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Focus On Mails From People Who Matter To You The Most

Have you ever missed a mail from your Manager and later found that it was because it got hidden among the scores of other mail that you received? Back from a holiday and you want to focus on mails from people that matter most to you? There is a wonderful feature in Outlook Web Apps that helps you here. It is called the People View and is presented to you right below the Favourites in the navigation pane of the OWA. It helps you get to those important mails from your most important (most frequently connected) people without the need for dig through your Inbox to find them.

People View1.png 

It also shows the number of unread messages from each person in your list and this info appears next to their photo. When you click a person's photo, the email messages from that person in your Inbox are shown in chronological order i.e., the order received. Simply right click on a person to mark all the message from that person as read if a person's messages are not relevant. 

People View2.png 

The list of people in the People View are built automatically without the need for the user to configure or add them to the list or create any rule. The system keeps track of the mails you send and receive and depending on the frequency in which such communication happens, the system builds this list and puts them in order – the most frequent on top and the rest in that order of relevance. People get added to that list as soon as you receive a message from them. When one of them is removed from your contacts list, their names are automatically removed from the People View list also.

Where Will You Conduct the Meeting?

You are convening a meeting (or you have been asked by your boss to convene one). You have been given a list of attendees. You have the agenda ready. You also know the availability of the invitees to the meeting on a given date at a given time – You can take the help of the Scheduler in Outlook to find this – provided the invitees are disciplined users of their Outlook calendars. You are about to send this meeting invitation to the invitees. Suddenly you are struck. Where do these people meet? Thankfully you have the Room finder. Here is what you have in Outlook:

Room finder1.png 

4RoomFinder.jpg 

If your Exchange administrator has already defined Conference Rooms in your enterprise (a mail box is assigned for it), it will be listed alongside your Notes area of the appointment window. All rooms (4) in a given building/location (3) are listed with additional details right below about the prior bookings on that day (1) and availability (5). You can also select a different location from the dropdown (3)for more options. Depending on the details provided about the Room by the administrator and on the number of people invited to the meeting you will also be given suggestions on whether the selected room is good, fair or poor (2).

Once the room is selected and the meeting request sent, the room is booked for the meeting (if this is configured in Exchange). The next time somebody else tries to book the room for the same date and same time as the first one, it will be shown as booked.

Even equipment (portable projectors?) and vehicles (pickup and drop vans?) for meetings can be managed very effectively using this feature provided by Exchange and Outlook.

Sending Email From Another Person's Mailbox – Play The Proxy

If you want to send a mail from another person's mail box, you need to be a delegate with permission (granted by the administrator) to Send as or Send on behalf of the owner of that mailbox. If you also want to open or view the content of the respective mailbox, you need to have Full Permission (again granted by the administrator).

  • The Send As permission allows the delegate to send email from this mailbox.
  • The Send on Behalf permission allows the delegate to send email on behalf of this mailbox. The "From" line in any message sent by a delegate indicates that the message was sent by the delegate on behalf of the mailbox owner.

    If you are an Outlook client user, here is how you will send a mail as or on behalf of another person:
  1. In Mail, click Home > New Email. (Keyboard shortcut to create an email message - Ctrl+Shift+M).
  2. On the Options tab, in the Show Fields group, click From.
  3. In the From box, type the name of the person on whose behalf you are sending the message.
    To select the name from a list in the Address Book, click From.
  4. Add recipients, a subject, and the contents of the message as you typically do.

    If you are using OWA, then here is how you can do the same:
  1. Log in to your mailbox using Outlook Web App
  2. Click New mail above the folder list. A new message form will appear in the reading pane.
  3. Click the extended menu, and then click Show from. Send mail as in OWA.gif
  1. Select the email address that displays in the From field and delete it.
  2. Type the name of the user for which you have permission to send email. If you don't see the name in of the person you want to send From box, you can click Search contact & directory to search the directory of your organization.
  3. Add recipients, a subject, and the contents of the message as you typically do, and then click Send

Sharing Calendars and Contacts in O365

​To set up a shared calendar or contacts list that people in an organization can access and edit, the administrator needs to first create a security group that includes the people that wants to access the shared calendar or contacts list. He also needs to create a shared mailbox and use the security group as the membership list. Because creating a mailbox to be used for shared calendar or contacts list involves creating a shared mailbox, the people that can access the shared calendar or contacts list will also be able to access and respond to email sent to the shared mailbox.

After you have permissions to a shared mailbox, the shared calendar associated with the shared mailbox is automatically added to your My Calendars list.

If you are an Outlook client user then here is how you can start using the shared Calendar and Contacts folders:

  1. In Outlook, select Calendar.
  2. In the folder pane, under My Calendars, select the shared calendar.

Shared Calendar Outlook.png 

If you have permissions to a shared mailbox, the contacts folder from the shared mailbox is automatically added to your My Contact list.

  1. In Outlook, select People.
  2. Under My Contacts, select the contacts folder for the shared contacts list.

Shared Contacts Outlook.png 

If you are an Outlook Web App user, here is how you can start using the shared Calendar:

  1. Sign in to your Office 365 account using a Web browser. Click Calendar.
  2. Right-click OTHER CALENDARS, and then click Open calendar.

Shared Calendar OWA1.png 

  1. In From Directory, search for the shared calendar you want to open. Select the shared mailbox you want to open and click Open.

Shared Calendar OWA2.png 

  1. The shared calendar displays in your Calendar folder list.

Shared Calendar OWA3.png 

If you are an Outlook Web App user, you cannot access shared contacts list for a shared mailbox from Outlook Web App.

Accessing Other People’s Mailboxes in O365

​The Full Access permission is required for a delegate to open a user's mailbox and access the contents of the mailbox. It doesn't allow the delegate to send email from the mailbox. The administrator has to additionally assign the delegate the Send As or the Send on Behalf permission to send email.

If you are using Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2010, the mailbox for which you have been granted access automatically display in your folder list.

In the example below, Adam Barr has been granted access to the mailbox of Kim Akers. Kim's mailbox displays automatically in Adam's folder list in Outlook 2013.

Note: If you were recently granted access to the mailbox, it may take a few hours for the other user's mailbox to display in your folder list.

Other Peoples mailbox Outlook.png 

If you are using OWA, the person's mailbox for which you have been provided access to will display in your Outlook Web App folder list every time you open Outlook Web App.

  1. Log in to your mailbox using Outlook Web App.
  2. Right-click your name in the folder list, and click Add shared folder.
    Other Peoples mailbox OWA1.png 
  3. In the Add shared folder dialog box, type the name of the mailbox that you have been provided access, and click Add.

Other Peoples mailbox OWA2.png 

  1. The mailbox appears in your Outlook Web App folder list.

Other Peoples mailbox OWA3.png 

If you have only been provided access to specific folders in the other user's mailbox, you will only see the folders for which you have been granted access.

If you decide that you no longer want to see the other person's mailbox every time you open Outlook Web App, right-click the folder, and click Remove shared folder.

Other Peoples mailbox OWA4.png

Creating and Managing a Conference Room in Office 365

You need to sign is as administrator at the Exchange Administration Centre (EAC) of the Microsoft Online Portal to create a Conference room mail box (or an Equipment or another Resource mail =box)
  1. In the EAC, navigate to Recipients > Resources.
  2. To create a room mailbox, click New Room mailbox.
  3. Use the options on the page to specify the settings for the new resource mailbox.

After you create a room mailbox or equipment mailbox, you manage its settings by editing the resource mailbox using EAC.

  1. Room name   (Mandatory field) Use this box to type a name for the room mailbox. This is the name that's listed in the resource mailbox list in the EAC and in your organization's address book. This name is required and it can't exceed 64 characters. Although there are other fields that describe the details of the room, for example, Location and Capacity, consider summarizing the most important details in the room name using a consistent naming convention. This will enable the users to see easily the details when they select the room from the address book in the meeting request.
  2.  Email address (Mandatory field) A room mailbox has an email address so it can receive booking requests. The email address consists of an alias on the left side of the @ symbol, which must be unique in the forest, and your domain name on the right. The email address is required.
  3. Organizational unit - You can select an organizational unit (OU) other than the default (which is the recipient scope). If the recipient scope is set to the forest, the default value is set to the Users container in the Active Directory domain that contains the computer on which the EAC is running. If the recipient scope is set to a specific domain, the Users container in that domain is selected by default. If the recipient scope is set to a specific OU, that OU is selected by default. To select a different OU, click Browse. The dialog box displays all OUs in the forest that are within the specified scope. Select the desired OU, and then click OK.
  4. Location, Phone, Capacity - You can use these fields to enter details about the room. However, as explained earlier, you can include some or all of this information in the room name so users can see it.
  5. Booking requests   Use this section to configure how the room mailbox handles reservation requests.
    • Automatically accept or decline booking requests    A valid meeting request automatically reserves the resource. If there's a scheduling conflict with an existing reservation, or if the booking request violates the scheduling limits of the resource, for example, the reservation duration is too long, the meeting request is automatically declined.
    • Select delegates to accept or decline booking requests   The delegates are responsible for accepting or declining meeting requests that are sent to the room mailbox. If you assign more than one resource delegate, only one of them has to act on a specific meeting request.
  6. Delegates   If you selected the option requiring that booking requests are sent to delegates, use this section to select delegates. To add a delegate, click Add. On the Select Delegates page, select a user, click Add, and then click OK to return to the New room mailbox page.

Thereafter, end-users will be able to select this Room (and automatically its email address) when they send a meeting request.

A similar procedure is carried out to create an Equipment mail box or any other resource mail box in Exchange online.

Close Encounters of the Other Kind – Microsoft Office on iPad (and iPhone and Android based devices)

​Microsoft is providing Microsoft Office from the Apple iStore for iPads (iPhones got this even earlier). And this for free (with limited features) - an O365 subscription is required for a full-fledged experience of all features in the devices.

Here is what is offered on iPad for free and the subscribed version:

O365 on iPad.png 

While many are obsessed with the Apple device, they are also equally impressed with the productivity features provided by Microsoft Office. Such people will find this offering a very attractive one and will start leveraging the excellent graphical display that the device provides with the exceptional features of Office,. Now they can collaborate seamlessly with their colleagues who are still stuck with the non-Apple devices.

Windows Azure – A Simple And Reliable Backup

Backup and recovery are critical tasks for any organization. Keeping data safe, however, can prove to be a complex procedure. Backup and recovery often requires the installation of additional software, training, the creation and testing of processes, and the purchasing, management, and storage of backup media, often offsite. Offsite storage can help protect media, but can also lengthen time to recovery.

Windows Azure Backup helps protect server data against loss and corruption by enabling backup to offsite cloud storage in Windows Azure. By extending Windows Server Backup and Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, Windows Azure Backup enables you to use familiar tools to configure, monitor, and manage backups to the cloud similarly to how you backup to local media.

For organizations of any size looking for cloud-based backup, Windows Azure Backup provides an easy-to-use solution that's scalable, reliable, and supported by enterprise-class cloud storage. From a single-server organization to enterprises using System Center Data Protection Manager, Windows Azure Backup easily integrates with different infrastructures, reducing the complexity of data backup and eliminating the need for additional training.

Customers can easily sign up in Windows Azure, then install the software agent and configure servers for backup. Recovery, when needed, uses the same familiar tools already in your environment.

Reliable offsite data protection

Windows Azure Backup encrypts and protects your backups in offsite cloud storage with Windows Azure, adding a layer of protection against data loss or disaster.

  • Convenient offsite protection: Windows Azure Backup provides convenient, automated offsite data protection — away from your premises — reducing the need to secure and protect onsite or offsite backup media.
  • Safe data: Data stored in Windows Azure is geo-replicated among Windows Azure datacenters, for additional protection.
  • Encrypted backups: Windows Azure Backup encrypts your data before it leaves your premises. Your data remains encrypted in Windows Azure — only you have the key.

A simple integrated solution

Because Windows Azure Backup integrates with backup tools in Windows Server or System Center Data Protection Manager, you can easily manage cloud backups using familiar tools and configure, monitor, and recover backups across local disk and cloud storage.

  • Familiar interface: Small businesses protecting a single server or a few servers can use the familiar in-box Windows Server Backup tool to manually protect data or set a regular, automated schedule. Larger organizations with System Center 2012 or later can use the Data Protection Manager component to centrally manage backups across multiple servers.
  • Windows Azure integration: Windows Azure Backup fully integrates with the Azure Management Portal for sign-up, billing, and management.

Efficient backup and recovery

Windows Azure Backup minimizes network bandwidth use, provides flexible data retention policies, and provides a cost-effective data protection solution.

  • Efficient use of bandwidth and storage: Windows Azure Backup conserves WAN bandwidth and Windows Azure storage by sending only changes to files with incremental backups.
  • Flexibility in recovery: Incremental backups allow point-in-time recovery of multiple versions of the data. Plus, you can recover just what you need with file-level recovery.
  • Flexible configuration: Configurable data retention policies, data compression, and data transfer throttling provide both flexible backup policies and backup efficiency.
  • Cost-effective: Windows Azure Backup reduces the need for local storage and offsite media management, while offering simple storage-based pricing with no per-server or data transfer fees.

Windows Azure Backup charges by the amount of data stored in the backup service. Businesses have two options, a Pay-As-You-Go Plan or a fixed-length 6- or 12-month plan. Both plans provide 5GB free. Costs per GB after the first 5GB vary by plan.

Windows Azure for Old Hardware

Microsoft India has come up with a novel way to help Small and Medium enterprises in India leverage its Windows Azure online services by offering a trade in program – Azure credits for old server hardware.

Windows Azure is a purpose-built cloud-based platform. Designed to surpass typical cloud advantage, Azure is what customers need to succeed in a fast growing and deeply connected IT environment. Its unique integrated infrastructure makes building and deploying applications easy, reducing time to market. Businesses can accelerate with the help of this trusted Microsoft ecosystem, minimizing costs at every step. It also enables transforming a data center, experiencing on-demand scalability and leveraging the power of the hybrid cloud.

Azure is growing fast, at a rate of over 200% globally but in India, cloud computing is yet to gain momentum. Still, according to Microsoft, Azure is gaining in popularity with about 2000 Indian customers added each month. With 5crore+ SMEs in India, the current offer should incentivize a large majority of these enterprises to make the switch to cloud.

The main reservation for today's business not adopting the cloud platform is the existing set up at the datacentres. All these years they have invested hugely in acquiring hardware to build an infrastructure as large as is demanded by their business and in many instances, several times more than the demand. Now, all of a sudden there is a splurge in the online services that offer much more than what the on premise setup offers and that on a sustainable financial model. It is certainly an attractive proposition. But now, the question is what do we do with all that we already have – and more importantly - all the money that has been spent on the hardware – the costliest component of the on premise model.

This is where Microsoft jumps in to rescue the IT decision makers from an embarrassing situation. They will appoint a local agency called the Recycle partner to evaluate the customers' hardware and depending on the value of the hardware that is proposed to be traded in, the customers can get financial credit towards Azure services.

Finally, here are some numbers…Any SME that has a minimum of 250 desktops or users can avail this offer. A minimum sign in commitment of $3000 per month from the customer is required as eligibility for the trade in program. The credits will be adjusted against billable Azure subscriptions from two to four months. Customers can save from at least $1000 through this trade in program. Azure Services worth $4000 can be availed for $3000 - $1000 adjustable over a period of 2 months@ $500 per month. Services worth $37000 can be availed for $25000 - $12000 adjustable over a period of 4 months @ $4000 per month.

In order to get started an enterprise owner would have to call Microsoft's number 1800 3070 4660 or log in to http://www.microsoft.com/india/movetoazure .

Message Encryption for added Security, Reliability and Control

​Today, it is possible to deliver confidential business communications with enhanced security by allowing users to send and receive encrypted email as easily as regular email directly from their desktops. Microsoft has included this feature in its O365 offering lately. Business Enterprises can now encrypt emails without purchasing complex hardware and software to configure or maintain this. This helps organizations minimize capital investment, free up IT resources, and mitigate messaging risks. The email viewing portal can also be customized to enhance an organization's brand.

Improve security and reliability

Office 365 Message Encryption provides advanced security and reliability to help protect users' information. Users can send encrypted email messages to anyone, regardless of the recipient's email address. The feature provides strong, automated encryption with a cost-effective infrastructure. The need for certificates is eliminated and a recipient's email address is used as the public key. As this communication happens through a TLS-enabled network, it further enhances message security. It also enhances the security of subsequent email responses by encrypting each message in the thread.

Stay in control

Office 365 Message Encryption helps keep users' data safe, while allowing them to maintain control over their environment. This encryption can be easily set up using the single action Exchange transport rules. Users can prevent sensitive information and data from leaving their gateway or protect it, consistently and automatically. Policy rules can be put in place so that Policy-based encryption encrypts messages at the gateway based on these rules. Strong integration with data loss prevention helps organizations manage compliance. The technology is versatile as this feature can integrate with existing email infrastructure and as a result requires minimal up-front capital investment.

Easy to Use and Maintain

Messaging Encryption is really easy to use and it is easier than ever to protect an organization's email. Users can easily navigate through the encrypted message with the clean Office 365 interface. The encrypted emails are delivered directly to recipients' inbox and not to a Web service. Emails are decrypted and can be read with confidence without installing any additional client software. It simplifies user management by eliminating the need for certificate maintenance. The encryption process is transparent to the sender, who does not need to do anything other than write and send the message as usual.

An additional bonus feature is that organizations can grow their brand by using custom branding text or disclaimers and a custom logo on their email viewing portal.