The blog of Wictor Wilén

  • Has Yammer played out its role?

    Tags: Yammer, Office 365

    And is Yammer dead?

    It is now three and a half years since Microsoft acquired Yammer and I think this is the end of Yammer, as a product/service. Let me explain myself, to avoid the flame war and hate mails that happened when I shared that my thoughts in the  Team Sites are dead post.

    I think Yammer as a brand will stay for a while, it's a strong brand and it's worked into so many PowerPoint decks from Microsoft that it would be hard to wash that away. But as a product or service Yammer is no longer of interest. I claim this due to a number of facts and observations over the last few years. People who follow me on social media cannot have avoided how I've been pretty aggressive in my comments about this product and I'm by no means alone.

    Dead end

    Here are some things that I think points very clear what is happening with Yammer.

    Yammer shut down its UserVoice channel: A couple of days ago Yammer out of the blue took down their UserVoice channel pointing to a custom feedback resource, that you have to register to get in to. This goes in the total opposite direction of what the rest of the Office teams are doing. And this on an area where Yammer actually was successful previously.

    Lack of integration: As I said it has gone three and a half years since Microsoft started working on integrating Yammer with Office 365. And what has happened since then. NOTHING! Nothing at all.  They haven't fixed the identity integration with Office 365. You need to maintain another profile in Yammer - not so much enterprisey.  Sign in is a pain - if you choose ADFS single sign on then you don't have for instance the suite bar - which means that this is really standalone. If you choose O365 sign on then you have a separate password.
    Also just recently the Yammer service moved into the Azure data centers, but still only in North America.
    The list goes on. Microsoft/Yammer has failed miserably on this topic.

    Enterprise Social Networks: Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) is on a decline in my opinion (I don't have any figures to back that with!). And what I mean with that is a standalone ESN is not interesting in the same way as before. There are some up comers, such as Slack, that does some really cool things but I think that audience is more narrow and I doubt Slack would work on some of the organizations that I work with. Generally thinking standalone ESN is a time waster, people and companies want to be efficient, so integration with other products is essential. Let's come back to this. Yammer is as much standalone as it can be, despite the Microsoft marketing stating it's a part of the Office suite.

    All the former Yammer leaders are gone: As far as I know, all the Yammer brains are gone. I remember SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas many years ago where they made a big deal of Adam Pisoni and his team at Yammer. That was the only and last time I saw them….

    Yammer constantly not listening at all, relying just on telemetry: I have had issues with Yammer since day one, issues that are bugs, feedback, not documented changes (dare I mention their APIs!) and I have tried getting in contact with the teams to give my feedback. It's been like talking to a brick wall! Basically any other team at Microsoft I can get in contact with if I need to, ranging from the Office teams, to the Windows teams and even CTOs has been taking my feedback and answering my questions. The only answer is when you have an issue with Yammer or give feedback is that - "we can't see that in out telemetry so then the users are not interested in that". If it's one answer I dislike, then it is that one. It becomes really comical when it comes to the "Mark all as read" function, that I think everyone using Yammer wants. But since that feature does not exist, they can't see it in their telemetry which in the Yammer world means that no one wants it. Duh!

    Lack of innovation: Three and a half years! Can anyone give me any new major feature in Yammer since the acquisition? Well, the Apple Watch App doesn't count. No, there has been no development what so ever on this product, except for some failed A/B testing attempts. Competitors is running in circles around Yammer. Sporadically we see Yammer stuff on the Office Roadmap, but almost always after they are released - just another sign that the Yammer team is not integrated with the Office team or have a different agenda!

    I probably missed a ton of other things, but this should make my point…

    So what is Microsoft doing and what should they be doing?

    Office 365 Groups and the Office 365 core services

    No surprise to those who follow me that Office 365 Groups should be in here. But this is important! I said lack of innovation, lack of integration, ESN is dead etc. with Yammer. All this has happened with Office 365 Groups, where I see a lot of good things grow!.

    First of all Office 365 Groups is integrating with the Office 365 service bringing the major key components together making it easy for users to collaborate, communicate, share and work together. Groups are bringing Exchange, SharePoint, Project and social networking together (could be under a Yammer brand) into one experience. This give Office 365 a unique experience compared to other competitors. With Yammer in the mix, it's a separate service, profile, user experience etc.

    Innovation! The innovation are taking place within the core Office 365 services. Take a look at the new Praise feature (directly stolen from Yammer) that now lives within Office Delve - where it should be. Take a look at the new Like feature that allows you to like e-mail messages - no more +1 e-mail messages. The same goes for the @mentions in the Outlook inbox. The majority of the social collaboration goes on in your inbox, why not let these features live here. I think this is a bold and good move.

    Actually I see the enterprise social pieces of this as an Enterprise Social Fabric that is tightly integrated with all the different core services and apps in Office 365. Not as a standalone service or product! And Yammer is not built for that.

    And for all this good things the Office 365 team also builds API's for use to use, in the new Office 365 Unified API. Something that is documented (another thing Yammer couldn't spell to).

    I'm seeing a really bright feature for Office 365 with Office 365 Groups and at the moment I will have hard to justify starting a Yammer on-boarding project with my customers. That would potentially lead them into a dead end and the off-boarding story of Yammer is most likely worse than the onboarding one. At least I will tell them this story, and they can make up their own minds.

    I would not be surprised that we see a number of Yammer obituaries in the upcoming 6 to 12 months.

    What do you think? Looking forward to an interesting discussion! Is Yammer as a service a dead end? Is the Enterprise Social Network "thing" going away?

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2015-09-28

    Tags: Office 365

    Hey, look at that - a surprise update of the Office Roadmap! This time around we just have a couple of minor updates AND a couple of features that actually is removed from the Roadmap - all related to FastTrack. My guess someone was to trigger happy earlier this month when releasing this…

    Changes 2015-09-28

    These features are no longer listed on the roadmap!

    • FastTrack | Yammer Onboarding Expansion
    • FastTrack | Project Online onboarding
    • FastTrack | Azure Rights Management Onboarding
    • FastTrack | Adoption planning services
    • FastTrack | Skype for Business Onboarding Expansion
    • FastTrack | Data migration to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business


    All that is left of the FastTrack items are

    • FastTrack | Request Service Onboarding (Rolling out)
    • FastTrack | Providing the customer success service (In development)

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2015-09-25

    Tags: Office 365

    The second update of the Office Roadmap this months is now live.  This time a huge set of features that are rolling out, most of them has to do with the updated Office ProPlus client (2016). There are some hidden gems in this such as the "Likes" in OWA, huge Sway licensing changes and (the not so hidden) announcement of Office 365 Planner.

    Changes 2015-09-25

    Now Launched

    • Cortana & Office 365 Productivity Scenarios: The Cortana and Office 365 feature should now be launched (from rolling out). I've yet to seen what it actually does.
    • Outlook Groups AppOffice 365 Groups: mobile app: Love it! We have the Office 365 Groups mobile app, called Outlook Groups available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone (on some platforms only available on select markets).
    • Office 365 Service Trust Portal:  A new portal with even more information about trust, compliance, certifications etc. Important for Company admins can log in to the portal, Service Trust Portal, to give other users access to the portal. It is implemented as an Azure AD app and it actually requires some interesting permissions on your Azure AD to be able to use it. Brand new on the roadmap.
    • Office 365 Setup Enhancements: the new migration options are now fully launched
    • Office 365 Setup Wizard: the more streamlined getting-started and setup guide is live.
    • Office 365 Video: most likely the service that has taken the longest time to fully roll out. Video! It's here…
    • Office 365 Video - Embed: The video embed features should be available for everyone
    • Office 365 Video Update: Everyone should also have the updated Video experience in their tenants by now.
    • Yammer for Apple Watch: Yawn! If you are the one user using this, please contact me so I can find out why…

    Rolling out

    • Automatic Relationship Detection: PivotTable stuff, for those who are interested I guess this is a big del.
    • Automatic Time Grouping: Same here, but for PivotCharts…
    • Colorful Office theme: This sounds like a small thing, but it is actually huge. Each Office ProPlus/2016 client application now has it's own color scheme (Word - blue, PowerPoint - red, Excel - green etc). One of the feedbacks I heard from customers about Office 2013 was the white theme - no one liked it. I really fancy this new colorful theme, with a subtle color on each app which makes it much easy on the eyes.
    • Create and collaborate on Visio diagrams using Office-like experience: Anything with Visio is a good thing
    • Dark theme: Welcome to the dark side. If you liked to old app Darkroom, you'll like this.
    • Data Loss Protection (DLP) for Office desktop: DLP on the desktops for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Nice addition!
    • Deferred Updates: If you don't want to be on the latest and greatest you can now defer feature updates for the Office client.
    • Easy Enable for Data Analysis Add-Ins: More Power[View|Pivot|Map] improvements
    • Getting started experience in Visio: Visio for everyone!
    • Higher DPI support for 250% and 300%: Ok, this must be in preparation for Surface Pro 4 (Staffan, I just dropped my Surface 3…)
    • Improved conflict resolution in PowerPoint: Conflict resolution in PowerPoint has been a mess, especially with those Management Consultant slides…
    • Improved sync slider and lean storage footprint on small devices in Outlook 2016: How about that, think about being the PM for the "sync slider".
    • Information Rights Management (IRM) protection now added for Visio files: RMS and Visio! Gotta keep those drawings secure!
    • Keyboard access for Pivot Tables and Slicers in Excel: The Excel BI team has been on fire
    • Keyboard access for Shape Panel in Visio: Visio is getting closer to be one first class citizen in the Office family
    • Keyword & People search suggestions in Outlook 2016: better integration with the Office 365 backend in Outlook 2016 for search to give you even better and more relevant results
    • Likes Coming to Outlook on the web: This is a new feature on the Roadmap and I think I like it! You can give an e-mail "Thumbs up" and this will be preserved. This is likely to prevent all those "+1" e-mails.
    • Making it easier to share files and collaborate: This is one of the better improvements in Office 2016 - the updated Share pane which combines sharing and co-authoring information
    • Mark emails as Clutter in Outlook 2016: I occasionally see this feature in the new 2016 client. For instance yesterday when doing a demo of that feature, it was not there…
    • Math Input Control: A cool feature for students and scientists
    • Modern Attachments in Outlook 2016: The number one productivity improvement in Outlook 2016. Attach you recent documents in a few clicks without actually sending attachments.
    • More secure translation options: I'm surprised this hasn't been in there before, but now the information from your documents is sent of SSL to services such as Bing and MS Research.
    • Multi-factor authentication: Makes all users cry but security officers jump in excitement
    • New and Modern Charts: How many different chart types can there really be?
    • New capabilities on Yammer Android app: The Yammer people are still struggling to entice the Android crowd - ever heard of Office 365 Groups and the new Outlook Group app?
    • New Chinese and Japanese Default Fonts: New updated modern fonts
    • New Forecasting Capabilities:  Excel again!
    • New Office 365 Admin Center Preview: Another new addition to the roadmap. All Office 365 Admins will soon have the new admin center experience in their tenants. During the transition you will have a link in the old portal to the new one
    • OLAP Connection Support in Power View: More PowerView
    • Optimized file picker in Outlook Web App: A really good file picker in OWA that allows you to more easily add attachments from your OneDrive for instance
    • Pan and zoom while loading large charts/SmartArt: SmartArt improvements
    • PivotTable Field Search: No comments needed, more Excel stuff
    • Quick data linking in Visio: Make it easier to hook up data to your VIsio shapes
    • Quick Shape Formatting: More style presets in Word, Excel and PowerPoint
    • Read-only mode for Excel: Open Excel more faster
    • Real time co-authoring in Word: Microsoft is catching up with other services, this is a neat feature - and it actually works
    • Refreshed stencils and smart shapes in Visio: About time…I'm dead tired of the 3D server shapes
    • Smart Lookup for Office: Contextual research options in Word, Excel and PowerPoint
    • Smart Rename in Power Pivot: PowerPivot…
    • Support for multi-selection of Slicer items using touch: Touch my Excel!
    • Support for small screen portrait layouts in Outlook 2016: Optimizations of Outlook 2016 for small screen devices.
    • Tell Me: It's like Cortana but for Office, use Tell me to find that function you need instead of clicking like crazy in the myriads of menus in Office

    In Development

    • eDiscovery Case Management, Hold & Permissions: No update on this one, except removal of a comma in the text
    • New per-user licensing for Sway: New on the roadmap and this is a significant one. "Sway will soon switch to a per-user licensing model, so that organizations no longer have to choose whether to have Sway enabled for the entire organization vs. nobody at all". A good move and all you Service Managers out there you need to plan for this one. So you don't get the same confusion as when Microsoft initially launched this product to everyone (that is a dumb move that we will just have to get used with,…)
    • Office 365 Admin app updates October 2015: We will see Groups administration in the next wave of the admin app. Like it!
    • Real-time Co-authoring in Skype for Business: First of all - whoever wrote this description need to read it again - worse English than mine. Ok, this is a new thing on the Roadmap and my interpretation of the lousy description is that it could be something really cool
    • Reassign Sways from deleted user: New on the roadmap. With this update you should be able to actually reassign the ownership of Sways to users that is removed from your tenant
    • Video Based Screen Sharing: New on the roadmap: P2P based Video Based Screen Sharing.
    • Work Management in Office 365: The Office 365 Planner announcement,. I can't stress how excited I am about this one. Think of it like Trello in Office 365 Groups. Can't wait to start using it!!! Read the full Planner announcement here.

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2015-09-09

    Tags: Office 365

    Almost a month has gone since Microsoft did an update to the Office Roadmap. But fear no more, it is here stuffed with new and interesting stuff. It's quite a long list this time around. A lot of them are just Office 2016 features that we've known about for some time, but now added to this Roadmap. But also some really interesting FastTrack features, with very sparse descriptions.

    Changes 2015-09-09

    Now Launched

    • About Me Update and New Authoring Tool: The updated About Me, part of Delve, is now fully launched, including the new Stories authoring tool. Unfortunately totally missed out on communicating this new and actually really great way of composing content - kind of like a mix of Sway and a blog tool.  (Started rolling out in April)
    • Azure AD Sync for Yammer: Finally Yammer is in some way in sync with Azure AD and disabled/deleted accounts will now be suspended in Yammer (new on the roadmap)
    • Major update to Outlook Web App: Outlook on the web has a new UX (from In development)
    • Office 365 Admin app updates: the regular admin app updates, this time support for logging in to multiple tenants
    • Office 365 Admin App Updates for June: the admin app June updates
    • Outlook for iOS opens IRM protected emails: the iOS version of Outlook now supports reading, managing and creating IRM protected e-mails. (new)
    • Search Suggestions in Outlook Web App: type ahead with recommendations in OWA (from rolling out)
    • UserVoice coming to Outlook on the web: provide user feedback to UserVoice directly in the OWA interface (from in development)
    • Weather Bar in Outlook Web App: now shows the local weather in OWA (from in development)

    Rolling out

    • Apps for Project Pro for Office 365 write support: write-back support fro Apps for Project Pro for Office 365. Nice enhancement! (from in development)
    • Capacity Management capabilities in Project Online: heatmaps and colors in Project Online for better predictions of resource utilization (from in development)
    • FastTrack | Request Service Onboarding: you can now request setup help directly from within the admin center and get on board the Office 365 train fast and for free. (new)
    • Multiple timeline bars in Project Pro for Office 365: more GUI stuff for all them project managers (from in development)
    • Office 365 Setup Enhancements: improvements in the setup wizard for mail migrations (from in development)
    • Resource Engagement Workflow in Project Online: better management for resource management and planning (from in development)
    • Subscription Management Experience refresh; a new card view when working with subscriptions. In my opinion a far worse experience than before, the card view is just annoying. (from in development)

    In Development

    • Add-in deployment via Click-to-Run: a few add-ins/apps can now be deployed via the C2R method (new)
    • Archiving in Office 365 for 3rd-party data: Office 365 will support archiving of Twitter, Yammer, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoogleTalk, DropBox, Box, SalesForce, Chatter, SMS and more and more. This is huge for compliance and regulatory business! Big thumbs up! (new)
    • Automatic Relationship Detection: PivotTables and data and relationships. Some magic for all BI and Excel lovers. (new)
    • Azure departmental template availability: department specific RMS/IRM templates. (new)
    • Click-to-Run manageability gaps addressed for IT-pros: improvements to make the already stream-lined (pun intended) deployment even more streamlined (new)
    • Colorful Office Theme: Not really new, just new on the roadmap. Office (C2R and 2016) has a new default Colorful Theme. I love this small but significant UX change. (new)
    • Create and collaborate on Visio diagrams using Office-like experience: been here a while, previously it was rolling out, now it's not…
    • Dark Theme: an improved Dark theme in Office (C2R and 2016) (new)
    • Data Gathering and Shaping Capabilities: Power Query, previously an add-on, is now included in Excel 2016. (new)
    • Data Loss Protection (DLP) for Office desktop: This is really cool, DLP is not just a cloud feature, it will be on our desktops as well. (new)
    • Deferred Updates: Office 365 commercial customers can defer Office patches to allow more time for testing (new)
    • Easy Enable for Data Analysis Add-Ins: BI, BI, Power this and Power that. All BI features will be enabled by just you thinking about them (new)
    • FastTrack | Data migration to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business: No info yet but probably free migration to SPO (new)
    • FastTrack | Skype for Business Onboarding Expansion: more free stuff (new)
    • FastTrack | Adoption planning services: being just a migration and onboarding consultant is probably not the smartest move at the moment… (new)
    • FastTrack | Azure Rights Management Onboarding: no info (new)
    • FastTrack | Project Online Onboarding: no info (new)
    • FastTrack | Providing the customer success service: no info (new)
    • FastTrack | Yammer Onboarding Expansion: no info (new)
    • Getting Started experience in Visio: no longer rolling out :-(
    • Higher DPI support for 250% and 300%: Makes Office work better on high DPI screens (new)
    • Improved conflict resolution in PowerPoint: making co-authoring even better, and for PowerPoint the conflict resolution has been really bad…
    • Improved sync slider and lean storage footprint on small devices in Outlook 2016: who doesn't like improved sliders!!! (new)
    • Information Rights Management (IRM) protection now added for Visio files: also rolled back from rolling out
    • Keyboard access for Pivot Tables and Slicers in Excel: more Excel BI improvements (new)
    • Keyboard access for Shape Panel in Visio: new key to start use in Visio - F6 (new)
    • Keyword & People search suggestions in Outlook 2016: simpler and more effective search in Outlook 2016 (new)
    • Making it easier to share files and collaborate: one of my fav features in Office 2016 - sharing is easy!! (new)
    • Mark emails as Clutter in Outlook 2016: get rid of those annoying e-mails that you don't care about (new)
    • Math Input Control: for all you math geeks (new)
    • Modern Attachments in Outlook 2016: if sharing is my fav feature this is way better - avoid attachments and sharing at the same time (new)
    • More secure translation options: document translation, research pane and others now use SSL for transport security - about time!!! (new)
    • Multi-factor Authentication: support for MFA in Office client (new)
    • New and Modern Charts: new charts in Excel (new)
    • New Chinese and Japanese Default fonts: Wingdings? (new)
    • New forecasting capabilities: improved Excel 2016 forecasting (new)
    • New timeline view in Project: improved timeline view in Project 2016 (new)
    • Office 365 content pack for Power BI: combine Office 365 usage and user information and get some insights (new)
    • Office 365 detailed usage reports: more and better reports (new)
    • Office 365 Groups: Support compliance requirements: support for Office 365 Groups in the compliance center with retention and holds (new)
    • Office 365 Reporting Dashboard: new aggregated dashboard in the admin center (new)
    • OLAP Connection Support in Power View: OLAP support in PowerView (new)
    • Outlook for the web inline OneDrive attachment preview: better preview options in OWA (new)
    • Pan and zoom while loading large charts/SmartArt:: no explanation needed (new)
    • PivotTable Field Search: search and you will find (new)
    • Quick data linking in Visio; one step connectivity for real time data (new)
    • Quick Shape Formatting: more presets in Office 2016 (new)
    • Read-only mode for Excel: open up an Excel document in SharePoint in read-only mode - what's new with that!?? (new)
    • Real time co-authoring in Word: it's been said before but this is now real time co-authoring for real (new)
    • Refresh stencils and smart shapes in Visio: another Visio thing that was in the rolling out section earlier
    • Set Automatic Replies in Outlook for iOS & Android: get your OOOF's rolling on the fruitphones and droids (new)
    • Smart Lookup for Office: contextual lookups (new)
    • Smart Rename in Power Pivot: rename stuff in PowerPivot, probably really good feature, I don't know (new)
    • Support for multi-selection of Slicer items using touch: Slicers, BI and touch - sounds like a wet dream to many (new)
    • Support for small screen portrait layouts in Outlook 2016: looking forward to testing this on my 7" Windows 10 tablet (new)
    • TellMe: Kindof Cortana but limited to the Office Ribbon :-)  (new)

    Moved off to the Previously Released list

    • NDR backscatter protection
    • Office 365 ProPlus user activation management
    • Public Folder calendar and contact access in OWA
    • SharePoint Online storage usage model
    • Skype for Business - Windows Phone
    • Skype for Business Preview - Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling (US Only)
    • Skype for Business Preview - PSTN Conferencing (US Only)
    • Skype for Business Preview - Skype Meeting Broadcast
    • Workload-specific admin roles


    That's it. Twas a long post this time…

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2015-08-13 (Yammer Edition)

    Tags: Office 365

    Updates to the roadmap, again! This time around it is all about Yammer. This major update of Yammer features that's already rolled out or in development just shows how disconnected the Yammer and Office 365 teams are.

    Changes 2015-08-13

    These are the changes since yesterday.

    Now Launched

    • New Capabilities for Yammer iOS app: better photo and file sharing, better search, better this and better that. Directly to launched
    • Real-time Yammer group activity indicators: a feature that's been rolling out for a while, but still new on the roadmap. Tiny profile pics when people post stuff in groups. Directly to launched
    • Yammer Next Group Notifications: another thing that's been out there for a while, but new on the roadmap. Directly to launched

    Rolling Out

    • Yammer for Apple Watch: if I had a Apple Watch this is one of the things I would never install on it. Most likely for all the cool kids (new)

    In Development

    • Group Updates feed for Yammer mobile apps: Mobile Apps = Android or iOS, not win phone. This update allows for better possibilities to catch up on conversations
    • Groups in Office 365 for Yammer: the long rumored Yammer integration with Office 365 Groups. One really interesting new thing that I for sure will keep an eye on!
    • New capabilities on Yammer Android app: "…new capabilities that boost team collaboration". If they say so,.., (new)
    • Office Online multi-user coauthoring in Yammer: sigh - thou shalt not store and edit documents in yammer. (new)
    • Yammer Discovery Feed: smells like Facebooks (annoying) algorithm to surface relevant conversations. (new)
    • Yammer External Groups: allows you to invite external users to a group. Nice improvement, way better than external networks or the flexternals. (new)
    • Yammer Group UI Redesign: "cleaner look to focus attention on high impact activity..:", overall a good thing (new)

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2015-08-12

    Tags: Office 365

    We have updates, and quite a few of them, to the Office Roadmap. Some clean up, some awesome Visio features rolling out and a set of new features in the In Development segment. Also noticeable quite a few of the "refresh" features and one cancelled item.

    Changes 2015-08-12

    Now Launched

    • NDR backscatter protection: has been rolling out for a while
    • Office 365 Admin Center June Updates: the June stuff is launched
    • Office 365 Store: launched. Verdict from customers - why does it have to be there, can't we remove it?
    • Office Online Edit in Yammer: Really dump feature that allows users to edit documents in Yammer - documents should never ever be stored in Yammer to start with!
    • Public Folders: adding and removing favorites in OWA: Public folders? Didn't someone say they were to be removed :)

    Rolling out

    • Adding IRM protection to Visio file: sweet feature that now is rolling out and allows to protect your most important files. Coming from In Development
    • Create and collaboration on Visio diagrams using Office like experience: more of them Visio goodies rolling out
    • DKIM Outbound for Exchange Online Protection: better protection in ExO by digitally signed message headers
    • Getting started experience in Visio: Visio, nuff said
    • Office 365 Domain Purchase Experience: from in development
    • Office 365 Settings pane: the third "pane" to be rolled out (Help, Notification and Settings). I just wonder when we are allowed to hook into these?
    • Office 365 User Purchases: just buy it yourself if your IT department says no. From in development.
    • Office 365 Video Embed: I don't know about you but I'm getting confused. Rolling out, Launched, Rolling out…
    • Purchase & Subscriptions Experience Refresh: a new user experience for the purchase and subscriptions pages are rolling out. Personally I had hard to find what I needed…
    • Rapid data connectivity in Visio: Now, if only everyone had access to Visio
    • Refreshed stencils and smart shapes in Visio: Metro? From In Development.
    • Search Refiners in Outlook Web App: make it easier to find your stuff using refiners in OWA
    • Search Suggestions in Outlook Web App: more OWA search goodness

    In Development

    • Auto-Expanding Archives: new item on the roadmap that allows archives to automatically expand as needed. No mention of any specific service but I guess it is an Exchange Online thing :)
    • Major update to Outlook Web App: Outlook Web App, or should I say Outlook on the web, will have major UX update coming (new)
    • Mobile PDF annotation support for iOS: offline access and PDF editing support on iOS - those fruit fone users get all the fun… (new)
    • Office 365 Admin app updates:  focus this month is on… GROUPS! I've said it before - Groups is the future folks! (new)
    • Office 365 app launcher refresh: New on the list! App launcher will be more like the Windows 10 Start menu with different sized tiles.
    • Save to OneDrive for Business in Outlook for iOS and Android: new on the roadmap, wonder if these things get added to the Modern Mail client in Windows 10 (phone)?
    • Subscription Management Experience refresh: even more modern design I presume… (new)
    • Supervisory Review for financial and regulatory compliance: Wow, really cool and scary. This feature will allow auditors to look into a subset of users communications. (new)
    • Uservoice coming to Outlook on the web: a link directly in OWA, sorry Outlook on the web, so users can give feedback to the OWA, sorry Outlook on the web, team.


    • Evolving the Outlook Web App options page: added in April, but no info on why this is cancelled

    Moved off the list into the Previously released

    • Azure AD Reports
    • Disable OneDrive for Business sync for unmanaged PCs
    • Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection
    • MDM for OneDrive for Business
    • Mobile device management
    • Office 365 Groups: Dynamic CRM integration
    • Office 365 Groups: files improvement
    • Office 365 Groups: improving visibility and management
    • Office 365 Groups: adding Like to Conversations
    • Office 365 services hosted in Microsoft Australia datacenters
    • Office Online Preview in Yammer
    • Quarantine Message Body Preview
    • Skype for Business Online
    • Unified OneDrive API

  • Take control of your Office 365 Theme!

    Tags: Office 365, SharePoint Online

    It has been a while since Office 365 introduced the suite wide themes. These themes are applied on all services within the Office 365 suite, or at least the ones using the Suite Bar navigation. Up until the very last few weeks the suite wide theme has been something you can set but your SharePoint site owners and all end-users has been able to override them. Finally these things has been resolved and fixed (no info about this on the Office Roadmap, hence this blog post)!

    In this post I will walk you through how the Office 365 Theme can and should be controlled and what specifically to think of.

    Create you suite wide Office 365 Theme

    Of course, the first thing you need to do is to create your Office 365 Theme. This configuration is very logically located under the Company Profile in the Office 365 Admin Portal. Once you choose "Company Profile" in the left hand menu you then choose "Custom theming".

    Office 365 Custom Theming

    There are a couple of things you can configure here.


    Custom logo

    The custom logo is a picture shown on each and every page, in the middle of the suite bar. It has to be 200x50 pixels and in either JPG, PNG or GIF format and it must not be larger than 10kb.

    URL for clickable logo

    You can also set a URL for the custom logo. Having it point to is a kinda good thing - since there is still no way to "force" an "Intranet" tile into the App Launcher.

    Background image

    This is a background image that will be shown in the suite bar. The size should be 1366x50 pixels and in JPEG, GIF or PNG and not larger than 15kb. (The error message says 250x30 and less than 10kb though).


    You have three color options:

    The Accent color determines the color of the App Launcher box (red in the image below).

    Nav bar background color is the background color of the suite bar (green in the image below)

    Text and icons is the color of the text and icons (blue in the image below)

    The last option is the App Launcher icon where you have three colors to choose from; the Text and icons color, white or black.

    Office 365 Theme color cheat sheet

    Note: Please be patient when applying a theme or updating a theme. The suite bar takes some time to trickle out to all services and it's also cached "hard".

    Prohibit end-users to overwrite your Office 365 Theme

    On the Custom theming page there is one really important check box, that should be checked on each and every tenant: Prevent users from overriding custom theming with their own theme.

    No more kittens!

    When this checkbox is enabled users cannot on their Office 365 settings page override the theme you have created. Think of in a corporate world where you have a nice theme and your end-users overrides it with cute kittens or whatnot.

    SharePoint themes does not longer overwrite the Office 365 Theme

    So, what about SharePoint and the SharePoint themes? Up until very recently as soon as you applied a theme to a SharePoint site, that nuked the Office 365 theme on that site. Over the last few days a fix has been rolled out so no matter what despicable built-in SharePoint theme you apply, the Office 365 Theme will be there.

    Green theme!


    All this might be old news to some of you, but from the Twitter streams (SMS Rob?) I've seen that not everyone is aware of all these features.

    Note: you might not have all these features/fixes in your tenant, as it takes a while for everything to roll out.

  • Office 365 Groups for Admins - simple reporting using PowerShell

    Tags: Office 365, Unified Groups, PowerShell

    In this post, in the Office 365 Groups for Admins series, I will leverage what we learned in the previous posts, combine it with some PowerShell magic and create some basic reports. You can use these reports as a base for your Office 365 Groups reporting in your organization.

    Note: all these reports require that you have connected to your Exchange Online tenant with appropriate permissions, see this post about more details.

    List all Groups

    The most simple and most obvious report is of course to use the Get-UnifiedGroup cmdlet. That one gives you the basic details such as group names, creation dates etc:

    Get-UnifiedGroup | Format-Table Alias, PrimarySmtpAddress, WhenCreated, WhenChanged

    Simple Group report

    Show some more details

    Most often you need more details, specifically with the member details. Here's how you can combine the Get-UnifiedGroup cmdlet with the Get-UnifiedGroupLinks cmdlet to show how many members and owners each group have:

    Get-UnifiedGroup | 
        select Id,Alias, AccessType, Language,Notes, PrimarySmtpAddress, `
        HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled, WhenCreated, WhenChanged, `
        @{Expression={([array](Get-UnifiedGroupLinks -Identity $_.Id -LinkType Members)).Count }; `
        Label='Members'}, `
        @{Expression={([array](Get-UnifiedGroupLinks -Identity $_.Id -LinkType Owners)).Count }; `
        Label='Owners'} |
        Format-Table Alias, Members, Owners

    Another Group report

    This command might take a while if you have many Groups and many members. So if want to do some operations on this you should store it in a local variable.

    You can also use this result and store it in a file (or upload it to SharePoint) if you would like to compare how your Groups change over time. For this I prefer to use the Export-CliXml and Import-CliXml cmdlets to persist the data as an XML file and then the Compare-Object cmdlet to find differences. You can do something like this to compare Groups from one day to another:

    # Get Group data (using the command above)
    $allGroups = Get-UnifiedGroup | select ...
    # Get previous days Groups
    $previousData = Import-Clixml -LiteralPath c:\temp\groups-data.xml
    # Compare the results
    Compare-Object -ReferenceObject $previousData -DifferenceObject $allGroups `
        -Property Members,Owners -PassThru | `
        Format-Table  Alias, Members, Owners, SideIndicator
    # Export the new data
    $allGroups | Export-CliXml c:\temp\groups-data.xml 

    Comparing Groups

    The SideIndicator indicates the changes; => is new stuff and <= is old stuff. In the picture above you can see that the Members and Owners properties of one Group has increased to 3, from 2. And we also have one brand new Group, with 1 member.

    Finding users in Groups

    Sometimes you need to find out which users are members or owners of certain Groups. Of course you can use Azure AD cmdlets to find memberships but another way is to use a modification of the command above:

    $allGroupsObj = Get-UnifiedGroup | 
        select Id,Alias,  `
        @{Expression={Get-UnifiedGroupLinks -Identity $_.Id -LinkType Members | `
        select Name}; Label='Members'}, `
        @{Expression={Get-UnifiedGroupLinks -Identity $_.Id -LinkType Owners | `
        select Name}; Label='Owners'}

    This allows you to find out which Groups a specific user is Member and/or Owner of. To find which Groups Katie Jordan is owner of you fire off a command like this:

    $allGroupsObj | Where-Object{$_.Owners | Where-Object{ $_.Name -eq 'KatieJ'}} | `
        select Alias

    KatiJ is the owner


    I hope this post showed you how you can create reports of your Office 365 Groups, in wait for Microsoft to provide us with better tools. And I hope you actually do reporting on your Groups, since that is an essential part of your Office 365 Governance and your understanding on how your users work.

  • Office 365 Groups for Admins - managing Group memberships with PowerShell

    Tags: Office 365, Unified Groups, PowerShell

    In the last post of the Office 365 Groups for Admins series I showed you how to manage the Unified Groups using PowerShell. Let's continue on that journey and take a look at how you can manage the Group memberships using PowerShell.

    All membership management are done using the *-UnifiedGroupLinks cmdlets, you can access them using PowerShell and connecting to Exchange Online as shown in the previous post. The cmdlets is at the moment that well documented. If that changes I'll make sure to update this post (and please remind me).

    Public vs Private Groups

    Before we dive into Memberships let's take a look at Public vs Private Groups, something you configure when creating the Group. In Public Groups anyone within your Organization can participate in discussions and access its content, whereas in Private Groups you have to be a member.

    Listing members of Groups

    First of all assume that we want to list the members of a Group. There are three types of Memberships in Office 365 Groups:

    • Members
    • Owners
    • Subscribers

    To show all the Members of a Group issue the following command:

    Get-UnifiedGroupLinks -Identity "XT1000 Marketing" -LinkType "Members"

    The LinkType parameter can be either Members, Owners or Subscribers.

    Adding members to a Group

    To add one or more accounts as a Member to a Group you use the Add-UnifiedGroupLinks cmdlet as follows:

    Add-UnifiedGroupLinks `
        -Identity "XT1000 Marketing" `
        -LinkType "Members" `
        -Links @("","")

    Identity is the Group, LinkType has to be either Members, Owners or Subscribers and Links should be a single or an array of mailboxes.

    To add a new admin to the Group, you use the LinkType set to Owners. But, before issuing that command you need to make the user a Member of the Group, so it is a two-stage rocket like this to make someone an admin:

    Add-UnifiedGroupLinks `
        -Identity "XT1000 Marketing" `
        -LinkType "Members" `
        -Links ""
    Add-UnifiedGroupLinks `
        -Identity "XT1000 Marketing" `
        -LinkType "Owners" `
        -Links ""

    Subscribers are basically just members but they have decided to Subscribe to events from the Group. They are added just like Owners - first a Member Group Link and then a Subscriber Group Link.

    Note that the user creating the Group, using PowerShell, will always be an Owner (and Member).

    Removing members from Groups

    Removing users from a Group are very similar to adding them. If they are Owners or Subscribers that Group Link has to be removed first, then the Member Group Link:

    Remove-UnifiedGroupLinks `
        -Identity "XT1000 Marketing" `
        -LinkType "Owners" `
        -Links @("") `
    Remove-UnifiedGroupLinks `
        -Identity "XT1000 Marketing" `
        -LinkType "Members" `
        -Links @("") `


    This post showed with a few examples on how to manage memberships in Office 365 Groups, using PowerShell and the *-UnifiedGroupLinks cmdlets. In the upcoming posts we'll take a look at how to combine the different cmdlets to produce some good reports of the Unified Groups.

  • Office 365 Groups for Admins - managing Groups with PowerShell

    Tags: Office 365, Unified Groups, PowerShell

    One of the loudest complaints I hear from people when we talk about Groups is the lack of management features, so in this post in the Office 365 Groups for Admins series we will take a look at how you can manage your Unified Groups using PowerShell. In the previous post I actually already showed you how to use PowerShell to create Groups, but let's take a step back.

    Connecting PowerShell to Exchange Online

    To start working with the Unified Groups in PowerShell we need to connect to Exchange Online and we do that by establishing a PowerShell session to a specific Uri, see code sample below, and then import that session to our local session. This means we do not have to install any PowerShell module or similar. This is how it should look like:

    # We need some credentials of course
    $UserCredential = Get-Credential
    # Create the session
    $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange `
        -ConnectionUri `
        -Credential $UserCredential `
        -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
    # Import the session
    Import-PSSession $Session
    # Do Stuff...
    # Kill the session
    Remove-PSSession $Session

    There is nothing you need to modify here, just enter your credentials when asked for. Note that I close the remote session!

    Unified Group cmdlets

    There are a couple of Unified Group cmdlets available for us to use. Issuing Get-Help UnifiedGroup shows the following operations:

    • Add-UnifiedGroupLinks
    • Get-UnifiedGroup
    • Get-UnifiedGroupLinks
    • New-UnifiedGroup
    • Remove-UnifiedGroup
    • Remove-UnifiedGroupLinks
    • Set-UnifiedGroup

    As you can see there are two types of cmdlets; one for creating, updating and removing Unified Groups and one listing, adding and removing "Group Links" (membership stuff), but more about those in the next post.


    This cmdlet lists all you current Office 365 Groups. It's perfect for creating reports. It has support for filtering options (very similar to Exchange mailbox management) or you can retrieve a specific group like this:

     Get-UnifiedGroup -Identity <groupalias>

    Listing Groups


    We discussed this one in the latest post, so we keep this description short: this cmdlet creates new Groups.


    This is most likely the most important cmdlet for managing Groups. It allows you to modify properties of the Groups.

    Here are a couple of the operations you need to understand and use:

    Hide a Group from the Address lists (GAL)

    The request I hear the most often is  - I don't want (certain) groups to be visible in the GAL. Then just use the HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled parameter and it will disappear from the address lists (a resync of the GAL is needed for client apps):

    Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity <alias>  `
         -HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled $true

    Changing the appearance

    You can change the display name, primary and other e-mail addresses and even add Mail tips to a Group.

     Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity BossesGroup `
         -DisplayName "Contoso Bosses" `
         -MailTip "You're sending mail to a Group!!!!" `
         -PrimarySmtpAddress ""

    Group Mail Tips

    Accept or Reject certain users from sending mails to groups

    There might be situations when you do not want certain people to send messages to a group or you only want specific people to send messages. Then you can use the RejectMessagesFromSendersOrMembers or AcceptMessagesOnlyFromSendersOrMembers parameters. They work in a similar fashion as the similar parameters on the Set-DistributionGroup cmdlet. For instance this prohibits Garth Forth from sending messages to the Bosses Group.

    Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity BossesGroup `


    Pretty obvious what this one does - it removes a Group.


    After reading this post you should find yourself comfortable starting managing Groups using PowerShell and even start writing your own reports (unless you can't wait a couple of more days). In the next post I'll continue with the Group Links and show you how to manage the membership of Groups.

About Wictor...

Wictor Wilén is a Group Manager and Collaboration Lead working at Avanade. Wictor has achieved the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) - SharePoint  and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) - SharePoint 2010 certifications. He has also been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for six consecutive years.

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