Connecting Technology and Business.

Outlook.com - Recent Improvements

​When it comes to getting organized, Outlook.com has users covered. Microsoft has released  Advanced Rules and three other features, all to help users keep their inbox in top shape and make it even easier to see the email that matters to them.

The average person has 184 emails in their inbox, and receives 28 emails each day according to a recent survey. This can be a lot to handle, so helping users get to the email they care about is one of the top priorities. Outlook.com already has a number of features to help users do this. For example, Sweep - one of the most popular features, helps users quickly delete multiple unwanted emails.

The following new features, build on MS's commitment to give the inbox new and better ways to do the heavy lifting and help users save time.

Advanced Rules

With Advanced Rules, users now have more control over how their emails are sorted, filed or bumped to the top of their inbox. Users can create multi-condition and multi-action rules and set their inbox to organize itself automatically. Advanced rules allow users to combine their existing rules together and customize them to suit them. Microsoft has included a number of optional conditions that are unique to Outlook.com, including time constraints, email tallying, checking read/unread state of emails, and checking if the sender is a contact the users know.

Here's an example of an Advanced Rule:

If an unread email is older than 3 days and is from one of your contacts, mark it as important and flag it.

This rule brings any emails you might have missed, from real people you know, to the top of your inbox.

Outlook advance rules.jpg 


Billions of emails in Outlook.com are moved from one folder to another every week. Occasionally, the user will drop an email into the wrong folder or hit Delete by accident. Now it's even easier to undo mistakes in range of commands—delete, categorize, flag, mark as junk, or move—for one email or a whole group. Just clicking the undo button, or typing Ctrl+Z, will bring them right back.

Outlook undo.jpg 

In-line reply

Outlook.com customers use the Reply button almost 8 million times a day. With in-line reply, users can directly respond to an email thread without launching a new view. In-line reply can help users save time, and track their conversations more easily.

Outlook inline reply.jpg 

More personal messaging

Earlier, starting a chat session with friends wasn't as easy to find as it could be, so Microsoft has made several improvements to the experience:

  • Find recent conversations and other contacts a user can chat with in the bottom left of the inbox. One click will launch the user straight into a conversation with them.
  • If the users is chatting with a friend on one service, but want to continue the talk on another service, now they can switch over from right inside the chat session.

Outlook personal messaging.jpg 

- Microsoft Outlook Blog Team

Heartbeat stopped by Heartbleed?

Heartbleed was so named because the vulnerability results from a missing bounds check in the handling of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) Heartbeat extension, within the open-source OpenSSL cryptography library, used by approximately 500,000 secure web servers (close to 20 percent) around the world. These servers were believed to be vulnerable to an attack, which would allow theft of the servers' private keys and users' session cookies and passwords. Extensive research showed that no attacks had taken place up to the time the patched version of OpenSSL was released. That means no passwords were compromised up to that point. Still, those passwords remained vulnerable until the patch was applied. But if you changed your password before the patch was applied, then the new password (along with all associated data necessary for the change) was now vulnerable.

  • Download the extensions for Chrome and Firefox that check websites' vulnerability to Heartbleed, which you can find out about in this recent article.
  • Whenever you use HTTPS to view a website, use the browser tool to see if the site is vulnerable or has been patched (or doesn't need to be patched). If it's vulnerable, Get Out of There -- right away. If it's been patched, log in then immediately change your password.

There's no telling what bugs or exploits will turn up in the future, so rather than urge you to slavishly change passwords every 30-60-90 days, the best advice is to use different passwords for every site you log into. That way, if anyone is compromised it's only that one site - and one account - that's vulnerable.
-inputs from Dave Kearns, Dark Reading, InfromationWeek

Dependent Dropdown list in Excel

​Supposing I have a table of four columns that indicate four types of foodstuff: fruit, food, meat and drink and below them are the specific food name. See the following screenshot:


Now I need to create one drop down list that contains the foodstuff, such as fruit, food, meat and drink and the second dropdown would have the specific food name. If I select food, the second drop down will show rice, noodle, bread and cake.

To do this, please apply the following steps:

1. First, I need to create some range names for these columns and the first categories row.

(1.) Create a range name for the categories, the first row, select the A1:D1, and type the range name Foodstuff into the Name Box, then press Enter key.


(2.) Then you need to name the range for each of the columns as above step as shown below:

DDL3.png2. Now I can create the first drop down list, please select a blank cell or a column that you want to apply this drop down list, and then click Data > Data Validation > Data Validation, see screenshot:


3. In the Data Validation dialog box, click Settings tab, choose List from the Allow drop down list, and input this formula =Foodstuff into the Source box. See screenshot:


Note: You need type in the formula what you named your categories.

4. Click OK and my first drop down list have been created, then select the cell and drag the fill handle to the cell that you want to apply this option.


5. Then I can create the second drop down list, select one blank cell, and click Data > Data Validation > Data Validation again, in the Data Validation dialog box, click Settings tab, choose List from the Allow drop down list, and input this formula =indirect(F1) into the Source box, see screenshot:


Note: F1 indicates the cell location for the first drop down list I have created, you can change it as your need.

6. Then click OK, and drag the cell content downwards, and the dependent drop down list have been created successfully. See screenshot:


And then if I choose one type of the foodstuff, the corresponding cell will only display its specific food name.


1. The drop-down arrow is visible only when the cell is active.

2. You can continue going deeper as you like, if you want to create the third drop down list, just use the second dropdown as the Source of the third dropdown.


Office Web Apps is Office Online - Now With New Features Added

New features allow user to move as seamlessly as possible between Office Online and the desktop.

Excel Online

In Excel Online, users can now insert new comments as well as edit and delete existing comments.

Power users will appreciate that Excel Online now has improved support for files that contain VBA. One can now open and edit VBA-enabled spreadsheets without removing (or corrupting) the VBA contained in the file.

The "Tell Me" feature allows the user to ask Excel how to do something, and presents the relevant commands in a simple drop-down list so one can perform their action right away.

Word Online

Reviewing and providing feedback on documents is a key requirement for users of Office Online. The ability to add and view comments in the View mode was already available. And this is being extended to editing mode, so one can make comments and changes at the same time as others.

Those using Word Online for the creation of research papers and reports can now simply add footnotes and endnotes inline with the text.

Word Online is now smarter when it comes to list making, too. For example, when one is making a list, if they are directly below an existing numbered list and if they start typing, their next line automatically becomes part of the list—just like in desktop Word.

PowerPoint Online

A re-engineered text editor shows a high fidelity view of slides at the time of creation so that the layout of the slides looks more like the final result.

Some performance and video playback optimizations have been made by speeding up advancement of slides in the editor and by adding the ability to play back embedded YouTube videos.

OneNote Online

A One click printing has been added for easy printing of pages.

Multi-column section or page navigation has been added, so that users can maximize reading and editing space regardless of what device or browser they using.

Internet Explorer 11 knows what device you are holding in your hand now!

On April 3rd, Microsoft announced an updated version of Internet Explorer 11 available with the Windows 8.1 Update and for Windows 7 customers as well as the debut of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone 8.1. The automatic updates will bring this to the devices right away.

People browse the Web on many devices, switching between their laptop, tablet, and phone throughout the day. This update to IE11 means that whatever device one picks up, the tabs and favourites are there for them, right where they left off. Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 share the same experience and underlying Web standards. This helps developers build interoperable sites and apps that just work across many browsers and devices. (That includes updates to the latest specs for hardware-accelerated (and stable) WebGL as well as professional quality rich media like HTML5 video including closed captioning, adaptive streaming, and rights management).

Introducing IE11 for Windows Phone 8.1

With Windows Phone 8.1 users now have access to the most modern and full-featured phone browser ever with IE11. In addition to the same underlying engine across device experiences, and roaming favourites and tabs between devices, Windows Phone now offers many of the same features as the modern IE users experience on Windows. With IE11 for Windows Phone and Live Sites users can now pin thier favourite sites directly to their Start Screen for information from the Web at a glance. Reading Mode helps users optimize the view of articles like they were reading a digital book on the phone. Voice Commands get users quickly to their favourite Web sites by speaking naturally to their device. IE11 for Windows Phone also includes InPrivate to keep users' browsing private. And to help users better manage their phone's data usage, the new High Savings Mode can be enabled to reduce data consumption by 60-80% through reducing image downloads and only loading elements of the page relevant to the content you want to view.

Updated IE11 for Windows 8.1

With this update, IE11 adapts users' browsing experience by detecting their Windows device and input type – whether an 8 inch tablet in portrait mode or a 24 inch desktop with mouse and keyboard. The Web is still front-and-center but new design enhancements make their browsing experience feel like it was made just for their device – like the number of tabs on-screen and the size of the fonts and menus. They can also now control when the browser remains on-screen or hides away for full-screen browsing depending on the type of device one uses.

Enterprise Mode helps organizations progress toward modern browsers

Available for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11 provides improved Internet Explorer 8 compatibility for specified sites. Enabling enterprises to safely update to Internet Explorer 11 while maintaining great backwards compatibility for specific sites that were developed for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Organizations can designate that Enterprise Mode be enabled for specific sites so they can benefit from modern Web standards, better performance, and increased security of a modern Web browser, while reducing upgrade costs and extending legacy Web app investments. By improving backward compatibility for older versions of Internet Explorer, this also helps organization stay up-to-date with services such as Office 365 and deploy devices like the Surface Pro 2.

-Inputs from the IEBlog

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.

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.

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.

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

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 


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.