Attend an Immerision Workshop to explore how Microsoft products can help you change the way you do business

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Microsoft 365 Immersion Experience Workshop

The Microsoft 365 Immersion Experience offers an interactive environment designed to be engaging, informative, and fun. You will test-drive best-in-class technologies -- Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Skype for Business, Teams, Flow, Delve and more.
You'll go beyond the familiar MS Office suite and explore solutions to your business challenges. You will get expert advice on using your current technology to strengthen productivity.
The workshop is led by a Microsoft-Certified Facilitator and customized to let attendees explore at their own pace and focus on first-hand experience with tools that address their business needs.
INTERACTIVE LEARNING:

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Complete the form to schedule a workshop with a trained facilitator.

*All "in YOUR office" experiences are for 6-10 executives and funded by Microsoft to include breakfast or lunch for your team.

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When disaster strikes, the cloud and AI play a vital role in bringing aid to communities

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By Barry Briggs as written on blogs.microsoft.com
When a disaster occurs, you’ve entered a “new reality,” says Lewis Curtis, director of Microsoft Services Disaster Response. It won’t be enough to simply restore your systems and applications to where they were before – disasters change everything, irrevocably and permanently.
But new computing technologies like the cloud are making it possible to quickly respond to a disaster, coordinate the response by governments and aid organizations, provide analytics to better understand and track its impact, and manage the aftermath. All of the same technologies and innovations that enable businesses to quickly respond to new opportunities and changing market conditions make the cloud an essential part of any disaster response.

Using technology to ease suffering

Disasters often wipe out the very systems that are desperately needed to cope with them.
Michael G. Manning, president and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank in Louisiana, understands this well. In August 2016, Baton Rouge, the state’s capital, was inundated by record rains. Four feet of flood water destroyed not only a million pounds of food held in reserve, but all of the food bank’s computer systems, the very ones that tracked the food bank’s supplies and who received them, and that ensured that hungry people were getting the food they needed.
Quickly moving their office and warehouse management applications to the cloud guaranteed that those applications would always be available, and that the loss of their systems “would never happen again,” Manning says. With cloud-based applications, the food bank could “operate anywhere, at any time, in any future disaster.”
Only months before, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake ravaged western Ecuador, and the government needed a basic software application to register those affected by the quake, and to ensure that shelter, food and medical supplies reached the 2,300 families left homeless by the disaster.
Neighboring Colombia had such an application. But how to quickly move it to Ecuador and get it running? In fact, within a week it was redeployed –  to the Azure cloud. The Ecuadorian Red Cross also used the cloud to manage volunteers and blood bank data across the country.
In other cases, disasters bring new demands on applications –  in both scale and load – that were never anticipated.
On March 22, 2014, a hillside saturated by heavy rains collapsed on the small Northwest town of Oso, Washington, flattening homes and killing 43 people. In the aftermath, nearly 200 government and aid agencies, including the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Washington National Guard and the U.S. Navy’s search and rescue team, as well as thousands of representatives of the media, descended upon Oso.
The local government’s record-keeping and coordination systems were quickly overwhelmed so Microsoft Services Disaster Response, with help from the Azure product team, migrated Oso’s records to the cloud. With its nearly limitless capacity, the cloud made it possible for everyone who needed access to the records to retrieve – and search – them quickly and efficiently. Using Office 365 they also quickly deployed an Incident Command Collaboration System that enabled incident commanders and emergency liaisons from the various agencies to connect with one another.
A year later, a massive earthquake leveled some 600,000 buildings and killed thousands of people in Nepal, leaving the remote, mountainous country faced with the massive task of rebuilding. “Disaster relief is always overwhelming,” Dan Strode, project manager for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said at the time. “There’s too much to do, too many people that need help, and never enough time or resources.”
The daunting task of rebuilding began with mapping where the original structures had stood. In the past, such records were maintained on paper. However, in order to expedite reconstruction, the Microsoft Innovation Center in Nepal built a mobile phone application that used a device’s GPS to help workers record the outline of a damaged home and store it in the cloud before clearing the debris. And to help restart the economy, the app also managed daily cash payments to the workers. Cloud applications like Office 365 and the data visualization tool Power BI helped them to coordinate and track progress.

Using artificial intelligence and the cloud to provide early warning

We can use modern technologies to respond to disasters, but could we someday use them to predict, or even prevent, these natural catastrophes?
Perhaps! A statistical algorithm known as M8 attempts to predict larger earthquakes from the appearance of smaller ones. A number of efforts in different regions around the world are applying neural networks (an artificial intelligence approach that simulates the activity of the human brain) in attempts to predict the occurrence and the magnitude. (Here’s an example from India.)
In Texas, Project “SHEM” (streamflow hydrology estimate using machine learning) uses artificial intelligence to predict floods even when the physical gauges that measure water levels fail; a computer model is “trained” using historical data to look for patterns that signify the water is rising.
And the cloud may well give new hope to solving the age-old problem of predicting the weather. One prototype application (written, by the way, by your own intrepid author) uses several hundred processors in the cloud to load and analyze a century’s worth of weather data from reporting stations around the world. The hope is that the capacious data set can be analyzed to identify long-term trends and answer some of our most troubling “what ifs” about weather events.

Rely on the cloud for scale, resilience and rapid response

Aside from the wonderful humanitarian nature of these stories, what is it that is so compelling and relevant about using technology for disaster recovery?
What aid agencies and governments are finding so useful about the cloud, machine learning and other emerging technologies – resilience, time to market, scale, agility – are all qualities that are essential in today’s rapidly changing business world.
Need to get the word out? You might take a page from the government of Alberta, Canada. To keep its citizens informed during the great wildfires of 2016, the government partnered with Microsoft and geographical information systems (GIS) partner ESRI to create a cloud-based mapping application of the fires.
Need new capabilities but don’t want to add IT overhead? The same lessons learned by the governments in Baton Rouge and Nepal can be applied to public and private companies. A sudden imperative to scale? Use the cloud, as they did for the Oso landslide.
New technologies are often proven in the crucible of disasters, and they drive new innovations that promise to keep us safer, long after the crisis has ended.
A 40-year veteran of the software industry, Barry Briggs previously served as CTO for Microsoft’s own IT organization, where he helped lead the company’s transition to the cloud. The Microsoft Services Disaster Response team in the last few years has operated more than 154 missions in over 30 countries, at no cost to the agencies or communities who ask for help.

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Microsoft Turns On Yammer For Office 365 Business Customers

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Microsoft Turns On Yammer For Office 365 Business Customers

By Sarah Perez as written on techcrunch.com
Get ready for Yammer, Microsoft announced today – and it’s not kidding. Microsoft said this afternoon it will begin to activate Yammer for all its eligible Office 365 business customers starting today, in what’s a major push for the enterprise social networking service. The rollout will come in waves, beginning with those customers who have a business subscription, and fewer than 150 licenses, including one for Yammer.
The second phase of the rollout on March 1st will expand Yammer to larger business customers, who have fewer than 5,000 licenses, but excluding those with education subscription.
The final phase, or Wave 3, starts on April 1, and will include those education subscriptions, as well as all remaining customers.
The end result of this push is that every Office 365 users with a Yammer license will be able to use the service from the Office 365 app launcher, as well as start Yammer conversations from within SharePoint, Office 365 Video Portal, and soon, Delve and Skype Broadcast as well.
Effectively, it’s elevating the product to become more of a fully-fledged member of Microsoft’s suite of tools aimed at businesses.
By being baked into Microsoft’s existing products and services, Yammer will become more useful than when it was a standalone product ahead of Microsoft’s 2012 acquisition. For example, Yammer will be hooked into the Office 365 Groups service in the first half of this year, which will let customers do things like turning Yammer conversations into Skype calls, schedule meetings with Outlook calendar, access files in OneDrive, create tasks in Planner, from within Yammer’s groups.
Yammer has fallen out of the limelight since Microsoft bought the company for $1.2 billionseveral years ago. Not much had been said about the service since. And it’s fair to say that many wondered if Microsoft ever intended to do much of anything with it, beyond making it available for those who wanted it.
But in recent months, Yammer has seen new competitors arise. Currently, its biggest competition is Slack, which Microsoft also recently had to acknowledge the importance of, in its own way – the company introduced Skype integration last month, that is. And Facebook has been ramping up its efforts with its business-focused Facebook for Work, which could pose a challenge to Yammer in the future when it becomes publicly available.
For now, however, Yammer still has a shot at grabbing a foothold thanks to Microsoft’s big push to its Office 365 commercial customers.
With the rollout, Yammer will be switched on by default, though Microsoft says that admins will be able to dial that back, if need be, noting that “if you are not ready to fully adopt Yammer in your organization, you can un-assign Yammer licenses for those who should not access Yammer from Office 365.”
Well, seems like it would just be easier to go live on Yammer than have to go around turning it off for people, doesn’t it?
More details on the Yammer integration is available here.

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The new Office is the safest one yet! Store and secure all your important documents with ease. Try Office 365 to get the new 2016 apps:

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The new Office is the safest one yet! Store and secure all your important documents with ease.

Try Office 365 to get the new Office 2016 apps!

Office-365-30-day-trial

What a year! In 2015 Lync became ‪Skype for Business. Take a look back on the journey as we prepare for another exciting year ahead!

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What a year! In 2015 Lync became ‪#‎Skype4B‬. Take a look back on the journey as we prepare for another exciting year ahead!

Collaboration is even better when it tastes good. Use the new 2016 Outlook to plan an apple picking adventure. Then use Sway to show and share the goods! Check out Office 365 to get the new 2016 apps:

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The new Office is smarter than ever. Use Smart Lookup to research words without leaving your doc. Try Office 365 to get the new Office 2016 apps!

Enabling seamless communication experiences for the web with Skype, Skype for Business and Microsoft Edge

On September 18, 2015, the Skype for Business team shared an important step in their efforts to bring seamless real-time communication experiences on the web to everyone—the Object Real-Time Communications Community (ORTC) API preview for Microsoft Edge browser is now available in the latest Windows Insider Preview release!
The ORTC API preview for Microsoft Edge is the latest result of a close, ongoing collaboration between the Windows and Skype teams. Together we’re able to apply decades of experience building great web platforms to deliver some of the largest and most reliable real-time communications services for businesses and consumers. What does this mean for you? For developers, we’re providing new ways to build innovative real-time communications into your web-based experiences. For people using Skype and Skype for Business at work or at home, calls and meetings on the web will soon get even easier and more seamless.

ORTC API capabilities

The ORTC APIs enable the development of real-time audio and video communications applications directly on top of the Microsoft Edge browser without the need to install any plug-ins. Using components provided directly by the browser, the ORTC APIs provide granular control over audio and video streams on the client machine as well as the transport layer that carries those streams over the network. ORTC APIs also support the development of more advanced real-time communications scenarios—such as group video calls with a diverse set of endpoints—using features like Simulcast and Scalable Video Coding (SVC), while preserving the ability to easily interop with existing telephony networks.

ORTC and Skype investment in standards

Building on the momentum of our updated Skype for Outlook.com and Skype for Web experiences announced earlier this summer, enabling ORTC API support in Microsoft Edge is part of our ongoing effort to bring seamless, real-time communication experiences on the web to everyone. We want Skype to help users reach anyone, anywhere, without interoperability concerns getting in your way. We also want to ensure web-based Skype experiences connect smoothly with the hundreds of millions of other Skype and Skype for Business clients running on desktops and various mobile platforms around the world. As a result, we’re making significant investments in standards-based, protocol-level support for ORTC and WebRTC interoperability across our platforms.
Specifically:
Here’s a high-level view of how a group video call will connect between Skype clients and the plug-in-less Skype for Web clients using ORTC/WebRTC from various browsers:
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Enabling seamless web experiences with Skype

Starting later this year, we will start to enable seamless communication and collaboration experiences for Skype for Web, starting with voice and video, without the need for plug-ins on Microsoft Edge. We are also working on bringing the same seamless experience to Skype for Business. For Chrome and Firefox, we will leverage existing WebRTC APIs to offer similar plug-in-less experiences where possible for most scenarios. For those browsers without support for ORTC or WebRTC, we will continue to provide an integrated experience using a small browser plug-in.
Lastly, for developers who take advantage of Skype Developer Platform capabilities such as Skype URI support and the Skype Web SDK Preview, we want you to be able to focus on building great web experiences that will work on the broadest range of browsers. We are working to integrate support for the ORTC and WebRTC APIs into our developer offerings while abstracting out the low-level details and differences in media handling between browsers with integrated real-time communications support and other browsers that still require a plug-in. Look for more details on these developer updates later in the year.
We’re excited about the upcoming updates to enable even more seamless communications experiences on the web and look forward to sharing more details in the near future. In the meantime, we’re always looking to improve your experience on Skype, and we care about your feedback. We’d love to hear from you via Skype Community, Skype for Business feedback, Facebook and Twitter.
—Hao Yan, Jonathan Watson, Daniel Jonathan Valik and Senthil Velayutham on behalf of the Skype for Business team

Source:
https://blogs.office.com

10 Things to Know About Office 365: From an IT Professional’s Desk

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10 Things to Know About Office 365: From an IT Professional’s Desk BY JEFF LIZERBRAM, MCSA, SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT

1. Office 365 Admin Tools

Office 365 Admin Center

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The Office 365 Admin Center is usually the first stop when checking for service health, licensing status, and active user configuration.

PowerShell for Office 365

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When the Office 365 Admin Center is not enough to allow you control over user accounts and bulk-change operations, then use PowerShell for Office 365. Keep in mind, Windows PowerShell that is included with Windows 7 will not work alone without adding necessary Windows Management Framework updates. However, there is a standalone PowerShell module for Office 365 specifically useful for administrators who are running Windows 7 as their admin PC. Unfortunately, Mac OSX computers do not have built-in nor are their separate downloads quite yet to manage Office 365 through Windows PowerShell. Windows 8.1 and above already have the required Windows Management Framework to connect to Office 365 natively.

Office 365 Admin App

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For those system administrators on the move, good news! The Office 365 Admin App is available for Android, iPhone and Windows Phones, in both the standalone and Partner flavors. The Partner flavor allows you to remotely check all your delegated customer portals, and allow you to make some modifications, depending on the account synchronization setup.

2. New Features and Updates Opt-In

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One of my favorite things about Office 365 is that it is always up-to-date. A tenant will always be able to leverage the latest technologies, versions and releases of Office 365 components as soon as they come out. However, sometimes an organization is not so ready to be on the cutting edge. Therefore, to avoid being the “guinea pig”, an organization can make a choice: Release updates EARLY to entire organization, or release updates to SELECT group of users. Usually, the IT staff would be the first ones to try out new software rollouts, and this is a great option for those who just want a few to get their feet wet.

 

3. ROADMAP!!

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Just like a fun journey of a roadtrip and experiencing the things along the way, stay up-to-date with all past, current, and in-development rollouts that Office 365 is making on virtually a daily basis. Visit http://roadmap.office365.com to see what’s coming to a tenant near you!

4. Office 365 ActiveSync vs. Mobile Device Management (MDM)

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ActiveSync still is the most common method of connecting mobile devices with Exchange Online, and for good reason: It offers a myriad of controls for the administrator. Contrary to popular belief, ActiveSync with Exchange Online matches the most stringent controls and policies of 3rd party mobile device management suites, and covers devices all the way from Apple IOS devices, Android, Windows phones, and even still supports Blackberry and Symbian devices! With over 60 configurable policies and controls, ActiveSync alone may be just what an organization needs to keep their “Bring Your Own Devices” (BYOD) policies under control, at no extra cost!
Mobile Device Management, on the other hand, expands the Exchange ActiveSync capabilities and provides one step further into management of applications on devices; particularly the ability to containerize or sandbox applications to bring them under corporate control within a BYOD policy. Requiring additional Azure and Intune components on the tenant domain, MDM goes beyond just the messaging control of devices and brings a full mobile application management platform to an administrator’s toolkit.

5. Multi-Factor Authentication

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Probably one of the most under-used security aspects of Office 365 is the ability to use Multi-Factor authentication. This allows to control of authentication through something a user “Knows” (such as their password), and something a user “Has” (such as their mobile device). Minimally, it is recommended for Administrators to have this function to further locking down their tenant environment. And with the Azure Single Sign-On Portal, Multi-factor Authentication can extend into on-premises and other apps, such as DocuSign, DropBox for Business, Dynamics CRM, Google Apps, LinkedIn and more.

6. Azure SSO Portal

Speaking of which, the Azure SSO Portal gives the user an app launch that goes beyond Office 365 Apps, such as Mail, OneDrive for Business, Sites, Yammer, etc. Office 365 now extends the application launcher to include other supported SaaS applications that support SAML, WS-Federation or Open ID Connect protocols. Logon to https://myapps.microsoft.com to see your application launcher today, and see how it can work for your organization.
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7. Azure Rights Management (ARM)

Yet another feature of Office 365 that is under-utilized is Azure Rights Management. By default, a tenant domain does NOT have this feature enabled, but is easy to setup with a few clicks of a button and a few PowerShell commands. Think of Azure Rights Management as your document and Email Encryption platform. Here, you can secure jlblog photo 10 managed solutionyour files and folders in OneDrive, secure files on your own desktop in Offline mode, and utilized the built-in interfaces that Office 2013 and future Office suites already have built-in for locking down security on documents, whether they are a Word document containing secure passwords, to an Excel or Access financial database. Plus with Azure Rights Management comes the ability to create email rules to enabled Microsoft Message Encryption, where emails can be sent with secure information safely to a recipient, requiring either a sign-in account or a one-time access code. Azure Rights Management replaces the necessity of standing a multi-server Information Rights Management infrastructure within your own datacenter. If you have an Office 365 SKU that includes ARM, go ahead, don’t be shy, and turn it on!

8. Office 365 Video

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Office 365 Video is great if you want to incorporate organizational training, IT technology training, onboarding new employees or distribute a CEO message company wide. The video portal allows content to be discoverable, mobile, and simple to use. It’s a great way to provide effective communications within any organization.

9. Delve

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A few months ago, Microsoft surprised us with Delve, a tool which up to this day has mostly a mystery on what it exactly does. But click on Delve in your Apps Launcher, and see for yourself. This is Microsoft’s Office 365 search engine which provides fast and relevant searches for content that are based on YOUR data usage and social interactions within the organization. Based on the powerful Office Graph Engine, which is the engine behind the scenes of Yammer, Delve displays content that might be most relevant for each individual based on what they’re already doing in SharePoint, Exchange, or OneDrive for Business. Pretty cool, huh?

10. Office 365 Trust Center

Certainly, this list was in no particular order of importance, and this final “Thing to Know” should really be at the top of every IT Professional’s list. While many prospective customers of mine are hesitant to start moving their email and documents to Microsoft’s cloud services, it is important to know, that in most cases, Office 365 is more secure than the existing and aging on-premise Exchange and File Server solutions. Office 365 exceeds compliance standards in the commercial, government, financial and healthcare fields, contains the most stringent security policies (both physical and logical), and stands up to one of the most highly available systems out there, with a current track record of 99.99% uptime. That equates to 52 minutes, 35.7 seconds per YEAR! Compare that to your current on-premise uptime calculations. Visit http://www.trustoffice365.com for a complete description of how it meets these standards.
Thank you for allowing me to share my 10 things to know about Office 365. I’d like to thank Richard Harbridge from 2toLead for providing helpful insights on his May 2015 blog, 10 Things That Many IT Professionals Don’t Know about Office 365, which has motivated me to share my own IT Professional perspective. I encourage you to visit his blog to see what other things that Office 365 has to offer.
Other blog posts by Jeff Lizerbram:

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