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  1. Microsoft will soon begin disabling Excel 4.0 XLM macros by default in Microsoft 365 tenants to protect customers from malicious documents. Excel 4.0 macros, or XLM macros, were first added to Excel in 1992 and allowed users to enter various commands into cells that are then executed to perform a task. Malicious XLS document with obfuscated Excel 4.0 macro While VBA macros were introduced in Excel 5.0, threat actors continue to XLM macros twenty years later in malicious documents that download malware or perform other unwanted behavior. Malicious campaigns utilizing Excel 4.0 XLM macros include ones for malware, such as TrickBot, Qbot, Dridex, Zloader, and many more. Due to their continued abuse, Microsoft has been recommending users switch from and disable Excel 4.0 XLM macros for years in favor of VBA macros. This recommendation is because VBA macros support the Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI), which can be used by security software to scan macros for malicious behavior. To disable Excel 4.0 macros, Windows admins can use group policies to disable the feature, and users can disable it via the Excel Trust Center using the Enable XLM macros when VBA macros are enabled setting. Enable XLM macros when VBA macros are enabled in Excel Trust Center Microsoft to disable Excel 4.0 macros in all tenants Instead of waiting for organizations to disable XLM macros on their own, Microsoft announced yesterday that they would be disabling Excel 4.0 macros by default starting in October in preview builds and then moving onto the current channel in November. "We are introducing a change to the Excel Trust Center Macro settings to provide a more secure experience for users by default. This new default behavior will disable Excel 4.0 macros," explained an advisory in the Microsoft 365 message center. Microsoft will begin disabling Excel 4.0 macros in all tenants using this rollout schedule: Insiders-Slow: will rollout in late October and be complete in early November. Current Channel: will rollout in early November and be complete in mid-November. Monthly Enterprise Channel (MEC): will begin and complete rollout in mid-December. Microsoft will not be making any changes for users who have manually configured this setting or configured it via group policies. When the change rolls out, the Enable XLM macros when VBA macros are enabled setting will be unchecked by default, which disables XLM macros. Microsoft states that users who wish to enable XLM macros after this rollout has finished can do so in the Excel Trust Center. Microsoft is disabling Excel 4.0 macros by default to protect users
  2. Microsoft today announced the increase of commercial pricing for Microsoft 365. It is important to note that this is the first substantive pricing update since Microsoft launched Office 365 a decade ago. Microsoft is increasing the price to reflect the increased value offered by Microsoft 365. Since introducing Microsoft 365 we have added 24 apps to the suites—Microsoft Teams, Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate, Stream, Planner, Visio, OneDrive, Yammer, and Whiteboard—and have released over 1,400 new features and capabilities. Microsoft also confirmed that there are no changes to pricing for education and consumer products for now. Updated Microsoft 365 pricing: Microsoft 365 Business Basic (from $5 to $6 per user) Microsoft 365 Business Premium (from $20 to $22) Office 365 E1 (from $8 to $10) Office 365 E3 (from $20 to $23) Office 365 E5 (from $35 to $38) Microsoft 365 E3 (from $32 to $36) The above pricing changes will go into effect in six months. Along with the price increase, Microsoft also announced unlimited dial-in capabilities for Microsoft Teams meetings across our enterprise, business, frontline, and government suites over the next few months. Unlimited dial-in will allow users to join their Microsoft Teams meeting from virtually any device regardless of location. Source: Microsoft Microsoft announces the first substantive price increase for Microsoft 365
  3. Microsoft 365 drops support for Internet Explorer 11 in August Microsoft has reminded customers that Microsoft 365 apps and services will drop support for the legacy Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) web browser next month, on August 17, 2021. After the end of support is reached, those still trying to connect to Microsoft 365 may face degraded user experience or connection failures. "These apps and services will phase out over weeks and months to ensure a smooth end of support, with each app and service phasing out on independent schedules," the Microsoft 365 team said earlier this week. According to Microsoft, users experiencing issues when attempting to access Microsoft 365 apps or services after August 17 will not be offered support. No new features will be released, and the daily usage experience will most likely get steadily worse until the M365 apps and services slowly phase out. Additionally, using the new Microsoft Edge's Internet Explorer mode will not help extend IE11 access to Microsoft 365 products beyond the end of support. Image: Microsoft This is how the M365 application experience will look like for IE11 users starting with August 17: Outlook Web App: Users logging in with AAD accounts will still receive the full OWA experience but will not receive new features beginning August 17, 2021, while users logging in with Microsoft Accounts (MSA) will be redirected to the Outlook Web App Light experience. Open with Explorer/View in File Explorer (SharePoint): We understand that some customers may continue to use Open with Explorer and View in File Explorer (only accessible in IE11) to access document libraries. To avoid disruption, these customers will be able to use these features for now when they go to a document library in IE11. These features remain in maintenance mode and aren't receiving further development. We encourage all customers to move to a modern browser and OneDrive sync for a better user experience and easier access to files. For more information on how to prepare your SharePoint environment for end of support on IE11, please read this Docs article. All other apps and services will phase out over weeks and months to ensure a smooth end of support with each app and service phasing out on independent schedules. IE11 to reach EOS on some Windows 10 versions next year This reminder comes after Microsoft first announced plans to ditch support for the Microsoft Edge Legacy and Internet Explorer 11 web browsers in Windows 10 and Microsoft 365. Following that initial announcement, Microsoft Teams had already dropped support for Internet Explorer 11 on November 30, 2020. Two months ago, Redmond also revealed that it would also retire the legacy browser on some Windows 10 versions on June 15, 2022, replacing it with the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge. After being retired on systems running Windows 10 client SKUs (version 20H2 and later) and Windows 10 IoT (version 20H2 and later), the Internet Explorer desktop app will be disabled, automatically redirecting users to Microsoft Edge when launched. Enterprise organizations depending on legacy Internet Explorer-based websites and apps for critical processes can still use them with Microsoft Edge's IE mode (more info available in this Getting Started guide.) In related news, WordPress, the most popular blogging platform, also announced in March 2021 that it is planning to drop support for Internet Explorer 11 as the browser's usage has already dipped below 1%. Microsoft 365 drops support for Internet Explorer 11 in August
  4. Microsoft fixes Outlook crash issues when using Search bar Microsoft will roll out a fix for a known issue causing Outlook for Microsoft 365 to crash on systems where users attempted using the Search bar or Search Suggestions features. Starting February, users have reported encountering this bug on various online platforms, including Microsoft's community website and Tech Community, as well as Reddit. As Microsoft describes the issue, "if you attempt to use the “Search” bar within Outlook, the application will shut down." Redmond says that a fix has already been developed for this issue, with a fix being planned to roll out worldwide to all impacted users on Tuesday, July 13. To install the Outlook update addressing this known bug, you have to follow the instructions available on the Install Office updates support document. Unofficial workarounds While no official workarounds are available yet for Outlook customers affected by these crash issues, users reported that clearing out the local folder and recreating your profile should eliminate the bug. To do so, you will have to go through the following steps: Open the Run dialog using Windows + R. Open %appdata%\local\microsoft\outlook and delete everything in the folder. Go to Control Panel > Mail > Show Profiles and delete the old Outlook profile. Create a new Profile and start Outlook. Others successfully mitigated the issue by rolling back to a previous Outlook version (the one released in May), not affected by this bug. The only step required for this is to run the following command from the Command Prompt: "C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\ClickToRun\OfficeC2RClient.exe" /update user updatetoversion=16.0.14026.20246 In June, Microsoft fixed another issue causing Microsoft 365 users to experience authentication issues when logging into desktop client apps like Microsoft Teams, OneDrive for Business, and Microsoft Outlook. The company also addressed an Outlook bug that blocked users from forwarding or replying to emails bundling embedded hyperlinks pointing to long URLs. Redmond is currently also investigating an Outlook crash when using the 'Find Related' search feature in the Tasks Module and an issue where the follow-up flag status is displayed in sent messages incorrectly. Microsoft fixes Outlook crash issues when using Search bar
  5. Microsoft 365 outage knocks down Teams, Exchange Online An Azure Active Directory outage is preventing users from logging into Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Exchange Online, Forms, Xbox Live, and Yammer. Starting at approximately 3:34 PM EST, users began reporting being unable to login to their Microsoft 365 accounts, Microsoft Teams, or access other Microsoft apps. It appears @Microsoft365 is having a few issues at the moment; currently unable to access Forms. Hopefully back up soon for my @syscouts quiz on tree recognition — James Garnett (@jamesmgarnett) March 15, 2021 MicrosoftTeams is down? not able to connect to any meeting MSFT365Status https://t.co/GSa7qv1IZE #MicrosoftTeams #Microsoft #Microsoft365 Translated using #MicrosoftFlow — Daniel Villamizar -Microsoft Azure MVP (@CSA_DVillamizar) March 15, 2021 The outage is also affecting Microsoft sites, such as the Tech Community web site, as users are not able to log into the site. "As a result of the issues currently facing Azure AAD, we are currently experiencing problems on the Microsoft Tech Community with login and authentication. This will result in users being unable to login and users already logged in getting unexpected errors as sessions timeout," posted a Microsoft Tech Community manager. Microsoft has acknowledged the outage in the Microsoft 365 incident report MO244568, which states the outage initially impacted Microsoft Teams but is now affecting other services. "Initial reports indicate that primary impact is to Microsoft Teams; however, other services including Exchange Online and Yammer are also impacted." "We're investigating a potential issue and checking for impact to your organization. We'll provide an update within 30 minutes," the outage report states. Microsoft has confirmed that the widespread outages affecting Microsoft's online services are the result of an Azure Active Directory (AAD) configuration issue. This issue is preventing users from authenticating to Microsoft 365, Exchange, Online, Microsoft Teams, or any other service relying on AAD. "Starting at approximately 19:15 UTC on 15 Mar 2021, a subset of customers may experience issues authenticating into Microsoft services, including Microsoft Teams, Office and/or Dynamics, Xbox Live, and the Azure Portal," reads the Azure status page. Microsoft is sharing updates on their Microsoft 365 Status Twitter account, with the list of status updates shared below: 3/15/21 3:40 PM EST: "We're investigating an issue for access to multiple M365 services. Please visit the admin center post M0244568 for more information. We'll provide additional information here as it becomes available." 3/15/21 4:04 PM EST: "We've confirmed that this issue could be affecting users worldwide. Additional information can be found at http://status.office.com, or if available, under MO244568 in the admin center." 3/15/21 4:11 PM EST: "We've identified an issue with a recent change to an authentication system. We’re rolling back the update to mitigate impact, which we expect will take approximately 15 minutes. Additional information can be found at http://status.office.com or under MO244568 if available." 3/15/21 4:44 PM EST: "The process to roll back the change is taking longer than expected. We'll provide an ETA as soon as one becomes available. Additional information can be found at http://status.office.com or under MO244568 if available." 3/15/21 5:01 PM EST: "We've identified the underlying cause of the problem and are taking steps to mitigate impact. We'll provide an updated ETA on resolution as soon as one is available. Additional information can be found at https://status.office.com or under MO244568 if available." 3/15/21 5:17 PM EST: "We are currently rolling out a mitigation worldwide. Customers should begin seeing recovery at this time, and we anticipate full remediation within 60 minutes. Additional information can be found at http://status.office.com or under MO244568 if available." Update 3/15/21 4:48 PM: The outage is confirmed to be caused by an Azure Active Directory issue. Article updated with this information. This is a developing story. Source: Microsoft 365 outage knocks down Teams, Exchange Online
  6. Microsoft 365 adds 'External' email tags for increased security Microsoft is working on boosting Exchange Online phishing protection capabilities by adding support for external email message tags to its cloud-based email service. Once the feature is available, Exchange Online admins can increase their organizations' spam and phishing protection by having all emails from external senders tagged automatically. "This will be achieved by presenting a new tag on emails called 'External' in the message list," Microsoft explains in the Microsoft 365 roadmap. "In some Outlook clients, a 'mail tip' will be included at the top of the reading pane with sender's email address." The new external email tags will only show up in Outlook on the web, the new Outlook for Mac, and Outlook mobile (iOS and Android). External tags in Outlook on the web (Microsoft) External tags in Outlook for iOS (Microsoft) How to enable external email tagging After its rollout to all Office 365 environments to standard multi-tenants worldwide later this month, the Exchange Online external tag feature will be off by default. Admins who want to enable it in their tenants will have to use the Get-ExternalInOutlook and Set-ExternalInOutlook PowerShell cmdlets to view and modify external sender identification configuration in supported Outlook versions. "If you enable the cmdlet, within 24-48 hours, your users will start seeing a warning tag in email messages received from external sources (outside of your organization)," Microsoft says. "In Outlook mobile, by tapping on the External tag at the top of the message, the user will see the email address of the sender." Microsoft is also working on adding SMTP MTA Strict Transport Security (MTA-STS) support to Exchange Online to thwart downgrade and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Last year, Exchange Online added support for plus addressing (also known as subaddressing or detailed addressing), allowing Office 365 customers to use unlimited disposable recipient email addresses to filter and track email sources. Source: Microsoft 365 adds 'External' email tags for increased security
  7. Microsoft has a strategy to build a WeChat-like experience across its various Microsoft 365 business and consumer services in the form of a 'MetaOS' foundational layer. By Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft Earlier this year, some leaks about Microsoft's "MetaOS" had a lot of us Microsoft watchers scrambling to figure out what this foundational layer is and how it will affect Microsoft's various products and services in the future. Recently, I've unearthed some more details about the company's high-level goals and lower-level product plans around MetaOS. MetaOS has a lot to do with what's next for Microsoft Teams, Office, Edge, and more. I don't know when or if Microsoft will ever talk about MetaOS publicly, but MetaOS and the related Taos team, headed by Chief Operating Officer and Corporate Vice President of the Experiences and Devices Group Kirk Koenigsbauer, is working actively on the MetaOS inbox apps and services, I hear. Microsoft's highest level MetaOS pitch is that it is focused on people and not tied to specific devices. Microsoft seems to be modeling itself a bit after Tencent's WeChat mobile social/payment app/service here, my sources say. Microsoft wants to create a single mobile platform that provides a consistent set of work and play services, including messaging, voice and video, digital payments, gaming, and customized document and news feeds. The MetaOS consists of a number of layers, or tiers, according to information shared with me by my contacts. At the lowest level, there's a data tier, which is implemented in the Office substrate and/or Microsoft Graph. This data tier is all about network identity and groups. There's also an application model, which includes work Microsoft is doing around Fluid Framework (its fast co-authoring and object embedding technology); Power Apps for rapid development and even the Visual Studio team for dev tools. Microsoft is creating a set of services and contracts for developers around Fluid Core, Search, personalization/recommendation, security, and management. For software vendors and customers, Microsoft is working to create a set of common inbox apps and controls that will carry across products and services. These include products like Planner, Stream, Tasks, Lists, Files, Whiteboard, Notes (OneNote, Sticky Notes), analytics, learning, history, downloads, and similar products/services. It also is building a set of hubs that build on top of the MetaOS technologies. Teams is just one of these hubs. Others include Windows, Microsoft's single, simplified Office mobile app, also known as Office.com (and codenamed "Union"), Outlook, and Edge/Bing. If you're wondering how Edge/Bing fits into this hub model, there's a fairly recently formed organization in Microsoft called the Web Experiences Team (WebXT), which encompasses Bing, Edge, MSN, and content services. WebXT is working with Office and Windows to create new homepage and new tab page interfaces powered by Bing ads. WebXT also is "building a large scale payment service that powers commerce for WebXT's key businesses like Bing, Content Feed, Edge," according to a recent Microsoft job posting. Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has refocused on its core business constituency from a strategy and product perspective. But the company has not given up on the idea that it can build on the "pockets of strength" it believes it has in the consumer space by focusing first on productivity-minded consumers and gamers. (An aside: When looking at this MetaOS strategy, it's relatively easy to see how/why Microsoft might have tried to slot TikTok in here to help it push its message that its products aren't just for businesses, but instead focused on the whole life experience.) In short, MetaOS is Microsoft's underlying architecture and strategy for the foundational layer of its Microsoft 365 subscription services for business and consumer users. Microsoft 365 is big and getting bigger. Microsoft 365 contributed $20 billion in billed revenues to Microsoft's FY'20 $143 billion total, up more than 50% over the previous year. Source
  8. Microsoft is currently experiencing a huge service outage involving its Microsoft 365, a cloud-based subscription service that provides access to the company’s Office apps and more. Microsoft 365 is available for everything from personal home use to businesses, enterprise, and even educational institutions. The number of people dependent on the service makes this outage particularly frustrating. The outage, reports of which started rolling in earlier today, has made it impossible for some customers to access Microsoft 365 services. In some cases, Microsoft says that certain services are now recovering, including Microsoft Intune, Exchange Online, and Outlook.com. As well, Microsoft says that its Teams, Forms, and OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online are healthy. As expected given the widespread impact of this outage, Microsoft mobilized quickly to fix the issue. Around 4PM ET today, the company said on its Microsoft 365 Status Twitter account that it had identified ‘a recent change that may have resulted in impact to’ these services. It reverted the change, which triggered a recovery process. In an update soon after, another tweet was published revealing that the investigation had linked the issue to ‘a network infrastructure change.’ With that reverted, Microsoft said that its telemetry ‘indicates’ that its 365 services are recovering now that the change has been reversed. The Admin Center is still inaccessible at this time and it’s unclear how long it may take to restore this service to a healthy state. Head over to the Microsoft Office Status website to keep tabs on the current progress in reversing this outage, or follow the Microsoft 365 Status Twitter account for real-time updates. https://www.slashgear.com/huge-microsoft-365-outage-takes-down-outlook-and-more-07641484/
  9. Company famed for iffy patches demonstrates its email prowess Microsoft's cloudy email service, Exchange Online, decided to have an early night last night, and then enjoyed a lie-in this morning. Traditionally a night for fireworks, 5 November saw some sort of detonation within the Microsoft 365 infrastructure in the form of a borked update or, as the company delicately put it: "an issue wherein some users may be unable to access their mailboxes through Exchange Online via all connection methods." There was good news, however, as just over an hour later Microsoft confessed that a recent service update was "causing impact to mailbox access via Exchange Online" but a fix was being prepared that would sort it all out. The joy was short-lived. Having realised that a network driver issue was to blame, the company then admitted the fix "was taking longer than anticipated." Six hours after its initial notification of trouble in the cloud, Microsoft also began looking at alternative options for "faster relief." Finally, nearly eight hours after the bad news first dropped from its social media orifice, the software giant claimed a fix was being rolled out. A further four hours was needed before Microsoft trumpeted that everything was up and running once again. The Register asked Microsoft how widespread the issue was, why its online email service is so fragile these days, and how its change control works. After all, the company that inflicts Windows 10 updates on unsuspecting users should have plenty of experience with an urgent need for a rollback or two. It has yet to provide an explanation. The problem does indeed seem to have affected a subset of users around the globe, including a UK local authority where an anonymous staffer told The Register that access to email had been lost because "Microsoft rolled out a service update that's now preventing access through Exchange Online." Others dived into the fragrant pit of Twitter to make their frustration known. A glance at social media shows a substantial number of users struggled with the outage, with some making unkind comparisons with arch-rival Gmail and others expressing bewilderment that a driver could cause such an impact. Surely it was tested before hitting production systems? Oh you sweet summer child. Have you forgotten Windows 10 1809 so soon? We await anxiously the arrival of the rebrandogun. Microsoft 352, anyone? Source
  10. Tool allows managers to use Microsoft 365 to track their employees’ activity Microsoft has been criticised for enabling “workplace surveillance” after privacy campaigners warned that the company’s “productivity score” feature allows managers to use Microsoft 365 to track their employees’ activity at an individual level. The tools, first released in 2019, are designed to “provide you visibility into how your organisation works”, according to a Microsoft blogpost, and aggregate information about everything from email use to network connectivity into a headline percentage for office productivity. But by default, reports also let managers drill down into data on individual employees, to find those who participate less in group chat conversations, send fewer emails, or fail to collaborate in shared documents. “This is so problematic at many levels,” tweeted the Austrian researcher Wolfie Christl, who raised alarm about the feature. “Employers are increasingly exploiting metadata logged by software and devices for performance analytics and algorithmic control,” Christl added. “MS is providing the tools for it. Practices we know from software development (and factories and call centres) are expanded to all white-collar work.” In a statement, a Microsoft spokesperson said: “Productivity score is an opt-in experience that gives IT administrators insights about technology and infrastructure usage. Insights are intended to help organisations make the most of their technology investments by addressing common pain points like long boot times, inefficient document collaboration, or poor network connectivity. Insights are shown in aggregate over a 28-day period and are provided at the user level so that an IT admin can provide technical support and guidance.” “We are committed to privacy as a fundamental element of productivity score,” wrote Jared Spataro, the corporate vice-president for Microsoft 365, in online documentation. “Let me be clear: productivity score is not a work monitoring tool. Productivity score is about discovering new ways of working, providing your people with great collaboration and technology experiences … For example, to help maintain privacy and trust, the user data provided in productivity score is aggregated over a 28-day period.” But the response has not reassured all critics. “The word dystopian is not nearly strong enough to describe the fresh hellhole Microsoft just opened up,” tweeted David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of the office productivity suite Basecamp. “Just as the reputation of a new and better company was being built, they detonate it with the most invasive workplace surveillance scheme yet to hit mainstream. “Being under constant surveillance in the workplace is psychological abuse,” Heinemeier Hansson added. “Having to worry about looking busy for the stats is the last thing we need to inflict on anyone right now.” Employee surveillance “has really ramped up” alongside remote working during the coronavirus pandemic, as companies seek more oversight of workers away from the office, Dr Claudia Pagliari, a researcher into digital health and society at the University of Edinburgh, told the Guardian in September. Source
  11. Microsoft will soon let you upload files up to 250GB to OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint You'll soon be able to store massive files across Microsoft 365 services. What you need to know Microsoft is increasing the file size limit for Microsoft 365. The increased limit applies to OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint. Microsoft optimized the storage process to be able to handle the file size increase. Source: Windows Central With 4K videos, 8K videos, and 3-D files becoming more common, people's requirements for cloud file storage have evolved. Microsoft announced this week that it will increase the file size limit for Microsoft 365 to 250GB to meet the growing demand. The current limit is 100GB, so people will have much more room to work with after the increased limit rolls out. The increased limit will come to all Microsoft 365 files, which includes OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint. The upload file size limit isn't just for business customers either. OneDrive for personal use also benefits from the bump up to 250GB. If you've ever tried to upload a large file onto OneDrive or other Microsoft services, you might be concerned about uploading a 250GB file without running into any issues. Uploading files that large creates a longer window to run into issues, but Microsoft has optimized uploading to limit problems. "We've achieved the 250 GB limit by optimizing storage for upload performance—each file is split into chunks and each piece is encrypted with a unique key," says Microsoft in its techcommunity post announcing the increased limit. Microsoft also utilizes differential sync, which only syncs changes to files, rather than having to reupload an entirely new file each time you make any change. Support for the new 250GB file size limit will roll out by the end of January. Source: Microsoft will soon let you upload files up to 250GB to OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint
  12. Microsoft announces general availability of Application Guard for Office Microsoft unveiled a couple of security features for Microsoft 365 early in 2020, which included Application Guard. Today, the company announced that Application Guard for Office has hit general availability. The feature basically puts documents from untrusted sources in a container before opening them in order to ward off malicious threats. Microsoft also noted that it analyzes every malicious attack contained by Application Guard to bolster its threat intelligence. Your files are also protected from kernel-based attacks since it uses Hyper-V-based containers. Unlike Protected View which opens documents in read-only mode, Application Guard opens files in a virtualized sandbox where you can still edit and print documents in a limited capacity without leaving the container. These files include those coming from untrusted sites, files stored in potentially unsafe folders or network, and documents blocked by File Block. That said, you can still choose to disable protection for a specific file if necessary, provided you're confident that it's safe. Prior to opening that file, it will be scanned with the Safe Documents feature if it's enabled. In addition to documents, emails are protected as well with combined security from Application Guard and Microsoft Defender for Office 365. The new feature is turned off by default and administrators will need to set the right policy for each user in an organization. It's available to customers on Current Channel and Monthly Enterprise Channel while a rollout in Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel is scheduled later this year. Microsoft announces general availability of Application Guard for Office
  13. Struggling to comply with GDPR? Microsoft 365 rolls out new privacy dashboards Microsoft wants to make it easier for organizations to deal with new privacy regulations. Microsoft is rolling out new dashboards in its Microsoft 365 enterprise bundle to help security and compliance officers deal with new privacy laws. Microsoft 365, which includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, is gaining a new workspace for managing compliance with Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other regions' laws. The Compliance Manager risk-assessment dashboard helps security and compliance professionals manage regulatory compliance tasks. Under GDPR, any EU resident can request data that's been collected about them. The updated compliance manager helps Microsoft 365 users handle these data-subject requests. California's new privacy laws offer similar protections, including giving consumers the right to request that personal information is deleted and to easily transfer data to other services. Microsoft VP and chief legal officer Brad Smith believes US lawmakers in 2019 will begin pushing ahead with federal privacy legislation to avoid a patchwork of state-based variants of California's law. The tool also uses analytics to help display actions that compliance managers should take with respect to various regulations, including GDPR, the US HIPAA healthcare regulations, and ISO-27001 security standards. The new specialized workspaces give security and compliance teams a centralized view across Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), as well as Azure capabilities, according to Microsoft. Microsoft will roll out of the two dashboards this month and expects the worldwide rollout to be complete by the end of March. The new dashboards will be accessible from security.microsoft.com and compliance.microsoft.com, as well as the Microsoft 365 admin center. SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF) According to a a new support document, the features will be available to Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 or E5 customers, as well as customers with a Volume Licensing equivalent, including Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E5, Enterprise Mobility + Security E3 or E5, and Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5. The Microsoft 365 security center offers a central place to view information about identity and access management, threat protection, information protection, and security management. This includes a dashboard that provides the status of an organization's security score, identity protection vulnerabilities, device compliance and malware statistics, and details about which cloud-based OAuth apps have high privileges. The security center also gives SecOps teams tools to manage incident response, including a centralized view of alerts and "hunting capabilities" for investigations. A new Microsoft 365 Label Analytics preview is on offer to help compliance officers analyze and validate how sensitivity and retention labels are being used beyond Office 365 workloads. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) insights feature aims to identify risks across applications, identify shadow IT, and monitor non-compliant employee behavior. Microsoft's popular enterprise messaging platform, Microsoft Teams, is also gaining new compliance tools aimed at customers in regulated industries. A new 'intelligent policies' feature includes intelligent filters, flags for sensitive information types, and advanced message filters. Intelligent filters feature is in private preview and includes an offensive language detector powered by machine learning and artificial-intelligence models that can identify communication patterns over time. The sensitive information types feature allows admins to monitor data regulated by financial, medical, health or general privacy laws. The advanced message filter allows admins to include or exclude emails based on domains and do the same based on retention labels. The updated compliance manager helps Microsoft 365 users handle data-subject requests. Source
  14. Will Microsoft launch a consumer Microsoft 365 subscription product? Microsoft has put a strong focus on subscriptions in the past couple of years. The company launched Office 365 for consumers, businesses and Enterprises, and Microsoft 365 for businesses and Enterprises. The two subscription-based products provide customers with access to Office and online storage, and access to Windows and Office respectively. Extras may be available depending on the selected plans. Microsoft uses various tactics to get customers to switch from a regular version of Office to the subscription-based Office 365. When Microsoft launched Office 2019, a one-time payment version of Microsoft Office, it made the software Windows 10 exclusive and encouraged customers not to buy Office 2019. The company limits Office 2019 in several ways: Office 2019 won't receive any feature updates, may only be installed on a single device, and the price of some editions was increased as well. Microsoft 365, a subscription-based product that combined Windows and Office in a single subscription has not been released in a consumer version up until now. We wanted to know back in 2017 whether you'd pay for a subscription to get Office and Windows in return and most who replied stated that they would not while the decision of some would depend on the price of the subscription. Microsoft has not announced a consumer version of Microsoft 365 yet but it is almost inevitable that the company will release a plan or even multiple plans for consumers in the near future. Some Microsoft Office 365 customers noticed recently that the name of the product was changed from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. Mary Jo Foley asked Microsoft about the change and the company responded that Microsoft did not have any plans to rebrand Office 365 to Microsoft 365 "at this point". Microsoft did not reveal why some customers would see the rebranding happen on their end. It is possible that the changes were caused by a bug. It seems unlikely that Microsoft would rebrand Office 365 to Microsoft 365 as these are two different products. The rebranding is certainly no confirmation that something is going on but it could very well mean that Microsoft will announce the first consumer subscription bundle during the Surface event in October or Ignite in November. Closing Words Microsoft 365 for consumers is the next logical step in Microsoft's quest to turn all one-time payment products into subscription-based products. Consumers pay once for Windows currently and convincing them to switch to a subscription-model would certainly require incentives to make the subscription-based model look more attractive than the one-time payment model. I think the question is not if but when Microsoft will unveil the consumer Microsoft 365 product. Source: Will Microsoft launch a consumer Microsoft 365 subscription product? (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)
  15. November updates to Microsoft 365 include dark mode for OneNote 2016 and more We're nearing the end of the month, and that means it's time for Microsoft to once again highlight the changes made to its Microsoft 365 products over the past few weeks. There actually wasn't a blog post for October, so this is the first time we're getting a feature roundup of this kind in a couple of months. Many of the changes in this month's updates were actually announced at Ignite earlier in the month. For example, OneNote 2016 has been brought back to life, and it's now getting a new dark mode that's already available for all Office 365 subscribers. Another previously announced feature is Sheet View in Excel, which lets users filter and sort lists in spreadsheets without affecting other users in real-time co-authoring. One thing that's new is that users who create quizzes using Microsoft Forms can now allow respondents to upload files. Microsoft is also announcing an upcoming Outlook.com integration with Sticky Notes, which will let users see their notes in their inbox. This will be rolling out to everyone next month. For IT managers, there are other updates this month, but they were also announced back at Ignite. These include a new Endpoint Manager, which brings together features from Intune and System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr). Microsoft has also made Intune licensing available to ConfigMgr customers. There's a new Productivity Score feature that lets organizations get insights into how productive its teams are and what factors might be affecting productivity. Finally, Microsoft is announcing that Cloud App Security and Azure Advanced Threat Protection are now available for U.S. Government GCC High customers, bringing additional security capabilities to the public sector. Source: November updates to Microsoft 365 include dark mode for OneNote 2016 and more (Neowin)
  16. Microsoft aims to win back consumers with new Microsoft 365 subscriptions Office 365 is now Microsoft 365 with some important additions Microsoft is unveiling its new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions today, which are designed to replace and enhance existing Office 365 consumer plans. Much like the Office 365 Personal and Home subscriptions that exist today, Microsoft 365 Personal and Family plans will be available on April 21st, priced at $6.99 per month for Personal (one person) and $9.99 a month for a Family (up to six people) subscription. Both options will include access to Office, and new features will gradually roll out in the months ahead. Microsoft 365 plans add two new features that will roll out in preview in the coming months: a new Microsoft Family Safety app and new features in Microsoft Teams for consumers. The new Microsoft Family Safety app is designed to allow families to share their location and manage screen time across multiple devices. Similar to Apple’s Find My app, Microsoft Family Safety can generate notifications when a family member leaves home, work, or school, and enables location sharing. Microsoft’s new Family Safety app. Microsoft has even built a driving report feature into the app that allows parents to keep an eye on first-time drivers in a household. None of the information will be shared with third parties, but I can’t imagine many teenagers will be thrilled to have mom and dad tracking their driving habits. The Family Safety app can also manage screen time across traditional Windows PCs, Android devices, and even Xbox consoles, so it’s all synced into a single location and limits can be set centrally. While Skype is Microsoft’s primary communications app for consumers, it’s clear that the company is now focusing more on Microsoft Teams for both work and home. Microsoft is previewing new home features for Microsoft Teams that are now part of Microsoft 365 subscriptions. They’re designed to let friends and family connect in a group chat or through video calls, and share to-do lists, photos, and other content all in one location. Microsoft Teams for consumers. Microsoft is aiming these new Teams features at people who plan trips with friends, or those organizing book clubs and social gatherings. It doesn’t mean Microsoft Teams will replace Skype for everything, but it’s clearly where a lot of Microsoft’s energy is focused right now. All of these Microsoft Teams home features will be available in preview in the summer, and available generally later this year. If you’re already an Office 365 subscriber, then you’ll be pleased to learn that Microsoft is adding a lot of Office-related features with this transition to Microsoft 365. Anyone will soon be able to access the existing Editor feature of Word, which is more of an advanced proofing service than the regular grammar and spellcheck features. Editor does things like improve your writing by flagging words that are used too frequently or teach you phrases to improve your writing style. Microsoft 365 subscribers will get access to more advanced grammar and style guides, including a rewrite option that offers to rephrase entire sentences. There’s even a similarity checker to prevent plagiarism and coax students to properly cite content. New Editor feature in Word. PowerPoint is also getting some exclusive features for Microsoft 365 consumers. The existing Presenter Coach feature, which helps people practice a slidedeck and avoid stuttering and swearing, is getting monotone pitch and speech refinement. Presenter coach will monitor your tone of voice and suggest variations and ways to improve your speech. Ultimately, it’s designed to make your presentations feel less boring. One of the other aspects of family life that Microsoft is trying to tackle with its consumer subscriptions is money budgeting. Money in Excel sees Microsoft return to its Microsoft Money personal finance management roots to make it easier to track and analyze spending in Excel. Microsoft will connect to your bank and credit card accounts to import transactions and balances and generate alerts for fees, changes, and monthly spend. It’s a feature that will become available first in the US in the coming months. Excel is also getting new data types to support things like food, places, movies, and even different types of pokémon. You could turn simple plain text like “tomato” into a food data type and track its nutritional information or compare different breeds of cats and dogs in tables. These new data types are powered by information from Wolfram Alpha and are exclusive to Microsoft 365 subscribers. Office Insiders will be able to start testing these data types in the spring before they roll out to all Microsoft 365 subscribers in the US in the coming months. New data types in Excel. Outlook is getting some love, too, with the ability to link your work and personal calendars on the web. Elsewhere in Office, Microsoft 365 subscribers also get exclusive access to more than 200 new templates and thousands of images and videos from Getty Images. Microsoft is also bundling in 300 new fonts and 2,800 new icons for use across Office. Microsoft is also unveiling a new Password Monitor feature for its Edge browser today. Despite rumors of a password manager being included in this new subscription, the Password Monitor will instead let you know if any passwords (stored in Edge) have been compromised in database breaches so you can change them easily. Edge is also getting a vertical tabs feature so you can stack your tabs at the side of the browser and a smart copy option that maintains formatting like text and tables when you’re pasting it elsewhere. Vertical tabs in Edge. Microsoft is also working with Adobe, Experian, Bark, Blinklist, and others to offer limited-time access to other premium consumer subscriptions. Thirty-eight million people are currently subscribed to Office 365 Personal and Home, and those subscriptions will automatically transfer over to Microsoft 365 Personal and Family next month. It’s a base of users that has been steadily growing each year, and Microsoft had around 12.4 million subscribers five years ago. There’s clearly a lot here that improves the existing Office 365 subscriptions, and it’s impressive that Microsoft is keeping the cost the same. Microsoft has been working on this new “modern life” subscription approach for nearly two years, and the fresh focus comes after the company killed off many of its troubled consumer pushes in recent years. Microsoft previously killed off its Groove Music service, officially discontinued Kinect, scrapped its Microsoft Band fitness device, and finally admitted Windows Phone is dead. Cortana has also transitioned to be productivity-focused, all while Microsoft has become more focused on improving its products that resonate with consumers. Microsoft 365 consumer subscriptions are clear evidence of the company’s recent direction. Instead of launching a Spotify competitor or something to take on TikTok or whatever is the latest and greatest app, Microsoft has taken a step back and is trying to add value where it matters. It’s a different approach that relies on a balance of work and life and a niche area where Microsoft is uniquely positioned to provide services that respect privacy and are focused on productivity. Source: Microsoft aims to win back consumers with new Microsoft 365 subscriptions (The Verge)
  17. Microsoft unveils Teams-equipped 365 subscription for front-line workers The new plan, priced at at $4 per user per month, gets the Microsoft 365 F1 moniker and is due to arrive April 1. Thinkstock / Xresch / Microsoft Microsoft has announced a new Microsoft 365 plan that will serve as the bottom rung for a group it has dubbed "firstline workers," people who take calls, ring up sales, interact with customers and spend their shift on factory floors or in the field. The subscription, unveiled last week, will be labeled Microsoft 365 F1 and is to go on sale April 1. Because that product title was already taken - a same-named subscription launched two and a half years ago in September 2017 - the previous Microsoft 365 F1 was rebranded as Microsoft 365 F3. (Microsoft has an aversion to even-numbered IDs for its subscriptions.) Not surprisingly considering its lower-numbered name, Microsoft 365 F1 contains fewer components, offers less functionality and costs less than the new F3 (née F1). Microsoft 365 F1 costs $4 per user per month, less than half the $10 per user per month of its older, bigger sibling. (That $10 for what's now marked as F3 was the same as its launch price in 2017.) That price is the same as Office 365 F3, which was also renamed from its previous F1 designation. That subscription offers many of the same bits as the new Microsoft 365 F1 but lacks some of what the latter contains and includes some of what the rival doesn't. Among the former: Office 365 F3 doesn't have access to Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), the comprehensive security and management platform that's in Microsoft 365 F1. Microsoft 365 F1, meanwhile, doesn't include OneDrive for Business storage space or rights to Windows Virtual Desktop, which is available in both Microsoft 365 F3 and Office 365 F3. Another step-down for Microsoft 365 F1 is that the access to online Office and Office Mobile apps is read-only: Workers on F1 will be able to read missives in Word or PowerPoint format, for instance, but cannot create their own. Microsoft The new Microsoft 365 F1 subscription costs less than half of the original - which has been renamed as "F3," spelled out in the middle of the three columns - but lacks many of the components in the higher-priced plan. The original price of Microsoft 365 F1 (now F3...yes, this is confusing) of $10 per user per month was one of the things that stuck out when Redmond debuted the subscription in 2017, for it was more than twice the price of the somewhat-similar Office 365 F1 (which will be dubbed F3 on April 1; more confusion, yes, we know). For $48 annually ($4 per user per month), companies will be able to equip an employee with either Microsoft 365 F1 (the new subscription) or Office 365 F3. There is no plan that combines the two. Instead, Microsoft left the rebranded Microsoft 365 F3, née F1, in that spot, which for the now-and-former $120 a year ($10 per user per month), contains every bit of both, plus a license to Windows 10 and Virtual Desktop rights. Teams, Teams and more Teams Given the COVID-19 pandemic's upending of the workplace and work, Microsoft also made much of the enhanced Teams component in 365 F1. "We are also expanding the Microsoft Teams value included in our Firstline plans (Microsoft 365 F1, Office 365 F3, and Microsoft 365 F3) to include full audio/video capabilities, meeting rights, Walkie Talkie, and adding enhanced identity and access management features," Microsoft's announcement of F1 read. Although the original Microsoft 365 F1 (again, for the last time, it's now F3) included a Teams component, it was a restricted version of the collaboration platform, notably allowing only one-to-one audio/video conversations. Teams in the new F1 - as well as in the renamed version, named F3, and Office 365 F3 - now includes the complete Teams skillset. That should be a selling point for Microsoft 365 F1 and F3, what with the explosion in Teams use as employers have sent workers home. That is, if the front-line employees are still working in some fashion as state after state orders complete lockdowns. Source: Microsoft unveils Teams-equipped 365 subscription for front-line workers (Computerworld - Gregg Keizer)
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