Eric Kraus


top 10

Microsoft Awesome Updates – 2018Q1

Our team is pulling together what we believe are the top “Awesome” updates for each quarter. Hoping this is something I can share on a quarterly/regular basis for individuals and organizations wanted to stay up to date on changes. It’s an added filter of what we need our customers to see and what we see our customers already most interested in.

Administrators, please continue to monitor the Message Center for official updates.


Awesome Updates for 2018 Q1


Cloud Voice Deployment Practical Guidance – Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork and communications in Office 365, now provides Audio Conferencing and Phone System with Calling Plans capabilities to meet additional business requirements by extending the Teams meeting and calling experience to include external parties connected via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

Teamwork across Devices Update -bringing great new value to Office 365 subscribers, with updates that enhance how teams work together and unlock new ways to create and manage content across devices.

Microsoft Teams Update – January Updates – Microsoft continues to add new capabilities on a regular basis to make Microsoft Teams an even more powerful hub for teamwork. Here’s a summary of the main updates that we introduced in December and January.

Gartner Report on Microsoft Teams and Intelligent Communications -Gartner recently published a report analyzing the impact of the decision to make Teams the hub for teamwork and makes recommendations for decision makers when mapping their requirements.

Microsoft Whiteboard Preview – Microsoft Whiteboard Preview is built for anyone who engages in creative, freeform thinking before getting to their final output. It’s designed for teams that need to ideate, iterate, and work together both in person and remotely, and across multiple devices.

Print from Azure AD Joined Devices – Now people in your organization can use Azure AD-joined devices to discover on-premise printers, and can print from work or from home or from anywhere else they can connect to the internet.

Microsoft Teams App Studio Preview – Microsoft Teams App Studio (Preview) makes it easy to start creating or integrating your own service, whether you develop custom apps for your enterprise or SaaS applications for teams around the world.

Shared Office Codebase -With the newest version of Office for Mac, version 16.9.0, Microsoft has extended capabilities like real-time co-authoring and AutoSave to Apple users; in fact, this release marks the first time in 20 years that Office shares the same codebase across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android for core functionalities.



Security (Identity / Information Protection / Threat Protection)

Schooling A Sea of Phish – the team of engineers developing Office 365 ATP invested much of their time focusing on maintaining a malware catch rate >99.9% effectiveness, reducing file detonation times to < 60 seconds, and launching a bevy of features to enhance the control and capabilities for security admins… and the result of their efforts led to Office ATP achieving all three of those goals.

Enhancements to Productivity App Discovery in Office 365 Cloud App Security – gives you the ability to understand what cloud services are being used in your organization that have similar functionality to Office 365. Today we are excited to announce enhancements to this feature based on feedback to help you do a more thorough investigation of the discovered apps.

Microsoft Cloud App Security 3rd Party Integrations -While customers all over the world use Office 365 DLP to protect their sensitive data in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, we also recognize that many customers have already invested in multiple DLP solutions across their environment and want to extend this investment to protect their cloud applications.

Azure AD Conditional Access “What If” Tool -The What If tool helps you understand the impact of the policies on a user sign-in, under conditions you specify. Rather than waiting to hear from your user about what happened, you can simply use the What If tool.


Governance / Compliance

Azure AD Expiration Policy for Office 365 Groups – Office 365 groups expiration policies allow administrators to set an expiration timeframe for any Office 365 group. Once that timeframe is set, owners of these groups get notification emails reminding them to renew these groups if they still need them. Groups not renewed will automatically be deleted.



Support / Lifecycle Updates

Changes to Office and Windows Servicing – two years before the end of extended support for Windows 7 and Office 2010 (January and October 2020, respectively) – Microsoft is announcing servicing extensions for Windows 10, changes to the Office 365 ProPlus system requirements, and new details on the next perpetual release of Office and Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release of Windows.



Microsoft Awesome Updates – 2017Q4

Our team is pulling together what we believe are the top “Awesome” updates for each quarter. Hoping this is something I can share on a quarterly/regular basis for individuals and organizations wanted to stay up to date on changes. It’s an added filter of what we need our customers to see and what we see our customers already most interested in.  These posts will serve as a summary “notification”, while I keep the Modern Workplace Must Read page always current. 


Awesome Updates for 2017 Q4

Workplace Analytics – powerful new organizational analytics solution that harvests signals from Office 365 to help organizations better understand how they collaborate and spend time.

Intelligent Communications Strategy – bringing comprehensive calling and meetings capabilities into Microsoft Teams (read: Skype for Business and Teams are merging)…along with data and insights from the Microsoft Graph, and a strong roadmap of innovation to empower teams to achieve more.

Power BI Premium – new offering that brings dedicated capacity and read access for everyone in the org, without having to buy a license for ever user

On-Prem Data Classification / Protection – Azure Information Protection has the ability to encrypt content in Office 365, but what about content in fileshares and SharePoint Server on-prem. AIP Scanner can automatically crawl and inventory these documents giving you more information about the content you have before you move it online.

OneDrive Files On-Demand – as people create and collaborate more, they shouldn’t have to worry about if there is enough storage to synchronize all of their files. With Files On-Demand, you can access all your files in the cloud without having to download them. All your files—even online files—can be seen in File Explorer and work just like every other file on your device.

Connect Existing SharePoint Online Sites to Office 365 Groups / Microsoft Teams – if the title isn’t self-explanatory, you will now have the ability to connect existing SharePoint Online sites to Office 365 Groups. Sites will retain their existing URL, but will gain the ability to participate in conversations and Group navigation

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Safe Links for iOS & Android – organizations leveraging Office 365 ATP have the ability to now protect mobile users with click-time protection against phishing attacks.

Usage Reporting Overhaul – including Microsoft Teams – lots of updates to the usage reporting area of Office 365 and also the inclusion of Microsoft Teams. Also a peek at what’s coming. Usage Score?! Say what?!

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update – Windows 10 gets its own top 10 list with the release of the Fall Creators Update. The update includes an uplift on Windows Defender capabilities, AutoPilot for easier workstation provisioning and loads of other security and user productivity updates.

No Non-Sense Guide to Microsoft Approach to GDPR – how do you make sense of the regulation and the portfolio of tools in Office 365 and the Enterprise Mobility & Security suites.  Here’s a great basic 101 primer.

Windows 8.1 Sleep Study

Surface Pro 3

I recently purchased a Surface Pro 3 and have to say – I absolutely love it.  The marketing is spot on with this device, it truly is a laptop and tablet in one.  I am particularly impress with the battery life.  Last week, I did a few battery tests with very pleasing results.  The first test was with brightness at 100%.  I carried on a normal day of emails, Yammer posts, conference calls while writing notes, etc.  At 100%, I was able to work 5 hours before I needed to find some power.  The second test was with brightness at about 50%.  You may think 50% is pretty dark, but I was happy with the brightness and able to see just fine (after a little while I had forgotten that I was working under reduce brightness).  With the same type of ‘work’ activities on the device at 50%, I was able to work 7.5 hours before hitting the 5% critical mark.  During this second test, I actually worked the entire day without plugging the device in.  Awesome.

I won’t do a full review of the device since there are plenty of place you can read in depth evaluations…however, I will say that this really is a great work and personal device.


I wanted to share an interesting feature of Windows 8 that I found recently.  Related to the great battery life above, Windows 8 added a feature called ‘Connected Standby’ which is now ‘InstantGo’ in Windows 8.1.  You can read more about InstantGo here:

Sleep Study

PCs that have Windows 8.1 and compatible hardware, also have a cool new feature called ‘Sleep Study’.  It’s a logging mechanism that monitors the battery drain during sleep.  You can then analyze what hardware components are causing wake/sleep drain of the battery.

Enabling Sleep Study

Enabling Sleep Study is easy.  Just fire up a command prompt with Administrative privileges


















Once you have the command prompt open, type powercfg /sleepstudy














Your report will be created in a temporary location like C:\windows\system32\sleepstudy-report.html

Copy that file to the desktop (or different location other than C:\windows\system32 directory)

Open the file in Internet Explorer





Project Sienna

This is pretty cool. You can make Windows 8 apps with NO code. As a former developer, I was really skeptical as to how well this would work. I am convinced. For basic to intermediate applications, this is a really cool method for creating applications.


  • Add Text, Images, Buttons, Lists, etc. etc.
  • Navigate between pages
  • Link up data sources: Excel, RSS, SharePoint
  • Publish the app to AppX format (easily distributable or cataloged)

Exciting Updates for Office

Wanted to share a couple exciting updates related to Office and Office 365.


Office Mobile for iPhone


Outlook 2013 is coming to Windows RT

As part of the Windows 8.1 update, Outlook 2013 will be coming to Windows RT (joining Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote).

more information:

Living with Windows 8

I’ve been running a version of Windows 8 now for approximately 2 years and I’ve been quietly collecting my thoughts while Microsoft put together its formal marketing strategy around the “post-PC era” and its new “touch-first” operating system.  I’m not interested in debating Windows 8 vs. iOS/Android.  From a feature comparison, they are competitive (period).  So the rest is opinion on ecosystem, specifics, individual need, etc.

Instead, I’d rather share my personal experience with Windows 8, how I use it and why I believe in Microsoft’s strategy.


When both the iPhone and iPad were released, I -like many others- bought in to what was then a non-existent world of apps, social networking and productivity in my pocket.  I loved it and told everyone I knew that I loved it.  However, from day one, on both devices, there were limitations in what I could do.

I was a HUGE music buff, but certainly didn’t have the budget to support buying every song I liked.  I also noticed that my iPhone (and later my iPad) turned into great notification & web browsing devices…For example, I would receive an email, that required a decent response, and I found myself digging out my laptop to respond.  A lot has changed since then though.  Subscription services like Spotify and Pandora are mature and Bluetooth keyboards are paired with about 1 out of 4 iPads I see.

What I love

Xbox Music
After leaving the Apple ecosystem, I found myself in Zune and have never looked back.  Not only was the Zune software significantly better for exploring music.  Also, with Zune, and now Xbox Music, I only pay $9.99/month and I can stream OR download all the music I want.  I build playlists for working out, writing code (yes I still do some), social gatherings, etc.  Not only does it work great on Windows 8, but it’s built in to my Windows phone and our Xbox too.

Messenger / Skype
The built-in messenger is pretty cool.  Skype is obviously great and well adopted across the world.  At first glance of the Messenger app, it appears like you would only be able to chat with fellow Windows 8 users, but if you link up your Facebook account to your Microsoft account, you have access to all of your Facebook friends too.  This feature is a home run on my Lumia 920 too.  It blends messages that come via Facebook, Messaging (same as Windows 8) and txt messages.  In both cases, it lets me carry on a single conversation thread with a person no matter what platform they are on.

Live Tiles
Live tiles may seem like a minor thing until you realize how much time you spend opening apps just to see IF there is anything in them you want to see (Weather, Mail, Calendar, Facebook, Twitter, News, etc. etc.)  I turned my live tiles off the other day just to test my use of them and I was blown away at how much I felt disconnected.  The live tiles really provide a lot of information that make your device personal and informative.

Xbox SmartGlass
SmartGlass is still relatively new, but the existing functionality paired with potential are amazing.  You can control your Xbox (music, TV, movies, etc) from your Windows 8 device.  I’m not a huge gamer, but we are already seeing SmartGlass “companion” video and games come out.

Share and Search
We’ve heard enough of the Charms in Windows 8, but I seriously lean on the Share and Search features of Windows 8 in almost every app.  My largest “consumer” usage covers Browser, Music, News and Recipe apps.  Search and Share have ways of tracking your frequent actions so they are easily available.  For instance, I share news articles with several colleagues (typically the same ones) and share recipes with my mom and wife.  With 3 taps, an email is sent off (without having to retype email addresses each time) and I continue on working in the app.

These are just a few ways Windows 8 has been successful to me.  With updates coming in “Windows Blue”, the integration between Xbox, Windows 8 and Windows Phone will be even tighter.  (details to come)


Windows Store App: PictureThis!

I’ve been on a “shameless plug” tour this last week, sharing my latest app submission to the Windows Store.  Wanted to share the app through a blog post and also announce that I will be sharing a few of the lessons learned from this development experience as well.  So take a peak at the app, leave a good review and check back here for some updates on Windows Store development.

Install PictureThis! –


Windows 8 Developer Hackathon

As a follow up to Day 1: Windows 8 Developer Bootcamp  Microsoft is hosting a second FREE developer focused training event

Combining the broad reach of Windows, best-in-class developer tools, a re-imagined user experience, support for new chipsets, and a built-in store with industry-leading business terms, Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity – ever. Also re-imagined, with new support for IaaS, FREE web sites, industrial strength caching and a powerful, comprehensive API, Windows Azure is ready for your application – today.

Our Hackathon is an open Windows 8 and Windows Azure code fest, where you’ll put what you know into practice and be eligible to win some great prizes! Code to your heart’s content, with Microsoft experts available to guide you through every step of the process. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your dream application underway, or to finish that app you’ve already started.

This full-day event will be filled with coding, sharing, plenty of food, and perhaps the occasional Lightning Talk on topics determined by your apps and questions.

Windows 8 Developer Bootcamp

Here’s a great opportunity to get some FREE hands-on experience developing Windows 8 applications.

Training Overview:

Combining the broad reach of Windows, best-in-class developer tools, a re-imagined user experience, support for new chipsets, and a built-in store with industry-leading business terms, Windows 8 is the largest developer opportunity – ever.

Our DevCamp covers Windows 8 RTM from top to bottom, featuring sessions that run from introductory to intermediate as the day unfolds.Bring your PCs installed with Windows 8 RTM,Visual Studio 2012, your apps and your cool ideas and get ready to create!

Also, stick around for Day 2: Windows 8 Developer Hackathon