Change the Office 2013 Colour Theme

First time I saw Office 2013 I thought “damn that’s very white”. It’s actually painfully white. As a picture, it lacks contrast (dark colours being closer to black, and light colours being closer to white) and a tonal range (because it’s almost all white by default).

I googled for a solution and nothing official from Microsoft appeared but I did find instructions in a forum.

  1. Open up an Office 2013 program
  2. Click on File –> Office Account or File –> Account, depending on the program you’ve launched
  3. Change Office Theme from White to one of the two other options.

Here’s how the default setting looks in Office Account:


That appears like this:


Changing the Office Theme to Light Grey has this effect:


That’s subtle. If you want more contrast/tone then go with Dark Grey:


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Early Impressions Of Office 2013 Beta

I installed Office 2013 on my Windows 8 Build slate PC on Monday night.  Here are some early impressions:

  • It’s very different looking.  The layout has been optimized to make it touch friendly, but still appears to be mouse friendly.
  • The new control that everyone is talking about reminds me of something in the Star Trek’s of the last 20 years.
  • I really like where Word has gone.  Becoming a consumer of information is a great idea.  It is now also a reader, can scale the doc to your tastes, and can remember where you left off.  That makes it very Kindle-like.  It can also open and edit PDF.  Bye-bye Adobe Reader; you and your constant patching requirements (that are usually not done) won’t be missed.
  • As a person who writes the occasional white paper, I like how Word now allows flexible placement of images.  Note that we never embed images when writing books; the editors do that in the later PDF stages.
  • I love the new presenter view in PowerPoint.  I’ve been dreaming of presenting from my slate PC in the past.  I hate being tied to behind a podium when presenting and I don’t like looking back to the screen to remind me of what I’m talking about on this slide.  Plus being able to use “ink” to highlight things will be useful.
  • I haven’t looked into Lync or Outlook too much yet.  I have them working with Office365 with no extra work other than signing in (as usual).

Don’t ask me about Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange servers.  I haven’t a clue what’s new yet.  To be honest, they are usually outside of my scope of work.  There is a boat load of new documentation on for the “wave 15” betas of Office.

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Office 365 / Outlook / iTunes Wiped My Contacts – And How I Rescued Them

My main e-mail was had been Gmail since I joined the beta way back when.  I never really used it for storing contacts because of how Gmail can figure out email addresses from the contents of the inbox.  My repository was the phone.  When I got an iPhone, it became phone & Outlook (synced by iTunes).  Then I got an iPod and it was in sync with them … when ever I would connect it up to the laptop (rare enough to be honest because I charge it separately).

Last night I made a big change to my email habits.  I switched from Gmail and Hotmail to Office 365.  I connected up Outlook and set Office 365 as my primary mail account.  This morning, I hooked up my phone to sync up some podcasts for the commute to work.  After work I came home, synced the iPhone again (which backed up the phone and erased the previous iTunes data backup), and I got a call (the first of the day).  No name came up … but it was my Mom.  Hmm, she hadn’t changed numbers or phone.  Why the frak did that happen.  Then I checked my contacts … well …  I checked the now empty repository of contacts.  Yoiks!

Panic stations.  No one likes every one of their contacts being blasted away and the lot being synced as zip.  Somehow, the Outlook switch over decided that my contacts should not merge my contacts between the phone and my new mail account, but should in fact reset them to zero.  Well I suppose it would be interesting to make a whole new set of friends and family Winking smile

I had an idea to rescue my contacts.  My iPad hadn’t been synced.  I fired it up and there were the contacts sitting pretty.  iCloud would rescue me.  I’ve never used it before.  I’ve never even tried it before. 

  1. Did an iCloud backup of the iPad.
  2. Configured iCloud to sync my calendar and my contacts.
  3. Logged into iCloud and verified that they were all there.
  4. Disabled iCloud sync on the iPad (to keep the data safe) and left the data on the iPad (no delete)
  5. Disconnected my iPhone, and configured it to sync with iCloud.  My contacts and calendar entries were back.
  6. Removed all trace of my now redundant Gmail account (IMAP) from Outlook and from the iPhone.
  7. Closed and restarted Outlook and iTunes.
  8. Disabled iCloud sync on the iPhone, leaving the data on the phone.
  9. Connected up the iPhone to the laptop and let iTunes sync with contacts (verify this is set up in the Phone – Info area).
  10. Dismissed the dozens of meeting alerts that appeared for past reminders.
  11. Checked Outlook Contacts and there they were … rescued.


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Day 2 of Office 365

To follow up on yesterday’s Gmail migration issues:

  • Attempt 1 was to connect the email account: works nicely for Hotmail migration but Gmail is another story because it doesn’t have real folders (using tags).  My mails were coming into the inbox as unread.  I quickly stopped and backtracked that.
  • Attempt 2 was to use the recommended IMAP migration.  My Gmail was set up for IMAP already so all was good there. I created the required CSV and started the import.  Or I tried to.  O365 refused to connect to my Gmail account, no matter what I did.
  • Attempt 3 was manual.  Outlook was already connected to Gmail.  I connected it to O365.  I then manually copied all of my folders and mails from one account to another, all 1.5 GB of it.

With the pain over, I can move on.  I use the OWA interface of O365 from the office, so I can keep it separate from Outlook which is connected to the Office Exchange server and mail account.  OWA works nicely.

I had a play with the SharePoint Internet website.  That was nice and easy to reconfigure.  To be honest, I doubt I’ll ever use SharePoint for my own stuff.  I have a Home Server and I use Live Mesh, along with Carbonite backup.  I can always get at my files either by a local replica or by browsing one of a number of sites.

Lync … hmm.  The DNS records are “interesting”.  I believe I’ve got them set up correctly.  My domain is with an ISP and I’m not moving it to MSFT.  I use it for a number of things and I want to retain control.  Lync has been a ropey experience.  I can’t say it’s as good as Live Messenger for staying in contact with people.  I can hook up with anyone on Messenger without Federation.  But Lync isn’t built to be that way.  In fact, all the instructions I’ve seen imply that you can enable federation to specific domains.  Not in the Office365 that I have: I can enable it or disable it and nothing more.  I’ve connected successfully to my Messenger account so I know it works. 

What doesn’t work?  Well, audio is just a wee bit important to Lync.  And it cannot find my audio device.  That’s despite the fact that I listen to music, watch Silverlight and Flash webcasts, and so on with absolutely no issues.  The Realtek audio driver is up to date … turns out others in the office with this model of HP PC (8100 Elite Convertible Minitower) have the same issue.

Anyway, my main reason to get O365 was email, and that’s now working fine.

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When Selling Office365 As A Partner Of Record …

According to Redmond Channel Partner:

As with BPOS and other Microsoft cloud offerings, the payouts are 12 percent for net-add seats and 6 percent in annual recurring fees. The 6 percent fee starts paying in the first year, making the first-year fees 18 percent.

As a partner you will only get those fees if your customer registers you as the partner of record when they sign up.  Unfortunately, that is optional and not a mandatory of the sign up process.  In fact, it’s a link that is tucked away off to the side.

The customer will be asked for the Partner ID of the partner of record.  That’s not public information.  So here’s what might happen.  A customer wants to sign up after you’ve sold the concept of cloud computing.  They go to the site.  They go through the process.  Even if they see the link and understand what it does, they won’t have your Partner ID, they’ll likely skip it, and pay Microsoft without you becoming the partner of record.

My suggestions for the people selling O365 (yes; I’m talking to you, sales people):

  1. Have your partner ID handy.  Don’t make it public, because it is used for a few different things in the partner programs.  Know what the ID is.  Most MSFT partners have no idea what their partner ID is.  You can find it when you log into the Microsoft Partner Network website.
  2. When your customer agrees to sign up, go out to them (or remote assist them) and walk through the sign up process.  Think of it as “value added reselling”.  You know what your partner ID is and you’ll know to hit that register partner link.  If you’re not there, the customer is sure to miss it, or they’ll not be able to find/read your email containing the ID.

A customer can add or change a partner of record using the instructions on O365 online help.  I’ve just done it for my subscription … giving one lucky partner in Galway all of a few cents per month.

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My Office 365 Subscription Experience

I set up my first trial of Office 365 last year during the beta.  It was a pretty smooth process for E-Mail, requiring an MX and confirmation.  I didn’t really care too much about SharePoint.  Lync … well … Lync requires a lot of DNS stuff, none of which was possible to do myself in my registrar’s control panel.  For a trial, it wasn’t worth getting them to set up the records for Lync manually.

Before the Christmas holidays, I signed up for another trial, this time choosing the P plan for professionals and small businesses.  The 25 GB mailbox was tempting … I’ve a number of email accounts (personal, MVP stuff, Microsoft stuff) and it’s been annoying for me to use, and some folks I know just send 1 email to all of them to get me – my clear delineations weren’t clear to others.

Problem: Partner Selection

This morning I decided to subscribe to the P plan.  Payment was easy.  The issue I had with the signup process was from the channel point of view (I work for a distributor).  Way off to the side, almost invisible, was the option to Add Partner.  This was where I could optionally choose to add a qualified Office 365 partner.  I thought “I’ll do that and choose one of our customers (a reseller) that has signed up with our O365 distribution channel”.  Up popped a screen and it asked me for the partner ID of the reseller.  Huh!  I’m pretty sure folks in Microsoft think that every MSFT partner lives in the Microsoft Partner Network website and can shout out their numeric partner ID like a soldier does their serial number.  Not quite!  When faced with this, I did what any customer will do – I clicked cancel and completed the payment without specifying a partner. 

Email Setup

First thing was to get my email address configured.  The MX was set up last year.  But my account (the default administrator) was set up with a damned address.  I configured my sign-in to use my domain but the sent email still used the MSFT domain.  I edited my account in Admin –> Users –> <Select Account> –> More –> Change Mailbox Settings, and removed the “other address” from Email Options.

Email Migration

I wanted to import a Hotmail and a Gmail account.  Hotmail was smooth and easy.  I went into Options – See All Options –> Account –> Connected Accounts.  Here I added the details of my hotmail account.  All the folders and email were imported nice and smooth.

Gmail is a different beast.  You have to enable POP access in your Gmail account (Settings –> Forwarding And POP/IMAP).  That beast is importing 1.5 GB of email right now, and it appears to have 2 issues:

  • My 10 year old folder structure in Gmail is being ignored.
  • Read emails are being marked as unread.

Both are very unhelpful.  And no, I was not going to set up mail rules – why the frak should I have to do that to recreate a 10 year old folder structure?  I’m in the midst of trying to find a realistic alternative.  No, I won’t be installing Exchange to do this (COME ON MAN!).  This seriously impacts the migration of customers from Google Apps to Office 365.  Try tell any user that you’ll only import their Inbox, their folders will be lost, and all their email will be marked as unread.  You’ll be lucky if your not flayed alive.


It appears that the only option I have (that doesn’t include paying for a 3rd party tool) is to configure Outlook to connect to both Gmail (to create an IMAP connected PST) and O365.  Then I can import the Gmail PST into O365.  That will take a wee while (1.5 GB of email).  So much for cloud computing easing my bandwidth demands during migration.  MSFT has been talking up a “soon to be released” PST Capture tool since October 2011.  It is not available yet.

Remember: Office 365 primarily sells to small and startup businesses.  They don’t have Exchange.  They probably have nothing or are on Google Apps.  Office 365 seems to have forgotten that.

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Office 2010 Service Pack 1 RTM Date

According to Microsoft, you can expect Service Pack 1 for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to RTM in the end of June.  “Initially, Service Pack 1 will be offered as a manual download from the Download Center and from Microsoft Update, and no sooner than 90 days after release, will be made available as an Automatic Update”.

Changes include:

  • Outlook fixes an issue where “Snooze Time” would not reset between appointments.
  • The default behavior for PowerPoint "Use Presenter View" option changed to display the slide show on the secondary monitor.
  • Integrated community content in the Access Application Part Gallery.
  • Better alignment between Project Server and SharePoint Server browser support.
  • Improved backup / restore functionality for SharePoint Server
  • The Word Web Application extends printing support to “Edit Mode.”
  • Project Professional now synchronizes scheduled tasks with SharePoint task lists.
  • Internet Explorer 9 “Native” support for Office Web Applications and SharePoint
  • Office Web Applications Support for Chrome
  • Inserting Charts into Excel Workbooks using Excel Web Application
  • Support for searching PPSX files in Search Server
  • Visio Fixes scaling issues and arrowhead rendering errors with SVG export
  • Proofing Tools improve spelling suggestions in Canadian English, French, Swedish and European Portuguese.
  • Outlook Web Application Attachment Preview (with Exchange Online only)
  • Office client suites using “Add Remove Programs” Control Panel, building on our work from Office 2007 SP2

Office 2010 Deployment Guide

Microsoft released this guide for deploying Office 2010 a little while ago.

“This book provides information about how to plan a deployment Microsoft Office 2010, including how to plan for virtualization and Remote Desktop Services”.

Some other documents were also released:

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Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) 2010

You will want to learn about this toolset if you are planning on doing any Windows 7/Office 2010 deployment projects. I know it (previous version) is a minor element in the Vista/MDT 2008 deployment exam.

“The Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) 2010 is a group of tools designed to help administrators during the planning and testing phases of a Microsoft Office 2010 deployment.

OMPM assists administrators in the discovery and compatibility assessment of existing Office documents for migration from the binary document formats (.doc, .xls, etc.) to OpenXML formats (.docx, .xlsx, etc.). Additionally, OMPM 2010 adds features to assess macro compatibility with Office 2010 and 64 bit Office compatibility. The toolkit also contains the Office File Converter (OFC), which enables bulk document conversions from binary to OpenXML formats, and a Version Extraction Tool (VET) to extract saved file versions.

The goal of the tool set is to help administrators understand the number and types of Microsoft Office files in their environment and effectively plan for a smooth rollout of the new version of Microsoft Office.

Refer to the Office Migration Planning Manager reference for further information”.

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KMS Download for Office 2010

Office 2010 activation has gone the way of Windows and now supports both MAK and KMS.  This download gives you an update for KMS activation.

“An Office 2010 KMS host is required if you want to use KMS activation for your volume licensing editions of Office 2010 suites or applications, Microsoft Project 2010 or Microsoft Visio 2010. When Office 2010 volume edition client products are installed, they will automatically search for a KMS host on your organization’s DNS server for activation. All volume editions of Office 2010 client products are pre-installed with a KMS client key, so you will not need to install a product key.

This download contains an executable file that will extract and install KMS host license files. These license files are required for the KMS host service to recognize Office 2010 KMS host keys. It will also prompt you to enter your Office 2010 KMS host key and activate that key. After this is done, you may need to use the slmgr.vbs script to further configure your KMS host”.