Microsoft News – 23 January 2015

If you’ve just emerged from a cave or from under a rock, then you might like to read about Windows 10 and HoloLens. It’s been amazing to see how in “90 minutes”, the image of Microsoft has done a 180 degree turnaround. The carefully orchestrated and timed announcements on Wednesday were very effective.

System Center

Windows Client


Office 365

  • New Office Visio Stencil: These stencils contain more than 300 icons to help you create visual representations of Microsoft Office or Microsoft Office 365 deployments including Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, Microsoft Lync Server 2013, and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • Azure RMS Migration Guidance: The Azure RMS Migration guidance contains a whitepaper with step-by-step guidance and links to cmdlets and tools to migrate on-premises Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) server key and templates to Azure Rights Management services (Azure RMS) while preserving access to protected content.

Live Blogging From TechEd North America 2014 Keynote

Welcome to Houston where the keynote hall is full and they’re filling the overflow rooms for the Brad Anderson-led keynote at TechEd North America 2014. I am here with Petri IT Knowledgebase, sitting in the press section at the front of the hall.

I  live blogged as the event went on. Don’t expect much if anything in the way of Windows or System Center news. This will be a cloud year, where new features come out every 6 or so weeks, thanks to a cloud development cycle. I also do not expect Satya Nadella here.

Speaking of which; Nadella courted devs at a number of events in recent months, including Build. What will Microsoft do this week to convince influential IT pros that Azure won’t steal their jobs and that they are still important to Microsoft (they don’t feel that way lately)?

Right now a classical/electrical band called Flash Drive is playing pop muzak.

After a few songs they get a good reception. Now the 2 minute long teched countdown show kicks off with Joey Snow and Rick Claus.

Brad Anderson comes out sans-Aston Martin. He professes love for the new reign of Satya Nadella. As expected, Brad talks about devices and data of previously unimaginable growth. Cloud will be core to everything we do to manage devices (ever connected world) to derive insights from that data. There are no more devices than people on the planet.

On comes a video with some dude in black and white. It’s a new world, with low contrast film. It’s devices-devices-devices. No monkey boy dancing. Airy fairy stuff about storing data in trees. Yes; trees. I guess these guys are from MSFT Research.

Brad wants to talk about IT Pros. “IT pros are literally at the centre of cloud first and device first clouds”. “No longer think of public cloud as seperate; it is integral to your data center from this point forward”.

Three capabilities required when you consider a cloud. Choosing a cloud vendor wisely is critical for your future:

  • Hyper-V scale: able to grow fast than you. Only 3 companies operate at this scale. This scale drives innovation in infrastructure.
  • Enterprise capabilities and enterprise grade cloud. Financially backed SLA.
  • Hybrid: Works with on premise, partner hosted cloud, and public cloud all integrated. Only MSFT does this.

Right now, only MSFT meets all three requirements.

How could we change our industry if we had unlimited computing power. Here comes Respawn’s Titanfall, an Azure-powered online-only game. It had over 100,000 VMs on day 1, powered up around the world, with clients connected to the closest data centre. No worry about location or performance. They have solid and even compute capacity. They scale up and down as required to meet customer demand. They power lots of game functionality on the server, which they could not do on a console. 150 employees company has hundreds of thousands of VMs around the world.

16 regions. A new core is deployed every 5 seconds. 2 billion authentications a day being done by Azure Active Directory. They take this functionality and trickle it down to hosting partners (WAP, Hyper-V, and System Center). Windows Server Hyper-V is the common foundation across private, hosted, and public cloud. No lock in. Flexible expansion, shrink, and mobility.

IaaS new features:

  • Cloud app discovery Preview. This looks VERY cool.
  • Compute intensive VMs – more RAM and more VMs, with RDMA Infiniband at 40 Gbps.
  • Virtual networking enhancements
  • ExpressRoute is GA for MPLS networking. 2 circuits for every connecting for fault tolerance. Note that Telecity is now a partner.
  • Azure Files Preview: SMB 3.0 sharing of files for VMs.

Software-defined storage (Storage Spaces) is used by Azure.

On to SQL 2014. In memory gives 30x increase without re-writing application, just by adding RAM to existing h/w.

Azure Redis Cache is in preview. API AManagement Preview is in preview too.

Out comes Josh Twist to talk about API Management. Wellmark is an American insurance company and Azure customer. He talks about this feature without explaining what it is. I’m lost.

Back to Brad with more announcements:

  • Anti-malware is being added to Azure. Microsoft Endpoint protection. Partnering with Symantec and Trend Micro.
  • Encrypted storage for Office 365.
  • Azure Site Recovery: Hyper-V Replica to Azure. review in June. This is BIG. Use HRM for orchestration.

Here comes Matt McSpirit to talk about the latter. Azure Site Recovery can be your secondary site if you don’t have one. Can manage replication between sites and to Azure. Centralized management of the replica VMs. VMs can be encrypted while at rest.

Site recovery makes networking easy. Can map networks between primary and secondary site. Map on-premise networks with Azure virtual networks.

A recovery plan orchestrates failover, test, planned, or unplanned. It will cleanly shut down VMs and replicate final changes in the event of a planned failover ( a flood is coming).  You can inject manual tasks into the orchestration.

We move on to identity, another MSFT USP. SaaS is powered by identity. For example, Office 365. Discover how many they are using with Cloud App Discovery. Often some 250 unmanaged SaaS apps in a company. IT has no control. IT needs to take control and manage identity and security.

Office on the 3 mobile OSs will be brought under management. Protection of files: Azure Rights Management Services (ARMS). Part of the EMS bundle for EA customers. The protection travels with the files: only the right people can access the files, even with accidental leakage.

Azure RemoteApp is Mohoro. It’s a RDS session host system designed to run in Azure. You upload LOB apps into Azure and users access them from cross-platform devices. AWS desktop as a service is a square wheel compared to Azure RemoteApp.

Demo: User signs into SaaS app using AD ID via ID federation into Azure AD.  80% of employees admit using non-approved SaaS apps. Cloud App Discovery tool allows admins to discover what apps are being used and how. Now IT can bring these apps under company control. Azure AD has 1300 templates for SaaS single-sign on.

Azure Remote App preview is GA today – note it is not live yet in the Europe regions. Publish apps over the highly performing RemoteFX protocol to devices of different OSs – Windows, iOS, Mac OS X, and Android. A little nod to Citrix.

Now on to the dev audience. I sleep.

I wake up. Now Brad is talking about users. Sadly, people have lost interest in the dev content and are leaving.

“Work like a network”.

Humans can achieve if we focus. There is a flood of information that distracts. Need to move from information to action. Information is locked within boundaries inside organizations. BI stuff now. Yawn.

Demo on BI with old content from Barcelona promo video.

Back to Brad to talk about Office. Ugh, sounds like more BI.

Julia White to talk cloud productivity with Intune and Office 365. Basic demo of doc sharing in OneDrive for Business. Tell Me in Word Online is shown to help find how to do formatting. Can share from OneDrive for Business into Yammer. Yammer: IT managed social experience.

Back to Brad. More people leaving the hall. Not nearly as bad as Elop in 2009 (that was BAD) but a section of the audience has lost interest. This will be a talking point IMO.

Back to summarise. MSFT believes in cloud and getting us to embrace it.

Microsoft News Summary – 7 May 2014

Between a bank holiday and some travel, I’ve been unable to post, but I’ve saved up the headlines from those days:

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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Event – TechNet Conference 2013 in Berlin

Berlin is the place to be on November 12th and 13th if you’re interested in Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Windows Intune, Windows Azure, SQL Server 2014 or Office 365 … and you can speak German.

That’s because Microsoft Germany in cooperation with members of the community, including numerous European MVPs, are going to be talking tech, tech, tech, at level 300 and above, at TechNet Conference 2013.  For just a small registration fee, you’ll have access to 2 days of content, each with 3 tracks.

The keynote will be presented by  Mike Schutz, GM Product Marketing for Windows Server and Matt McSpirit, Sr Product Marketing Manager from Microsoft Corporation.  Carsten Rachfahl (MVP) will also be presenting a Best Practices session with the gold sponsor, Wortmann AG.

I’ll be there on the first day (November 12th) talking about Hyper-V Replica and networking in WS2012 R2.  Most of the content is in German.  I will be presenting in English – my ability to speak German is very limited (to asking for a beer) and offends the hearing of fluent speakers.

Other MVPs speaking include Damian Flynn, Hans Vredevoort, Thomas Maurer, Markus Klein, Torsten Meringer, Bernhard Tritsch, Martina Grom, Siggia Jagott, Samuel Zürcher, Nicki Borell, Toni Pohl, Martin Goet, Daniel Neumann, and last but certainly not least, Paula Januszkiewicz.

I wonder why those who were kicking this idea around after the usual expected speaker rejection emails from TechEd might have codenamed this as MVP-ed? Open-mouthed smile  Looking at the list of names speaking, you’re simply not going to find a Microsoft technology event to match this in Europe.  With so much change over the last 18 months and more to come, events like this are priceless, even if the admission is €149 + VAT for the first 100 registrants and €199 + VAT after that. Maybe if you can’t speak German, go learn it, because this is one heck of an agenda.  Ich muss Deutsch lernen.

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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