted and accurate during service incidents is essential. Based on this feedback, we made a number of improvements and today we’d like to share this progress and announce the availability of two new capabilities: push notifications and programmatic access to Office 365 service incident communications.

 Receive service incident alerts the way you want

Your first and best resource for staying informed in the event of an Office 365 service incident is the Service Health Dashboard. Signing into the Office 365 admin center provides you a personalized, detailed and up-to-date view into the availability of the Office 365 services you have subscribed.

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If there is an incident that impacts your service experience, the Service Health Dashboard is our primary communication channel to keep you current with what is happening and the steps we are taking to rapidly recover. After an incident, this is where you can review root cause details and access a 30-day history of past events.

We’ve heard your feedback that the information we provide needs to be actionable. What follows is an update on how we’ve made improvements to better support you with the transparency and detail to understand the incident and how to best mitigate the impact for your users.

First, we constantly strive to reduce the amount of time it takes to identify and then notify you about an incident affecting your Office 365 tenant. Through investments in new processes, which include advanced machine learning, anomaly detection and automation, we have already reduced the time to your first alert by 60 percent in many cases. We remain committed to reducing this even further.

You also told us that more frequent status updates and faster post-incident analysis is vital for you to keep your organization informed. To support you better through these events, we added new details—such as the expected user experience, potential workarounds, estimated time to restoration and initial root cause analysis—to the regular updates posted to your Service Health Dashboard for a particular incident. This provides you greater context around the scope of the issue and helps you mitigate the impact on your users while we rapidly restore your service.

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We have an improved experience for your users through the introduction of new intelligent error messages. Today, Office 365 can inform your users if their access to SharePoint Online may be interrupted due to an ongoing service incident. The goal is to reduce the need for your users to call your help desk. Other Office 365 workloads will be supported in the coming months.

Similarly, Office 365 can alert you if there is an active service incident affecting your tenant at the time you are initiating a new service request.

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We’re also focused on providing you proactive notification if Office 365 detects an issue that could cause a future service incident. For example, alerting you that some of your users are connecting to Office 365 with an older version of Outlook that may result in reliability issues.

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Stay informed with new push notification options 

Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of new service incident push notifications with the Office 365 Admin app for Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices for first release customers with the worldwide release to follow.

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Now, when you are on the go and away from the Office 365 admin center, you can be alerted immediately if there is a service incident affecting your users and you’re one tap away from access to important details on any actions you can take to mitigate impact. And, you can stay current on the latest service health status from the same app.

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If you already have the Office 365 Admin app, this capability is available today.  All you need to do is configure your notifications.

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Not already using the app? You can download it from the following stores:

  • For Windows Phone 8.1, download the app from the Windows Phone Store.
  • For iOS 7+, download the app from the Apple App Store.
  • For Android 4.0+, download the app from Google Play.

We will continue to enhance and expand your options in future updates to the Office 365 Admin app. This includes adding more modalities for alerts—like SMS and email—and more customizable notifications.

Integrate directly with your applications using the Office 365 Service Communications API

We are also excited to announce the availability of a public preview of the Office 365 Service Communications API. The Service Communications API offers you programmatic access to Office 365 service incident communications. With this API, you now have the ability to surface critical Office 365 service communications directly within your existing help desk tools and service management solutions and simplify how you monitor across service health across your environment. The API gives you the flexibility to monitor real-time Office 365 service health status, as well as access historical details.

Several leading providers of service monitoring and management solutions have already started to integrate this new API into their own offerings, including BetterCloud, ENow, Cogmotive and Exoprise. For an example of how the API is enhancing partner solutions, check out this video from our partner Exoprise.

To get started with the new Office 365 Service Communications API, visit MSDN where you can access sample code to start building your solutions.