Are you an Insider?

A decade ago we found ourselves craving new features from Microsoft for the Office platform. We found ourselves getting a Service Pack every 12-18 months that was comprised of hotfixes and perhaps one or two new major features. Release cycles were long and innovation came in fits and spurts. Testing new features was something that as an outsider, you never got to see until that Service Pack was released.

Microsoft introduced their Office delivery rings in 2015 and we began to see an increased cadence in fixes and features being pushed to end users in small increments instead of in large service or feature packs. Caveat being that with increased release cycles that meant that a lot of changes were suddenly flowing to end users.

As those features moved the interface around rapidly end users found themselves suffering from change fatigue and Microsoft introduced some changes to how updates would be pushed out, changing the defaults of channels that users were put into. Rather than having users receive updates monthly, it was recognized that business users (and consumers at home) likely would benefit from a slower release and delivery cycle and also provide help desks time to adjust pushing users into a 6-month cycle.

Where do you find the information about features that are a part of each release?

For those that prefer to have the latest and greatest, there’s the Microsoft insider program. If you’re an unmanaged user (e.g. a home user) then it’s pretty simple to join the Insider program by following the steps provided as a link off of the Microsoft Office site here –

If you’re a Business user where things are locked down by GPO or Intune, there are options to work through how to make “Insider” capabilities available to your users –

Even if you’re not looking to shift your user base to the latest and greatest, I’d encourage you to check it out for a single user account perhaps to get a feeling of some of the cool new features that are on the public Insider’s blog.


Outlook for Mac and Gmail Contacts and Calendars

In case you missed it, the Microsoft Office team recently announced that Outlook 2016 for Mac using the Insider Fast build will begin rolling out the ability to make use of your Gmail account’s contacts and calendars. For those that have been using Outlook 2016 for Mac as their mail client on their desktop this is definitely a welcome capability rather than having to export your contacts or calendar items from Google and move them over to Outlook manually, you can just have it automatically imported.

Granted, there were kluge ways around this in the past using things like CardDav and CalDav with some other magic while rolling one’s own solution, but more work than was probably necessary for working with someone as an end user.

So what does this mean and how does this work practically speaking?

Step one, go to your Google calendar (it’s okay, you can go and create a Google account if you want to try this, that’s what I did ;-)). Then point your browser to This should bring you to your calendar. Simply create a calendar item and you’re probably used to seeing something like this in agenda view:

Screenshot 2017-03-04 18.07.03.png

Well that’s nice and pretty, right? But if you want to see that in Outlook, at least in the past you’ve not had all that much luck… that is until now.

Screenshot 2017-03-04 18.09.43.png

Pretty slick that it shows up. And if we view the contents of the item in Google’s calendar, we’ll see that we have one person that we’re inviting and a little bit of text to better describe the event.

Screenshot 2017-03-04 18.11.38.png

And if you open this up within Outlook, you’ll see similar information that’s editable.Screenshot 2017-03-04 18.11.24.png

Google Contacts are similar but without Outlook you’ll notice that it states that it’s a “Preview” feature while they’re still working out some of the kinks.

Interested in learning more of the known issues before rolling this out to your user base (probably for the best unless you want to have your phone ringing off the hook) then head on over here:

Definite kudos to the Office team for their continual work on the Outlook for Mac product and integration between platforms. Nice job folks!


OneNote Clipper 2.0…

One of the most overlooked tools of Office is OneNote. If you’re not using it, well, I’ve got questions for you, but I suppose if you’ve already made a large investment in something like EverNote, then I suppose it’s somewhat forgiven.

Microsoft introduced OneNote Clipper back in March of 2004 through their Office Blogs. It allowed the ability to “clip” a page from the web and push it to a OneNote notebook hosted up in Microsoft’s cloud. Pretty handy for students and professionals to capture information to organize and use at a later point.

Well, Microsoft released version 2 of the OneNote Clipper last week and I have to say that even as a Mac OS X user, it’s plain simple to use.

Depending on the browser that you use, you’ll see a different button for installation purposes over at

OneNoteClipper ChromeInstall

Each of the different browsers handles the installation slightly different. For example, within Chrome, the installation is completed as a Chrome extension where the user is prompted to install OneNote Clipper similar to other Chrome Extensions:

OneNoteClipper ChromeInstaller

Once installed within Chrome it shows up similar to other extensions with a warm greeting to show you where it is within the extension bar:

OneNoteClipper ChromeExtension

After it’s installed, the UI of the Clipper in action is similar to what is seen in other browsers:

OneNoteClipper Chrome

Alternatively, the installation for Safari on Mac OS X is slightly different.

OneNoteClipper SafariInstallation

Instead of characterizing Safari as a browser with a specific extension, OneNote Clipper gets treated as a bookmarklet.

OneNoteClipper SafariInstallationMethod

Note that if you click on the Button to “Clip to OneNote” instead of dragging into the Bookmark bar of Safari, you’re greated with a cute message:
Don’t click, just drag ๐Ÿ™‚

So you’ve dragged the “Clip to OneNote” up into the Safari Bookmark bar and then you’re confronted with the profound question… “Why haven’t I removed ESPN and Disney from the OOTB Bookmarks?”

OneNoteClipper SafariBookmarklet

Note that the OneNote Clipper in Safari is merely JavaScript in a Bookmarklet that provides operates a function called ‘oneNoteCaptureRootScript’. Pretty nifty in that the UI is identical to that of what is exposed within Chrome.

The actual functionality of the Clipper is pretty slick with the ability to capture a page, a region of a page or the text of a page as though it’s in an RSS Reader’s Article view. And while it captures these as pages that are images, Microsoft added an OCR capability within OneNote to dig through the images to find text (whoa).

Furthermore, the article view provides a nice capture of text as can be seen below, grabbing the core elements of the page without the CSS and such…

OneNoteClipper PSConfigArticle

But there are some instances where the page doesn’t turn up any article elements, alerting the user to try a different mode:

OneNoteClipper ArticleNoArticleFound

All in all, a pretty slick implementation to assist in capturing relevant information to use at a later time. Well done Microsoft – even helping us Mac users out ๐Ÿ™‚


Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview

Looks like Office 2016 Developer and IT Pro review was announced yonder at the Office blog today.

Check it out –

To participate you’re routed over to Microsoft Connect here –ย

If you’re excited about what’s next, definitely give it a whirl – be mindful though that per the article “the early build doesn’t contain all the features we’re planning to ship in the final product.” So what does that mean? More than likely Microsoft will be revving this over the next few weeks and months.

Cloud Office

Office on Android out of Preview…

It would seem that Microsoft has gone gang busters and Office on Android has left preview and is now generally available.

Pretty cool to see the Office team cranking out the donuts right now to provide solutions to folks.

As a former Android user, I have to say that I’m intrigued to see how other companies deal with Office on Android being available, primarily the folks at DropBox after their acquisition of CloudOn about a week ago. Especially after DropBox integration became available with Office Apps on iOS.

It’s a wild world we live in friends, check out the marketing sight yonder on the Office Blogs page here –

Cloud Office

Metamorphosis Complete

Acompli is now Outlook


Apparently when I wrote my blog article a few days ago about Acompli showing up as MS Outlook, I may have stumbled onto the new Outlook app that was released to iOS and Android today. More information on that available here – Office everywhere: More great news for Office on iOS and Android.

There seems to be quite a bit of excitement about the app and no doubt, it’s a great enhancement on what was originally available in the OWA App, but for those of us that have been using Acompli for a while we’ve come to appreciate the capabilities that it provided for. Great acquisition on Microsoft to truly provide an experience that end users will be able to use with ease.

Take a peek at the iOS functionality…

Acompli is no more in the iOS app store…

If you poke around and are wondering where Acompli went, you’re going to find that it’s now named Outlook. And while version 1.7.6 was what was available in the iOS store up until this morning, we’re back to a reset in the version number to 1.0.0. If you’re me, you’ve got both apps operating on your device, at least for the time being until I consolidate Acompli back into Outlook. Of course if you’d already downloaded Acompli you can go to your “Purchased” apps page within iOS and pull it back down… but one would argue as to why one would do that since Outlook is going to be the app that gets updated going forward (I’m guessing…)

If you head over to the Acompli web site you’ll notice that they have received a “promotion” to Outlook ๐Ÿ™‚

The functionality of Acompli exceeds that of OWA in that it can handle Exchange,, and a slew of other mail providers – better than the way that the out of the box works some might say. The caveat being that if you’re going to interact with anything through your mobile web browser, unless you jailbreak your device or like cutting and pasting back into mail messages, you’re going to still need the OOTB mail configuration in place for sharing links… that is until Acompli / Outlook has an iOS extension of course to allow for direct sharing like a host of other apps making use of the iOS 8 framework.

From a few friends that are on Android devices, they’ve pulled it down and feel the same way that it’s working quite nicely. Excited to see what’s next.

Well done Microsoft! Your acquisitions are working together quite nicely. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cloud Office Office 365

DropBox and Office… Integration

So this just happened.

So what’s this mean?

Basically that you’ll be able to edit documents through Office Web Applications and Mobile Apps directly connected to DropBox.

So if you’re already using DropBox for all of your document storage for your personal stuff, and you’re using OneDrive for Business for all of your work stuff, no longer will you be forced to actually synchronize everything to your local storage if you can reach out to the web to use it.

Very cool stuff. Excited to see it in action.

Office Office 365

Seeing through the sensationalism…

I do have to say that it cracks me up seeing authors try to spin different information from a non-technical perspective to explain things to consumers rather than just stating, “Hey, it’s a service that already exists, they’re just allowing you to buy it separately.”

In this case it’s an article on CMSWire on the topic of OneDrive for Business takes on SharePoint.

I’m sorry, what? OneDrive for Business, formerly SkyDrive Pro, is comprised of two components. Me thinks it’s not trying to take on SharePoint as a whole. The article might as well say “XYZ document synchronization software takes on SharePoint.”

The client agent for OneDrive for Business is an outgrowth of SharePoint for Workspaces 2010 which was an outgrowth of Microsoft Groove 2007 which was a rebrand of Groove 2006. The OneDrive for Business is merely the document library that’s standard for a user’s mysite user profile that happens to now connect back into the Groove software, I mean OneDrive for Business software with a special folder that shows up through File Explorer / Windows explorer thanks to the client agent. On a side note, all the functionality that you had in Groove and SharePoint Workspaces for metadata synchronization, forms, conversations and such no longer exists in OneDrive for Business.

I would like to say that my hat goes off to the Microsoft Office SharePoint Product Group and the associated teams that were able to make OneDrive for Business possible. It’s not easy to integrate something like this and it’s further not something simple especially with all the other turning wheels in the SharePoint platform wheelhouse.

Back to the article though… do I think that OneDrive for Business is taking on SharePoint? Trying to replace it? For certain use cases? Sure. If you’re an army of one or a small team of individuals that lack hard core processes, don’t require workflow and are primarily concerned with document management and collaboration, sounds like a nice service offering to go after.

For team collaboration however, where you’re working in an integrated workspace with calendar information, tasks, workflows, metadata, applications, dashboards, project schedules and other particular information – no.

Also, it’s interesting that the article mentions the “OneDrive for Business” following document libraries… that would be the client software allowing you to sync to document libraries… perhaps I’m missing the significance here but that’s SharePoint document libraries.

The subscription service to me is basically Microsoft offering it out there to compete with Dropbox for Business or other enterprise services. This just happening to key off the capabilities of SharePoint that already exist. Props to Microsoft for setting up the infrastructure and commoditizing it for those simply looking for document management and document collaboration through Office Web Applications.

All in all, I’m excited to see OneDrive for Business continue to gain popularity since until now SharePoint MySites and the document library were largely overlooked in SharePoint 2003/2007/2010.

To me though, the best part, if you look in task explorer and look at the process that’s running, while it might have a label that says “OneDrive for Business” it’s still good ole Groove.exe. ๐Ÿ™‚


KB Update – Microsoft Lync for Mac 2011 14.0.4

Just in case you’re using Mac OSX as your primary operating system (hey Office 365 supports it now right?) and you’re wondering why you’re seeing errors with Lync here and there, consider getting the Lync update. Fresh from the Internet press, Microsoft has released update 14.0.4 available here:

48 MB of downloadable DMG goodness

Seems to help with a few stability items and also the following:

2793013 A user cannot start an encrypted desktop sharing or application sharing session together with a Lync for Mac 2011 user
2793011 An update is available that enables Lync for Mac 2011 to be supported in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
2793012 Video call or conference is stretched to a 4:3 aspect ratio when you use Lync for Mac 2011
2803796 “Lync was unable to sign in” error message when you try to sign in to Lync Online by using Lync for Mac 2011 in a Mac OS