Intranet for Office 365 – finally!!!

inWorks LLC has partnered with Blue Meteorite, a Gold Microsoft partner from Finland, to deliver outstanding Intranet solutions for Office 365 SharePoint Online.
inWorks LLC is the first Blue Meteorite partner to offer this Intranet-in-a-box product in the United States, and I am looking forward to getting the word out there about this affordable, easy to deploy, flexible, modern – and good looking – Intranet product for Office 365 SharePoint Online.
Building an effective Intranet may require a lot of investment from financial, time, and people perspectives – all of which contribute to the Intranet project languishing on the back-burner.
To solve this problem for our clients, we went in search of a product that not only would help take better advantage of Office 365 SharePoint Online, but do so in a manner that satisfies our fairly stringent criteria for Intranet competence.
We needed to find something that would be:
  • Fast to set up
  • Easy to configure
  • Simple to brand
  • Built using solid architectural principles
  • Developed using best practices and Microsoft’s latest guidelines
  • Robust and handle Office 365 SharePoint Online changes gracefully
  • Affordable
  • Supported by a world-class team

…and we found it. The Valo Intranet product from Blue Meteorite fits all those criteria, and I’m simply thrilled to be able to offer it as part of our services portfolio.

SharePoint Online has been a great collaboration tool for managing documents, but without appropriate Information Architecture it can be confusing to implement and navigate. Furthermore, without a structure in place it’s easy to configure it in a way that precludes the best use of its features.
Proper configuration, branding, deployment, etc of SharePoint Online as an efficient Intranet is possible to accomplish through the use of highly skilled consultants and developers – we know this process intimately.
With inWorks LLC, Valo Intranet helps you get more out of your Office 365 SharePoint Online infrastructure!
Check out the Intranets page on our site, and get in touch!

People+ Pro Update

PeoplePlus_128x128People+ Pro received a few updates today. The main update is that now the Notes field is supported when saving attached contacts from received messages. This functionality is only available to People+ Pro licenses.

Keep in mind that some software may allow rich text in the Notes field – even though the standard contact definition only supports plain text. This means that if there’s any formatting, images, etc. that were somehow added to the contact Notes through well-meaning contact management extensions, that formatting won’t be preserved when the contact is imported into your mailbox.

A couple of minor bugs were also fixed as part of this update.

People+ Pro Update

PeoplePlus_128x128In the original release from a few days ago, the Import Attachments button showed up even if non-contact attachments were present in the email. That didn’t make much sense if the attachments weren’t contacts!

The new release somewhat fixed that issue and will only show the button if:

  1. One of the attachments is a file with a VCF extension
  2. One of the attachment is an Outlook item (could be a contact, or could be some other type of Outlook item)

It’s not a 100% solution – since I’m note pre-interrogating the type of Outlook item it could be, the button will show up even of a non-contact item is attached.

People+ goes Pro!

Several updates are being released in September.

First, I’m introducing two additional versions of People+: People+ Pro, and People+ Free.

People+ Pro will contain more enterprise-grade features, including custom branding for site licenses, ability to import contacts from VCF attachments, better integration with contacts for sending email. The ability to import contacts from VCF attachments is coming first, with others being introduced over the following weeks. P+P will be priced at a point commensurate with its advanced functionality.

People+ Free will be, um, free, and will include ads to support the program. P+F will have the same functionality as People+.

I’m also updating all styling in the app to use Microsoft’s newly released Office UI Fabric framework, designed to bring consistency to Office Add-ins and match the user interface to work better with Office 365.

While the exact timing of these releases isn’t, well, exact, they’re coming soon – and in the meantime, go get the People+ version currently out there!

Problem solved: shared calendar meetings show up with the wrong time

Check out a new MSOnlineHelpdesk.com solution for a shared calendar scheduling problem that may affect your Office 365 Exchange Online.

Windows 10 supports device sign-in via Azure Active Directory

If, like many of my customers, you’re considering ditching all local servers in favor of cloud-based infrastructure, there’s one thorny problem you have to overcome: central account management without a domain controller. Until Windows 10 there weren’t many good options – sure, with Windows 8 PCs you could switch to using Microsoft Accounts to sign in to your local device, but that approach brings other problems.

Windows 10 offers a fantastic new option – the ability to connect your machine to Microsoft Azure Active Directory, and use your AAD credentials to log in to Windows! That solves the “last-mile” problem, so now your Office 365 sign-in (which uses AAD) is also your Windows sign-in (which now uses AAD), and you can use central administrative creds to manage the machine and enjoy all the other benefits of being part of a managed environment, and when you add Microsoft Intune into the mix, the device management picture is that much more complete!

For businesses with mobile users or an aversion to on-prem technology (which all business should be on-prem tech averse!), this option offers a really compelling reason to move to Windows 10.

Microsoft Ignite 2015, here we come!

I am at the MS Ignite 2015 conference, and there are 1,129 sessions scheduled for the 5 days. I will be busy. It will be awesome.

New Microsoft “Visual Studio Code” Preview – how to perform a manual install on Windows

Microsoft just released a new, free, cross-platform dev tool called Visual Studio Code. I had trouble installing it on my Surface Pro 3 because at this time the installer uses the Windows temp directory – something that I have locked down via group policy as an extra security measure – so the installer fails with an error: “Failed to extract installer”:

Here’s how you perform the manual install of Visual Studio Code.

Open your %LOCALAPPDATA% and copy SquirrelTemp folder to another location. This folder contains update.exe, the Visual Studio Code NuGet package (Code-0.1.0-full.nupkg) and a couple of other files. Open PowerShell or Command prompt, switch to the SquirrelTemp folder you copied previously, and run this command:

.\update.exe –install=c:\scratch\squirreltemp\Code-0.1.0.nupkg

A minute later, Visual Studio Code will be up and running on your machine.

Avoid distribution list “reply all” embarrassment with the NoReplyAll Add-in for Outlook

This keeps coming up now and again, so I thought I’d give it a bump. Microsoft Research provides a free Add-in for Outlook that can save your company from the silly email storms generated by folks hitting ‘reply all’ on a company-wide email – check out the details on this MSOnlineHelpdesk.com post in the Tips & Tricks category:

Are you still running Windows Server 2003? The End is Near(er)!

Back in November 2014, the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued an alert about the end of support for Windows Server 2003. It’s now the end of March of 2015, and the end-of-support date will be here in less than 4 months. Starting on July 15, 2015, Windows Server 2003 will no longer receive security updates, fixes, or technical assistance from Microsoft. To borrow a phrase: the end is near!

The sky, however, is not falling.

Migration from your on-premises server to a different system is not terribly complicated, generally-speaking (the devil’s in the details, of course). And you have options – sort of. You can get a new server and move your stuff, or you can choose to migrate to a cloud-based offering, such as Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. Considering that here at inWorks LLC we believe that you should not be running a server unless you’re in the datacenter business, I suggest that you take the following path:

Take your email to Exchange Online with Office 365. With ridiculously low per-user prices, virtually unlimited disk space, and enterprise-grade features you simply cannot find a better messaging & collaboration system. Some may suggest Exchange hosted by other providers, Google, or Amazon (which recently added its own mail service), and unless you have very specific, compelling reasons for choosing those routes, don’t. Exchange Online will give you the best email, calendaring, contact management system you can buy in terms of usability, functionality, compatibility, extensibility, and some other *ilities I’m probably forgetting.

Take your files to SharePoint Online with Office 365. Some folks are apprehensive about SharePoint Online. It does represent a departure from the typical local server-based file access, with its familiar mapped drives and network shares. It also represents a major step forward for your business, in terms of managing documents and data – and it doesn’t have to be scary, or painful.

With a little bit of advanced planning and proper execution and tools, the transition can be painless, and using SharePoint – liberating. Plus, this is the one opportunity you’ll have to really clean house with your documents!

Even if you don’t take the time to explore SharePoint’s moderately advanced capabilities you will still end up ahead – with things like automatic document versioning, recycle bin, search indexing to make stuff easy to find, top-notch security, simple external sharing, easy access on all devices from anywhere, and so on. I haven’t even talked about building apps on top of SharePoint Online – apps that may not require any code at all! I won’t this time, either, just to keep things brief.

Move business apps to the cloud.
Microsoft Azure provides a datacenter in the sky that’s at your beck and call – pay just for what you use, with no upfront costs and no capital expenditures. Don’t need it anymore? Shut it down and the bill stops.

Anything you want to do that can’t be done with Office 365, can be done in Azure. Virtual machines, websites, storage, custom scripts, databases, et cetera – are now in your business IT tool belt, and with the recent addition of RemoteApp to the already deep and wide set of services that Azure provides, you can deliver even legacy applications from the cloud directly to the desktop, tablet, or phone. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it is really cool.

Sign up for MSOnlineHelpdesk.com. This service grew out of our experience helping other businesses that made the cloud switch. It’s optimized for cloud customers and uses a similar, utility-based cloud model for all your needs, whether cloud or not.

With a monthly subscription you get what essentially amounts to Technology Insurance for your business – in return for a monthly “premium” you get someone who’ll pick up the email when you send in a support request, get back to you right away, answer your question without charge if it doesn’t take long, and get you help at lower support rates if it’s something gnarly. We’ll also handle hardware, software, and licensing procurement, set up backup if you need it, manage remote access to your systems, and provide antivirus software along with central device inventory & management, plus security for your mobile devices.

Don’t believe me? Have questions? Would like to discuss migration planning or ongoing support? Want to talk haiku form? Drop me a line!

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