Introducing @Cloud_Girl_MWH

Hey folks, if you’re interested in keeping up with the goings on in Office 365 then please let me introduce you to Nicole Sheridan, aka @Cloud_Girl_MWH. Nicole is one of the big reasons that Ireland is one of Microsoft’s most successful markets for Office 365. No; she doesn’t work for Microsoft (so it’s not all marketing). Nicole is on Twitter as @Cloud_Girl_MWH and is now blogging for MicroWarehouse.

Go on; giver her a follow! I promise that’s she’s a lot less narky than I am 😀

My First Blog Post Written & Posted Using OneNote

Hey genius, I know that the text of this article is clipped. Why don’t you read why before commenting?

Late yesterday afternoon, Microsoft announced that they had released a OneNote Publisher plug-in for WordPress that allows you to:

  1. Write your blog post using OneNote on any device of your choosing
  2. Log into your WordPress admin page and directly import your post from your online OneNote account to publish it, formatting and all.

How well does it work? I’ll let you be the judge of that because this is the very first post that I’ve written for that wasn’t written using Microsoft Live Writer.

You install the plugin as normal in WordPress. Then follow the help to configure a link to your OneNote account. The plug-in adds a button to the Add New Post page in WordPress. Click that button to connect to OneNote and select your article.

A pop-up window opens. This requires you to log into your Microsoft Account, and the very first access will require you to link your site with your OneNote account. Give it a few seconds, and the window will populate with all your notebooks, sections, and pages. Select the page that is your article and click OK.

It takes about 20 seconds for the article to appear in the Add New Post window, with most of your formatting – text formatting is fine but image location (centre) is lost, and more bad things happen which become apparent after clicking Publish (see later).

At this point, format your images, and sort out the metadata and SEO stuff in wp-admin and you can publish your article.

What do I think of this integration? I love the ability to write on any device, even offline, and have my work available on any other device. I’ve often started a post in place A and finished it in place B on a different device, requiring me to either remember to “post draft to blog” or use remote connectivity to get to the first machine.

What do I not like? I am losing some of the metadata stuff that Live Writer makes easy, but the silver lining on that cloud is that it would force me to do that stuff better in wp-admin. Formatting of line spacing is poor. And if your text box in OneNote is too wide then the article line width gets messed up. You should see some of that here.

Am I going to try use this new method of writing and posting? I’ve actually changed my mind about this. I originally posted “absolutely”. Now I have to say “absolutely; when Microsoft sorts out some of the bugs”. The potential for a GREAT solution is there, but right now, it’s just potential.

How is Office for iPad Licensed?

Some questions are flying around the net at the moment. Is Office for iPad free? How do I buy Microsoft Office for iPad? Which Office 365 plans include Office for iPad? Let’s answer them all here.


Is Office for iPad Free?

Yes, but ..

This is what we would call Free-mium software. You can quite happily download Microsoft Office for iPad from iTunes without paying a penny. And the four products will allow you to view/present your documents … and nothing more.

To create or edit content you will need to pay for a suitable Office 365 plan, which you can buy online or in a retail store (basically a key code).

How do I buy Microsoft Office for iPad?

You will need to buy a suitable Office 365 plan. Right now, those plans allow for 5 installs on PCs & Macs, and 5 installs on tablets. A new Personal plan will allow for 1 install – I don’t know the precise details but I suspects one install on PC/Mac and one on tablet.

Which Office 365 plans include Office for iPad?

As stated by Microsoft, the plans are:

  • Office 365 Home
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 Midsize Business
  • Office 365 E3 (Enterprise and Government)
  • Office 365 E4 (Enterprise and Government)
  • Office 365 Education A3
  • Office 365 Education A4
  • Office 365 ProPlus
  • Office 365 University
  • Office 365 Personal – when it becomes available later this spring

Basically, if the Office 365 plan includes Office for install on PC/Mac, then it includes Office for iPad. Microsoft has been hinting this since Office 365 was launched. Most of the Microsoft media talked about the following text from the plans comparisons site back then, suggesting that touch versions of Office for cross-platforms was coming:


So my advice: if there’s any chance that your users/customers will require office on cross platform devices, then buy an M plan (medium biz) or an E3/E4 plan (larger biz or fully featured). Or choose the appropriate education plan or consumer plan for those markets.

BTW, the education plans are REALLY attractive to institutions now. Associate with and talk to a cloud distributor to learn more.

Note that if you did buy an E1 plan then you can upgrade to an E3 or E4 plan. If you bought Small Business then you have lots of options.


I was talking with the Office 365 licensing guru of Ireland, Nicole Sheridan of MicroWarehouse, tonight about this topic and she corrected me on something. Customers can only upgrade their plan if they bought direct (MOSPA). Upgrades are not available via other channels.


If you obtain your Office for iPad licensing via a non-commercial plan, i.e. Home or Personal, then you may not use that license for commercial work. Doing so is a breach of the terms of licensing (you need a  license upgrade). BTW CIOs, this is impossible to audit.

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Office 365 Upgrades Are Coming

A common misconception about Office 365 is that existing customers get upgraded immediately.  That is not the case.  New customers get access to the new product at launch time.  Existing customers need to have their service upgraded by Microsoft.  As you can imagine, there must be many petabytes of data to shove about during these upgrades and it happens gradually.  While the BPOS to Office 365 upgrade was extremely complex (BPOS was based on Office products that were not designed for the cloud) it appears that this 2013 upgrade will be much smoother and quicker.

The admins of our Office 365 account at work just got this notification:


If we wanted to test this upgrade to check for negative impacts:

In about 4 weeks, your organization will receive an upgrade to your Office 365 service. You can experience the service upgrade with a small group of users immediately.

Note that the admin appears to get a customer-specific link for the test.

And if you want to delay the upgrade:

If you really need to, you can postpone the service upgrade right from the Admin page.

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Office 365 Virtual Launch Event

I’m attempting to live blog this.  No promises – I’ve been sick for a week and I will probably miss quite a bit in between bouts of coughing.


We get a video of an O365 customer in Hamburg Germany.  They use an E plan by the sounds of it, with AD synch via ADFS.  It’s a big love affair with the cloud in Hamburg.

And here goes the launch … let’s hope no SSL certs expire in the next while …

John Case, Corporate VP Office Division, announces availability of #Office365.

Kurt DelBlene

President Office Division

We get the old cloud message: mobility, ad-hoc working, faster change (when is my upgrade?), less hardware and maintenance costs (partners need to evolve), and a “new role for IT to focus on strategic investments”.


  • Best on Windows 8: new look, touch.
  • Built for the cloud from the ground up.  Auto save to the cloud and available on PC and Mac equally well
  • Social is built into Office.  Context of people is shown: who/where/what
  • Built for the end user with new scenarios.  PowerPoint has a useful (first time ever) presenter mode.  Lync does HD.  You can import and edit PDF in Word.  Word is a reader that remembers the last location
  • IT control: compliance and deliverables.

Office 365 business plans are now launched.  Office 2013 Pro Plus is included (no mention of the plans), for up to 5 PCs/Macs.  Yammer is built into Office 365.

Julia White

General Manager, Office, has her Windows 8 Surface Pro out for a demo.  Word 2013 first.  New read mode with swipe support, tap to read comments, and tap again to talk to the commentator  via Lync.  New online picture option to Bing for an image and drop it straight into the Word doc.  You are asked how you want text to flow around the new picture.  By default, the doc is stored in the cloud.

SharePoint in O365 next.  Content can be cached offline. 

Windows Phone 8 Office Hub.  Same content is visible.  It even goes to the last read location in Word. 

Outlook.  It does detect if your device is touch and gives you a panel of controls on the right for easy mail manipulation. 

OneNote MX:  New touch control instead of fiddly menus.  Called a Radial Menu – very Star Trek TNG.  It is context sensitive.  You can use a stylus and draw – I’ve found this very handy to diagram within my notes. 

Excel: New flash fill feature to auto fill cells based on a predictive text algorithm that detects patterns on existing data versus what you’re doing.  Yay, more pivot tables – ick!  And a new power view based on pivot tables. 

Yammer: basically it’s an internal Facebook for the company.  It’s really a lot like Facebook.  Attach files, like, praise, run surveys, etc.  You follow people or groups like on Twitter.  You can create external networks (security and compliance officers crap themselves here). 

Out comes the 85” Perceptive Pixel touch TV for a Lync demo.  A presentation is shown and live edited.  OneNote is open and all participants can interact with it.

Customer Interviews

  • City of Chicago: 30,000 employees moved to the cloud. 
  • Toyota: Wanted to improve communications between the company and partners. “When you’re an IT person you don’t normally get applause” Smile
  • Meals On Wheels (charity): Great solution for widely dispersed charities.  Irish NGO Concern has been using O365 for it’s people scattered all over the world.

And that’s that.  Very short and not much info at all on this massive release.  I guess you’ll have to go online.  I guess will have a glut of docs.

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Office 365 “2013” Is Launched/Announced

The “2013” wave of “The New Office” has been launched.  You’re hearing lots of news about Office 365 (and this stuff is valid) but the launch includes all the usual on-premise server and Office client suspects.

A few days ago Microsoft launched the FPP (Full Packaged Product) of Office 365 Home Premium.  FPP means it comes in a box.  Yup a consumer can buy Office 365 from a shop (or direct online) for their family on an annual basis.  This includes up to 5 installs of Office on a PC (2013) and on a Mac (2011).  The box contains a code and setup instructions to get going, and this includes the simple process for installing the auto-updating install of Office.

The other SKUs of Office 365 are intended for the business.  If they are sold direct by Microsoft, a partner can be registered as the partner of record.  This gives that partner their recurring fees.  Partners can also use the Office 365 partner portal to send invites to their customers; this automatically configures the partner of record to ensure they get their finders fee and recurring fees.  The new Office 365 versions will be available on Feb 27.  Don’t ask me when the upgrades for existing customers will happen because I do not know.

Remember that Office 2013 is included in the price and can be delivered by:

  • Click-to-run: permanent (it is leased and activated every 30 days as long as your subscription is valid) and updated install
  • On-demand: A temporary install, e.g. for an Internet Café
  • Office Web Apps: lightweight web only Office apps

Office 365 Small Business has a target market of 1-10 users (expands up to 20) and works with Windows Server 2012 Essentials.  This will also be available direct and retail (FPP).

Office 365 Midsize Business is intended for the SME market with a target market of 11-250 (max of 300).  It is also available via Open licensing as well as the normal direct/partner of record methods.  This means that VARs can buy Office 365 Midsize Business (from March 1st) from a cloud distributor and sell it direct to their customer without Microsoft having direct billing with the customer.  This means that VARs can bundle O365 with annual support/maintenance/services contracts and price it as they see fit. 

Office 365 Enterprise is for >250 users.  It is also available via Enterprise Agreements (EAs) sold direct to the customer by a Large Account Reseller (LAR).

In summary:

  • Right now: people can buy Office 365 Home Premium, including FPP via retail
  • Feb 27th: business can buy direct and through association Office 365 Small Business, Midsize, and Enterprise SKUs
  • March 1st: Microsoft partners can buy Office 365 Midsize via Open licensing from distribution and resell it to their customers

There will be trial editions available.

The clever partners will focus on services.  The soon-to-be-extinct partners will moan about the end of SBS.  How much profit did you make last year on that SBS server hardware sale?  Hardware margins have been going down.  If you rely on selling tin then you’re not long for this world.  How much profit did you make from the license?  Maybe a few points, and once again, you won’t feed your children on profits from licensing.  Services are where the money is.

My employers have been running a series of workshops on the next version of Office 365 for the partners who registered us as their cloud distributors.  Office 365 MVP, Kerstin Rachfahl, flew over from Germany to deliver the content. Kerstin and her husband Carsten (Virtual Machine MVP like me) own a VAR company that operates in a market that is similar to the one that the typical Irish partner does, and they have made a success of Office 365.


Services! Services! Services!  Set your self up as the delegated administrator for your customers and support them from your office.  Deploy Office and Lync.  Upgrade their PCs using MDT.  Maybe couple Office 365 with cloud PC management (e.g. Windows Intune) for remote PC/mobile device support and management.  Migrate users from their SBS to the cloud.  Learn some basics in SharePoint and maintain it for the customer.  Maintain their users, customise policies, and all that usual stuff.  Become the customer’s IT support staff in the cloud.  In the end, you still do the services.  Just now, you can do it from anywhere because everything is online.

Partners had a right to be upset at Office 365 before now because of the lack of a distribution model through Open.  Now the two smaller packages will be available via FPP retail and the midsize product (where most VARs business is) will be available via Open.  Don’t bother crying about Enterprise not being via Open.  All Microsoft enterprise licensing (Select and EA) goes direct to the customer via a LAR, bypassing the partner.

Any partner that continues to fight the cloud is going to be in for “interesting times” in the next 12-18 months.  Change is constant in IT.  Your ability to resell SBS ends this year.  Selling Server Standard, Server Standard per user/device CALs, Exchange Server and user CALs is a pricey business, and the stuff is complicated.  Anyone in the SBS market knows that service provider churn happens and is common.  You probably won the customer through a “site check-up” and that’ll happen to you if you cling to the traditional client/server model.  I’m seeing lots of partners interested in what Office 365 can do for their business and their customers … once you’re in you have enterprise level products (e.g. Email archival and Data Loss Prevention without Enterprise CALs), no more upgrades, and continuous Office upgrades … and no more trying to sell a SBS server with ever reducing margin on tin/licensing.  Not to mention that field engineer time becomes more efficient because the “server” is online and there is no travel to “hit the reset button”.

Resistance is futile.  Even the dinosaurs, as powerful as they were, died when change came a calling.  Do you want to be a dinosaur?

Microsoft posted a lot of information last night.  This includes release dates, information on the 4 basic SKUs of Office 365 (Exchange online is still available and can be mixed with Office 365 Enterprise [E1]), and some FAQ and presentations.

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Office 365 and Remote Desktop Services

This post is out of date. Please talk to your reseller or your distributor.

Great news for customers of Office 365.  When you get your free bundled Office 2013, you’ll be entitled to use it on Remote Desktop Services (aka Terminal Services).  In other words, if your company is into server-based computing, you’re going to save money.

You can find out the specifics in the Microsoft Product Usage Rights (PUR) document.  Under Office 365 ProPlus:

  1. Each user to whom you assign a User SL may activate the software for local or remote use on up to five concurrent OSEs.
  2. The Licensed User may also use the software activated by another user under a different User SL.
  3. Each user may also use one of the five activations on a network server with the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) role enabled.
  4. You may allow other users to remotely access the software solely to provide support services.

This appears to apply to:

  • Office 365 ProPlus User SL, or
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3-A4 User SL, or
  • Office Professional Plus A User SL, or
  • Office 365 Academic A3-A4 User SL, or
  • Core CAL Suite* with Office 365 Academic A3 (A4) User SL Add-on, or
  • Enterprise CAL Suite* with Office 365 Academic A3 (A4) User SL Add-on, or
  • Core CAL Suite* with Office Pro Plus* and Office 365 Academic A3 (A4) User SL Add-on, or
  • Enterprise CAL Suite* with Office Pro Plus* and Office 365 Academic A3 (A4) User SL Add-on, or
  • Office Pro Plus* with Office 365 Academic A3 (A4) User SL Add-on, or
  • Office Professional Plus G User SL, or
  • Office 365 Government G3 User SL, or
  • Office 365 Government G4 User SL, or
  • Office 365 Midsize Business User SL

*  Denotes “with current Software Assurance”

An important note, possibly related to online activation renewal:

Each user to whom you assign a User SL must connect each device upon which they have installed the software to the Internet at least once every 30 days. If a user does not comply with this requirement, the functionality of the software may be affected.

Office 365 vNext Training For Registered MicroWarehouse Cloud Customers

My employers, MicroWarehouse are running technical training on the next wave of Office365 at the end of this month.  Spaces are limited – and they are restricted strictly to employees of Microsoft partners that have completed the process of registering MicroWarehouse as their cloud distributor.  Such training is one of the benefits of this registration.

Anyone with questions on registration or becoming a Cloud Essentials partner can contact their MWH account manager for assistance.

Now for the training details.  We’re lucky to have Office 365 MVP Kerstin Rachfahl coming over from Germany to deliver this training.  Kerstin, and her husband Carsten (a fellow Virtual Machine MVP), work in the SME space just like the majority of Microsoft partners, and the training will be focused on this market, making the training very relevant to Irish partners.  I will be sitting in too – cos I want to learn from an expert.

The details of the training are:


As I said, this event is exclusively for technical employees of Microsoft partners that have completed the process of registering MicroWarehouse as their cloud distributor.  Those folks may register for this event here.

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Log Into And Use 2 Lync Accounts At Once

I have two Lync online accounts:

  • My personal one
  • And my work one

Both run through Office 365, and I wanted to have them both running.  Doing this with Live Messenger was possible using 3rd party clients, but I’ve not seen such a client for Lync. 

How to do it?  Well, there’s a few ways to run Lync clients, and they can all run in parallel:

  1. Install the desktop client – this is the best user experience and should be used for the account that is most important (presence and chat)
  2. Log into Lync via the OWA interface in the O365 portal … it’s basic but it allows people to talk to you
  3. Install the Windows Store Lync app on Windows 8 – it’s not as good as the desktop client but it works

At work, I use the full desktop client and the Windows Store App.  Both can be running at the same time, and logged in with different user accounts.  Sorted!

Now if only we had a desktop client that supported dual accounts ….

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Reports Of Full Blown Office Being “Seen” On The iPad

Mary Jo Foley has posted a new story where The Daily is reporting that they had a private demonstration of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint running on an iPad.

I attended distributor training on Windows 8, Server 2012, and Office a few months ago. During one of the Office sessions, we heard “Office on iPad” a few times so I piped up with a question.

When you say “Office on iPad”, do you mean the full product or just the bits that are already there, like Lync and OneNote?

The presenter, a fairly senior person from the Office division, thought about that for some time. It was like a politician had just been cornered with a question. And then the response was something along the lines of (not a quote): “I’ve not been briefed on a full Office on iPad, I’m talking about Lync and OneNote native apps and Web Apps for the rest”.

I had no evidence of any kind to say the truth was something else. But it was that delay of a second or two while he thought, that’s what got my attention. So what does full blown Office on iPad mean? What form will it come in?

The simplest and least effective is some sort of RemoteApp session to Remote Desktop Services. You can do this right now using an ICA client to a Citrix farm. Want to full a non-techie? Do this and it’ll look like Office 2013 is running on an iPad.

I personally thought Microsoft would go with the next option: Just make sure that Office Web Apps run on Safari on iOS and Android devices. The pros of this is that it can be done quickly. Plus it easily ties the iPad customer to Office365 subscriptions, just where Microsoft wants ‘em.

The least likely to me is that Microsoft will quickly turn around native iOS apps for Office. I think that’s the one that an iPad customer would like the most. But I see lots of problems with this approach:

  • It’s one thing to do Skype, Lync, and OneNote on iPad, but it’s a whole other development project to get Office running as native apps. Does Microsoft have the skills?
  • Remember that Office is more than just a program, it’s a client that connects to services. Does iPad have everything that Windows does to take full advantage of Office365?
  • Local storage on iPad is a joke compared to Windows, etc. How bloated will Word be when people are storing files locally? Will they be able to store files locally or will there be an assumption of always-online for SkyDrive Pro, SkyDrive, or Office365?
  • Can Microsoft really have native apps for iPad before they do Metro (yeah, I said it) apps for Windows 8? I’m not talking about logistics … I’m talking about the appearance of it to the customer.
  • How would Microsoft distribute Office on iPad? It can’t go through the channels like Office on Mac. Will it be sold through the App Store? Will businesses be able to get it via volume licensing and side load it via Windows Intune? Will it be made available via some side load with an Office 365 subscription? Will there be a code you get (volume license or O365) to enter in iTunes to install it via the Apple direct channel?

I’ve no idea what the reporter(s) from The Daily saw or didn’t see. I wasn’t there. I’m making no assumptions. There’s been rumours of Office on iPad for quite some time, and it would make sense if the client appeared in some form on a top selling device. Remember that Microsoft is now a devices & services company, and Office365 is a service that they really want to push in 2013, no matter what sort of device you’re using.


Hmm, it appears that Microsoft France is allegedly leaking again: Their support page mentioned “Office Mobile for iPhone”. There’s more on this here.

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