Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exchange Server 2013 SP1 Released!!!

Today is a significant day where Microsoft Exchange Team released the long awaited Service Pack 1 for Exchange Server 2013, we could call this as CU4 which is next release in series of cumulative updates for Exchange Server, but this one is vital where in it comes with more additional features and add-on unlike regular CUs.

I am not going to write more on this as we already have clear documentation available handy from our Microsoft Exchange Team on the EHLO Blog post published today on this release and also Update Rollup 5 for Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 and Update Rollup 13 for Exchange 2007 Service Pack 3 released today with some significant fixes and a EHLO blog post available for the same.

Refer the posts below

Released: Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1

Released: Update Rollup 5 for Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 and Update Rollup 13 for Exchange 2007 Service Pack 3

Get Ready to know more on Exchange Server 2013 SP1... 

Microsoft always does the good job in explaining the product or a new update when its either about to launch or post release with both documentation and also through live sessions like Teched, MEC and Ignite Events and with this being said we are going to have our MEC and Teched 2014 coming soon and now for this new Exchange Server 2013 SP1 release we have a upcoming Ignite Webcast session scheduled this week and this would be a great place to join in with Microsoft on the live event to know more on this update in first place post its release with in short period of time with live demo and Q & A between Microsoft product team and Customers like us.

Event is scheduled this Thursday February 27th 2014 9:00 AM - 10.00 AM PST , Get your calendars booked for this event and see you all guys there.

Check out the Event Details here: Future Look at Exchange Server 2013 SP1

*Take a look at the below Garage Series video to know  What’s new in Exchange Server 2013 SP1 and what it means for admins

Access here: What’s new in Exchange Server 2013 SP1 and what it means for admins

Additional bytes,

Along with the Exchange Server updates Microsoft released SP1 for Office,  Office Web Apps Server 2013 and SharePoint 2013.

Microsoft Office Web Apps Server 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1)

Office 2013 Service Pack 1 now available

Microsoft Quietly Releases SP1 for Office 2013, Exchange 2013 and SharePoint 2013

Other Significant posts on the new Exchange Server 2013 SP1

As usual once the Service Pack 1 got released our renowned MVPs started to Test this and updated their blog posts with significant information which throw additional light over the product and a good one to read from various Technical Experts though the content is same you will have a different experience once you go through all.

Check out these...

Outlook Connectivity with MAPI over HTTP - EHLO Blog post

Ask The Perf Guy: Sizing Guidance Updates For Exchange 2013 SP1 - EHLO Blog post

Data loss prevention in Exchange just got better - EHLO Blog post 

Exchange 2013 SP1 Released - Rhoderick Milne MSFT

Exchange Server 2013 SP1: What's New - Paul Robichaux

Exchange 2013 SP1 - mixture of new and completed fixtures - Tony Redmond

Exchange Server 2013 Transitions from RPC to HTTP - Tony Redmond

Exchange 2013 SP1 introduces simplified DAGs - Tony Redmond  

Exchange Server 2013 Data Loss Prevention - Tony Redmond 

EMS command logging reappears in Exchange 2013 SP1 - Tony Redmond

Exchange's interesting document fingerprinting feature - Tony Redmond

Loose Truncation in Exchange Server 2013 SP1 - Tony Redmond

What’s new in Exchange Server 2013 SP1 (CU4)? - Michael Van Horenbeeck

Exchange 2013 SP1 features that will make admins happy - Michael Van Horenbeeck

Windows Server 2012 R2 and Database Availability Groups - Scott Schnoll

Exchange 2013 Service Pack 1 - Jaapwesselius

MapiHttp in Exchange 2013 SP1 - Jaapwesselius 

Exchange 2013 SP1 SSL Offloading - Jaapwesselius

Load Balancing in Exchange 2013 SP1 with F5 - Jaapwesselius

Exchange 2013 SP1 is out! And now? - Dave Stork 

Upgrading Exchange Server 2013 Servers to Service Pack 1 - Paul Cunnigham

Microsoft Supporting S/MIME Security for Exchange Server, Outlook and Office 365 - Redmond Magazine 

What you need to know about Exchange 2013 SP1 - InfoWorld

S/MIME encryption now in Office 365 - Office Blogs

Exchange 2013 SP1 – Way to go Windows 2012 R2 -  MVP Blog

Also take a look at this below post 

PowerShell command logging in Exchange 2013 SP1 view - Jetze's Blog ( Translate this Blog to English)

* New issues identified 

External Mail Flow Not Working After Exchange Server 2013 SP1 Upgrade - Paul Cunnigham

Inbound e-mail not accepted after applying Exchange 2013 SP1 - Michael De Rooij

Exchange Server 2013 Transport Services Won’t Start After Service Pack 1 Upgrade - Paul Cunnigham

Exchange 2013 SP1 Transport Agent Fix - Michael De Rooij 

Exchange 2013 SP1 suffers late-breaking bug that affects third-party products - Tony Redmond

MS KB for the above said Transport Agent Fix.

Third-party transport agents cannot be loaded correctly in Exchange Server 2013   

* One more new issue with Exchange 2013 SP1 affecting Transport Service

The front-end Microsoft Exchange Transport service stops and does not restart after you upgrade to Exchange Server 2013 SP1

Other vital issues and fixes.

Informed of Undocumented Fix in Exchange 2013 SP1 - SMTP 4 IT 

Outlook 2013 SP1 fails to connect to Exchange in a multi-forest environment

*List of issues Exchange Server 2013 SP1 fixes 

Description of Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1

*Upgrading via Cmd-line.

 How to upgrade to Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1 using command-line

Post this release of SP1, Exchange Server Supportability Matrix and Release notes is updated.

Exchange Server Supportability Matrix

Release Notes for Exchange 2013

Final Thoughts...

Since Exchange Server 2013 SP1 is released now, soon Microsoft will begin their first upgrade in the Office 365 Environment to roll-out the new features and for sure this will definitely benefit the Exchange Online customers and  at the same time, they will be the one who will face new issues at first sight as this is inevitable when we roll-out changes to large environments and O365 stays on the top without exceptions. Will update this post soon as I saw any significant changes occur in my O365 Hybrid environment and also watch-out for more information available outside in the Technical Community Online to stay up-to date.

Stay Tuned....

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lync Server 2013 On-Premises Architectures Poster

Today Microsoft Team released a new Lync Server 2013 On-Premises Architecture poster and this is a quite significant one to have handy to know more on how an On-Premises Architecture can be designed and what are new changes made to Lync 2013 along with the new features introduced and it is a one stop resource that will provide a strong understanding of Lync Server 2013.

Download here : Lync Server 2013 On-Premises Architectures Poster

I Also referenced this posted under the Poster section, you can download the related posters to know more visually.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Office Web Apps now becomes Office Online

This is the hot topic in Microsoft today where in now the new Office Web Apps which was introduced as a part of Wave 15 product line via the new version of Office 2013 which makes users to access office applications online and all you need is a Microsoft account and  if you used SkyDrive to store and your access documents and presentations then you are already familiar with it. Also change is inevitable with Microsoft nowadays as SkyDrive became OneDrive yesterday and now Office Web Apps becomes Office Online.

Microsoft has made the Official Announcement in the Office blog with more details and also our Rod Trent from WindowsITPro wrote a blog post which is an add-on to know more on this topic.

Official Blog : Introducing Office Online at Office.com

WindowsITPro: Office Web Apps Become Office Online

Hierarchical Address Book now available in Office 365

Hierarchical Address Book now available in Office 365 earlier it was made available only with Exchange 2013 On premises and now it is available with Office 365 and the configuration remains the same which is outlined in the EHLO blog post below with clear details. Also for Hybrid deployment Microsoft is working towards a solution so that On premise and Cloud user can both utilize the HAB feature seamlessly.

Refer the post here : Hierarchical Address Book now available in Office 365 too

Additionally, Read the below post from MVP Tony Redmond on his views over HABs

Office 365 message encryption and HABs

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Exchange On-Premises TAP Program

Today Microsoft team updated about their new Exchange On-Premises Technology Adoption Program (TAP)  via the EHLO Blog post and now nominations are open for customers who are using Exchange Server On premises to join hands with Microsoft in improvising Exchange Server product line by testing the new updates and releases in the Lab environment and implement in production and share the feedback and suggestions directly with Microsoft product team which will eventually benefit them to build the product even more robust than now and typically assists customers to know and feel the latest releases and identify the pain points and resolve them on time with dedicated support from Microsoft and get things moved towards the future.

This is a great innovation from Microsoft where in now we ourselves can test the product and identify the potential impact and notify Microsoft on time to get things fixed and also provide the required enhancements to be made to product which will be evaluated and made available with the next release and benefit both the product vendor Microsoft  and we as a customer.

You can review and nominate your Organization if you are ready to face the new challenges and decide the future.

Read the official blog post below to know more : Exchange On-Premises TAP Program accepting nominations

Lync Server 2013 Stress Testing Guide

When it comes to Exchange or Lync Server Design and Deployment the major concentration is required over the Capacity planning and a proper Capacity planning based up on the current Environment analysis and also keeping the future enhancements and requirements in mind brings up a strong solution for a successful design and implementation of the Environment.

Admins who are very much familiar with Exchange Design and deployment knows about the Exchange Server Role requirement Calculator and the Jetstress tool which are the most common ones used, And when it comes to Lync we still have similar options available as with Exchange and they are the Lync Server 2013 Capacity Planning Calculator and the Lync Server 2013 Stress and Performance Tool

I wrote this post here to update you about the above said Tools available for Lync similar to Exchange and point you to the new Lync Server 2013 Stress Testing Guide released by Microsoft to know more on Lync Server 2013 Stress Testing and how to perform proper it properly in align with your requirement and plan for a successful production design and deployment.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Video calling between Skype and Lync is on the Way!!!

Today is a remarkable day for Microsoft Lync as today is the first day for  Lync Conference 2014 and during the keynote session Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president for Lync & Skype Engineering presented over the new features brought in to Lync and a quick overview of the future road map with Lync being the next Unified Communication Platform which is widely adopted by everyone around the world already and we could even call it as the Next generation Communication platform.

There are many significant features discussed during the keynote session the most important and the long awaited one is the Lync - Skype Video calling and in today's session a live demo was shown to the audience and this feature will be made available for end users soon. This makes a strong impression that Microsoft team really believes in innovation and brings it to live at the earliest providing rich user experience and also benefit Organization's Business Needs with out compromising Information security with reduced costs.

We already know about Lync - Skype integration and the Instant messaging feature now this video calling functionality makes it even more robust and to know more review the below TechNet blog post and the referenced Official blog post with the complete list of enhancements for your visibility.

Video calling between Skype and Lync is part of next step of universal communications

The Official Microsoft Blog post

Review here: From unified to universal, the next stage for communications

For more Technical deep dive towards this feature review the below NextHop article

Microsoft Lync-Skype connectivity v2 – Adds Video and More

Additionally, Read the below Lync Team Blog post for more innovations

Behind the Scenes at the Lync Conference 2014 Keynote Demo


As Microsoft promised this great feature is made available to users on December 2014

Video calling between Skype and Lync available now !!!

DirSync Toolbox

DirSync plays a major role in Office 365 and there are more significant changes made to the product and some are yet to come in mere future and you can know more if you refer my earlier post " Microsoft Future RoadMap for Identity and Access Management with O365" .

Today I found this TechNet post which shows us about the availability of Dirsync Toolbox which is quite useful for us to know our Dirsync setup and below is quick description of the Toolbox and the post contains the download link at the bottom to obtain the software and to get it work you need to install it on your Dirsync server

The objective of the DirSync Toolbox is to provide you with status information about your current DirSync implementation.

This includes:

The number of managed objects
The last DC used by your Active Directory connector to exchange identity data
Windows Azure Active Directory connector and Active Directory connector statistics

Refer the post here: Introduction to the DirSync Toolbox

Additional Bytes

People who are familiar with DirSync should also know about Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) over which DirSync is designed and we can call DirSync as a downsized version of FIM.

A New version of FIM is released and you could know more information on the same from the below WindowsITPro post.

Synch On-Premise Digital Identity with Windows Azure Active Directory

Download : Forefront Identity Manager Connector for Windows Azure Active Directory


Similar to this Dirsync Tool we have Federation Metadata Update Tool for ADFS which needs to be installed on ADFS server which automatically renews the ADFS token signing certificate.

Review the below TechNet blog post to know more.

Federation Metadata Update Tool should be installed with every ADFS and Office 365 deployment

Monday, February 17, 2014

Office 365 Message Encryption Webcast

Microsoft team continue to make more innovation to Office 365 and the most noticeable one is the Message Encryption feature, this feature was recently added to the Service and I already wrote a blog post " Office 365 Message Encryption Coming Soon!" earlier with some additional information and now it's time for us to take a deep dive on this feature from Microsoft through their Ignite Event scheduled on 20 FEB 8.30 AM - 9.30 AM .

Encryption plays a vital role in day to day secure business communication and knowing more on this feature typically helps Administrators to know and configure this feature for their Organization to ensure Information Security is maintained at all levels.

Review here and Block your calendar to attend this Event : Office 365 Message Encryption

Additionally, Take a look at this Excellent post from our Office 365 MVP Jesper Stahle on his blog for a hands on live experience.

Hands on with the new Office 365 Message Encryption (OME)

One more from MVP Jethro Seghers on his blog.


Update: Today OME reaches General Availability.

Office 365 Message Encryption — now rolling out!

*New feature update for OME

One-Time Passcode for Office 365 Message Encryption

Friday, February 14, 2014

Office 365 Hybrid Mailbox Move Issues and Fixes

Microsoft team has completed their Service upgrade ( Wave 15) to most of the customers and post service upgrade the Exchange and Lync Servers in O365 are the latest 2013 Servers and this made some significant changes in the way we manage the Cloud environment. And Hybrid Exchange Environment is the most impacted one we could say as we are used to manage both On premises and Exchange Online from the same EMC console and some major changes occurred with the Service upgrade which eventually took out most of the Management tasks from EMC to the new EAC in Admin portal and also some new additional management changes are now made and this article discuss it along with the latest issue we have with Hybrid Mailbox moves from Cloud On premise which was not known to many as of now and the workaround available which was officially released by Microsoft today and other vital points to consider in the future of Cloud Management from On premises.

Microsoft team released a EHLO blog post which talks about the major changes made in the way Exchange Online is managed from On premises in a Hybrid deployment and how the Move requests needs to be initiated while moving a mailbox from Cloud to On premise via Exchange Online Powershell and the vice versa via EAC etc.

Refer the below post first and review it completely to know the changes as stated above explained descriptively.

Hybrid Mailbox moves and EMC changes

Unfortunately it does not contain any information about the issue which I am going to show you in the upcoming discussion.

Hybrid mailbox moves from Cloud to Onpremises and UCS 

I manage a Hybrid Exchange Environment and we normally would get request to move user back and forth between Cloud and On premises and everything worked seamlessly for us for a while, no impacts for faced for a while even after our successful service upgrade which was done way back and suddenly before few months we noticed some strange issues occurred while moving users from Cloud to On premise and we did used the Exchange Online cmdlet as stated by Microsoft as we have a Exchange 2010 SP3 based Hybrid Environment.

Below is the error received while performing the move

When you read the error completely it will make sense that it talks about user Lync contacts that are still in Exchange Server which are migrated as a part of the new feature called Unified Contact store (UCS) which gets enabled by default when a user who has Lync Online account along with a Mailbox hosted in Exchange Online for the first time he signs-in from a Lync 2013 client at the backend in cloud.

I have already written a post long back over UCS when I had  issue with UCS and Legacy Lync clients during the Service Upgrade and you can refer it below to know what is UCS and how it plays a role within office 365.

UCS and Legacy Clients

Lets get back to our topic, so in this state we were left without a solution of moving mailboxes from Cloud to On premise. When I searched the Internet in Microsoft forums unable to find any discussion available and finally, found the below blog post from Matt Green's blog where he was one of the Administrator who faced  same issue like me with his Environment and Ideally found a working solution on his own.

Access the post here: Hybrid Mailbox Moves – From Office 365 Back to On-Premises

But there were no official documentation from Microsoft over this issue at that time and for a Major Environment like the one I manage we cannot go and do stuffs that are not provided officially from Microsoft and as a result we ended up with a premier case and started our investigation with Microsoft Engineers.

The solution we had is to disable UCS for the user and Roll back his Lync Contacts back to Lync Server from Exchange server and once this is done we will run the Exchange Online Cmdlet shown below to validate whether UCS is disabled by checking the  "Imlistmigrationcompleted" parameter which is set to false indicates UCS is disabled.

The below TechNet article will show you how the UCS can be disabled and how the contacts can be Roll back in a Lync 2013 On premise Environment and the same applies to Cloud as the Servers are the same which is providing the Lync Online service to customers.

Configuring Microsoft Lync Server 2013 to Use the Unified Contact Store

Once we are good we will move the user mailbox to On premise and we were able to do this when we have list of users handy but this was a not a ideal solution on a long term as we might get cases on the move and we cannot delay the requests by contacting Microsoft with a Support request for those users UCS to get disabled and Lync contacts to rollback and this eventually takes time as the support team member needs to raise request with the Backend team to process and they need to work on it and then communicate to their support and then to us etc. And things were the same till yesterday and When working with major tenants we cannot disable UCS on a whole as it is a time consuming process for Microsoft and also few features may not be available for users which they use now when we go via this route and its advisable to do this task on a requirement basis.

Microsoft team and we were working on this for a while to identify is there any way that we ourselves could manage the way of disabling UCS and roll back and both is a not a easy task as it involves some degree of elevated access on the Cloud end to manage things and its was under validation and we were one among the customers outside who are experiencing the similar issue as we have with their Hybrid Environment.

Good News!!! 

Above events explained our state and the same can be applied to other affected tenants and the good news is today Microsoft Team finally released a KB article over this issue and provided a solution or we can even call this a workaround of disabling UCS on our own from Exchange Online by using the Set-Mailbox cmd let and specifying the "Imlistmigrationcompleted"  parameter to false which makes UCS to get disabled and we say to exchange that user Lync contacts are migrated ( Which is not true) and then proceeding with the mailbox move.

By doing this we are giving false information to Exchange Online and proceeding the move which will actually result in data loss where the user Lync contacts still available in the Cloud Mailbox and not migrated to Lync server to make it available post migration for the user .

For roll back we don't have any other option till date even with this Microsoft KB  explains the same above said points clearly and says data loss will be there if you go via the route of specifying the  "Imlistmigrationcompleted"  parameter to false and not actually performing the Contacts Roll back in the backend.

Review here : http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2932443/en-us

If you have a urgent request and user is updated about the impact and fine the data loss then proceed with the above task and with this you could at least complete the move on time.

At this stage we still rely on Microsoft team for the Roll back to get processed and if there can be a chance to grant the tenant admin to get assigned with additional permissions where they can do the roll back themselves or a alternative way where the Lync contacts automatically migrated  from Exchange Online when we disable UCS for a user on our end if possible which makes the real seamless move management to be made possible as before with the Hybrid Exchange deployment.

For other related information over Hybrid move requests from Cloud to On premises refer the below office 365 community post

Exchange Hybrid Deployment – Moving Cloud-Based Mailboxes to the On-Premises Organization


Change is inevitable, Sooner or later we can expect all the management activities to be moved to EAC which is already made available in the Admin portal for managing cloud objects and EMC will be slowly deprecated and we will still continue to have the same Management capabilities with Exchange Online powershell for most of the management activities which is a good news that most of us nowadays rely on Shell rather than GUI but we cannot take that as applicable with all Admins and still GUI is preferred one for many and even me at instances and the only change is, we need to start using the web based EAC and adopt it soon so that we will not have any headache when we have don't have the EMC  in mere future, and obviously one day or another you will upgrade your On premises Environment to Exchange 2013 then EAC is the only option, so get used to it from today and when its the right time it will be just a news and you will have no pain with your work to adopt a new thing at the last minute wherein you have already mastered it... :)

Review the TechNet post below to know more on EAC with Exchange Online

Exchange Admin Center in Exchange Online

I will update this post once I get some additional Information on the same.. standby for my updates soon.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Exchange Online Protection Enhancements!

Today Microsoft officially announced their new enhancements made to the EOP, which are the most awaited features requested by everyone who already use EOP and for customers who are yet to migrate to EOP from FOPE. Today EOP has completed first year after service launch and Microsoft decided to make this official announcement on their Office blog to make the customers know about the present and future Roadmap with EOP for O365 and standalone.

Below is the Quick preview on the newly added features.

Review the official blog post below to know the complete details explained clearly with live demo screenshots, this is first part in the series and we could expect more in the upcoming series.

Exchange Online Protection enhancements — Part 1


Here comes the Second part in series with the new set of Enhancements for EOP, Check out the Office Blog post to know more...

Exchange Online Protection enhancements—part 2

Exchange Online Migration GWT released!

Microsoft team in addition to their existing Guided Walkthroughs today released one more vital GWT for Exchange online migration and this GWT primarily focuses on Hybrid  Migration troubleshooting and named as "Hybrid Migration Troubleshooter" as of today most of the Organizations with Office 365 has adopted Hybrid Deployment model and major Organizations that are yet to adopt Office 365 are planning for this Model and even Microsoft encourages the same for Larger Organizations to adopt Hybrid Deployment model which gives seamless experience to manage both the Onpremises and Cloud and with this being said this newly released GWT is quite significant one for Administrators to manage and troubleshoot Office 365 Hybrid Environment.

It's a great news for us as Admins that Microsoft team is now doing a great job in analyzing the available troubleshooting methods and roofs them under single window in form of these GWTs for different products and eventually makes our job easier to look in to the appropriate issue and its respective workaround or solution at ease and take necessary action on time with out delay and restore the service with in SLA in most cases, thus providing a rich End User Experience.

We can even share our own troubleshooting steps that resolves a issue to Microsoft if they are not already available and these will be reviewed and included in to the GWT to make it a one shop troubleshooting resource for all level of Administrators.

Access the office EHLO blog post below to know more

 Exchange Online Migration GWT released

Access the GWT here : Hybrid Migration Troubleshooter

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Microsoft Future RoadMap for Identity and Access Management with O365

It's always good to know the future, Microsoft is now known majorly for its robust products and remarkable changes they make in their Product line on which Office 365 is the major one to consider and now Microsoft primary target is on the Cloud business and they have already proved their Leadership in the Cloud Market to the world and still extending their boundaries across the world.

Let's get in to our Topic, I have already written many post about the Identity and Access Management with Office 365 covering some major topics over Dirsync and ADFS, which forms the fundamentals for everything to work with O365 and the articles collection can be found here and Today I am writing this post in continuation to this series referring to the Latest Office 365 FM podcast I listened today which was an eye opener for me to know about present and the future Roadmap of Microsoft with Office 365.

This podcast series gives us more information on what are the current features available from Microsoft to provide rich Identity and Access management and how they are planning to enhance it by adding new features which customer really need to provide a rich service experience and these information was shared to us by none other than Microsoft Senior Program Manager "Jono Luk" who owns the Windows Azure Active Directory Sync tool and Password Sync features with O365 along with the Team of Experts in Q &A session and provides clear details and Microsoft strong vision towards the future of O365.

Few key points present in the podcast are shared below and I would encourage you all to Listen to the complete podcast through the Link shared at the bottom of the post to know more.

  • Dirsync Password Hash or ADFS which one is better and how they differ from each other and their benefits.
  • Dirsync can now be installed in Domain controller and we don’t need a dedicated server as before with the new version.
  • Microsoft is working on providing support to use Dirsync password hash along with ADFS for DR where something goes wrong with ADFS we can switch to use password sync where in user current password will sync to WAAD ( Cloud Directory) and they can use the same password to access the resources during this time without major user impact at present we can use either one of them and for Large enterprises ADFS is the preferred one as it provides additional features and real single-sign on feature. ( Good quote “Password hash = Same Sign-on”  “ADFS = Single Sign on”)
  • Managing Objects in cloud itself and the same changes replicated to on premise ( two way sync feature with Dirsync). one vital key factor for all customers on the future road map which is under investigation. ( currently one way sync from on premises to cloud alone is possible and also few write back attributes are available for sync back)
  • Discussion over few great security enhancements with password hash and the effect of Password policy in cloud with respect to on premises AD. 
  • One Important feature which Microsoft does not have in their immediate Roadmap is to make Dirsync to get latest updates as a part of windows update, wherein now we need to download the latest version and install it freshly and do a full sync. Microsoft says that all Organizations don’t need the latest update right away when it arrives and to give the flexibility for Admins to choose whether they need the update or not for their environment (Which is Good) they tend to continue to use the same support model for future Dirsync releases also they are still evaluating with customers whether they all are in sync to get the new products to their environment up on release and once they have a proper feedback we can expect the latest updates to Dirsync via windows update.
  • Discussion on Enhanced Filtering option with Dirsync to do custom sync to WAAD.
Here is the link to the podcast series from Office365 FM 

Access here: Episode 5: Interview with Jono Luk, Senior Program Manager

Monday, February 10, 2014

Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365

Today Microsoft O365 Team announced that they have added the support for Multi-Factor Authentication for O365 Users, Earlier this feature was available only for Admin roles and now it is made available to users without any additional requirement of a new purchase or subscription to use this service and it comes as a part of existing Licensing model. This feature will be further more increased in the upcoming days and Microsoft team has made a strong Roadmap for this and working all way with more innovation and soon we will receive some great updates in the upcoming days.

Security plays a major role with any Organization and this enhancement made to O365 is quite significant which show us that Microsoft is now concentrating more on Customer Security in terms of Identity and Access management on their servicing model and this eventually makes O365 a favorable one and benefits the existing customers to continue the service and also makes it available on the top of the priority list  for Organizations that are yet to adopt the Cloud servicing model to their IT Infrastructure.

Read the official Announcement below along with other vital information over this great feature.

Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365

Additionally, Review the below vital Post from ZDNET

Microsoft expands Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365

Check out this Live demo from Office 365 Evangelist blog from our MVP Sean McNeill 

Enabling and Configuring Multi-Factor Authentication for #Office365 

O365 Multi-Factor Authentication is a subset of the Windows Azure Multi-Factor Authentication

Review the below excellent article written by our O365 MVP  Jethro Seghers showing the comparison of these two features and you can choose the best one for your needs.

Multi Factor Authentication in Office 365 vs Azure

Check this new blog post from MVP Paul Robichaux

Two-factor authentication for Outlook and Office 2013 clients

Friday, February 07, 2014

Exchange ActiveSync Guided Walkthrough Now Available!

Microsoft team is currently concentrating on providing strong support experience to end users who use their product and to achieve this Administrators who manage the Environment must have adequate knowledge on the product and troubleshooting skills which makes this possible to restore service during outages and also resolve common issues on day to day basis and provide a rich end user experience.

Recently Microsoft team has provided various Guided Walkthrough portals for making Administrators and End users to  troubleshoot most of the issues with different well known and advanced scenarios covering both Onpremises and Cloud. I have already updated over these Guided Walkthroughs once they were released in the past and you can find most of them here.

Today, Microsoft team added one more vital Walkthrough as an addition to the above ones and this is on ActiveSync , Every Organization in Today's world irrespective of their Technology use the Mobility service and Microsoft ActiveSync is the most common one used around the world which comes along with Exchange Server and troubleshooting issues with ActiveSync has already became a part of life for most of the Exchange Admins.

In order to provide seamless troubleshooting Experience this Guided Walkthrough is quite useful which covers most of the important troubleshooting steps and benefits both new and experience administrators to take proper action based on the issue reported on time and restore the service at the earliest.

Review the EHLO blog post below to know more

Access the Guided Walkthrough here: Exchange ActiveSync Guided Walkthrough  

Microsoft Product Roadmap -2014

Microsoft continue to innovate and enhance their product line consistently over the years and due to the recent advancement in the Technology and rapid changes occur in the IT Market the cycle in which this advancements were made is shorten and now we get frequent updates to existing products and also new products enter into  the IT world from Microsoft.

Microsoft team normally look out for opportunities in the IT market and introduce new products and also make enhancements to the existing product line which forms a strong Roadmap to their Future agenda, this year we have more significant enhancements to be made to their product line on all products both at the consumer end and Enterprise customers end and it's always good for us to know what are these new changes going to be upper hand and get ready to face the new challenges.

I wrote this post today here with reference to the latest article published in the Redmond Channel Partner website which covers the Microsoft Product Roadmap for 2014 and it provides information on upcoming changes in various technologies which puts you on the edge of your seats to get ready to face the future with Microsoft.

Read the complete post here: The 2014 Microsoft Product Roadmap

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Top 50 Career Tips for IT Pros - Spiceworks

Today I saw this vital post in WindowsITPro forum from our Rod Trent about the Top 50 Career Tips for IT Pros published by Spiceworks and sponsored by VMWare and I reviewed the Tips and they are presented in a great way which really adds more value to our Career Path and an essential one to read and inculcate the information provided which eventually provides us additional strength and find possible ways to excel in our field and achieve our future goals

You can view these Tips as a PDF E-book or as a Slideshow and I would suggest all readers to grab a copy of this and get the benefits. Some times even a small read and incident could change lot on our life and enlighten our career.

Review the post here: Spiceworks Offers the Top 50 Career Tips for IT Pros

Thanks! Rod for this excellent share and your Tip... :)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

O365 - Upgrade your IE

I recently came across this vital post from our MVP Tony Redmond on his Exchange Unwashed blog about the IE8 issues with O365 and the most important part to look in to the topic is over IE8 support which ends on 8th April 2014 which is not too long and post this date O365 users will have Outlook Web App Light shown with the IE8 browsers and this is eventually a potential impact to the End user Experience and also for Admin Experience, IE8 is already considered as a Legacy browser and soon Organizations need to plan their IE upgrade to the latest IE11.

Microsoft team has already updated this in the O365 Message Center and the deadline is very near , Let's ensure that we all upgrade our Environment to IE11 at the earliest. Users can still use other Browsers with their latest version to access Web Mail but the recommended process is to use the supported latest Microsoft product to receive proper support experience.

Review the post to know more: The unhappy mixture of Office 365, Outlook Web App, and Windows XP

Additionally, Read the latest TechNet post released by Microsoft which talks more on the updated requirements with O365

Review here: Office 365 System Requirements

* Microsoft Team updated O365 customers to upgrade their browser version through Message Center already as shown below.

* Below is the Official Microsoft Knowledge base article on this issue explaining the same and also if you still need your users to use OWA through IE8 then you need to manually set their OWA access to OWA light and revert it post IE upgrade else they will face performance issues as stated clearly.

Check here: Slow Outlook Web App performance when accessed through Internet Explorer 8

*Microsoft team recently introduced a new feature called "Enterprise Mode" for Internet Explorer 11 which supports compatibility for running legacy webpages and makes a way to upgrade IE in the Environment and there are pros and cons as always, Review the below MSDN Blog post to know more...

Stay up to date with Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11

* One more Vital Blog post from Windows IT Pro forum

New IE11 GPO Templates Incorporate Enterprise Mode for IE Settings


New Update after Jan. 12, 2016 Microsoft will only provide security patches and technical support for the most current IE browser per a particular supported operating system.

Review here: Microsoft Announces New Support Policy for Internet Explorer

Microsoft New CEO Announced!!!

Microsoft ended their CEO search which is started after Steve Ballmer decided to retire from the role earlier last year and after this different strong candidates were chosen by Microsoft committee and there were more predictions in the IT world over this more highly responsible role of managing a IT Giant like Microsoft as there were only two CEO's who lead this Organization so far it's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer and after their era the one who is going to get crowned will have more responsibility to continue the drive towards the future as Technology emerged far beyond Imagination.

There were may predictions already in the Market and finally Microsoft team has ended their search and selected their New CEO who is none other than our Sathya Nadella who is heading their Cloud Business successfully and proven his innovative abilities which can be seen in Microsoft's steady growth in the Cloud business and Microsoft believes that he has all the necessary skills and experience to drive their Business with their new goals towards the future of IT.

Review the official Announcement here: Microsoft CEO

Read the Redmond Magazine posts

Spotlight Intensifies on Nadella as Microsoft CEO Frontrunner

It's Official: Satya Nadella To Immediately Take the Helm at Microsoft

Also check out this new posts from WindowsITPro

Satya Nadella Officially Named Microsoft's New CEO, Bill Gates Gets New Role

Satya Nadella's First Interview as CEO of Microsoft

IT pros size up new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella with a critical eye - TechTarget

The first five things Satya Nadella should do as new CEO of Microsoft - TechTarget

Six challenges for Microsoft as the Satya Nadella era begins - ZDNet

Finally, It's now time to say Goodbye, Steve Ballmer: a video tribute

Today is a remarkable day in Microsoft's History and now everyone in the IT world is eager to see what changes Nadella will bring within Microsoft and transform their Business to reach the horizon.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Microsoft - Technology Empowering Us All

Technology has went far beyond Imagination and we should not restrict ourselves from exploring what benefits that our Technology has really made to the outside world rather than revolving around our own Technical domains. I saw this excellent video series from Microsoft today where they show us how their Technology has changed the lives of people and you will be really amazed to see this and its a must watch for readers.

Review the videos here : Microsoft - Technology Empowering Us All

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Survival Guide for Microsoft Technologies

Mobility plays a vital part now in the IT Infrastructure as user now tend to work from anywhere around the world through any device, the time where users were using only the corporate issued devices to access the Infrastructure is now no longer the scenario and things have changed and evolved to unimaginable state and though it is good in one way we have to have additional investment made to the IT environment to provide such services to users and also ensure that we are able to manage the access of these devices with out compromising on Information Security.

In today's world of Consumerization Organization's started to provide BYOD Services to users for accessing the Corporate network from both Internally and Externally and also designing their own or adopting strong MDM solutions to maintain these services. Along with other Mobility Solution providers Microsoft is also providing such services and this article is about the BYOD survival guide from Microsoft where they have brought all the necessary information on the topic along with vital links and presentations which gives us complete Idea on the solution.

Access the below link to know more

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Survival Guide for Microsoft Technologies