Office 2016 Preview (for Business) is available to download

Microsoft’s been busy lately! Skype for Business preview was announced today, as was Office 2016 Preview (for Business). This install is targeted at IT admins with an active Office 365 ProPlus subscription (Project and Visio are also available as part of the preview).

One thing to note that, as the site says, Office 2016 will not co-exist with Office 2013, so once installed it upgrades your existing installation. You will lose InfoPath 2013, since that product is being discontinued, and install notes that you may also lose SharePoint Designer 2013 – which can be reinstalled afterwards. In my install experience, SPD was not removed, so that’s good – the install script must have already been updated after documentation was released :).

Lync has been updated to be Skype for Business – with the new look (although I might have enabled that earlier today when I set the EnableSkypeUI switch to true in my Lync Online tenant, so I’m not sure if the new Skype for Business look comes thanks to Office 2016 Preview, or if it’s both the Preview and my Lync Online PowerShell experiment).

The download process was painless, and the install equally so. The download itself is small – about 3MB – and contains some documentation (known issues, what’s new, etc.) as well as a batch + XML file that kicks off a click-to-run installation for your selected language. At the moment you have to choose the language manually (do not run setup.exe, documentation states), run the batch file, and wait for the install to complete. If you have open Office programs, the install will shut them down for you.

Top to bottom, I upgraded to Office 2016 Preview in about 7 minutes. All my settings have been preserved, although it appears that I will have to re-enter my passwords for all connected services.

Interested in learning more? Check out the Office 2016 Preview Program on the Microsoft Connect site – you will need to fill out a nomination survey first, and if you meet the criteria, you’ll be set to try it out!

Microsoft updates Office 365 Admin App

Today Microsoft released an updated version of the office 365 Admin app for mobile devices. Lawrence Chiu, senior product marketing manager on the Office 365 team writes:

Administer Office 365 on the go with the updated Office 365 admin app, which now enables you to complete common admin tasks when you are away from your computer. This could be resetting your CEO’s password, adding a new hire or deleting a user who suddenly has left the company. In addition, to help you stay in better touch with us, we added the Message Center—a central location for Office 365 service communications.

The app provides Office 365 health status tile on the home screen, and gives easy access to messages about Office 365 – which is awesome because I always have trouble keeping up with the stream of announcements.

Two features I’d like to see that aren’t (yet) there:

  • The ability to switch between tenants to make administration easier for those of us who manage multiple accounts – without having to sign out and sign in as different administrators!
  • For Windows Phone – a live tile that provides service health and message updates

I’m also a bit surprised it’s not a universal app, so it’s not available for Windows 8.1 (and Windows 10). It also doesn’t look as though the tiles on the home screen are as dynamic as they could be – even after catching up on all the messages, the display still says there are 6 ‘latest’ to review.

Despite these minor shortcomings, it’s a useful tool, so head on over to the Office blog to get details, and get it from your app store: the app is available now for Windows Phone 8.1 and Android 4.0 or later, and coming soon to iOS 8.

Microsoft Office for Mac Preview is available

Got a Mac and want to try out the just-released preview of the new version of Microsoft Office 2016? Kick off the download (2.47GB) and read about the new Office while you wait!

Ditching Small Business Server? Use USMT to convert to local accounts

The User State Migration Tool is quite useful when managing user profiles & accounts on your PCs during an operating system migration or upgrade – especially if you have lots of devices to work with. Documented features show you how to switch user profiles between domains – useful when consolidating your Active Directory domains, for example. What about cases when you’re ditching your local infrastructure in favor of all things cloud?

Microsoft’s documentation doesn’t say anything about converting from a domain account to a local account – and yet it’s possible. Here’s how you do it.

First collect your “user state”. To speed up the process, you can use the /hardlink and /nocompress options like so:

Scanstate.exe %temp%\store /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml /hardlink /nocompress /l:%temp%\store\save.log /progress:%temp%\store\save_progress.log /o /ue:*\* /ui:DOMAIN\username

Let’s break down the statement above.

  • %temp%\store specifies that the collected user state should go to the temporary folder, in the store subfolder
  • /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml provide configuration files to move files and settings
  • /hardlink specifies that the source files shouldn’t actually be moved. We can do this because we’re not actually switching PCs for the user, so there’s no need to move profile data. Instead, scanstate simply builds a catalog of files to include when reloading the data into the new profile
  • /l: and /progress: switches specify where to save log and progress log files
  • /ue:*\* tells scanstate to exclude all user profiles from the process. Why? Because we’re going to explicitly call for the profile we’re interested in next
  • /ui:DOMAIN\username is explicitly telling the migration tool to copy ONLY the DOMAIN\username profile. You can use multiple /ui switches if you want to.
  • /o tells the tool to overwrite whatever’s in that store directory. We don’t need to use it, but if you had a failed run, this will ensure a clean slate. Don’t do this on a shared store :).

Once this operation completes, you can create the new local profile by running the following command:

loadstate.exe %temp%\store /i:miguser.xml /i:migapp.xml /hardlink /nocompress /l:%temp%\store\load.log /progress:%temp%\store\load_progress.log /ue:*\* /ui:DOMAIN\username /lac:NewPassword /lae /mu:DOMAIN\username:%computername%\username

Let’s break this one down too (skipping switches that are the same):

  • /lac:NewPassword – specifies that loadstate should create a new Local Account with the password of NewPassword. If you don’t specify NewPassword, the new local account will be created without a password
  • /lae – specifies that the new local account should be enabled. If you don’t use this switch, it’ll be created, but disabled
  • /mu:DOMAIN\username:%computername%\username – this is the magical conversion dust. It’ll switch the account from being a domain account in the DOMAIN domain, to a local account belonging to the %computername% computer. If you’re running this as part of a script, you can just leave %computername% to automatically substitute the actual PC name at run-time.

When this operation completes, your new user profile will be created, data migrated, and now you’re ready to remove this PC from the domain. Note that Outlook email settings aren’t migrated this way, so you’ll need to reconnect Outlook to (presumably) Office 365. Also, default migration files don’t include things like Google Chrome bookmarks, so you’d need to manage that transition separately.

Going into the details for USMT is beyond the scope of this post, but if you’d like a guided tour, check out the Curah! collection that puts it all in one place.

Got questions? Looking to migrate from the soon-to-expire Small Business Server? Give me a call – 1-484-558-0404 or create a support request with MSOnlineHelpdesk.com!

 

 

Azure may get a new big-data service – Cosmos

According to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is planning to bring their internal big-data service, Cosmos, to Azure as a paid service. Microsoft has been using Cosmos internally to handle data from Azure, Bing, Hotmail and other services, and appears poised to complement the current, Hadoop-based Azure HDInsight.

Cosmos will bring new analysis & storage engines, along with SQL-IP, a new language, presumably for working with data in the new offering.

Read Mary Jo Foley’s article on ZDNet for more info, and check out this detailed presentation (albeit from 2011) about Cosmos, its architecture, and functionality.

OneDrive for Business, disk space, and the sync process

Check out MSOnlineHelpdesk.com for a quick note on how OneDrive for Business manages your local computer disk space when synchronizing with cloud storage:

How does OneDrive for Business synchronize files with your local PC?

 

OneNote Class Notebook Creator app is amazing

If you’re in education or training sector, you should take a moment and review the OneNote Class Notebook Creator app – I just spent the few minutes checking it out and it looks like it offers a great set of features. Here’s the link to the article:

Here’s a summary of what the app allows you to do:

  • Create classes and set up notebook templates
  • Add students to the class and automatically create OneNote sections for their homework, assignments, etc.
  • Create shared content & collaboration libraries
  • Add other teachers / staff to the class notebooks
  • Secure students’ notebooks so only they have access
  • Manage students, teachers, content centrally
  • Notify students by email of notebook creation

 

I can easily see this being used in schools and in organizations that provide training with a (more-or-less) formal training curriculum. There are a couple of things missing from the app – such as being able to grade student assignments in a structured, reportable way; hopefully that’s something that can be added later – if there’s demand for it.

If you are an accredited educational institution, you can get everything you need to implement this for free, and businesses can get a free trial of Office 365 to check it out.

Get in touch if you’re interested in trying this out!

Move to the Cloud at The Department of Health and Human Services

“By deploying Microsoft Office 365 in a GCC at HHS, all of the operating and staffing divisions will be able to unify systems, enabling employees to collaborate across each department more efficiently and effectively. As an example, when public health outbreaks and emergencies occur, many disparate operating divisions of HHS are involved in the response efforts. While these operating divisions have different missions and responsibilities, much of the data, correspondence and activities are similar. The move to Office 365 will provide greater efficiency in managing cross-division processes, including data and analytics, as well as documentation management and reporting.”

Via Greg Myers Vice President of Microsoft Federal on Microsoft.com: Government

Non-profit organizations get Office 365 for free!

If your company is a non-profit, you have the opportunity to get Office 365 for free – and get even more features (like desktop versions of Office 2013) at a discount.

http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/office365-for-nonprofits/

 

There are several plans to choose from – we can help you pick the right one and guide you through the trial or implementation. Here’s how to get started:

Sign up for a trial

This is the standard E3 Office 365 trial. Once your eligibility is confirmed by Microsoft, we will switch you over to one (or a mix) of the available Office 365 nonprofit plans.

Verify your eligibility

Take a look at Microsoft’s eligibility guidelines to see if you’re eligible – we can also help you with that step.

RE: Meet “Clutter” – the new Outlook mail clean-up assistant

It’s been just over a weeks since I turned on Clutter in Office 365, and I got to say – it’s awesome. My Clutter folder has successfully separated the chaff from the wheat, leaving my Inbox strictly for important stuff, while keeping things that are not-quite-junk safely within reach and still outside of my peripheral vision. Did I mention that it’s awesome?

If you don’t have the Clutter folder in your Outlook / Outlook Web App (Office 365 is required), go ahead and turn it on! Read how in this MSOnlineHelpdesk.com article.

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