30 Jun.

Best Of Both Worlds Training July 2014

This month I’m delivering the Best Of Both Worlds training for Microsoft’s OEM team, covering Windows Server and Office 365 integration opportunities.


Best Of Both Worlds July 2014

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 30 Jun.

Catch me at WPC2014 for a Windows Intune and Office 365 session

If you are going to be at WPC this year, swing by this session if you want an autograph, to shake my hand, or to yell random things at me.

Intune – The Future Opportunity for Your Office 365 Managed Service

Speaker(s): Aileen Hannah, Mark O’Shea

Increasingly, businesses are looking to IT partners to “take the problem away.” The public cloud makes it so much easier for partners to do just that by offering comprehensive managed services without having to invest a fortune up front to build out the required infrastructure. If you’re already offering Office 365, come along and learn about the opportunities for using Windows Intune to manage customer PCs, devices, users and their apps efficiently and effectively.

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 30 Jun.

Managing Windows 8.1 With Windows Intune

Today I will be delivering the third in a series of Windows 8.1 focused webinars, with the focus of this one being managing Windows 8.1 through the traditional Windows Intune client as well as managing Windows 8.1 devices through MDM.

Managing Windows 8.1 With Windows Intune

This session is partly acting as a warm up session for some of the things that will be covered in the Windows Intune session I will be delivering with Aileen Hannah from the Windows Intune team at WPC in a couple of weeks time.


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 24 Jun.

Office 365 For Consumers Gets Stickier

Over the last month much of what my working life has involved has included discussions around the benefits of Office 365 suite subscriptions for business and consumers. Today’s announcement that OneDrive is moving to 1TB per Office 365 Home Premium subscription for each of the 5 accounts, effectively giving 5TB of online storage per subscription. This number does seem crazy, and there’s the whole issue of getting all that data into the cloud, but I’m not going to complain about that burden.


So this leads to the question – with the generous installation rights per subscription, why would someone still purchase a standalone copy of Office 2013 for home use? There are a few, and they are generally getting harder to support. Let’s run through a few of them.

I only need Office installed on 1 device, therefore purchasing the appropriate version of Office 2013 is cheaper

There are two potential problems with this response, the first is that the number of single device households is shrinking. It may still be a 1 PC household, but if you add the iPads, the iPhones and the Android phones, that seems like a more accurate representation of the world around us, and Office 365 Home Premium has you covered. For those who truly do need to use it on a single device, and want a perpetual license, then Office 2013 may represent short term value, but it’s still worth investigating everything else that’s included.

My PC isn’t connected to the Internet. Ever. Seriously.

Okay, if your machine isn’t connected to the internet for the subscription validation requirements, you have a legitimate reason to use Office 2013. It will still require an initial activation though, but you can probably do that over the phone. I don’t know, I haven’t looked, and probably never will.

I don’t want/trust/need a cloud subscription

It’s always interesting to hear what about the subscription approach is off-putting to some users. Sometimes it’s because they think they need to be online all the time, sometimes it’s because they want to own a physical product. But these days a physical copy of Office is more likely to be a box with a product key and a download URL and not an install DVD.

I want to pass it down to future generations

Why on earth would you want to do that?

Office 365 Personal

I’ve kept this product out of the discussion. I think it should be kept out of most discussions unless you are trying to make it easier to justify buying Office 2013 instead.

Where To Go For More Information

Now, if you are thinking about Office 365 Home Premium and how the subscription work in a household, take a look at the following article http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/support/share-office-365-home-with-up-to-four-people-in-your-household-HA103478662.aspx.

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 23 Jun.

Webcast Resources For Migration and Deployment with Windows 8.1

Today I delivered a Windows 8.1 deployment webinar for the Microsoft Readiness team, here is the presentation.

Windows 8.1 Deployment June Webinar

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 16 Jun.

Introducing Windows 8.1 Webcast

Below you will find resources that will help you with today’s webinar, I will add the Q/A questions that arise during the session to an upcoming post.

Download the PPT Introducing the Windows 8.1 Update June 2014

The next two webinars in the Windows 8.1 Update webinar series

Stay up to date with Windows client announcements at the Windows Springboard blog

Decluttering with Start Screen Control

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 1 Jun.

Windows 8.1 Update online sessions coming in June

This month I will be delivering three Windows 8.1 online events for the readiness team, in which I will be covering various elements of Windows 8.1 capabilities, deployment and management. The demise of XP, and an ever increasing number of touch based Windows devices mean that customers need to be aware of what’s in store and how you can make that transition easier for them.

You can register for these now at the Partner Learning Centre.

Introducing the Windows 8.1 Update – Monday 16th June 1-2 P.M. EST

Learn what’s new and improved in the latest update, and how these changes help those who use a keyboard and mouse as well as those who use touch based devices.

Migration and Deployment with Windows 8.1 – Monday 23rd June 1-2 P.M. EST

With Windows XP now unsupported, its critical to move your customers to a more recent version of Windows. Get your customer’s current with Windows 8.1, and allow them to take advantage of the latest advancements in touch and mobility.

Managing Windows 8.1 with Windows Intune – Monday 30th June 1-2 P.M. EST

With the increasing adoption of Windows 8.1 as a mobile platform,  management of these devices on and off the network is becoming increasingly important. Windows Intune not only provides management capabilities for your Windows PCs and Windows Phones, but it also managed iOS and Android devices as well.

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 21 May.

Office 365 ProPLUS Deployment update

The May update to Office 365 ProPlus included a few changes, but from the deployment side the biggest change is that you have more control over the components that get installed for the user. If you aren’t familiar with benefits of Office 365 ProPlus take a look at this previous post. To get started you need to download the latest Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run from Microsoft, which is only a small download.

Once downloaded, the installation is a simple affair.


It’s just a matter of accepting the license terms and clicking continue.


Choosing an extraction folder.


And that’s it. There’s no lengthy installation process because it’s just extracting a couple of small files to the selected folder.


Once extracted, you can see that there are just two files, the setup.exe file, which is fairly self explanatory, and the configuration.xml file.


  <!–  <Add SourcePath=”\\Server\Share\” OfficeClientEdition=”32″ >
<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>
<Language ID=”en-us” />
<Product ID=”VisioProRetail”>
<Language ID=”en-us” />
</Add>  –>

  <!–  <Updates Enabled=”TRUE” UpdatePath=”\\Server\Share\” /> –>

  <!–  <Display Level=”None” AcceptEULA=”TRUE” />  –>

  <!–  <Logging Path=”%temp%” />  –>

  <!–  <Property Name=”AUTOACTIVATE” Value=”1″ />  –>


So there’s nothing that really stands out in the sample file, but once we start digging in to the documentation I’ve linked to further in this post we find that there are more options available.


<Add SourcePath=”\\Server01\Office\” OfficeClientEdition=”32″>

<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>

<Language ID=”en-us” />

<ExcludeApp ID=”Access” />

<ExcludeApp ID=”InfoPath”/>




In the above example I’ve bolded the ability to exclude applications from being exposed to the user, in this case  Access and InfoPath, which probably aren’t being used by that large of a percentage of the ProPlus installed base. The applications that you exclude may change on a deployment by deployment basis, one large project I’m involved with at the moment is going to benefit greatly from this because they only want the users to see OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and don’t want support requests around other components, including the Lync client, especially considering that they haven’t performed a Lync rollout for all of the users. 

Looking for more information? Check out these links

Customization overview for Click-to-Run
Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run
Click-to-Run for Office 365 Configuration.xml file
Download Click to Run for Office 365 products by using the Office Deployment Tool
Deploy Click-to-Run for Office 365 products by using the Office Deployment Tool

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 2 May.

Office 365 ProPlus and Remote Desktop Services – Downloaded, Deployed and Dissected

The belated launch of Office 365 via Open in Australia has brought a great deal of attention to Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions, and how they compare to Office 2013 SKUs acquired via other license types. What makes things more complicated this time round is that depending on who you subscribe through – a syndication partner, Microsoft’s portal or through Open, you can end up with different usage rights, and you also end up with different levels of functionality depending on whether you are buying through the P plan option or the M or E plans. Confused? Don’t worry, it will get clearer as we go through it.

First of all let’s do a comparison of Office 365 ProPlus against Office 2013 Professional Plus.

Office 365 ProPlus Office 2013 Professional Plus
Streaming installation via Click To Run Classic installation via MSI
Slipstreamed Servicing Layered Servicing
User based licensing Volume licensing
Complete suite SKU installation Selective application installation
Cannot be used on RDS Can be used on RDS


Let’s take a look at each of these briefly.

Click To Run the application to start streaming down to the user so that the applications become available prior to the complete installation taking place. This means that you don’t need to be very far into the install before you could, for example launch Word, which will then prioritise the streaming of the Word components to help ensure that the user has a good experience. Compared to the MSI based approach, in which everything needs to be downloaded and installed before you can run anything. There are other benefits, but I will revisit those in another post.

Slipstreamed servicing means that you are only ever one update away having the latest updates installed, pulling them either from your own internal distribution source or directly from the Office 365 servers. There are merits to both approaches, but the internal distribution option does end up giving a bit more control to those who aren’t quite ready to embrace Microsoft’s evergreen Office strategy.

User based licensing is one of the major changes that gets people’s attention, with the ability to install Office 365 Pro Plus on 5 PCs or Macs as well as on 5 mobile devices. However, it is only licensed for that user, not for others who may be using that device. The experience is customised for the licensed user, including things such as a cloud based recently used document list for example. In environments where multiple people use the same PC, traditional per device installs of Office 2013 may be more appropriate, but not necessarily.

When you are installing Office 365 ProPlus you don’t have any granularity about what gets installed, it’s the entire suite. This means that there are potentially going to be some applications installed that you don’t want users to be accessing. You can control that through Access Control Lists, Software Restriction Policies or AppLocker if you really want to limit access.

The Remote Desktop Services story is perhaps the one that causes the most confusion, so it gets its own dedicated section.

Remote Desktop Services

To start with, regardless of how you license Office 365 ProPlus you can’t use it in a Remote Desktop environment, at least from a technical perspective. However, if you have licensed it through one of Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Programs, you may have the rights to use, provided you have a licensed VL edition of Office 2013 Professional Plus to perform the installation with. Wait… what? You may have? Another table should make this a bit clearer.

RDS Usage Rights Granted

Syndication Microsoft Volume Licensing
Small Business No No N/A
Midsize Business No No Yes
Enterprise No No Yes


Why don’t all customers have the ability to take advantage of these rights? Because they fall under a different type of usage rights agreement. This could be a showstopper for some customers who weren’t planning on purchasing via Open, and there is no indication that this is going to change any time soon. For more details on this, take a look at this Microsoft blog post which includes much more information.

What Happens If You Try To Use Office 365 ProPlus on RDS?

There’s an easy way to show this, it’s as simple as, well, trying to use Office 365 ProPlus on RDS.

This download.xml file is used with the Office setup tool from the Microsoft download center to download an offline copy of the Office 365 ProPlus source files so that they are available on the local network for multiple installations without burdening the internet connection.

Once the package is downloaded, I can use the setup tool again but this time to perform the installation with the above install.xml file.

Installation completes as per usual, so there isn’t a block on the installation.

We can see that everything is installed, let’s try to run Word.

And this, my friends, is the end result, and the proof that you can’t run Office 365 under RDS. So it’s not just a licensing restriction, there’s definitely a technical restriction in place as well.

What About Office 365 Subscriptions For Project And Visio?

These have the same restrictions, an installation of Project Pro via the method shown above provides the following error.


When I get a chance I’ll test Visio, but I think we can already see what the pattern is.

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 21 Apr.

Belkin and Windows 8.1 – Now With More Miracast 25/81

Back in a previous post I discussed Miracast support in Windows 8.1 and some of the different devices I had a chance to try out, but I’m now ready to crown a new champion based on my own experiences. I had previously mentioned that Belkin had some information available about an upcoming Miracast adapter, and now that I’ve got it and had a chance to run it through its paces, I’m pleased to announce I’ve found an adapter that works well in a variety of environments, including some that I was never able to get previous adapters working in.

I had a bit of trouble with some of the original devices I tested due to the amount of wireless interference in the 2.4GHz range, due to close proximity access points and some Sonos devices that were very close to the test location. I effectively had a Miracast dead zone, which the new Belkin adapter effectively eliminated. Why’s that? Well, because it doesn’t have to use 2.4GHz, and instead can use 5GHz.


As you can see, this is an HDMI adapter, which is powered via Micro USB, and it also supports over the air firmware updates, something which is critical in this every progressing world. Just be aware that if your HDMI ports are close together and already mostly filled, you may need to get an HDMI extension cable to plug the device in. You may also need a longer Micro USB cable if your USB and HDMI ports are a decent distance away from each other.

So far this device has been the most consistent Miracast adapter I’ve used, and it’s now become a part of my travel adapter and cable collection, which I probably need to write an updated article about soon.


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