Thursday, December 31, 2015

Join me in the Microsoft IT Journey into the Past 2015...

Today I am writing this final blog post for the year 2015, Few more hours left to step in to the New Year 2016. My advanced New Year Wishes to you all in first place. I started blogging from the year 2013 and crossed 3 successful New years on this blogging journey, Its always good to look back and see how things were, how things are now and what's coming in the mere future and get prepared for a fresh start.

This year 2015 was a great year for me, starting from the day one, I was recognized by Microsoft for my Community contributions and honored with the prestigious Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award for my expertise Office 365 and now a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services after the new Award restructuring, which further expanded my expertise including my Technical Interests. I felt blissful to get listed among one of the Top Technical Experts in the Global Community. Being a Microsoft MVP is not just an honor its a boon for me to do more to the community and help others to know more about current Technology happenings in the world of Microsoft and beyond in a more sophisticated way in this agile World, where you can see changes occur by every second at a rapid rate.

This year is quite special for Microsoft, where we had more innovations and announcements than ever before inline with their Mobile First, Cloud First Strategy.

Microsoft Ignite, Convergence, Build, WPC, Azure Conference, Global Azure Bootcamp, Cloud Roadshows, Connect() and various other Conferences and events were filled in this year.

Lets get ready to explore some of the key happenings in the world of Microsoft this year 2015, I am making this post bit simple for readers by curating some key blog posts that includes significant announcements from Microsoft and few other vital resources from my collection this year in a single window for your ease of review. I would still recommend readers to go through all the posts in my blog and other essential blogs available in the global community.


Office 365 E5 is All Set to Go Live!!!

Office 365 Protection Center Coming Soon...

Office 365 Planner Preview

Office 365 Tenant Lifecycle

New Microsoft Beta Exams are here!!!

Deadline is Near for your IE Upgrade - Office 365


Microsoft PowerApps

Troubleshooting Azure AD Application Proxy Guide now Available!!!

Top 5 Announcements for Office 365 !!!

Raise your Voice in Office 365 UserVoice !!!

Get ready to Manage and Administer Office 365 better

Vision eBook - Protecting and Empowering Your Connected Organization


Let's Learn Azure Multi-Factor Authentication today!!!

Office Blog: The Evolution of Microsoft FastTrack - The Customer Success Service

Exchange Server 2016 now Available!!!

Azure Active Directory PowerShell with Modern Authentication

Azure AD Domain Services is now in Public Preview

Active Directory from on-premises to the cloud – Azure AD whitepapers now Available!!!

Microsoft Ignite 2016 moves to Atlanta!!!


ExpressRoute for Office 365 goes GA!!!

Office 2016 is now here!!!

Microsoft Cloud Roadshow is on the way!!!

Microsoft Office 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard is here!!!

Time to Manage your Unmanaged Mailboxes!!!

Azure AD B2C and B2B are now in Public Preview

Introducing the new Office 365 Admin Center Preview


New Home for Office Hybrid!!!

SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview and Cloud Hybrid search Now Available

Managing Changes in the world of Office 365 !!!

Microsoft Identity Manager 2016 Reaches GA!!!

Outlook on the web is now here!!!

Windows 10 and MDM


Preview of New Skype for Business Services in Office 365

Windows 10 Launched!!!

Troubleshoot Password Synchronization when using an Azure AD sync Appliance

New Home of PowerShell !!!

Office 365 Activity Report is on the way !!!



Azure AD and Microsoft Identity Manager Reporting Now available!!!

Skype for Business Server 2015 Step by Step for Anyone E-Book now Available

Microsoft Ignite 2015 Sessions on Demand!!!

Skype for Business Server goes GA !!!

Exchange Server 2016 Architecture is Here!!!


Global Azure Bootcamp 2015 !!!

Get ready for Exchange Server and SharePoint Server 2016 !!!

Skype for Business 2015 Protocol Workloads Poster

Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection is on the way !!!

Office 365 Compliance Center Overview


Office 365 for IT Pros Session !!!

Get ready to Experience Office Delve, Office 2016 & Skype for Business

Microsoft Convergence 2015 is On!!!

Lync Online is becoming Skype for Business!!!

Hybrid deployments with Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2010

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) hits Open License and Reseller Community!

Built-in MDM for Office 365 Reaches GA !!!


New Identity and Access Management features added to Office 365!!!

Exchange Hybrid: Automated Hybrid Troubleshooting Experience

Get to know the Evolution of SharePoint

Office 2016 Consumer Technical Preview now available !!!

Alternative Microsoft Training Options !!!


What's New in Windows Server Technical Preview !!!

ADFS & Dirsync Server and Service Availability Check Script !!!

Know Azure AD better today !!!

DAG Witness Server on Microsoft Azure !!!

Office 365 - Microsoft Peering Agreements!!!

Add-on bytes:

Below are few of the essential resources from Microsoft for your reference, get ready to stay updated.

*Here comes 2015 Roundup from Office 365 Network made with Sway.

Access here: 2015 Network Roundup

Hope my blog is quite informative for you all and I am excited to welcome this New Year to take-up new challenges and gain more experience that I can share with you all as always.

Clock is ticking... Bidding Adieu 2015...Wish you all "Happy New Year 2016" in advance once again, meet you next year. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Microsoft Virutal Academy: Office 365 for IT Pros Courses

Office 365 learning gets advanced everyday as and when a new feature gets introduced in to the Service. Office 365 learning resources available from Microsoft Virtual Academy is not just limited to migration and best practices, its beyond the traditional learning and introduces you to the latest innovations from Microsoft.

If you are an Office 365 Administrator, or an IT Pro working on Office 365, then these video courses are essential for you to stay updated with latest innovation and to learn more about Office 365.

Access the Courses here: Office 365 for IT Pros Courses

Enable RSS feeds to stay updated with new courses.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Office 365 - Myths About Moving to the Cloud

I recently came across this new e-book from Microsoft, solving common myths that revolves around Office 365 adoption and moving workloads to the cloud.

Register and Access the e-Book here: Myths About Moving to the Cloud

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Office 365 Tenant Lifecycle

Customers migrating to Office 365 often asks this question,what happens to my data after my organization’s Office 365 subscription ends? Many answers revolves around this topic and to answer this essential question Microsoft team published a recent EHLO Blog post and explains Office 365 Tenant Lifecycle.

Be sure to read this blog post and the referenced Office 365 Subscription Lifecycle documentation.

New Microsoft Beta Exams are here!!!

Microsoft team has announced the availability of new Beta Exams, these exams are free for a limited period of time using the beta codes provided and only limited seats are available for free. If your interested register soon. Also beta codes are not applicable for countries like Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam. If you belong to one of these countries you can still write this exam at the regular price and no second shot is applicable on beta exams as with other generally available exams.

Below are the Exams announced recently via Microsoft Born To Learn Blog,

Now Open: Beta Exam 475 Design & Implement Big Data Analytics Solutions

Now Available: Beta Exam 473 Design and Implement Cloud Data Platform Solutions

Skype for Business 2015 Beta Exams 333 and 334 Now Available

Now in Beta: Exam 70-398 Planning for and Managing Devices in the Enterprise

Beta Exam 345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 NOW AVAILABLE

Since these exams are in beta as stated there is no Instructor led training or practice tests available, you can refer the Skills Measured section for each exam and take pointers from there and prepare for the Exam with the available resources from Microsoft like, TechNet, Microsoft Virtual Academy, Microsoft Azure Blog, Microsoft Servers and Tools Blogs and few other Technical blogs available in general from the community.


Before you start registering for the exams, read the below Guidance post from Microsoft team.

Just How Does One Prepare for Beta Exams without Preparation Materials?!?

Also, keep in mind that this exam is in beta, which means that you will not be scored immediately. You will receive your final score and passing status once the exam is live.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Deadline is Near for your IE Upgrade - Office 365

I wrote a blog post last year February referencing MVP Tony Redmond's blog post on End of Life for IE8 browser and suggested to upgrade to IE11.  Also I had updated that article referencing Redmond magazine blog post which points to IE Team Blog post "Stay up-to-date with Internet Explorer" explaining the support policy for IE browsers.

As stated in the IE Team blog post, "After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates" Upgrading to IE 11 now becomes mandatory as we are near to the deadline and Microsoft team recently published a knowledge base article on the new "End of Life" upgrade notification feature that will be delivered in the January 12, 2016, cumulative security update.

Review the Support article here: The new "End of Life" upgrade notification for Internet Explorer

As stated in the article if you have not yet upgraded to IE11, you can disable the notifications temporarily and plan for a upgrade soon.

Office 365 System requirements page is updated to reflect the same,

"Beginning January 12, 2016, we are implementing changes across Office 365 workloads, which will result in a significantly diminished experience for Office 365 users on Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9.” 

Review the Office 365 system requirements page here for more details:

Microsoft recommends the usage of current or immediately previous version of Internet Explorer; the current version of Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox as supported web clients and if the browser clients are legacy there will see diminished performance.

If your Organization is still using Legacy IE browsers, you can obtain the browser usage report from Office 365 portal as a start, Generate the complete report to identify full set of users by connecting to Office 365 service using remote PowerShell as explained in the below article.

View browser or operating system usage reports for Office 365

Refer related blog post on this Topic from MVP Tony Redmond here: IE9 to deliver "diminished experience" for Office 365 users from January 12

Start your upgrade soon... "Time and Tide wait for none"...

Azure AD Mailbag Series!!!

Azure AD is expanding rapidly with new innovations on the fly, Bringing everything under one roof is always challenging and to make things ease Azure AD team has started a new series of posts called "The Azure AD Mailbag". This Series will provide answers for questions that are regularly received from customers on Azure AD by members of Microsoft Customer Success team.

Be sure to read the currently available posts on this series from AD Team blog.

New Series: The Azure AD Mailbag

AzureAD Mailbag: Self-Service Password Reset

Azure AD Mailbag: Syncing with Azure AD Connect

Subscribe and stay tuned for future posts with lot of interesting discussions.

Office 365 Protection Center is now Office 365 Security & Compliance Center - Updated !

Microsoft is renaming Office 365 Compliance Center to Office 365 Protection Center, with the recent launch of new security features in Office 365, such as Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and Mobile Device Management (MDM).

Office 365 Protection Center includes all the same great features available in the Compliance Center with a new enhanced experience. Also we will start seeing the Office 365 security features, such as ATP, DLP and MDM, in the Protection Center during the first half of 2016.

More information is available in the Official blog post below

Managing your security and compliance needs with the new Office 365 Protection Center

Review the new protection center preview here:

Don't forget to share your feedback.


Office 365 Protection Center is now the new Office 365 Security and Compliance Center.

Office 365 Security & Compliance Center is your one-stop portal for protecting your data in Office 365. Use the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center to manage compliance for all of your organization’s data across Office 365. You can manage eDiscovery searches and holds, manage access for mobiles devices, and more.

Access the Support Article here : Overview of the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center


Latest updates in 2016 : April Office 365 security and compliance update

Join  for a security and compliance YamJam on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 9–10 a.m. PT / 4–5 p.m. GT in the Security and Compliance YamJam group on the Office 365 Network.


New enhancements to stay updated...

Unifying Data Loss Prevention in Office 365

Stay tuned for more updates...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Office 365 Planner Preview

Project Management plays a key role in every Organization, and now its time for us to utilize a simple but effective project management tool called "Planner" with Office 365. Office 365 Planner is available in public preview for First release customers and you can start using planner and share your feedback and suggestions through Uservoice.

Review Official Announcements here:Admins—get ready for Office 365 Planner preview!

Once you have Planner available for your tenant, you can start using it effectively by following the below support article as a start.

Get started quickly with Office 365 Planner Preview


Planner Preview gets expanded.

Review here : Planner preview expanded to include more plans and additional First Release types

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Quarterly Exchange Updates - December 2015

Its now time for December 2015 Quarterly updates for Exchange Server 2013, Exchange Server 2010 SP3 and Exchange Server 2007 SP3.


Cumulative Update 11 for Exchange Server 2013 (KB3099522)

Update Rollup 12 For Exchange 2010 SP3 (KB3096066)

Update Rollup 18 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3 (KB3078672)

Review the Official EHLO Blog post for more information:

Released: December 2015 Quarterly Exchange Updates

Also a new change in Exchange Management Shell connectivity is introduced with the new updates for Exchange Server 2010 and 2013, below blog posts explains in detail

Exchange Management Shell and Mailbox Anchoring

Be sure to test the updates in your lab environment and plan for production, Customers using Hybrid deployment and Exchange Online Archiving are required to deploy the most current or the prior Cumulative/Update Rollup release. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Skype for Business 2015 Planning Tool now Available

Microsoft team published planning Tools for Lync 2010/2013 deployments and also we do have few other designer tools available from experts in the community, you can access my earlier blog post on this topic here. Its now time for the Skype for Business 2015,  This new Planning Tool provides prescriptive guidance to get you started with planning your topology.

New Mobility issues with iOS 9.x Devices

Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync with Apple iOS devices are not a good combination till date and still end up with new issues overtime. We all know that they both have a long history on this topic. Even with the new iOS 9.x release few issues reported globally with EAS and Microsoft team has updated their Current issues article to reflect this.

Below are the two key issues:

The organizer of a meeting receives multiple responses from an attendee

Attendees receive a meeting update after the event reminder is triggered

Once an issue becomes a known issue, Microsoft support will point you to the above said articles, but convincing our users to accept this is still painful. Though we educate them to accept or update meetings only from their outlook client as a best practice, most of them are mobile users and this is not much ideal in today's World. So they finally end up creating new issues, which results in more support cases to either Corporate IT or Microsoft support teams.

After the release of new Microsoft Outlook for iOS, Microsoft Support team is giving this a workaround till they resolve the actual issue.

List of fixes provided with every iOS 9.x  can be found here:

Noting seems straight forward for the above said issues in the current update and still we need to wait for these to get addressed with the next build from Apple and also from Microsoft side, if a fix needs to be applied on their end.

Now, not only our EAS is impacted, one more new issue has hit the MDM Space with these new iOS devices

Most Organizations utilize either EAS or MDM for managing their mobile users, With the latest innovations and threats in today's mobile world, most Organizations are using a strong MDM solution to manage their mobility workforce to ensure that their corporate data is Secure. Creates polices for the devices that are accessing the corporate resources from anywhere in the world and make them compliant inline with their IS policy and manage them effectively.

If you are utilizing Microsoft Intune as your MDM solution and your users are using iOS 9.2 devices then you are hit by the new issue explained in the below Intune Blog post,

Review here: Important: Issue with iOS 9.2 release

Also the article states that this issue is affecting other MDM providers too and they are working with Apple support to address this issue.

Defer upgrading to iOS 9.2 for managed devices is provided as the current workaround.

Fixing these issues is always painful, because if we upgrade to a new iOS version for addressing an existing issue, it breaks the other working services and creates a new one.

Ensure that your users are made aware about these current issues periodically and educate them not to flood your IT support team with these known issues, reducing these cases creates a better support experience to handle other issues inside your environment timely.


Status Update: Issue Resolved, advise your end-users to upgrade to iOS 9.2.1 (as of January 19, 2016)

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Office 365 E5 Launch Webinar

New Office 365 E5  offering went live recently with lot of new features added to the service and to know what's new with this offering, get yourself registered to the upcoming Microsoft webcast Event "Office 365 E5 Launch" this Friday, 11 Dec 2015, 10.00 AM PT or the next 18 Dec 2015.

During this Office 365 E5 launch webcast, a Microsoft TS2 expert will provide you with an overview on the new offering and discuss the best options available to build your successful Office 365 E5 practice.

In this webcast you will: 
  • Gain an overview on Office 365 E5 plan features that include – advanced security, analytics for eDiscovery with secure attachments/URLs with advanced threat protection and access control using Power BI Pro and Delve analytics, machine learning.
  • Understand how cloud PBX and PSTN conferencing will work as part of this new solution.
  • Learn the fundamentals of building a profitable Office 365 E5 practice.
  • Study the Office 365 E3 pricing and licensing models.
  • Understand your target customers and learn about partner incentives designed to help you close deals.
  • Learn about different customers’ scenarios.
Register here: Office 365 E5 Launch

*If you miss any of these events you can register to view them On demand from the Events webpage.

This is the best place to begin your E5 learning and explore the new features.

Directory of Azure Cloud Services

Microsoft Azure is empowering today's IT world by offering various Cloud Services and continue to expand rapidly with new innovations.

Access the list of available Services here: Directory of Azure Cloud Services

You can navigate to the Pricing Overview page to choose the services available under each category for your requirement.

Access here; Detailed Pricing information

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Office 365 E5 is All Set to Go Live!!!

Office 365 E5 plan was announced earlier this July 2015, As stated in the Official announcement Microsoft planned to release E5 by the end if this calendar year, as stated in this ZDNET post today is the day "December 1, 2015" for its general availability to global customers. Now you can buy E5 from your Office 365 portal and enjoy the latest innovations from Microsoft and add more value to your Enterprise.

Once you Navigate to your existing Subscription page in Office 365 portal and select to add additional subscription, you can see the new "Office 365 Enterprise E5 without PSTN Conferencing" plan now available, You can choose to pay per month or Annually. 

As stated in the below referenced Official blog post PSTN Conferencing is available only in US and will be available later to other regions.

Each License costs $35 per user/month and you can assign few licenses to your tenant to explore the new features and switch plans for appropriate users in the mere future as needed.

Access the E5 plan and pricing page for more details here: Office 365 E5 Plan and Pricing 

Microsoft team started to introduce new features available in E5 one after the other in the recent past and made significant announcements through Office blogs post and yesterday blog post was more significant and concludes these announcements and puts things in action.

Additionally read the yesterday's ZDNET post below on this topic from Mary Jo Foley 

Stay tuned for more updates...