Though I haven't written a new post in a while, I have been busy with various projects, here are some of the things I have been up to. I'll be talking about the Microsoft Tech Community, Office 365 Ninjas and the TechNet Wiki.
In this new series I discuss the latest in Enterprise Mobility and the news you can't afford to miss.
The Microsoft Ignite conference was epic, so many announcements, demos, roadmaps. I wish I could have been there, maybe next year. Windows Server 2016 and Azure Information Protection reached general availability. The new Microsoft Tech Community is going from strength to strength.
Microsoft held their huge conference in Atlanta September 26-30. It had everything, something for everyone really. Office 365, Infrastructure, IoT, Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility and a lot more.
Most of the sessions are now available on-demand. Head straight to the Microsoft Ignite YouTube channel. On the official web site, you can explore sessions by topic or product. Here are the top three watched presentations as of writing.
If you are after the PowerPoint slides from the Microsoft Ignite sessions, I'll tell you where you can find them later.
Innovation Keynote with Satya Nadella
MVP HubTalk Stephen Owen - Intro to PowerShell
Reinvent IT infrastructure for business agility
The Innovation Keynote with Satya Nadella was really interesting. I really like what Satya is doing with Microsoft. While I wont say its unrecognizable from even a few years back, Microsoft have really embraced change and innovating, whatever the underlying platform is. iOS, Linux, Docker, Raspberry Pi, Microsoft are doing great things with these systems.
Here is my somewhat random top moments from Microsoft Ignite. It's hardly complete but captures some of the moments that stood out for me. It was more an opportunity to use the 'journal' feature in Docs.com on my account. I quickly hit the 10 Twitter embed limit incidentally.
Windows Server 2016 was released at Microsoft Ignite. To begin with only the trial media was available. Now you can download the full Windows Server 2016 ISO's from MSDN and the Volume Licensing Service Center.
Windows Server 2016 is a gamer-changer. Inspired by Microsoft Azure, it brings the best of the next gen features - Windows Server containers, Docker support, just enough OS, just enough administration, software defined storage & networking and lots more.
I have already talked about Nano Server in a separate post. It eliminates all of the graphical interface, leaving a lean and agile platform. With an install footprint of around 500 MB from what I gather, means it's more secure, needing less patches,with less reboots.
Here is a collection of Windows Server 2016 resources I have put together on Docs.com:
Azure Information Protection is now available. Based on Microsoft's purchase of Secure Islands and fused with Azure Rights Management, this new offering comes in two plans. You can compare Azure Information Protection Premium P1 vs the P2 plan here.
The mean differences between the two plans are:
Azure Information Protection Premium P2 will add advanced capabilities like automatic classification of data, on top of the manual classification, labeling and everything else included in P1.
If you have previously signed up to the the Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) bundle, you now have the Azure Information Protection Premium P1 plan. Since EMS itself is now split across two plans, you can upgrade to Enterprise Mobility + Security E5. This comes with Azure Information Protection Premium P2 amongst other things.
Azure Information Protection adds easy to use labeling which applies a classification. The classification can enforce various controls including protection via Azure RMS.
Really good documentation is available on Microsoft's new docs.microsoft.com platform.
The Microsoft Tech Community is coming along nicely. After closing the popular Yammer based Office 365 Network there were some concerns. Microsoft expanded the scope to include other services like Azure and the Microsoft Tech Community was born.
I post on the Microsoft Tech Community, when I come across something good and if I can help with any questions or requests for feedback. If you haven't joined yet, it is really is worth it. Here is the getting started guide.
If you are after any Microsoft Ignite PowerPoint slides, you can fine them in a dedicated space in the Microsoft Tech Community.
There are groups related to Enterprise Mobility. You will find them burred under the Azure heading. This includes Microsoft Intune, Azure Information Protection and System Center Configuration Manager. Microsoft has more work to to get these up and running, as most have little engagement.
Here is some other assorted news, as you can see I am being quite liberal with what I consider to be Enterprise Mobility:
Update 1609 for Configuration Manager Technical Preview was released. It includes Windows 10 Upgrade Analytics, Office 365 Client Management Dashboard and can Deploy Office 365 apps to clients amongst other things.
Secure Productive Enterprise was released on the 1st October. This offering includes Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS).
The Intune device limit was increased from managing 5 devices to 15 devices. This is a big deal, it was a common complaint that 5 was simply not enough. There is a great new resource for admins deploying or maintaining Office 365 ProPlus. The Preferred Practices guide for Office 365 ProPlus deployment is highly recommended.
One of the big stories from Microsoft Ignite was that Docker Engine is being included with all Windows Server 2016 deployments. Docker answered the top 5 questions from Microsoft Ignite. If you are still getting your head around containers and such, it’s a must read.
That's the first installment of this new series, please check me out on Twitter if you get a chance @CianAllner. Thanks for reading.
Learn how to manage Office 365 ProPlus, with tips, guidance and best practices. Office 365 ProPlus Channels offer a multitude of options to keep Office 2016 updated with the latest features.
I’ll show you how these Office 365 ProPlus channels work, what to look out for and hopefully get you on the right track. This is an ongoing series on Office 365 Change Management.
If you haven't already checked out my first Office 365 Change Management post, it's worth reading. I cover all the different resources you will need to stay informed and ahead of the rapid releases in Office 365.
Microsoft is aware that the pace of change in Office 365 presents some difficulties for organisations. If every month a new version of Office 2016 has new features, how are users meant to cope?
How about application compatibility, how do you know if a new release won’t break one of your critical business applications?
To mitigate these sorts of issues, Microsoft has separated security updates as well as bug fixes from feature updates. This makes it possible to control when users receive new features while still keeping Office fully patched with security updates.
How does Microsoft do this? Office 365 ProPlus Channels! With Office 2016 channels, administrators can choose how rapidly users receive new features and an opportunity to test new releases several months in advance.
There are five channels which vary predominately based on how frequently each release receives new features.
Every four months
Every four months
FR for Deferred Channel
Every four months
FR for Current Channel - Office Insider Slow
FR for Current Channel - Office Insider Fast
So how do you make use of Office 365 ProPlus channels in your organisation? If you have lots of applications that integrate with Office, including add-ins, or macros, you probably want to minimise the amount of application testing. If you use the Current Channel, this means testing your applications every month to make sure new or changed Office features haven’t broken your apps.
What would make sense is to use the Deferred Channel. Now you only have to test your applications a few times a year. This is because the Deferred Channel only includes new features every four months. What’s even better, you can test applications, prepare users for new features in advance by using the First Release for Deferred Channel.
The First Release for Deferred Channel, starts four months before it’s declared the next Deferred Channel. It’s your opportunity to start testing early with pilot users and application compatibility testers. Giving them a chance to try out new features with the upcoming Deferred Channel. During this time any issues that are spotted can hopefully be resolved or flagged appropriately.
Let’s uses fictitious dates to illustrate the lifespan of a Deferred Channel. A First Release for Deferred Channel is released in October, every month it receives security updates and non-security updates but not any new features.
After four months in February, this becomes the Deferred Channel, no new features are added but it receives monthly security updates and non-security updates.
At the end of four months, you jump to the next Deferred Channel or in this case carry on with the original Deferred Channel. By September this channel is no longer supported and must be upgraded to a newer Deferred Channel.
A Deferred Channel release is supported for eight months but that's twelve months in total, as it starts as First Release for Deferred Channel.There are always two Deferred Channel releases available and supported
This article from Microsoft goes into a lot more detail:
As you may have noticed I didn’t cover every channel yet. What if you want access to new Office 365 ProPlus features at the earliest opportunity? You can certainly use the Current Channel, that's one option
You may, for example, designate several users in the organisation with the Current Channel, so they can test new features. The current channel must be updated every month to remain supported.
What if you want new Office 2016 features even sooner? There is the two First Release for Current Channels – Office Insider Slow and Office Insider Fast.
The Fast level provides even earlier builds of Office, more frequently. In fact, these builds are what Microsoft employees have access to internally. Office Insider Fast is best for Insiders who want to use the earliest preview builds to identify issues, provide feedback to help make Office great, and who don’t mind a bit of risk using unsupported builds.
With Selective First Release enabled, designated users can grab Office themselves and they will receive the Office Insider Slow channel.
To get access to Office Insider Fast takes more work in an enterprise setting. The full details are here:
This involves uninstalling any version of Office 365 ProPlus that's already installed and using the Office Deployment Tool (ODT) with a configuration like this:
You can confirm which version is installed from the Product Information section:
Office Insider Slow
Office Insider Fast
Now if you thought Office 365 ProPlus channels are a bit complicated there is yet another factor to track. In June, Microsoft announced improved versioning for the Deferred Channel:
We’re improving our updates naming to help distinguish multiple Office updates. To help distinguish between major updates and their subsequent builds, we are implementing a versioning scheme that will help simplify how we refer to all Office updates.
So ultimately this is a good thing, a better way track versions:
Each Office update will be represented by a year and month. For example, version 1605 corresponds to the May 2016 update. To distinguish builds within each version we will add a build number, for example: version 1605 (Build 6758.1000). This versioning scheme is similar to what you see with Windows 10 and the System Center Configuration Manager and should provide an easier way to distinguish the different builds.
The following page is where you stay up-to-date with channels, versions and builds:
As an example of how to use this page, let's look at version 1605. This version started as a Current Channel release in June. Then soon afterwards it became a First Release for Deferred Channel release. Finally, this version will become the next Deferred Channel on October 11, 2016. The version spans channels and multiple builds.
The other page to track is:
I have covered a lot of ground, so to finish up lets have an action plan:
Here are a few other ideas as well to improve your Office 365 ProPlus Change Management:
In this post, you will learn how to master Office 365 change management. Be better prepared for new features and changes in Office 365, with the resources I'll show you how.
Office 365 change management can be difficult at times. You probably want to be the authority on Office 365 and be able to advise peers and stakeholders. The last thing you want is new features suddenly appearing, without being ready.
Learn how Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security protects organisations in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.
What was called Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is an incredibly popular offering, highly rated with nothing quite like it in the marketplace. EMS has evolved with a name change and an expanded offering, keep reading for all the details.Continue reading
Microsoft is discontinuing Azure RemoteApp and replacing it with a Citrix solution. This changes the Desktops as a Service landscape, read on to find out all the details.
What is Azure RemoteApp? RemoteApp allows you to deploy Windows applications in the Azure cloud and access them from a range of devices. Originally known as "Mohoro", Azure RemoteApp was released in December 2014.
Microsoft has released Office 365 Secure Score, think of it as a security credit score service for Office 365. Read on to see why this matters and how you can find your own ‘secure score’.Continue reading
Putting technology to work to stay productive and ahead, these are the services I use that give me an edge. In other words, here are some really cool services I think you might want to check out!
As much as I love technology, there has to be a purpose, a reason to use a particular technology. Here I share the services that I personally use that help me stay informed, increase my audience or are just plain cool.
Featuring WordPress, Docker, Statusbrew, Inoreader and more.Continue reading
Microsoft is releasing monthly rollups for Windows 7 and 8.1. This changes how updates are applied and should be a big improvement. Read on for further details.
Microsoft announced major changes on how Windows 7 and 8.1 will be patched with software updates. This will bring them in line with Windows 10, now with cumulative monthly rollups. Rather than individual updates, all the recent updates will be packaged in a single update.
Microsoft explains this should simplify updating, make it more cohesive and improve reliability:
The new rollup model gives you fewer updates to manage, greater predictability, and higher quality updates.
Now with monthly rollups, all security and reliability updates will be released in a single update. So rather than lots of individual updates, there will be just a single update needed to patch a Windows 7.1/8.1 system with all the latest updates. Monthly rollups will be cumulative, superseding the previous month’s rollup.
Back in May Microsoft released a one of "convenience rollup", as announced here - Simplifying updates for Windows 7 and 8.1. This included all Windows 7 SP1 updates up through April 2016 and at the time this was the closest many thought we would get to Windows 7 SP2.
With the new monthly rollups, this is set to improve further. Over time Microsoft will add older patches to monthly rollups. This will make it possible eventually to fully patch Windows 7 SP1 and 8.1 RTM just with the latest monthly rollup.
Our goal is eventually to include all of the patches we have shipped in the past since the last baseline, so that the Monthly Rollup becomes fully cumulative and you need only to install the latest single rollup to be up to date.
These changes start in October 2016. There are other details worth checking out in the official announcement, including:
It's great to see Microsoft invest in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 taking