19 Feb.

March Training Events – Business Anywhere

Next month I’ll be delivering the following events in three locations around Australia. Good news for SMB partners is the Enterprise Mobility Suite has been added to the official content, so if you are looking for an introduction to that, this would be a place great to start.

Learn to build and deliver solutions that help small and midsize organizations enable the mobile workforce, while ensuring better-managed devices and access control. This course will cover a range of the latest Microsoft products and technologies, including Mobile Device Management with Intune, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Deploying Azure Virtual Networks and workloads, Azure Active Directory (AD) and DirSync, and Office 365 mail migrations.

Mobile Device Management with Microsoft Intune
Microsoft Intune has had major feature enhancements over the last year which target the growing Mobile Device Management capabilities that many organisations are investigating, and is a big step up from the Exchange Active Sync capabilities many are relying on today. With Windows 8.1 and the upcoming Windows 10 release including greater MDM capabilities, it’s not just for non-Windows devices, it’s happy working across Windows, iOS and Android devices. The capabilities delivered by the Enterprise Mobility Suite which includes Microsoft Intune and premium Azure Active Directory features will also be introduced.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
In this module you will configure a secure remote experience for employees of Contoso, Inc. This experience begins by leveraging both RemoteApp and VDI to allow those users to work securely on remote applications from their devices. RDS/VDI architecture, deployment and storage will be discussed, including how requirements change when connecting to hosted email solutions such as Exchange Online.

Deploying Microsoft Azure virtual networks and workloads
In this module you will create and Azure Virtual Network, A point-to-site connection, and a DBaaS instance. This will expose new scenarios for existing customers looking at embracing hybrid models that embrace cloud technologies, while still maintaining the on-premises capabilities they may depend upon today

Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Directory Synchronisation
In this module you will configure directory synchronization to Azure AD from an on-premises domain controller. The various synchronisation and identity management solutions for SMB customers will be discussed, including how Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and the Essentials Experience Role can help to simplify the process for customers with limited infrastructure.

Office 365 mail migrations

This module will give an overview of some of the different Exchange migration approaches that are available for those planning on moving to Office 365, including Staged migration, Cutover migration, IMAP and Exchange hybrid.

  • Sydney: March 10
  • Brisbane: March 12
  • Melbourne: March 27


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 30 Jan.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Windows ADK available for download

And the Windows 10 related releases keep coming, this time it’s a new version of the ADK which includes the Image and Fingers crossed we will see a new version of the MDT soon, it will round out the deployment releases. Grab the download here.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) for Windows 10 Technical Preview

The Windows ADK enables two key scenarios: Windows deployment and Windows assessment.
Windows Deployment is for OEMs and IT professionals who customize and automate the large-scale installation of Windows on a factory floor or across an organization. The Windows ADK supports this work with the deployment tools that were previously released as part of the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) and the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) including Windows Preinstallation Environment, Deployment Imaging, Servicing and Management, and Windows System Image Manager.

IT Professionals can use the tools in the Windows ADK to facilitate deployment of a new version of Windows. The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) inventories applications used in your organization and identifies potential applications compatibility issues. With the User State Migration Tool (USMT), IT Professionals can migrate user data from existing Windows installations. Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) enables IT professionals to deploy Windows installations in their organization and manage the activation status of their PCs.

Assessments are for OEMs, IHVs, enthusiasts, and IT professionals who measure the operational characteristics of a computer, including its performance, reliability, and functionality. Windows assessments are tools that help you make these measurements, diagnose problems, and determine how to make improvements. Windows assessments can help reduce support costs by identifying potential issues as you create your hardware and software experiences. By using these tools, you can help ensure that the hardware and software that you develop are responsive and high-quality.

The tools available in the Windows ADK include:

• Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT)
The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) helps IT Professionals understand potential application compatibility issues by identifying which applications are or are not compatible with the new versions of the Windows operating system. ACT helps to lower costs for application compatibility evaluation by providing an accurate inventory of the applications in your organization. ACT helps you to deploy Windows more quickly by helping to prioritize, test, and detect compatibility issues with your apps. By using ACT, you can become involved in the ACT Community and share your risk assessment with other ACT users. You can also test your web applications and web sites for compatibility with new releases of Internet Explorer. For more information, see Application Compatibility Toolkit.

• Deployment Tools
Deployment tools help you customize, manage, and deploy Windows images. Deployment tools can be used to automate Windows deployments, removing the need for user interaction during Windows setup. Deployment tools include Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) command line tool, DISM PowerShell cmdlets, DISM API, Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM), and OSCDIMG. For more information, see Deployment Tools.

• Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer (Windows ICD) (New for Windows 10 Technical Preview) The Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer (Windows ICD) is an easy to use tool that lets you create a provisioning package that you can use to customize Windows devices without re-imaging, or build a customized Windows image for individual markets, regions, and mobile networks. Windows ICD is primarily designed for use by OEMs and ODMs, system integrators, and IT professionals.

• User State Migration Tool (USMT)
USMT is a scriptable command line tool that IT Professionals can use to migrate user data from a previous Windows installation to a new Windows installation. By using USMT, you can create a customized migration framework that copies the user data you select and excludes any data that does not need to be migrated. USMT includes ScanState, Loadstate, and USMTUtils command line tools. For more information, see User State Migration Tool.

• Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
VAMT helps IT professionals automate and centrally manage the activation of Windows, Windows Server, Windows ThinPC, Windows POSReady 7, select add-on product keys, and Office for computers in their organization. VAMT can manage volume activation using retail keys (or single activation keys), multiple activation keys (MAKs), or Windows Key Management Service (KMS) keys. For more information, see Volume Activation Management Tool.

• Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT)
Windows Performance Toolkit includes tools to record system events and analyze performance data in a graphical user interface. WPT includes Windows Performance Recorder, Windows Performance Analyzer, and Xperf. For more information, see Windows Performance Toolkit.

• Windows Assessment Toolkit
Windows Assessment Toolkit is used to run assessments on a single computer. Assessments are tasks that simulate user activity and examine the state of the computer. Assessments produce metrics for various aspects of the system, and provide recommendations for making improvements. For more information, see Windows Assessment Toolkit.

• Windows Assessment Services
Windows Assessment Services is used to remotely manage settings, computers, images, and assessments in a lab environment where Windows Assessment Services is installed. This application can run on any computer with access to the server that is running Windows Assessment Services. For more information, see Windows Assessment Services.

• Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE)
Windows PE is a minimal operating system designed to prepare a computer for installation and servicing of Windows. For more information, see Windows PE Technical Reference.

Supported Operating System

Windows 10 Tech Preview

To install the Windows ADK, your computer must be running one of the following operating systems:

• Windows 10 Technical Preview

• Windows 8.1

• Windows 8

• Windows 7

• Windows Server 2012 R2

• Windows Server 2012

• Windows Server 2008 R2

• Windows Vista

• Windows Server 2008

The Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 is required and Windows ADK installs it automatically.

Be aware of the supported platforms and requirements for the following features in the Windows ADK.

Application Compatibility Toolkit:

You can install the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) on any of the supported Windows ADK operating systems and also on Windows Vista. Note that ACT supports inventory on Windows XP PCs.

Deployment Tools

To use the PowerShell cmdlets for Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) or Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), you must install PowerShell 4.0. For more information, see this Microsoft website

Windows 10 Technical Preview, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 include PowerShell 4.0 by default.

Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2012 include PowerShell 3.0 and will need to be upgraded to PowerShell 4.0.

Whenever an item in the Windows ADK is updated, the entire kit is rebuilt and version numbers for all features in the kit are updated. Even though the version number has been updated, there might not be any changes to a feature. For a complete list of changes, see the

Windows ADK Release Notes


Windows Assessment Toolkit

The Windows Assessment Console can be installed on the following operating systems: Windows 10 Technical Preview, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, or Windows 7 with SP1.

Windows Assessment Services

To install Windows Assessment Services, your server must be running one of these operating systems: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Enterprise, Standard, or Datacenter edition. Windows Assessment Services is not supported on Server Core or on Domain Controller Servers. By default, the Windows Assessment Services-Client is installed on the server where you installed Windows Assessment Services. You can also install it on a client computer. To install Windows Assessment Services -Client, your computer must be running one of these operating systems: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows 8, or Windows 7 with SP1.

Windows Performance Toolkit

The Windows Performance Toolkit can only be installed on the following operating systems: Windows 10 Technical Preview, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008 R2.

User State Migration ToolThe User State Migration Tool (USMT) tools can be manually copied to other versions of Windows. For more information, see USMT Requirements

For complete installation options, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=234980.
To install the Windows ADK:

1. Run ADKSetup.exe.
2. Click Install, specify the location where you want to install the Windows ADK features, and then click Next.
3. Select the Windows ADK features that you want to install, and then click Install.

You only need to install the individual features for the scenario you want to accomplish:
• For deploying Windows to PCs, select the Deployment Tools, Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), and Imaging and Configuration Designer
• For assessing the quality of individual Windows PCs, select the Windows Assessment Toolkit and Windows Performance Toolkit
• For assessing the quality of Windows PCs at scale, select Windows Assessment Services
• For enterprise user data migration, select User State Migration Tool
• For enterprise volume licensing tools, select Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
• For application compatibility, select Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT)


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 30 Jan.

Updated Windows 10 Technical Preview RSAT tools available for download

A new version of the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) has been released, you can grab it here

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview (January 2015)

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview enables IT administrators to manage roles and features that are installed on computers that are running Windows Server Technical Preview from a remote computer that is running Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview includes Server Manager, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, consoles, Windows PowerShell cmdlets and providers, and command-line tools for managing roles and features that run on Windows Server Technical Preview.

Note that this release of Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview does not run on Windows 10 Technical Preview builds that are older (lower-numbered) than build 9926. This download can only be installed on the January 21, 2015 release of Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview can be used to manage roles and features that are running on Windows Server Technical Preview (October 2014), with the following exceptions:

  • DNS Tools. DNS Tools in this release of RSAT offer limited functionality managing DNS Server running on Windows Server Technical Preview. Use DNS Tools to manage DNS Server running on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012.
  • IP Address Management (IPAM) Tools. You cannot use IPAM Tools in this release of RSAT to manage IPAM running on Windows Server Technical Preview. Use IPAM Tools in this release of RSAT to manage IPAM running on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012.

The following management tools are not available in this release of Remote Server Administration Tools.

  • Direct Access
  • Routing and Remote Access
Supported Operating System

Windows 10 , Windows 10 Tech Preview , Windows 8.1

**Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview can be installed ONLY on computers that are running the second release of Windows 10 Technical Preview.**

Remote Server Administration Tools cannot be installed on Windows RT, computers with an Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) architecture, or other system-on-chip devices.

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview runs on both x86- and x64-based editions of builds 9926 and later releases of Windows 10 Technical Preview, including all updates. This release does not run on Windows 10 Technical Preview builds that are older than 9926. Download and install the version that matches the architecture of the computer on which you plan to install the administration tools. If you are not sure whether your computer is x86- or x64-based, see How to determine whether a computer is running a 32-bit version or 64-bit version of the Windows operating system

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview is available only in United States English (en-US) for this release.


Remove all older versions of Administration Tools Pack or Remote Server Administration Tools—including older prerelease versions, and releases of the tools for different languages or locales—from the computer before you install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview. Only one copy at a time of Remote Server Administration Tools can be installed on a computer. If you have upgraded to Windows 10 Technical Preview from an older release of Windows, you will need to install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview on the computer; no earlier releases of Remote Server Administration Tools are still installed on a computer that you have upgraded to Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview includes support for remote management of computers that are running the Server Core installation option or the Minimal Server Graphical Interface configuration of Windows Server Technical Preview. However, Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview cannot be installed on any releases or installation options of the Windows Server operating system.

Earlier releases of Remote Server Administration Tools (such as those for Windows 8.1) are not available–nor do they run–on Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Server Manager is included with Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview; GUI-based tools that are part of this release of Remote Server Administration Tools can be opened by using commands on the Tools menu of the Server Manager console. To use Server Manager to access and manage remote servers that are running Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2012 R2, you must install several updates on the older operating systems. For more information about requirements for using Server Manager to manage remote servers, see Manage multiple, remote servers with Server Manager

To install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview

IMPORTANT: You can install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview only on the January 2015 release of Windows 10 Technical Preview (builds 9926 and later).

  1. Download the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview package that is appropriate for your computer’s architecture. You can either run the installer from the Download Center website, or save the download package to a local computer or share. If you save the download package to a local computer or share, double-click the installer program, WindowsTH-KB2693643-x64.msu or WindowsTH-KB2693643-x86.msu, depending on the architecture of the computer on which you want to install the tools.
  2. When you are prompted by the Windows Update Standalone Installer dialog box to install the update, click Yes.
  3. Read and accept the license terms. Click I accept. Installation requires a few minutes to finish.

NOTE: All tools are enabled by default. You do not need to open Turn Windows features on or off in Windows 10 Technical Preview to enable tools that you want to use.

To turn off specific tools

  1. On the desktop, click Start, click All Apps, click Windows System, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Programs, and then in Programs and Features, click Turn Windows features on or off.
  3. In the Windows Features dialog box, expand Remote Server Administration Tools, and then expand either Role Administration Tools or Feature Administration Tools.
  4. Clear the check boxes for any tools that you want to turn off. Note that if you turn off Server Manager, the computer must be restarted, and tools that were accessible from the Tools menu of Server Manager must be opened from the Administrative Tools folder.
  5. When you are finished turning off tools that you do not want to use, click OK.

To uninstall Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview

  1. On the desktop, click Start, click All Apps, click Windows System, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Under Programs, click Uninstall a program.
  3. Click View installed updates.
  4. Right-click Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2693643), and then click Uninstall.
  5. When you are asked if you are sure you want to uninstall the update, click Yes.


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 23 Jan.

Adding Online Services To Your Windows Server Essentials Install–Mobile Device Management

Technically I should have included this in the last post, because this is being delivered to Office 365 users, but the reason why I have separated it out is because recently the Microsoft Intune team have assumed responsibility for delivering MDM capabilities to Office 365 users, without an Intune license being required. It’s important to note that Office 365 only offers a subset of what Intune provides, but for those with basic requirements it’s a great place to start before investing what Intune delivers over and above the basics.

Azure Integration 54

In order to start working with the MDM capabilities, we need to have some mobile devices added, so here I’ve got iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 clients leveraging the service. Yes, this is definitely not a Windows only experience, I had to resist the temptation to add my Surface 2 into the mix as well, as that is another mobile platform.

Azure Integration 55

I’ve just gone into the properties for each of the devices so you can see what is exposed, which varies from device to device, but as you can see it does give you some useful information.

Azure Integration 57

We can easily apply some basic settings for password complexity, automatic wipe and timeouts.

Azure Integration 61

Advanced settings gives us more complexity in our policy, including the option to require encryption if the device supports it.

Azure Integration 60

The access rules allow us to block certain device types. You may choose to do this when the devices that some users want to use don’t support the right security capabilities.

Azure Integration 58

Here you can see the generic device families that can be blocked, pulled from the list that are currently accessing the service.

Azure Integration 59

But this is where you get more granularity. You may use the model information to block device types that don’t support the latest version of the mobile OS, an example of this could be removing older iPhone and iPod Touch models because they can’t run recent versions of iOS, and therefore lack the security enhancements that have been made over the years.

Azure Integration 53

We can also launch remote wipes, so that if a user misplaces their device, it will be wiped the next time it tries to synchronise. Obviously not a choice to make lightly, but it’s a good option to have.

Azure Integration 56

And finally we could just choose to block a specific device, rather than all of the devices that are similar.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Microsoft Intune can deliver as a Mobile Device Management solution, and it’s had some major updates over the last few months which will be the topic of some of the upcoming posts I make.

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 23 Jan.

Adding Online Services To Your Windows Server Essentials Install–Office 365 Service Integration

In the last post you saw the ease with which users could be added to the Essentials Dashboard and have a large range of Microsoft Online Service offerings exposed for ease of integration. This post covers other Office 365 services that are exposed within the dashboard, primarily SharePoint Online and Exchange Online, but excluding the Mobile Device Management Capabilities as I will cover them in more detail in the next post.

Azure Integration 29

The first screen is the Office 365 view in the dashboard, which contains some important information about your subscriptions and mailbox usage, and also gives the option of integrating with different domain names that you may own.

Azure Integration 30

When it comes to the Dashboard’s ability to expose some of SharePoint Online’s functionality, the important thing to note is that this is an incredibly small subset of what SharePoint Online delivers, and is just for performing some very basic tasks, such as creating new document libraries.

Azure Integration 33

Team Site Properties show the top level permissions, which can then be inherited by additional libraries, or overridden if different access requirements need to be met.

Azure Integration 31

The two check box options for the document library we can see are the ability to save multiple revisions of the same document, which is generally a good thing, and the ability to require that documents be checked out for editing. If documents are checked out for editing, then you do lose the ability for multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously, so I would generally leave that unchecked.

Azure Integration 32

The second tab shows site permissions which we can adjust easily, and this highlights what I mentioned above about the ability to inherit permissions if appropriate.

Azure Integration 34

I can create new libraries by selecting Add A Library in the task pane on the right, and you can see that we don’t have an overwhelming number of choices.

Azure Integration 35

From the library types we can select document, picture or wiki page library.

Azure Integration 36

I’ve chose picture library, as I needed somewhere to upload some screenshots to share with others.

Azure Integration 37

Again we see the familiar permissions page.

Azure Integration 38

Once library creation is completed, we can click the link at be taken to our Office 365 tenant.

Azure Integration 39

A picture library without pictures isn’t very interesting, so let’s just add a few in.

Azure Integration 40

The add a picture screen appears.

Azure Integration 41

Now I can select one or many images to upload.

Azure Integration 42

We confirm the details, and then the images start uploading.

Azure Integration 43

Once the upload begins, we get placeholder graphics in the library.

Azure Integration 44

These are then replaced by thumbnails of the real images at completion.

The reality is that once you are familiar with SharePoint Online, you probably won’t spend much time in the Dashboard to provision and manage it, but it’s a great way to begin and you can explore further as your SharePoint requirements expand.

Azure Integration 62

The Exchange Online integration shows up in the mailbox usage stats we saw in the first image in this post, but we can also add Distribution Groups within the Dashboard. The only real configuration option we have here is whether or not we want that to be a publically accessible email address.

Azure Integration 63

Adding users to the group is simple.

Azure Integration 64

And that’s it. Of course we can go back in and manage the distribution groups we have created, but for anything else we need to go to the Office 365 portal or fire up PowerShell.

Azure Integration 65

The properties pages are effectively showing us what we configured in the wizard, with no additional options.

Azure Integration 66

Adding users to the distribution groups after creation is also very easy to do.

This post has been a whirlwind tour of the Exchange Online and SharePoint Online integration within the dashboard, the next post will cover Mobile Device Management within the Essentials dashboard, which is an often underutilised feature that would benefit many SMB customers.

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 22 Jan.

Adding Online Services To Your Windows Server Essentials Install–User Account Integration

In the previous posts in this series I enabled the integration of the Essentials Dashboard with Azure AD, Office 365 and Windows Intune, so now it’s time to take a look at how this integrations with the user account experience. As with most things related to Essentials, all we need to do is jump into the Dashboard and we can see what it is capable of delivering.

Azure Integration 45

Inside the Dashboard we just go to Users, and on the right hand task pane we can see “Add a user account” as one of the options. When we select that, we see that the start of the wizard is just like a normal on-prem only user.Azure Integration 46

Once we go to the next screen in the wizard, we can see the Microsoft Online Services account options appear, where I can create a new online account, assign the new user to an existing account, or not assign an account if it isn’t required.

Azure Integration 47

This is the step that really simplifies one of the integration issues for some users, they would have either had to use PowerShell or the web portal for those services to assign user licenses, and here you can see I can do them all from a central place, and very easily. As new services or changes are introduced for Microsoft Online Services, these will be automatically exposed if you are subscribed to them. Here you can see I’ve got an E3 Office 365 plan and Intune, but you can also see that AAD Premium and MultiFactor Authentication premium are also subscriptions I have taken up. I’ll dig into those in more details in an upcoming post, I just want to highlight them here.

Azure Integration 48

Now the Wizard switches back to the traditional on-prem options, so we can proceed as per usual.

Azure Integration 49

Another traditional On-Prem screen is offered.

Azure Integration 50

And we are done. You can see that New User appears in the user list, as well as receiving the regular successful completion of user account creation dialog.

Azure Integration 51

Before we wrap up, just a few more screenshots. The first is the wizard that is launched from the User Task pane for “Add Microsoft online accounts”, which looks at on-prem accounts that don’t have an associated MOS identity.

Azure Integration 52

This wizard is launched from the “Import user accounts from Microsoft Online Service from the User Tasks pane. This allows us to match existing MOS identities with on-prem account creation or association.

In the next post I’ll dig into the Office 365 functionality that is exposed through the Essentials Dashboard.

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 17 Jan.

Adding Online Services To Your Windows Server Essentials Install–Microsoft Intune

Now that Azure AD and Office 365 are integrated into the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard, it’s time for the final piece of user account integration, this time with Microsoft Intune. As the role of Intune grows as part of Microsoft’s other online offerings, now providing MDM capabilities for Office 365 and a core component of the Enterprise Mobility Suite, the benefits that it brings will be widely seen amongst Microsoft’s user base.

Essentials Azure Integration 13

The screenshot above picks up where we left off in the last post, with Azure AD and Office 365 integration enabled, now it’s time to run through the same process for Intune.  The hard work has already been done because of the Azure AD integration steps performed at the start of the process. The only thing I want to point out here, which is something that will be covered in more detail in another post, is that both Intune and Azure have had the Windows branding removed, and replaced with Microsoft branding, which is a nice touch.

Essentials Azure Integration 14

The steps are effectively the same as what we saw with the Office 365 integration enablement, a few clicks and we are done.

Essentials Azure Integration 15

The integration wizard only takes a few seconds.

Essentials Azure Integration 16

And we are done, all we need is a Dashboard restart.

Essentials Azure Integration 17

And that’s it for enabling Intune integration. What you will notice here is that we don’t get deeper UI integration with the Dashboard.that we’ve seen with Office 365, and in the next post you will see how the integration enablement delivers a simplified user administration experience.

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 15 Jan.

Adding Online Services To Your Windows Server Essentials Install–Office 365

In yesterday’s post I introduced the integration of Microsoft Online Services into Essentials and started off by enabling Microsoft Azure Active Directory Integration, and today I’ll run through the process for enabling Office 365 integration.

Essentials Azure Integration 8

Picking up where we left off last time, you can see that within the Essentials Dashboard I have already enabled the Azure AD integration.

Essentials Azure Integration 9

The next step is to select the Integrate with Microsoft Office 365 option on the right hand side of the screen.

Essentials Azure Integration 10

Because this uses the Azure AD credentials that I have already provided, I don’t need to provide those credentials again, it’s just a matter of clicking Configure.

Essentials Azure Integration 11

A short configuration process runs, you don’t need to supply any information.

Essentials Azure Integration 12

And that’s it, you have enabled the Office 365 integration and will be able to administer it from within the Dashboard after the Dashboard is restarted.

Essentials Azure Integration 13

Now you can see that both Azure AD and Office 365 integration are enabled, but you also have the Office 365 option exposed above the Microsoft Online Services listing.

Essentials Azure Integration 28

I won’t go into the administration details in today’s post, instead I just want to present you with the screen above so that you can see what is exposed within this interface, and I will discuss where this comes in handy in another post in this series.

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 14 Jan.

Adding Online Services To Your Windows Server Essentials Install–Introduction

Shortly after the release of Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Microsoft released the Microsoft Online Services Integration Module as an optional download that allowed easy integration between Office 365 and your on-premises Active Directory environment. With the Essentials roles and editions of Windows Server 2012 and R2, it’s an out of box component, and offers some flexibility and features that really help with the initial integration, but also the ongoing maintenance of the user accounts and licenses. Over the next few weeks we will be seeing announcements around Windows 10 and the next version of Windows Server that hopefully reveal why this focus on integrating with Microsoft Online Services offerings is something you should be getting a head start on now, so fingers crossed that more information is released on things I’m hoping for.

In this series of posts I’ll be covering some of the pieces of the integration story that aren’t raised very often, because under the covers there are more capabilities than most people are aware of, so I’ll call some of these out during the relevant posts as I cover the Microsoft Azure Active Directory integration, the Office 365 integration, Microsoft Intune integration and finally the Microsoft Azure Backup integration capabilities. What you’ll see is that even though there are many places where the integration efforts of the Windows Server Essentials team’s work pays off with being able to do things within the Essentials console, there are still times where you should be jumping into the online portals or working with PowerShell to get the most out of what is on offer. In the screenshots below I’m taking the approach of integrating a new Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials installation with and existing set of Microsoft Online Subscriptions, so I’m not going to walk you through the sign up or subscription details, I’ll leave that to you to work through.

Traditionally it would be Office 365 integration that drives the usage of this feature, but today I will focus on leading with Azure, considering that the identity services that it provides are the basis for much of what is to come in this series of posts. If we enabled Office 365 first, the Azure integration would be done automatically because it is required. The same applies to Intune, if that’s all you are using, then the AAD pre-requisites will be done automatically for you.

The first step in the wizard advises us of some of the features that we will be enabling, such as being able to manage online user accounts from within the local dashboard, as well as synchronising usernames and passwords between your local Active Directory domain and your cloud identities.

First of all we need to provide an existing admin account for Azure AD. As we are talking about hybrids, I’ve created the hybrid organisation of Contososhea, which takes two greats, and combines them into something even better. To start with you will see that I am still using the *.onmicrosoft.com ID, which we can change later.

A strong password policy is required for the integration to be enabled, but this should be standard practice anyway.

After you accept the policy, adjustments are made to allow for the Azure AD integration.

We have completed the Azure AD integration, and we are advised by the wizard that we also have Office 365 and Intune subscriptions as well, which sets us up for the next few posts.

Before we can do any work with Azure AD in the Essentials dashboard we need to restart it, which should only take a few seconds.

Once we are back in the console we can see that the Azure AD integration is complete, so we can revisit Azure AD after the next two posts on Office 365 and Intune integration enablement.

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 22 Dec.

Microsoft Server Readiness Training – 23 City Roadshow in 2015

In early 2015 we’re taking our Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Readiness training on the road across Australia and you’re invited to attend.

Covering all the capital cities (including Darwin) as well as regional centres from Geraldton to Mudgee, this is one of our most extensive training roadshows in recent years.

Now is the time to lay the IT foundation of your customers’ businesses for the next decade and beyond. Upgrading their aging servers and operating systems now will not only reduce costs in the long run, but also provide significant benefits by leveraging on the latest IT technologies.

With separate sessions for both sales and technical teams, we’ll cover a number of topics including:

What’s new in Windows Server 2012 R2 and how best to position and sell it to your SMB customers
How to take advantage of new licensing benefits for both traditional and OEM resellers
The improvements to Hyper-V, networking and storage technologies
Interactive demonstrations of migrating from earlier versions of Windows Server

The demand for Windows Server 2012 is growing and with the End of Support announcement for Windows Server 2003, your customers and prospects will be looking to you for guidance on updating and migrating ageing infrastructure so this is a session not to be missed.

The Server Readiness training begins in February 2015 and runs through until May 2015. Dates and event locations are listed to the right. Click on the city where you would like to attend and complete your registration.

Please feel free to forward this email to any colleagues who would also like to attend.

We look forward to seeing you at these training events!

  Register for a city
near you!


17-Feb Melbourne
18-Feb Geelong
20-Feb Mildura
25-Feb Mudgee
26-Feb Bathurst


3-Mar Newcastle
4-Mar Hunter Valley
6-Mar Coffs Harbour
16-Mar Brisbane
18-Mar Townsville
20-Mar Cairns
26-Mar Adelaide


1-Apr Sydney CBD
14-Apr Perth
16-Apr Geraldton
28-Apr Hobart
30-Apr Launceston


5-May Alice Springs
7-May Darwin
13-May North Ryde
18-May Wollongong
20-May Canberra
22-May Albury
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