Microsoft Offices ‘wokes up’ to help you be more Politically Correct when you write

Microsoft has introduced a new political correctness (PC) feature tool to help users make their writing more “inclusive”.

The feature, which is now available in Word (though disabled by default) as well as on some Microsoft’s web-based apps offers tips on better PC writing, by highlighting phrases or words that might cause offence.

In the latest update, a purple line appears under the text that Microsoft’s powerful AI determines might “imply bias”, and provides alternatives to the phase being written.

Just like other spelling and gramme tools, this feature can be disabled.

What PC terms can it help with?

Among the areas that this new feature looks for are bias around age, culture, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

Examples include, changing “blacklist” and “whitelist” to “accepted” or “allowed list,” or swapping the gender-specific terms such as “postman” to “postal worker.” Similarly words such as “humanity” or “humankind” will now be suggested in place of words like “mankind,” and Word will prefers terms like “expert” or “teacher” over words like “master”.

Microsoft provides users will full control over the feature, allowing you the ability to turn on or off all or some inclusivity features. This means you could have checks in place for gender bias but ignore ethnic slurs if you wish.


Defender for Endpoint now included within Microsoft 365 E3/A3

As of today (14th Jan 2022) Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 is now included within Microsoft 365 E3/A3 licenses.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (Plan 1) extends Microsoft 365 security by including world class threat and attack prevention capabilities to help you deliver against your Zero Trust strategy, reduce cost (by negating the need for additional products) and simplifies security management.

Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 includes the following key features (among others).

  • Next generation, born in the cloud, antivirus, anti malware and anti ransomware protection that leverages all the intelligence of the Intelligent Security Graph to help keep users endpoints secure and protected.
  • World class attack surface reduction capabilities that harden the device, prevent zero day attacks, and provide granular control over access.
  • Device based conditional access which leverages Azure AD and the Intelligent Security Graph to provide additional layers of protection and breach protection and forms a key part of your Zero Trust Security architecture.

Microsoft Defender is a Top right Magic Quadrant leader for Endpoint Protection.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection

What’s included in Defender for Endpoint Plan 1

The following diagram from Microsoft illustrates the key services and features included within both Plan 1 (now part of Microsoft 365 E3 and A3) and Plan 2 (part of Microsoft 365 E5 and A5 or available as an add-on).

Defender for End Point Plan 1 vs Plan 2.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 supports client endpoints running Windows 7 with Extended Security Updates, 8.1, 10, 11, macOS, Android, and iOS.

What about Plan 2?

Microsoft say that Plan one provides a strong baseline and leading edge protection against modern day, zero day and every advancing threats.

For the complete set of endpoint security capabilities, as shown above, Microsoft advise that organisations strongly consider Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 2.

“Plan 2 builds on Plan 1 and provides a best in class EDR solution including automated investigation and remediation tools, advanced threat prevention and threat and vulnerability management (TVM), and hunting capabilities which which combined with the wider Microsoft Defender suite provides seemless, integrated and cross architecture protection”.


To find out more, please refer to the official Microsoft documentation.

https://aka.ms/MDEP1docs

Microsoft SIP gateway service let’s you use legacy SIP phones with Teams

Microsoft’s SIP gateway service was officially released as of today today. This means organisations can now repurpose a wide range of ‘old’ SIP phones and use them with #MicrosoftTeams helping to reduce TCO of Teams Voice Migrations and drive value out of legacy hardware.

The new SIP Gateway Service (which has been in private preview for a few months) is a solution that enables core Teams calling functionality on compatible SIP phones including many from Cisco, Poly, Yealink and AudioCodes.

Microsoft SIP gateway

Breathing life into legacy handsets

The SIP Gateway supports the following core Teams calling functionality:

  • Inbound and outbound calls
  • Call transfer
  • Meeting dial-in and dial-out
  • Device level based “do not disturb”
  • Voicemail with message waiting

The SIP Gateway Service is FREE

Microsoft are making the SIP Gateway service for free, and any user can use the SIP Gateway so long as they meet the following requirements.

  • Licensed for Teams Phone via Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E5 or a standalone license.
  • Enabled for PSTN, which means a phone number in Teams assigned via Calling Plan, a Direct Routing or Carrier Connect (calling via third party apps not supported)
  • Common Area devices licensed via Common Area Phone license.

For the best experiece Teams Phones are recommended

In the official Microsoft Teams blog, Microsoft reminds us that while their SIP Gateway and Skype for Business 3PIP Gateway services provide valuable flexibility for organisations wishing to sweat their legacy SIP phone investments, Teams phone devices provide the most complete Teams experience.

What devices are supported

These are the currently supported phones (at time of writing).

  • Cisco IP Phones (6821,7800 series, 8800 series)
  • Poly SIP Phones (VVX 100,200, 300, 400, 500, 600 etc.)
  • Yealink Phones (T20, T30 T40 and T50 series)
  • AudioCodes HD 400 series

Note: for Cisco, organisations need to license the MPP firmware for each SIP phone


You can read the full annoucement here:

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/enable-core-microsoft-teams-calling-functionality-on-compatible/ba-p/3030196

How to show multi time zones in the Windows Taskbar

Windows 11, has the ability to display multiple clocks in the Taskbar. This can be useful in many situations, for example, if you work or communicate regularly with people in different time zones across the world.

Windows 11 can help here as it allows you to display up to two additional clocks from different time zones within the the Notification Center calendar. Here’s how to configure it.

Adding additional Time Zones to the Notification Centre

To add additional time zones to the calendar fly out in Windows 11 you need to follow these simple steps.

  • Open Settings
  • Click on Time & Language
  • Click the Date & Time on the right-hand side
  • Navigate to Related Links and click the Additional clocks setting

This then opens a legacy Windows Applet where you enter the additional times zones you’d like along with a friendly name like the example below.

Time Zone Settings in Windows 11

Once you complete the steps, and click Apply or OK, the clock will now appear in the Notification Center (or when you press Windows key + N).

How to add multiple time zone clocks on Windows 11
To add another time zone clock on the Notification Center calendar, use these steps:

Windows Calendar Flyout showing multiple time zones

Microsoft Teams Phone System SLAs is now 99.99% and financially backed

Microsoft has updated the SLAs for Teams Calling Plans, Phone System, and PSTN Audio Conferencing to four nines / 99.99%.

This reflects the continuous work Microsoft are doing in the background to provide the very best quality, reliability, availability and calling experiences. Microsoft say in their blog that “while it’s natural to do a simple comparison of SLAs throughout the industry, there’s richer story about the new SLAs for Teams Phone that goes beyond the nines”.

SLA goes beyond just phone systen

The Microsoft Teams SLA is actually made up of multiple Microsoft Teams components which are defined separately in the SLA;

  • Microsoft Teams (the core service) that includes chat, calling, meetings etc.
  • Calling Plans, Phone System, auto attendant service and PSTN Audio Conferencing
  • Voice Quality (if impacted by Microsoft network and not your own LAN/WiFi)

In this update, Calling Plans, Phone System, and Audio Conferencing have risen from the previous 99.9% to 99.99%. Voice quality SLA remains at 99.9% (which is about 44 minutes a year) and in line with the core Microsoft 365 SLA.

Financially Backed

When any of these metrics fall below 99.99% in a given month, Microsoft calculates the total downtime and pay-out service credit based on length of incident (in minutes) multiplied by the number of users potentially impacted by the incident or outage and provide monthly service credit back at up to 100%.

Here’s how Microsoft calculates SLA’s for Teams Voice:

Note; This SLA does not cover outages caused by a failure of third-party software, equipment, or services not controlled by Microsoft, or Microsoft software not being run by Microsoft as part of the service (e.g. third-party PBX solutions integrated into Teams). This also excludes Carrier Connect services so its important to check the SLAs with your provider (if you have one).

Read the full SLA

https://www.microsoft.com/licensing/docs/view/Service-Level-Agreements-SLA-for-Online-Services?s=09

Cisco’s new Enterprise Agreement is great for partners and customers

I feel I must congratulate Cisco on the annoucement of their new partner and customer centric Enterprise Agreement.

Simple and Inclusive

This looks and feels like one of the simplest yet powerful subscription based licensing programmes in the channel… at a time when “other” major vendors seem to be struggling to get a model right that is fair and offers value to both customer and partners regardless of size.

Consistent across their solution portfolio

When fully available in early 2022, Cisco will make their full portfolio of services available through a single agreement rather than the current multiple EAs with different terms, rules and portals they have today. Instead the EA will cover all five of Cisco’s solution areas – application infrastructure, networking infrastructure, collaboration, security and services.

Helps make it easy for customer to buy solutions across the stack

This new EA will dramatically simplify purchasing and selling as it creates one program and one experience for everything Cisco do and aligned to their product portfolio.

For example, Cisco has been beating the drum hard with the concept of “full stack observability”, which is growing in importance in this multi-cloud centric, highly mobile and hybrid world.

To make this a reality, customers, need to buy products across multiple technology and solution stacks, including services like AppDynamnics, ThousandEyes, Intersight etc., but this new should make it much easier for partners to sell and for customers to buy.

#cisco #collaboration #ciscopartner #security #partners #customers #subscription

Office.com is getting a huge AI powered overhaul

Microsoft are releasing a huge overhaul and new look for the Office.com (and the office app) experience.  This will make it even easier to find all the content associated with you and your teams, simplify and enhance the search experience and bring all your apps, tasks, templates and actions together in one place.

New Office.com experience

AI Overhaul

The main thing you notice first off is how much more simple and intuitive the Office.com pages now look.

Microsoft goal here has been to put you and your most important work at the forefront of the experience. The power of Microsoft 365 will anticipate which files (and people) are most important to your work at a given moment based on your habits and routines, the docs or projects you are working on, the activity happening within them and what you need to do to accomplish your work.

On the left pane, is a familiar navigation pane where users can quickly get to things like the new My Content page and Create Pages making it simple and easy to search for or create new content across Microsoft 365. As new fluid components like Loop (also annouced last week), these will also surface themselves here.

Home page updates includes new or overhauled sections around providing:

  • Recommended Actions
  • Quick Access
  • My Content
  • Creating content

Recommended Actions

Recommended actions analyse and bring together anything that needs (or may need) your attention or action. From here you can jump into your upcoming meeting, add (or complete) a To-Do or Planner task, reply to recent comments in documents, and see potential actions you have discussed in an email.

In addition to the Recommended Actions on the home page, you can also find content actions in line on any of the content lists within Office.com by clicking on the “triple dot” menu.

Quick Access

The Quick Access section let’s your easily collaborate on content by Sharing via Teams or booking time to review content with your team or manger. This section is all about helping you jump into and review content that’s important to you.  This content can be viewed as either a list or adaptive cards for a more visual layout depending on your preference.

Microsoft have made it really easy to filter this content by recently opened content, content you have shared with others, content around a particular topic, or person and group and even your favourite content.

My Content

Here you can view all your content and again view it by recently opened, shared, and favourites or custom filters to find what you need. As with quick access, you can leverage the powerful filters to quickly find the content you need.

As above, you can easily filter by type of document, activity and time and unlike most searches there no need to set a number of results as it the results like just adapts as you scroll.

The power and depth of search filters is very extensive and even contains specific filters like document you are @mentioned in or where an action was assigned.

You also have the ability to browse by People and Meetings. When you click on People for example you can view an easy to digest card view of people and documents that have been shared. When you click on Meetings, you can find all meeting content like recordings, shared documents or adaptive components, notes, and chat from your previous meetings.

Microsoft have also added some cool quick access tools, for example you can convert docs to PDF, Share docs straight into  Teams, Add things to your Calendar, and Add to To Do lists.

Creating content

This update makes it easier than ever to create new content across all the Office suite. As well as being able to create new blank documents, users can so create content using an extensive set of new tools and templates. Everything from surveys and brainstorming sessions, Power BI reporting dashboards, project plans and dynamic presentations. IT can also customise the templates to allow employees to have quick access to templates from your organisations  branded content by having all corporate templates in one place central place.

Availability and Release

At Ignite last week, Microsoft said this new experience would start rolling out in the coming  weeks to insiders and then targeted release channels before making its way to everyone BY January 2022.

You can watch a video from Ignite on the new experience here.

Microsoft announces first party Contact Centre Solution within “Dynamics 365 Customer Service”

Today at Ignite, Microsoft has announced “voice channel for Dynamics 365 Customer Service”. This basically means that “Dynamics 365 Customer Service” is expanding to become a first party Contact Centre solution.

In the official Microsoft Blog, they said that with the addition of the “voice channel”, in Dynamics 365 Customer Service will enable:

  • A consistent, 360-degree view of the customer across all channels, allowing agents to quickly understand the full customer journey so customers never have to repeat themselves.
  • An intelligent, conversational Power Virtual Agent that can be used as an interactive voice response (IVR) for the voice channel and versatile enough to be used as a chatbot for SMS, live chat, and social messaging channels.
  • AI-based routing of incoming calls to the best-skilled agent, consistent with all other channels.
  • Increased collaboration with other agents and subject matter experts globally using embedded Microsoft Teams to resolve issues faster.

As with the rest of the Dynamics suite, Microsoft say that “AI is infused throughout our first-party voice channel to enrich the customer and agent experience by automating routine tasks and offering insights and recommendations to increase the agent’s focus on the customer”. This includes

Real-time transcription eliminates the need for agents to take notes. Now the agent can refer to what the customer has said without having to ask the customer to repeat information.
Live sentiment analysis provides a pulse on customer emotions throughout the call so agents can deliver a more empathetic experience.
Proactive, AI-driven recommendations for similar cases and knowledge articles help agents resolve customer issues faster.
Real-time translation of transcripts gives agents assisting customers in different regions and across multiple languages added confidence of seeing the conversation in their native language.

  • Real-time transcription eliminates the need for agents to take notes. Now the agent can refer to what the customer has said without having to ask the customer to repeat information.
  • Live sentiment analysis provides a pulse on customer emotions throughout the call so agents can deliver a more empathetic experience.
  • Proactive, AI-driven recommendations for similar cases and knowledge articles help agents resolve customer issues faster.
  • Real-time translation of transcripts gives agents assisting customers in different regions and across multiple languages added confidence of seeing the conversation in their native language.

What about third-party contact centres?

Microsoft have stated, that whilst they now “offer” a first-party SaaS contact centre within Dynamics Customer Service, they have also stated that they will continue to actively support other contact center providers and integrations with Dynamics 365.

Microsoft said, “We continue to support integrations with key partners such as Five9, Genesys, NICE, Solgari, Tenfold, Vonage and others who are building connectors to enable their voice solutions within Dynamics 365 Customer Service“.

Pricing?

I haven’t seen any information on pricing of the voice services for Dynamics Customer Service yet but presume this will build on the Azure Communication Services and be priced accordingly?

Availability.

The new Dynamics 365 Customer Service with voice channel is available for trial right now, by following the link below.
https://aka.ms/TryCustomerService

Microsoft beats revenue expectations, reporting 22% growth in Q1 2022

Microsoft Q1 2022 revenue grew almost 22% year over year, which is the fastest growth since 2018 with revenue growth of 21% over the previous quarter.

  • Intelligent Cloud – which includes Azure, GitHub, Windows etc, was up 31% year over year and delivered $16.96 billion in revenue.
  • Productivity and Business Processes – which includes Dynamics, LinkedIn and Office, was up 22% and delivered $15.04 billion in revenue (within this segment Dynamics itself grew 48%).
  • Personal Computing business, including Windows, devices, gaming and search advertising, was up 12% with$13.31 billion in revenue.

This quarter has seen Microsoft introduce new Surface devices and announce acquisitions of several cyber security start ups including CloudKnox and RiskIQ. They also have taken on Amazon cloud executive Charlie Bell to work on cybersecurity and committed to spend even more security research and development with $20 billion announced over the next 5 years.

Image (C) CNBC

Price rises for Office 365 are coming too… as earlier this quarter, Microsoft annouced that Office 365 commercial licenses were increasing by 10% across all but their E5 suite. This doesn’t affect edu, nfr or consumer.

You can read the full press release here

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor/earnings/FY-2022-Q1/press-release-webcast

Windows 11 is now available globally

Windows11 Image on Laptop

From midnight last night around the globe, Microsoft pressed the button the availability of Windows 11 which will be offered to eligible Windows 10 PCs from today via Windows Update (or via your IT team if they are ready to press the button on your corporate roll out).

Windows 11 was officially announced to the public in June this year and has endured a short public testing period by Windows Insiders before being made available as an Operating System for everyone (hardware compatibility dependant of course) from 5th Oct 21.

Windows 11 – Born October 5th, 2021

Windows 11 is rolling out in waves

The Windows 11 update will continue rolling out in waves over the holiday and into 2022. Microsoft says it expects to have offered Windows 11 to all eligible Windows 10 PCs by mid-2022, and it will not be forced upon Windows 10 users at any point. Windows 11 is an optional release, and users are free to remain on Windows 10 if they wish. Windows 10 will be getting its own 21H2 release later this year.

As is always the case, Microsoft is also making available offline installation media, as well as the Upgrade Tool that will allow you to install Windows 11 today if you don’t want to wait for it to be offered via Windows Update. The final build of Windows 11 appears to be 22000.194, though that will continue to increase as time passes, as Microsoft continues servicing Windows 11 with bug fixes and security updates.

For Business or for Pleasure

Windows 11 looks different with a simpler, cleaner, and more modern look and feel with many of the key components and stock apps updated. The start menu has also had the biggest overhaul since Windows 8. Beyond the aesthetics and look and feel however, Windows 11 also brings many new features that business users should welcome.

Microsoft say that Windows 11 has been optimised for hybrid working, whereby employees split their time between the home, office and anywhere else they need to work. There has been a focus on improving multi-screen and multi-device set-ups, with options that will help users more easily multi-task and pick up where they left off.

One of my favourite enhancements is a new feature called Snap Layouts, which gives users a greater range of orientation options when multitasking across multiple windows, screens, and applications as you can see in the illustration below.

Windows 11 Snap View Layout Picker
Windows 11 | Snap View Layout Picker


Windows 11 also sets a new benchmark for performance and security, designed to help speed up multi-tasking and memory management whilst (and most importantly), better protecting employees against an ever-growing and evolving cyber attacks and threats with Microsoft’s “Secure from Chip to Cloud” promise for Windows 11.

Windows 11 | Secure from Chip to Cloud

Will my device run Windows 11?

In short, if your device meets the following requires, you will be able to upgrade (or install) Windows 11 on your existing PC.

  • 8th Gen Processor (ok there are some 7-Gens that do work like the Surface Studio 2)
  • 64GB Storage
  • 4GB RAM
  • UEFI Secure Boot with TPM 2.0 Enabled

On personal (our non-managed devices), the easiest way to check compatibility is to use the PC Health Check app that Microsoft have released that will tell you if your device meets the requirements to run Windows 11 or not and gives you a detailed breakdown as to what may be stopping you running it and whether or not they can be resolved (by putting more memory in for example, or upgrading your devices BIOS to support TPM2.0).

You can run this on non-corporate IT managed devices only here:
(thanks to my friend Rowland Hills for spotting the error before)

For managed devices, within an organisation, then IT can check if devices are ready for it using Intune/Endpoint Configuration Manager and can be accessed from https://endpoint.microsoft.com and then navigate to “Reports/Endpoint Analytics/Work from anywhere” blade.

Windows 11 Readiness in Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Note: It is possible (though of course not recommended) to attempt to bypass the checks by installing Windows 11 clean on an unsupported device, though your mileage may vary as to whether it works. Microsoft guarantees no updates on devices that are “unsupported” on Windows 11 except for security patches.

New Devices will ship with Windows 11

Windows 11 will be available to buy pre-loaded on new PCs if also meet the minimum requirements. Microsoft say that devices like the Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro 8 will be amongst the first to ship with Windows 11 out of box. Lenovo and Dell are also releasing theirs very soon after.

People say Windows 11 isn’t ready

It is…. but there’s still more work to do and things to polish.

Like Windows 10 before that, Windows is services regularly based on feedback from testers and now the wider public and corporate users. Microsoft is already hard at work on the next update to Windows 11, known as version 22H2 that will continue Microsoft’s vision of simplifying and modernising the Windows User Experience throughout. Windows Insiders in the DEV channel have been testing early builds of future builds for a couple of weeks.

We already know that the next build will add a more consistent and complete dark mode, a continued effort in updating legacy interfaces and apps that haven’t changed since Windows 7/8 and Android App Support which is dubbed to be released early 2022. Based on user feedback in the Insider Hub, there will also likely be enhancements to the task bar and start menu such as “re-enabling” drag and drop of files across apps via the taskbar – one of my bug bears in Windows 11.

This is just the beginning…

…of the Windows 11 journey. You can check the Feedback Hub in the OS, visit the Microsoft Blog pages or become a Windows Insider to help shape the future of Windows 11.

What we might see at the Surface Event tommorow (22nd Sept).

Based on leaks, past years and media gossip we expect to see:-

  • Surface Book 4
  • Surface Pro 8
  • Surface Go 2
  • Surface Duo 2 (aka surface phone)

So as my friends, colleagues and followers know I’m a big fan of Windows and Surface so just a tad excited for the annual Surface hardware event on Wed Sept 22nd 2021.

There’s been loads of coverage by Windows Central for example as well as many other spotters and bloggers as well as what has been refreshed in previous years. As such ere’s what might be coming based on the rumours and leaks and update history of past events.

Surface Book 4?

One of the most rumoured design changes “may” be coming to the Power horse that is the Surface Book 4. This (if true) will be a major uplift to the current model and w is expected to feature a brand new design with non-detachable 2-in-1 design which will basically combining the best of Surface Laptop with the Surface Pro form factor to create the new Book 4.

Based on the renders and numerous leaks, the display on the Surface Book 4 will be able to be pulled forward and laid flat over the keyboard deck for drawing or taking notes which also resembles similaraires to the Surface Studio.

Leaked images of Surface Book 4 (maybe)

I’d expect the usual upgrades to the internals, USB A to be ditched in favour of USB C (or even thunderbolt) and upgraded graphics capability and a possible increase in screen refresh rate to match the new dynamic refresh which is part of #Windows11.

The big question is will this in fact be called a Surface Book 4 or something else… Time will tell.. But I think its fair to say that this is likley to be the biggest highlight of the event on Wednesday.

Surface Pro 8

The flagship Surface Pro device (which will most likely be called the Surface Pro 8) should also be unveiled.

Surface Pro Black

There is unlikely to be any major design changes but there are rumours we will see a more Surface Pro X feel to this years model with a bigger display and thinner bezels. There also be the usual spec upgrades to chipsets and processors to the latest and greatest.

There also been reports that Microsoft might be ready to up the screen to support a new dynamic refresh rate of up 120Hz for this years higher end Surface devices.

Surface Go 3

The ever popular Surface Go is likely see just a modest upgrade this year with better chipsets and battery and again will most likley keep the Intel Pentium Gold processor as well as an i3 (or maybe i5 option to match the Surface Laptop).

Surface Go

Other than, not expecting much else other than it would be nice to see an option of black… Everyone loves a black Surface.

Surface Duo 2

I loved the Duo v1 (price tag aside) but it lacked a lot of leasing features that would have earned more airtime…

There been lots of rumours and leaks in this one but we hope to see a much better phone that still builds on the amazing looks and quality of the original. We expect and hope to see it feature at least:

  • Latest Processor (Snapdragon 888)
  • 5G and Bluetooth 5
  • Upgraded camera, as well as rear cluster
  • NFC
  • Upgraded battery and Screen
Surface Duo 2. Image (C) Windows Central

A new Surface Studio?

I’d love to see a new Studio but not heard any rumours on this one and suspect the new Surface Book 4 may create the hybrid graphics powerhouse in a mobile form… Who knows…we all will in a days time.

Where to watch the event?

The event is streamed live at 4pm UK time (11am ET) and can be watched (or register for a reminder) here.

Link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/event

What are you most excited for?

Please leave your comments below…

Real time co-authoring on protected files is now supported in Microsoft 365 Apps

Microsoft have announced that real-time co-authoring support for encrypted documents (which has been in preview for a while) is now generally available. Co-authoring is a feature that allows users to collaborate on documents across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for example, but it only worked on files that weren’t protected with encrypted….. until now.

CoAuthoring Proetected Documents
Image (C) Microsoft

 

With Microsoft 365, when sensitivity labels are used to encrypt Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents, multiple users can now edit these documents in real-time with AutoSave, empowering teams to do their best work while maintaining protection across the document lifecycle,” Paras Kapadia, Principal Program Manager for Office 365 explained.

Co-authoring support for protected files is supported now on the Web, Windows and Apple Mac clients and will be coming to iOS and Android “soon“.

You must “enable it” to enable it!!

It’s worth noting that unlike many Microsoft 365 features which are “on by default”, organisations who want to use co-authoring on protected documents need to enable this in the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center.

Microsoft 365 Compliance Centre

 

Microsoft also provide full guidance for admins on how to do this here.
Please note: once enabled, you need to contact Microsoft support should you want/need to turn this off for any reason.

Microsoft kills off MSN and Starts.com again!!

Microsoft has annouced and launched (starting today) Microsoft Start, which is a new(ish)/revamped personalised news service which pulls together personalised and targeted news and information from the Microsoft anews Service (MSN) and from “more than a thousand” other publishers.

“Microsoft Start” (image (C) Microsoft)

Microsoft Start will be available via the web at MicrosoftStart.Com, from the Microsoft Edge “new tab” page, Windows PCs, tablets and mobile devices and will provide a consistent yet personalised feed with news feeds and stories coming from a over a thousand selected publishers, which will be fine tuned as users like or dislike content or content types that appear in their feeds as Microsoft Start learns more about the user.

“Microsoft Start brings new technology to content experiences, including Microsoft’s latest advancements in AI and machine learning, coupled with human moderation, to help people stay up to date with information that is personalized for their interests.”

Liat Ben-Zur | Microsoft CVP

You can read the official annoucement from the Microsoft blog here:

Get started with MicrosoftStart

The Start experience currently looks and feels familiar (I’d almost go as far as saying the same) as the existing MSN service. Users can customise Start by clicking on the “Personalize” button which will allows access to managing interests and tweaking the types of news recommendations the service provides.

Microsoft Start seems to be a combination of a number of different Microsoft services, including Cortana and MSN. For example the Cortana app (as it was) was able to use AI and Machine Learning to determine your interests and display the latest “useful” news and headlines in the feed, as well give you travel time estimates based to meetings based on your location.

Microsoft Start has adaptive “cards” similar in some ways to the old “live tiles” in Windows 8-10 and the widgits in Windows 11 today. These cards provide updates to things like local weather, breaking news, finance, traffic, and sports etc.

The experience on Edge is pretty much no different to the current MSN one and the http://microsoftstart.com url even redirects you to https://www.msn.com but I expect this will change over the next few days as the service rolls out.

Microsoft do say though that Microsoft Start doesn’t replace MSN.com, and the dedicated Microsoft News app for Windows 10 and Windows 11 will continue to exist for the time being.

Why the name change?

You’ve got me on this one….

Microsoft haven’t offically revealed why they have brought in a brand new name for the service. Microsoft News Service (MSN) worked for me (like Apple News, or Sky News or BBC news) it was it was and did…

I’m sure we will find out more at somepoint though… There’s always a reason after all..

Available now…..

Microsoft Start is live now at MicrosoftStart.com, and is live on the Microsoft Edge new tab page (try it), the News and interests taskbar thingy on Windows 10, and also in the Widgets app IN Windows 11.

In the coming days, the Microsoft News app on Android and Apple iOS will be updated and rebranded to Microsoft Start (so don’t confuse it with something else!) .

Microsoft search in Google play store.

Thoughts?

What do you think of the new service?

What do you think of the name change?

Windows 11 release date announced …

Windows 11 logo

Microsoft announced today that Windows 11, will be officially released on October 5, 2021 and will start rolling out to “eligible” Windows 10 devices on that date onwards.

Windows 11 will also come pre-installed on many new devices from Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung etc.

Windows 11 is already available for WindowInsiders and the “beta testing” will continue though to October 5 and then continue for the next batch of feature releases as it did with Windows 10.

Windows 11 start menu

Windows 11 requirements

Whilst Microsoft annouced last week that some select 7th gen Intel chipsets (like Surface Studio 2) will support Windows 11, in most cases the core system requirements include:

  • ‘modern’ 64bit dual-core or higher CPU
  • 4GB of RAM (but 8GB ideally)
  • 64GB storage (SSD ideally)
  • DirectX12 supported GPU
  • Secure Boot
  • TPM 2.0 chip (enabled) in UEFI settings

Phased Rollout

As usual with Windows updates and upgrades the  Windows 11 upgrade will roll out gradually to devices that meet the minimum requirements for Windows PCs and say their upgrade system will use “intelligence algorithms” to make it available on more devices over time. “We expect all eligible devices to be offered the free upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022,” Microsoft said in the annoucement.

Interestly, Microsoft said last week that users will be able to use Windows 11 ISOs to manually install Windows 11 on unsupported PC though there is a caveat in that Microsoft are not committed to service these devices via Windows Update, and that includes security updates.

One thing to note is that Android app support, a feature announced during the Windows 11 unveiling event, won’t be shipping this year but will start testing with Windows Insiders soon.

What about Windows 10 support

For devices not capable of running Windows 11, or for users/organisation not ready to move to Windows 11, Windows 10 will still be supported through to 2025.

Read more about Windows 11

You can read more about the new and upcoming features in my previous blogs or on the official Microsoft Blog

Microsoft 365 E5 becomes more “cost efficient” as non E5 SKUs get first price increase in years..

Microsoft’s have annouced the first ‘substantive’ price increase for many of its commercial Office 365/Microsoft 365 subscription plans is coming in March 2022.

On March 1, 2022, Microsoft will be increasing prices for most of its commercial Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions with the exception of consumer, education and also Microsoft 365 E5, which will not be increased.

The increases will range from $12 per user per year more for Microsoft 365 Business Basic, to $48 per user per year more for Microsoft 365 E3. In some cases, Microsoft is increasing prices to match those of the competition (read, Google), officials said. In other cases, it is adjusting prices to reflect the considerable value added to the Office 365/Microsoft 365 suites over the past several years, they added.   

Microsoft have said in a blog post that since the introduction of Microsoft 365 four years ago, they has added 24 apps to their Office 365/Microsoft 365 suites, including Teams, Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate, Stream, Planner, Visio, OneDrive, Yammer and Whiteboard as well as over 1,400 new features to its the core products across Microsoft 365 subscriptions over the past decade.

How much are the increases?

I’ve only seen the US$ pricing so far, but price increases range from $12 pupm for Microsoft 365 Business Basic, to $48 pupm for Microsoft 365 E3. In many cases the reason for these increases is to reflect the considerable amount of value added services added to the Office 365/Microsoft 365  over the past few years.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic up $1 to $6pupm

Microsoft 365 Business Premium up $2 to  $22 pupm

Office 365 E1 up $2 to $10 pupm

Office 365 E3 up $3to $23 pupm

Office 365 E5 up $3 to $38 pupm

Microsoft 365 E3 up $4 to $36 pupm

Microsoft 365 E5 No change at $57 pupm.

Microsoft 365 F SKUs – No change.

Jared Spataro, Microsoft Corporate VP for Microsoft 365 said “Microsoft believes the changes in prices may make the Microsoft 365 E5 SKU even more attractive” to customers”.

Take but give back..

Microsoft also said (more quietly) that that will be adding unlimited dial-in capabilities for Teams meetings across all its paid enterprise, business, frontline worker and government suites over the next few months (after offering free conferencing on a limited time for the last 12 months). This will help drive more people towards audio dial in (and presumably voice services) within Microsoft Teams and allows meeting participants to dial-in and join a Teams meeting from any device. Without needing the Teams client installed.

Read more….

For the official annoucement (US only at time of writing), read the official blog here.