Office 365 Weekly Digest | January 1 – 7, 2017

Welcome to 2017's first edition of the O365 Weekly Digest, for January 1 - 7. The new Office 365 admin center is reaching GA which means the classic admin center will no longer be available as of January 31, 2017. An update to the Focused Inbox roll out is also posted to the Message Center and I have added a reminder for the availability and supportability of the 2013 version of O365 ProPlus. From an events perspective, 2017 is starting with a bang!  There are multiple sessions on various topics / services per week throughout January. The blog recap includes posts for O365 identity, a Microsoft IT Showcase study for Skype for Business and more. This week in the "Noteworthy" section I have highlighted a Microsoft Ignite session on how Microsoft runs Exchange Online - it is one of the best sessions each year!


Note: The information below may not be posted to your Office 365 tenant as not all notifications apply to all tenants.


Updated Feature: New Office 365 admin center reaching GA

Posted: January 5, 2017 | Urgency: Normal | Category: Stay Informed | Action: Awareness | One year ago, we started building a new modern Office 365 Admin Center that provides admins with an improved management experience that makes it easier and faster for them to manage Office 365 while providing new capabilities and insights. In March 2016, we made significant advances in the portal experience, and started to roll out the Admin Center Preview to all customers as the default experience. We also gave admins the ability to switch back to the classic experience. In September, we completed our work to bring parity and improvements from the classic Admin Center to the new Admin Center. As such, the new Office 365 admin center reached general availability. On January 31, we will retire the classic Admin Center experience. We have modernized the Office 365 admin experience by simplifying the experience and providing more functionality and insights, making it easier to access the tools and complete common tasks. This new experience will be the only admin center experience, beginning January 31. Familiarize yourself with the new Office 365 Admin Center today by clicking "Take a tour" from the new Admin Center home page. Additional details are available at


New Feature: Focused Inbox

Posted: January 7, 2017 | Urgency: Normal | Category: Stay Informed | Action: Awareness | Focused Inbox is a new feature coming to Office 365. Focused Inbox helps you take control of your inbox and focus on the emails that matter most. This is coming to all versions of Outlook that receive updates, to give you one consistent view of the important items in your inbox. Office 365 Administrators have robust controls to manage this feature within their organization. We'll be gradually rolling this out to First Release customers beginning the end of October, and completing mid-February. We’ll begin rolling this out to the rest of our customers beginning mid-February, and completing by the end of April. Focused Inbox provides two filtered views of your inbox; Focused and Other. Emails that matter most to you are viewed in the Focused tab while the rest remain easily accessible, but out of the way, in the Other tab. You’ll be informed about new emails appearing in the “Other” tab filtered view, and you can switch between tabs (views) at any time to take a quick look. However, all emails remain in your inbox; no emails are moved. Focused Inbox is a refinement and improvement of a previous feature called Clutter. Active Clutter users will have to opt-in to Focused Inbox, and will be able to do so from an in-app prompt in Outlook. Users can keep using the existing Clutter experience through the transition. We will communicate again via Message Center when this change happens. Focused Inbox has admin controls to help manage within your organization: (1) Whitelist controls to ensure certain business critical communications, like HR, Payroll, etc., always land in the user’s Focused tab of the Inbox, and (2) Controls to enable/disable Focused Inbox for all current and future mailboxes, or select mailboxes, in your organization. Get yourself familiar with Focused Inbox, update your user training, and notify your helpdesk, as needed. Please visit to learn more.


REMINDER: Removing the Office 2013 version of Office 365 ProPlus

Posted: October 19, 2016 | Urgency: Normal | Category: Plan for Change | Action: Required by February 28, 2017 | Office 2016 is the recommended version of Office 365 ProPlus and includes all the latest upgrades and new features. As we announced in September 2015, when we released Office 2016, beginning March 1, 2017, the Office 2013 version of Office 365 ProPlus will no longer be available for installation from the Office 365 portal. Beginning March 1, 2017, your users will no longer see Office 2013 as an option for download through the Office 365 portal, and admins will no longer have the option under Software download settings in the admin portal to choose to enable Office 2013. In addition, we will no longer provide feature updates for this version, nor provide support. We recommend you install Office 2016 as soon as possible to have the latest and greatest features and support. Additional information is available at



Azure Active Directory Webinars for January

When: Multiple sessions currently scheduled through January 19, 2017 | Are you looking to deploy Azure Active Directory quickly and easily? We are offering free webinar briefings on key Azure Active Directory deployment topics! Sessions include: Getting Ready for Azure AD, Streamlining Password Management, Securing Your Identities with Multi-Factor Authentication, Managing Enterprise Applications and Accessing Your Organization’s Internal Apps. Each 1-hour or 75-minute webinar is designed to support IT Pros in quickly rolling out Azure Active Directory features to their organization. All webinars are free of cost and will include an anonymous Q&A session with our Engineering Team. So come with your questions!  Capacity is limited. Sign up for one or all of the sessions today!


Modern Workplace: Visualize - The power of data storytelling

When: Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 8:00am PT | According to a recent study conducted by Glassdoor, data scientists are the most in-demand job of 2016. But gathering the information is only half of your organization’s challenge—it’s what you do with it that counts. How can you be sure your data isn’t just telling you the story you want to hear, but showing you what you urgently need to know? Join us for the next episode of Modern Workplace,” Visualize: The power of data storytelling" and learn how to unlock the hidden potential within your data through visualization. Plus, get an exclusive demonstration of Microsoft intelligent tools, such as Power BI and PowerPoint Designer. Industry analyst at Altimeter Group, Susan Etlinger, shares how to strategize your data into actionable tips you can use today and provides insights into creating your organization’s most insightful data yet. Data visualization specialist for The Washington Post, Gabi Steele, explains how to communicate insights through design and data storytelling.


Skype Academy: What's new in Skype Operations Framework (SOF) - January 2017 edition

When: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 8:00am PT | Audience: CTOs, Architects, partner portfolio leads | Level: 200 | Customer Journey: Get Deployed, Cloud Migration | This session introduces you to the Skype Operations Framework (SOF) Operate Release, which covers what’s new in SOF since September 2016. This session covers updates to existing assets in the interim and new features that we have added to the SOF web site to make it easier to consume and use SOF.


Skype Academy: Managing a high quality and reliable service delivery

When: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 8:00am PT | Audience: Collaboration Lead / Architect, Service Owner, IT Admins | Level: 300 | Customer Journey: Get Deployed, Cloud Migration | This session helps you to find answers for “How do I run a Skype for Business Online deployment to deliver great experience to my end users and value to the business?”. What’s involved in user experience, what is delivered by Microsoft and where are you responsible? This session helps you to be prepared for ongoing operations and decide on an operations model.


Skype Academy: Roles and Responsibilities beyond Skype for Business operations

When: Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 8:00am PT | Audience: Collaboration Lead / Architect, Service Owner, IT Admins | Level: 300 | Customer Journey: Get Deployed, Cloud Migration | Which teams are involved in running a Skype for Business Online deployment, what tasks need to be performed? This session helps you to identify the operational roles and map them to teams delivering these operational roles/functions. This allows you to align for operations early and make sure that all teams are ready to engage as soon as the pilot starts.


FastTrack Webinars: Learn how to do more, together

When: Multiple sessions currently scheduled through January 26, 2017 | Ask questions, learn shortcuts and find out how Office 365 can make you and your team more productive. Each webinar is a live, instructor-led session offered at multiple dates and times. Facilitated discussion follows each session, with opportunities to ask questions and discuss specific scenarios to you. Direct registration links for each webinar are provided below.



3 techniques for successful cloud collaboration

What’s your business’s motivation for implementing cloud collaboration solutions? The ones we hear most frequently are increased productivity, accelerated decision-making and improved sales. But here’s the surprise: According to the 2016 Connected Enterprise Report, one in four IT groups aren’t measuring cloud collaboration results by whether business goals were achieved. They’re not even checking whether users adopted the solution. They’re just measuring whether the tool was implemented. But implementation isn’t a useful measure of success. Sure, it’s the prerequisite for effective collaboration, but it’s just the first step. Your enterprise can only see a full return on its investment in collaboration technologies when employees actually use the tools—so user adoption is the first measure to focus on. Putting resources into ensuring adoption pays off. The same report shows that when businesses fully implemented and adopted collaboration technologies, they reported some exciting benefits. Want comparable benefits for your enterprise? This post outlines three techniques our customers have used to increase adoption of collaboration tools and get great business results. Each company’s story is a little different, but they’ve all improved productivity and agility.


New video for the Office 365 identity models

There are three identity models for Office 365: (1) Cloud identity, (2) Synchronized identity and (3) Federated identity. A new 3-minute video for the Understanding Office 365 identity and Azure Active Directory article explains the three models simply and helps you determine which model is most appropriate for your business.


Microsoft IT Showcase: Skype for Business accelerates modern collaboration at Microsoft

Business Case Study | Published: January 6, 2017 | At Microsoft, Skype for Business is revolutionizing the way we do business. Employees connect anywhere, anytime, on any device. No longer tethered to desktops, we use Skype for Business as a unified communications solution that supports Bring Your Own Device, mobile, and remote scenarios—with increased productivity. Skype Cloud PBX, PSTN calling, and PSTN conferencing create a complete enterprise telephony experience. As a cloud-based call management system, it frees us from costly outsourced PBX, telephony, and conferencing systems.


Flow of the Week: Use a button to track your work hours and work location

In this week's post in our Flow of the Week series, we're highlighting a capability we recently added to our Flow Mobile buttons. Before highlighting this new functionality, just a reminder of the basics: If you aren't familiar with button flows, they are an easy way to kick off a workflow from your iOS or Android device with a single tap. To use a button, download the app for Android or iOS and sign in. Now, heading on to our newest capability: when triggering a button now, the button collects valuable information such as your location, your user details, and the current time. This info can now be leveraged within your flow. Read more on the topic here. This data can be useful in various cases. One use case which is often raised by our Flow users, is their need to keep track of their work hours, and work locations, so that they can review the info or sum it up at the end of the month. For example, consultants who advise several companies, or project contractors. We have provided two templates for this use case – one for tracking this information in an Excel table and the other for tracking it in a Google sheet.



Video: Office 365 Update for January 2017

Format: Video (10 minutes) | Jim Naroski covers recent enhancements to Office 365, including PowerPoint QuickStarter, updates to Excel, Word and Visio, along with information on Office feature availability, Office on Android, Office Online Server and the LinkedIn acquisition.


Microsoft Ignite Rewind: Peer behind the curtain - how Microsoft runs Exchange Online

For 75 minutes, we'll give you a virtual Microsoft blue badge and enter the world of Microsoft Exchange Online operations. See how it's done with a rare look behind the scenes of one of the world's biggest email service providers.


Tech Tip Thursday: 3 steps to IT Admin takeover for your tenant

Microsoft's Guy in a Cube has been providing tips and tricks for Power BI and Business Intelligence on his YouTube channel since 2014. On Thursdays we highlight a different helpful video from his collection. This week, Guy in a Cube revisits how to perform an IT Admin takeover for your Power BI tenant, including tenants created through individual signup. Discover the 3 main steps to performing the takeover, cost-free, using Office 365.


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