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New to Office 365 in May—updates to Skype for Business, Outlook, SharePoint and more

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.

This month, our updates to Office 365 include real-time chat integration into Office 365 web experiences, as well as new capabilities in Outlook and Visio. We also cover key announcements for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business made earlier this month.

Real-time chat in Office 365 web experiences for commercial customers

Last month, we announced deeper integration of Skype for Business into Word and PowerPoint for Windows desktop. Now for commercial customers we’re integrating real-time chat into Office Online—the web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Simply click the blue Chat button to start a conversation with everyone editing in the browser at the same time, for any document stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Learn more about real-time chat in Office Online.

Chat in real-time while you collaborate in Office Online documents stored in the cloud.

We’re also rolling out Skype for Business chat within Outlook on the web. Click the Skype icon in the top navigation bar to access contacts, search your organization and start a chat alongside your Outlook mail and calendar experience. You can also begin conversations by clicking the IM button in a person’s contact card.

Skype for Business chat integration into Outlook on the web enables real-time conversations, as well as access to your contacts and people search within your organization.

Outlook updates across platforms

We have a number of updates coming this month to Outlook, helping you stay on top of what matters and get stuff done on all your devices—even your wearables!

  • Watch face support for Outlook for Android Wear—Outlook on Android Wear already lets you interact with notifications, read email and reply with preset messages or voice dictation. In next week’s update, you will be able to stay on top of your day with a quick glance at the Outlook watch face. See your schedule overlaid on the dial and get details on upcoming events. It will also be easier to manage your inbox with a view of how many new emails you have and who they’re from before diving in to the details with a single tap. You can even personalize your watch face color to fit your style for the day.

Outlook watch face on Android Wear.

  • OneDrive and Skype for Business integration in Outlook for iOS and Android—Collaborate on documents more easily in Outlook by emailing a link to a file stored in OneDrive for Business, keeping all the recipients on the same page with the latest version. Coming in next week’s update, you’ll be able to quickly join Skype Meetings in one tap from Outlook’s event details view.

Outlook on iOS and Android devices now lets you insert links to OneDrive for Business files in email (left), and in next week’s update, join Skype Meetings in one click (right).

  • Pre-populated attachments in Skype Meetings—Files you attach to a Skype Meeting request in Outlook 2016 or Outlook on the web now automatically load into the Skype Meeting document bin as soon as participants join. Cloud attachments automatically assign permissions to meeting attendees. That way everybody can collaborate during the Skype Meeting. Learn more about preloading attachments into Skype for Business meetings.
SharePoint and OneDrive for Business enhancements for Office 365

Earlier this month, we unveiled our new cloud-first, mobile-first vision and roadmap for SharePoint. We’ve already started rolling out some of those improvements to help empower people, teams and organizations to intelligently discover, share and collaborate on content from anywhere and on any device.

It’s simpler and more powerful to share files and collaborate from any device. Now you can use OneDrive for iPhone and iPad to seamlessly share, edit and take offline any files stored in SharePoint document libraries, Office 365 groups and OneDrive for Business. On the web, you can copy files from OneDrive for Business to a SharePoint team site or Office 365 group. The new Discover view in both the web and OneDrive for Android helps files find you, minimizing search time with recommendations powered by the Office Graph. We’ll expand these capabilities to more platforms later this year.

OneDrive improvements make file sharing and collaboration simpler and more powerful on any device.

We’re also updating SharePoint to make your intranet more mobile, intelligent and personalized. The new SharePoint mobile app will provide full-fidelity, on-the-go access to your company content, sites and apps—available on iOS by the end of June and on Android and Windows later this year. In Office 365 on the web, we’ve renamed Sites to SharePoint and we now provide a modern, new SharePoint home page with access to team sites, search and views into activity across your teams and organization. SharePoint document libraries and lists (coming soon) have a simple and familiar new look based on OneDrive, while still offering intuitive access to the rich content management and customizability of SharePoint. Soon we’ll integrate PowerApps and Microsoft Flow directly into SharePoint. Stay tuned for more!

The new SharePoint mobile app (left) and modern SharePoint home in Office 365 (right).

AutoCAD 2013/2010 file support in Visio Pro for Office 365

Over 12 million people use Visio to visually communicate complex information, document business processes and more. Now Visio Pro for Office 365 customers can insert and open the latest AutoCAD 2013 and 2010 file formats. Architects, engineers, operations teams and others can collaborate more effectively on AutoCAD design documents in Visio with capabilities such as co-authoring, commenting and annotation. You can even add data on top of your layout and design to provide operational insights. For example, import an AutoCAD diagram of a building and add people and facilities to the floor plan to more easily track resources or simply highlight key architectural information to share with others. Sign up for a free webcast on July 12 to learn more about using Visio to collaborate on AutoCAD files.

Visio can help you add smart shapes and data visualization on top of AutoCAD floor plans.

Learn more about what’s new for Office 365 subscribers this month at: Office 2016 | Office for Mac | Office Mobile for Windows | Office for iPhone and iPad | Office on Android. If you’re an Office 365 Home or Personal customer, be sure to sign up for Office Insider to be the first to use the latest and greatest in Office productivity. Commercial customers on both Current Channel and Deferred Channel can also get early access to a fully supported build through First Release. Thanks for your continued feedback and support!

—Kirk Koenigsbauer

The post New to Office 365 in May—updates to Skype for Business, Outlook, SharePoint and more appeared first on Office Blogs.

Autry Museum improves support, reduces costs with cloud solutions

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 09:00

If you’re fascinated by the American West, you can’t do better than a visit to Autry Museum. Through exhibitions, lectures, events, film, research and educational outreach programs, the Autry tells the stories of the diverse people, art, history and cultures of the region.

The Autry welcomes more than 200,000 visitors each year to its three sites in and around Los Angeles, a main campus in Griffith Park, the historic Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington, and a research and education facility in Burbank. When Autry staff work to manage exhibitions, special events or outreach programs, they need mobile tools to coordinate efforts across museum facilities.

“With public events throughout our campuses, we rely heavily on laptops, tablets and smartphones,” says Maren Dougherty, director of Communications and Marketing at the Autry Museum.

Prior to deploying Office 365 in 2014, the organization had been using Microsoft Office, and employees liked the Microsoft Outlook on the web app for email. But they couldn’t download attachments, share calendars or reserve campus event space easily on their mobile devices, which made it harder to coordinate events efficiently or collaborate on the fly. At the same time, the museum’s on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server was costing more to maintain while limiting inbox capacity—and staff productivity.

The right tools for the job

To provide museumgoers with the best possible experience, enhance employee collaboration and reduce IT maintenance, the Autry initially compared cloud-based Office 365 and Google Apps, ultimately deciding on Office 365. “We chose Office 365 for consistency, but also because employees use it to search and sort information in a variety of ways that are very useful for organizing their work,” says Rebecca Menendez, director of Information Services and Technology at Autry Museum.

In November 2014, the Autry IT team migrated 130 staff email accounts to Office 365. They started on Friday and completed the move by the time employees returned to work on Monday morning. “The transition was so smooth that I think a lot of people barely noticed the difference,” says Dougherty.

A mobile-productivity roundup

Since the Autry adopted Office 365, more staff have been responding to email, retrieving attachments, scheduling meetings and managing their calendars remotely. “Once we got to Office 365, everyone was thrilled to see that the calendars work seamlessly on mobile devices,” says Menendez.

Now employees can maintain their productivity whether they’re on the main museum campus, staffing special events or working from off-campus locations. They use Office 365 calendar features to help manage events and venue rentals, designate event rooms and assign permissions so users can view the calendar and make reservations. “It is much easier now to set up remotely with an outside table and a couple of laptops,” says Dougherty. “Employees just send an email to add people to the guest list.”

Using OneDrive for Business for file storage and Skype for Business Online for calls and teleconferencing, Autry employees can communicate more easily, from sharing files with colleagues to responding to press requests for high-resolution images. “Sending files was difficult for my team because it took a lot of time,” says Dougherty. “Now we don’t have those kinds of restrictions.”

Fewer headaches, better collaboration, easier growth

With Office 365, the Autry IT team no longer suffers the headaches of server maintenance and email support, and the museum is saving 85 percent in monthly IT maintenance costs. “Anytime I can take money away from back-end administrative costs to put toward the way we communicate, it’s a real positive for the organization as a whole,” says Menendez.

Transitioning to Office 365 has helped the Autry increase mobile productivity, improve collaboration and reduce IT costs. The museum is now better equipped to meet the needs of visitors—and continue to grow.

The Los Angeles–based Autry Museum of the American West showcases the art, history and cultures of the region. To learn more about how the Autry uses Office 365 to enhance mobile productivity, read the full case study.

Related content
  • Read the full case study.
  • For additional insights, check out our free e-book, “What I wish I knew,” where five successful entrepreneurs share guidance and lessons learned from starting their own businesses.
  • Download our e-book, “80 Easy Ways to Supercharge Your Business Growth,” for advice and strategies from influential small business owners on how to help your business prosper.
  • Attend our new, monthly educational and thought-leadership webcast series created for small business owners as a source of ideas, inspiration and smarter ways of running a business.

The post Autry Museum improves support, reduces costs with cloud solutions appeared first on Office Blogs.

Office Online—chat with your co-editors in real-time

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 09:00

We recently announced the ability for co-editors to chat with one another directly within a OneDrive document when working in Office Online. Today, we’re pleased to extend this capability to our Office 365 Business and Education customers for documents stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online. Built on the same technology as Skype for Business, the new chat feature is available in all the Office Online applications—Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

How to initiate a chat

When you share a document from OneDrive or SharePoint Online with your co-workers or classmates, they can view, make edits and even co-author with you in real-time. When multiple people are in the document at the same time, their names appear in the list of co-editors at the top right of the browser window. Next to the list of co-editors, you’ll see a blue Chat button (shown below).

Chat in real-time while working with others in Office Online.

Real-time chat is integrated with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Online.

Use emoticons to liven up your conversations.

When to chat and when to add document comments

Use Chat when you want to communicate with others immediately, for example, to ask a quick question or divide sections among the co-editors. Chat history is not saved when you close the document but can be copied and pasted if desired. Use Comments (on the Review tab on the ribbon) when you want to attach a comment to a specific selection within the document, such as when you need to ask if a word or phrase should be changed. Comments are saved with the document and can be replied to, marked as done or deleted.

That’s all for now. We’re constantly working to improve Office Online and add new features. Leave a comment below or add new feature suggestions to our UserVoice sites for Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote.

—The Office Online team

The post Office Online—chat with your co-editors in real-time appeared first on Office Blogs.

Use ClassPolicy from AssistX to help manage the OneNote Class Notebook Collaboration Space

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Bob Chung, CEO for AssistX, a Microsoft Partner. AssistX used the newly released OneNote Class Notebook APIs to provide this solution for education customers.

ClassPolicy is a classroom management solution that empowers teachers to facilitate learning in the classroom in this new era where more and more students are equipped with a device and digital content. In the fall of 2015, a ClassPolicy feature was released that enabled teachers to easily divide their class into groups and orchestrate those groups separately. Teachers immediately responded with feedback stating that this new feature was good, but to make it great, it needed to integrate with OneNote Class Notebook’s Collaboration Space.

The teacher feedback confirmed what we already believed and we thus began our collaborative work with the OneNote team to deliver a new and innovative way for teachers to facilitate project-based learning in their classrooms, which we believe is best in class.

With ClassPolicy leveraging the Class Notebook APIs that the OneNote team provides, teachers have the following abilities when using their OneNote Class Notebooks with Office 365 Education:

  • Easily divide a class into any number of groups with any number of members in those groups.
  • Automatically create a section for each group created in the step above inside the Class Notebook Collaboration Space—with a click of a button.
  • Automatically set permissions to view and edit all Collaboration Space sections for the groups.
  • Automatically set student permissions so that the student can only view and edit the Collaboration Space section that is assigned for that student’s group.
  • Dynamically set restrictions on each group to just the resources that the teacher wants that group to have to work on their project at that moment in time. For example, Group 1 may only have access to OneNote, a calculator and a graphing app; Group 2 may only have access to OneNote and a web browser limited to certain websites, etc.

After testing this latest functionality, Doug Manning from St. Thomas School, a leading private elementary through middle school in Medina, Washington, said, “ClassPolicy removes the management concerns of working with the Collaboration Space, allowing safe student spaces for group work while preserving the full functionality of Class Notebooks.”

To enable this functionality, first register the ClassPolicy Teacher app with Azure AD so it has permissions to the Office 365 OneNote Class Notebook APIs for the teacher that is signed in to their Office 365 account. For details on setting up these permissions, read “Manually register your app with Azure AD so it can access Office 365 APIs.”

Once the proper permissions are set, there are two ways to get started. If a teacher already has a Class Notebook created for their class, they can simply associate their existing Class Notebook with their ClassPolicy class by selecting Associate Class Notebook from the ClassPolicy menu and then selecting their Class Notebook from their list of notebooks presented to them in a drop-down list.

The teacher can also opt to create a Class Notebook from within ClassPolicy. Because ClassPolicy provides teachers with updated student rosters that are synced nightly, teachers can automate the creation of Class Notebooks through ClassPolicy, similar to the way Microsoft Classroom and School Data Sync automate this process.

Teachers can then easily create project groups within ClassPolicy by dragging and dropping students into each group. Once the groups are set up, simply click the Update Collaboration Space button to create the sections in the Class Notebook Collaboration Space and set the proper permissions for those sections so that only the group members can see and edit their newly created section.

The teacher has full control of the sections assigned to groups in the Collaboration Space. For example, to make all group sections visible to all students but limit the students to read-only access for other groups’ sections, select the Visible – All group collaboration spaces checkbox and then click the Update button. If the teacher doesn’t want students to be able to edit their own group’s section, they can select the Lock – Group collaboration space (read only) checkbox and then click the Update button.

Because the new OneNote Permissions API and ClassPolicy feature is currently still in beta, we are selectively making the functionality available to interested schools. If you’re interested in using this functionality, send us a note at to request access.

These new features are the tip of the iceberg of how ClassPolicy will continue to add value on top of the already incredibly powerful OneNote Class Notebook to help teachers harness the power of technology in the classroom. Additional information on ClassPolicy is available at

“When our teachers saw the integration between Class Policy and OneNote Class Notebooks, there was an audible buzz of excitement in the room,” said Becky Keene from Kent School District, a leading innovative public school in Washington. “Using the tool allows them to better personalize learning and support collaborative projects from their existing notebooks, while directing students to the correct content library pages as well. It’s going to become a significant part of our classrooms.”

We would love to hear from you at if you have any feedback or suggestions on what other high value capability you would like us to build on top of the OneNote Class Notebook.

—Bob Chung

The post Use ClassPolicy from AssistX to help manage the OneNote Class Notebook Collaboration Space appeared first on Office Blogs.

Teacher Only spaces, Collaboration Space lockdown, subgroup creation and more with the new Class Notebook API updates

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 10:25

With the preview launch of our new OneNote Class Notebook APIs in February, we received a lot of interest and feedback from IT administrators and Microsoft Education Partners. The Class Notebook APIs allow IT admins, Partners and others to automate the creation and updates of OneNote Class Notebooks across a school or district. This allows for large time savings and efficiency for teachers, as well as school IT staff.

Read the newly updated MSDN article on the OneNote Class Notebook APIs for in-depth instructions, and be sure to check out samples at GitHub.

What does the API do?

Anyone familiar with the existing OneNote API for Office 365 will find themselves right at home with the OneNote Class Notebook API for Office 365. Like the OneNote Class Notebook Office 365 app, the only requirement for teachers is that they have an Office 365 faculty license and their OneDrive for Business is set up.

Announcing a new web tool to test out the APIs

To make it easy for IT admins and Partners to try out these new APIs, we created a simple tool for anyone to use. For example, IT admins can use the tool to easily add a Teacher Only section group to the Class Notebooks of the teachers who ask for this functionality. Find out more about this tool on our MSDN article on the OneNote Class Notebook APIs.

New updates and scenarios for the Class Notebook APIs
  • New Teacher Only section group—The Teacher Only section group is a private space where only the teacher can see what is inside—students cannot see anything. This has been a top request from teachers and schools. This API allows Teacher Only section groups to be provisioned by the new Class Notebook API, or you can also add a Teacher Only section group to existing Class Notebooks.

  • Collaboration Space Lockdown—A top request we had is the ability for a teacher to make the Collaboration Space read-only (or lockdown) to disallow any students from editing. This API allows the lockdown of the Collaboration Space as read-only but also allows the ability to easily unlock it.
  • Permissioned groups within the Collaboration Space—This is the ability for a teacher to create specific sections in the Collaboration Space that are assigned to specific students. This allows small groups of students to work together, but other students can’t change what other groups have done. It also allows sections to be completely hidden from other groups if that is desired.

Example 1: Four groups of six students each. Each group of students is assigned to a specific section. Group 1 can co-author in the Group 1 section but cannot edit anything in the Group 2, Group 3 or Group 4 sections.

Example 2: Four groups of six students each. Each group of students is assigned to a specific section. Group 1 can co-author in the Group 1 section, but cannot even see that the Group 2, Group 3 or Group 4 sections even exist in the Collaboration Space. Similar to how in the Class Notebooks, students cannot see each other’s private notebooks.

  • Custom permissions for feedback and grading workflow—One of the most common requests we heard is to allow the lockdown of reviewed or graded pages, so students cannot change the content after the teacher has reviewed the work. Our new Permissions API allows for this type of scenario. Cal Armstrong from Appleby College has done some great examples of this to automate this workflow.

For example, teachers have the ability to create Turn in, Marking and Graded sections in each student’s private notebook. When a Partner or IT admin creates a OneNote Class Notebook, it has the normal sections in every private student notebook as it exists today. In addition, now each private student notebook has the special sections created with the new Permissions API. A Turn in section is a read/write section and is where students can drop work. A Marking section allows a teacher to move an assignment and add feedback privately. This section is hidden from the student, but the teacher sees it. The Graded section is read-only for students, but the teacher has read/write access. This allows the teacher to move graded/finished work into the Graded section for the student, but the student cannot change any of the work since it is read-only for the student.

  • Content APIs—Many schools are looking for the ability to mass-deploy curriculum into the content library of Class Notebooks. With this new Content API, OneNote sections can easily be provisioned along with new Class Notebooks. The first iteration of the API allows for .ONE section files to be inserted into the Content Library, and in the near future, the API will also allow using public notebooks that live on In addition, this new Content API allows an IT admin or Partner to customize the Welcome section, default Content Library section or the default Collaboration Space section.
  • Delete Class Notebook API—We have added the ability for IT admins and Partners to delete Class Notebooks through our API.
  • Option to not send email when creating a Class Notebook—When using our new Create Class Notebook API, you can now specify whether or not to send the Welcome Email message. This helps cut down the spam mail when automating lots of Class Notebook creations.
  • Teacher Transfer Powershell script—Last month, we published a script and code sample to allow IT admins and partners to transfer ownership of a Class Notebook from one teacher to another. We put this script out to be used with the intention that this functionality will be built into Office 365 SharePoint Admin in the near future. To learn more, check out GitHub.

Partners and IT admins can learn more about these updates at the updated MSDN article on the OneNote Class Notebook APIs for in-depth instructions, and be sure to check out samples at GitHub.

We look forward to hearing your feedback on this new scenarios!

—The OneNote team

The post Teacher Only spaces, Collaboration Space lockdown, subgroup creation and more with the new Class Notebook API updates appeared first on Office Blogs.

3 things businesses can learn about email security from the Panama Papers hack

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 09:00

In today’s IT environment, data breaches are a constant threat. According to Gemalto’s 2015 Breach Level Index, last year 1,673 data breaches around the world led to 707 million data records being compromised. And though email has come a long way over the last decade, it’s still one of the greatest threats to data security.

We don’t have to look far to see what kind of damage hackers can do when a business does not ensure secure email. In what’s being called “the biggest leak in whistleblower history,” the Panama Papers hack made international headlines last month. This hack enabled 2.6 TB of data to be stolen through the email servers of Mossack Fonseca, a legal firm based in Panama City.

The stolen data gave information about offshore bank accounts and shell companies used by prominent people worldwide to avoid taxes or conceal their wealth, according to “The New York Times.” The hacker then communicated with a German newspaper regarding the confidential files, expressing his or her interest in exposing the data. Once the newspaper realized how much data was involved, it contacted the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which has coordinated other tax haven mega-leaks in the past. Together, they released the information to the public.

So how did the hacker get access to the legal firm’s email servers in the first place? According to ITPro, security and privacy expert Christopher Soghoian ran a test showing Mossack Fonseca did not follow Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols for email encryption. Whether you believe the Panama Papers leak was a good or bad thing, a more important question remains: What can IT security professionals learn from this?

Here are three tips for ensuring secure email:

  1. Encrypt important emails—When email encryption is not part of a business’s security measures, hackers can easily intercept emails and read them. Any information contained in these emails or attachments can help hackers gain further access into a company’s network.
  2. Create a business culture of security—Be sure that all employees are aware of the risks of lax data security and help them recognize suspicious requests and phishing schemes. Hacks often occur because a hacker finds just one “in” that leaves the network vulnerable. This “in” can be as simple as a stolen email or portal password. Hackers can then send emails from an internal account and make IT requests that sound legitimate. From there, they can potentially breach the email server and obtain access to all incoming and outgoing attachments, burrowing deeper into the network until they’ve reached the information they want to find.
  3. Choose a secure email service with impressive security features—This means selecting a service that promotes business communication while actively protecting sensitive information. It should have built-in defenses against viruses, spam and phishing attacks. Deep content analysis should identify, monitor and protect data, thereby preventing data loss.

Don’t let your organization become one of 2016’s data casualties. Do everything possible to avoid Mossack Fonseca’s fate and protect your—and your customers’—sensitive information through top-notch email security.

Get more out of your email to help grow your business. Tour the new Office 365 capabilities including Advanced Threat Protection, real-time protection for your messaging system against malware, viruses and malicious URLs.

Related content

The post 3 things businesses can learn about email security from the Panama Papers hack appeared first on Office Blogs.

May 2016 updates for Get & Transform in Excel 2016 and the Power Query add-in

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 09:00

Excel 2016 includes a powerful new set of features based on Power Query technology, which provides fast, easy data gathering and shaping capabilities and can be accessed through the Get & Transform section on the Data ribbon.

Today, we are pleased to announce 10 new data transformation and connectivity features that have been requested by many customers.

These updates are available as part of an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, find out how to get these latest updates. If you have Excel 2010 or Excel 2013, you can also take advantage of these updates by downloading the latest Power Query for Excel add-in.

These updates include the following new or improved data transformation features:

  • Remove blanks via Column Filter menu.
  • Convert Duration values to Years.
  • Keep Duplicates.
  • Hints for “sample input values” in the “Change Type with Locale” dialog.
  • Support for whitespace and line feeds in Query Editor preview.
  • Ability to disable previews from the Navigator window.
  • Technical name support in the Navigator window.
  • Rename queries directly from Queries pane in the Query Editor.

And the following new or improved data connectivity features:

  • Support for Command Timeout in the UX.
  • Set to disable Privacy Level prompts at machine level (including Registry Key).
Remove blanks via Column Filter menu

With this update, we have added a new data filtering option that will remove all rows where the value for the current column is null or empty. It can be accessed via the Column Filter menu drop-down.

Convert Duration values to Years

This new transformation option can be found under the Transform or Add Column tabs. Within the Duration drop-down menu there is a new “Total Years” entry that allows you to calculate total years based on a Duration type column. The logic applied is to divide the total number of days by 365.

Keep Duplicates

This new transformation allows users to keep only the rows with duplicated values on the select column(s). Before this update, only “Remove Duplicates” was available. This new option can be found on the ribbon under Home > Remove Duplicates split button and then select the Keep Duplicates command.

Hints for “sample input values” in the “Change Type with Locale” dialog

Power Query allows users to change the type of a column taking into account the Locale or regional settings/formats in which the data is being represented. This can be done by setting the Locale value for the entire workbook (under Data > New Query > Query Options > Current Workbook > Data Load) and also can be customized for each specific “Change Type” step in the queries.

Within the “Change Type with Locale” dialog (accessible by right-clicking on a column header in the Query Editor preview then selecting Change Type > Using Locale…), users can now get a few “sample values” for the expected input format when selecting a specific data type and locale.

Support for whitespace and line feeds in the Query Editor preview

With this update, we have added support for visualizing whitespaces in data cells within the Query Editor preview. This includes any whitespace characters, including line feeds.

You can toggle between “Show whitespace” (default behavior) and not showing it (old behavior) from the View tab on the Query Editor ribbon.

Ability to disable previews from the Navigator window

With this update, we have added an option to disable previews in the Navigator dialog. This allows users to reduce the number of calls being made to the data source in order to retrieve these previews.

Technical name support in the Navigator window

Some data sources support the notion of a “technical name” for objects within the source. These “technical names” are meant to provide a more meaningful name for the end user connecting to the data source than the “physical name” for the object. In this update, we added a new option to the Navigator dialog to allow users to switch between “physical name” (previous behavior) and “technical name” (new behavior).

Rename queries directly from the Queries pane in the Query Editor

With this update, it is now possible to rename queries directly from the Queries pane inside the Query Editor. To rename a query from this pane, simply select and right-click the query and select Rename, or double-click the query name, or select it and then press F2.

Support for Command Timeout in the UX

With this update, users are now able to specify a Command Timeout value (in minutes) when connecting to database sources. This is a significant experience improvement since, before this update, this customization was only possible via custom formula authoring.

This new Command Timeout option can be found under the “Advanced options” section in data source dialogs.

Set to disable Privacy Level prompts at machine level (including Registry Key)

Power Query allows users to combine data from multiple data sources into a single workbook. When dealing with multiple data sources, it is possible for users to define queries that require sending data from one data source to another data source. To prevent accidental disclosure of private or enterprise data, Power Query provides a feature called “Privacy Levels.” This feature allows users to specify the Privacy Level (Public, Organizational or Private) for each data source that they connect to when trying to combine data from multiple sources. Based on the selected Privacy Level, Power Query will ensure that data from a Private source is not sent to any other sources and that data from an Organizational source is only sent to sources within the organization.

In some cases, this privacy enforcement can get in the way for users who want to define some data combinations that bypass this Privacy feature. Another potential effect of Privacy Levels is that, when combining data from multiple sources that are not supposed to send data between them due to their Privacy Levels, Power Query will compensate and download the data locally to perform the data combination in a secure way. This could result in a performance degradation due to the fact that data would have to be cached locally from all sources implied and combined in-memory. For those cases, users have the ability to ignore Privacy Levels as a “current workbook” setting.

However, given that this option was only available per file and per user, it would require a user to enable this option for each workbook they would like to leverage. In addition, ignoring this privacy protection needs to be approved by each user of the workbook, so someone opening a .XLSX file from a different user in their computer would have to either provide Privacy Levels for the data sources involved on the report or manually disable this feature in the Options dialog (under Query Options > Current Workbook > Privacy section).

In this release, we’re introducing a new setting to allow users and enterprises to pick one of the following behaviors:

  • Always combine data according to your Privacy Level settings for each source—This new option allows a user to “enforce” that Privacy Levels are taken into account for every .XLSX file on their machine, regardless of whether the “Current Workbook” Privacy Level setting is enabled or disabled.
  • Combine data according to each file’s Privacy Level settings—This is the default behavior and matches the Power Query behavior in previous releases.
  • Always ignore Privacy Level settings—This new option allows a user to always bypass Privacy Level settings for every .XLSX file in their machine, regardless of the Current Workbook setting.

These options are available to the user under the Query Options dialog:

How do I get started?

Excel 2016 provides a powerful set of capabilities for fast, easy data gathering and shaping, which is available under the Get & Transform section on the Data ribbon. Updates outlined in this blog are available as part of an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, find out how to get these latest updates. If you have Excel 2010 or Excel 2013, you can also take advantage of these updates by downloading the latest Power Query for Excel add-in.

—The Excel team

The post May 2016 updates for Get & Transform in Excel 2016 and the Power Query add-in appeared first on Office Blogs.

Using OneNote Learning Tools in the foreign language classroom

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Bisera Ristikj, teacher of English as a Foreign Language at Goce Delchev Primary School in Negotino, Macedonia.

The foreign language classroom focuses on many different aspects. As young learners are not fully prepared to learn a new language, the educator needs to identify the crucial requisites to boost children’s attitudes toward the new language. One of the key stages when you first meet your new students is to learn and recognize the different skillset of each student. This will support your teaching methods and approaches. For example, you probably have a student who wants to use a tablet to learn, a student who is self-confident and learns on their own and a student who wants to collaborate with all peers and easily accepts all teaching approaches.

There are three basic stages of language learning that help you fully understand how to teach a foreign language and ensure students can become fluent speakers later on. The first stage is learning sounds, or the ability to recognize phonemes, also called phonemic awareness. Stage two is about learning new words or understanding how the sounds go together to create meaning. The amount of the vocabulary will also boost fluency. The next stage is making sentences with the new words.

In the past seven years, I have been teaching English to students aged from six to ten. The curriculum is focused on developing receptive skills in first and second grade and productive skills in third grade.

I have found one perfect tool to cope with the different learning styles and support the development of all four language skills—Microsoft OneNote Notebook. Employing the right digital tool in the classroom promotes productivity and makes teaching and learning easier.

Next, I am going to show you the Microsoft OneNote Notebook with a focus on the new Learning Tools. I successfully implemented the use of the OneNote Learning Tools in my teaching, which has yielded significant impact in language acquisition. This tool supports all of the aspects I have marked as important and crucial when teaching foreign language.

Since most of my teaching includes listening activities, I often record audio to play during the lesson. Students listen and they use the drawing option to complete the exercises in their OneNote Notebooks. In this way, not only do I have complete insight on how they completed the exercise, but the textbook also stays neat for the next class.

Mastering the receptive skills like listening and reading (word recognition) in early ages is a firm jumping board to later develop the productive skills of speaking and writing.

How the Immersive Reader supports foreign language learning

The Immersive Reader can help you save time and become your personal assistant—Preparing for the next day at work can often seem tiring because you need to create a lesson plan and come up with some enjoyable activities that support the lesson objectives and teaching resources. All of my lessons include listening activities to emphasize listening comprehension. So instead of carrying CDs and a player, I can easily type in the OneNote Notebook, and students can play that text with the Immersive Reader. Pause the recording whenever you feel students are staying behind. Another way is to ask students to type in a sentence in the OneNote Notebook and practice pronouncing with the Immersive Reader.

The Immersive Reader serves as a pronunciation drill—In my teaching, the correct pronunciation is something I really care about. So it’s important how the teacher pronounces a word. A word can be spoken in different ways by various individuals, and this depends on various factors as cultural exposure to the language, speech or voice disorders and the education. Good pronunciation is essential for speaking and understanding spoken English. So if you want to give your students a correct pronunciation from a native, the Immersive Reader can completely replace you. Instead of having students search a phonetic transcription on how to pronounce a particular word, just type the word in the OneNote Notebook and let the Immersive Reader pronounce it. It is super easy and convenient, and students are going to love it because it is a new way of learning.

The Immersive Reader gives students grammar input—This feature is my very favorite for a good reason. Teaching grammar to students is one of the toughest tasks because presenting it in an understandable format can be challenging to teachers. My fourth and fifth graders learn how to recognize a noun, verb and adjective in a sentence. This is important when it comes to correct interpretation of a sentence, and students often misunderstand. With the Immersive Reader, they can self-evaluate their grammar knowledge.

Here is a great tip for how teachers can use this feature: Have students recognize the verbs, nouns and adjectives in some part of a poem, text or some sentences by asking them to mark the nouns with purple, the verbs with red and the adjectives with blue—and then ask them to use the Immersive Reader to see if they completed the task correctly.

Use the Immersive Reader to practice tongue twisters—This spring, I prepared a recital for Easter that included reciting poems, an Easter egg hunt and Easter tongue twisters. Using the Immersive Reader, I could adjust the voice speed, which helped the students practice tongue twisters. The task I gave to my students was to say one tongue twister ten times. The good thing was that my students could also practice at home at any time using the Immersive Reader—first with slow voice speed and then smoothly adjusting the speed faster.

Below, you can see a short video of how much fun we have in the classroom with the help of the Immersive Reader to practice vocabulary from the textbook on the unit, including house and furniture vocabulary.

I will leave you with an Immersive Reader tip you can use in the classroom. This hack was created when I first installed the new add-in Learning Tools. My first thought was that this would be really practical, especially in large class of noisy students.

So what does it take to be a great teacher? Besides having students’ needs in focus, trying to find the most convenient way to deliver knowledge. I have found my way with the OneNote Notebook and the great input of the new Learning Tools. To see the Sway version of this blog, follow this link.

—Bisera Ristikj, @TeflBisera

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Communicate directly with customers via Skype for Business inside your mobile apps

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:00

The Skype for Business team is always on the lookout for new ways to bring greater value to our customers. We look for new and innovative ideas that connect people together utilizing the power of our platform. Today, we are pleased to announce that the Skype for Business App SDK Preview is now available for download. This new SDK enables developers to seamlessly integrate instant messaging, audio and video experiences into their custom iOS and Android applications.

At Build 2016, we previewed the Skype for Business App SDK and highlighted the ease of seamless integration into native mobile and tablet applications powered by Skype for Business. We showcased a real-world solution created by MDLIVE—a pioneer and visionary in telehealth and leading provider of online and on-demand healthcare delivery services and software—that connects patients and physicians together via mobile devices in a new, convenient and efficient way. And by collaborating with Microsoft and Office 365, MDLIVE is able to offer a secure and HIPAA-compliant system for patients and providers to communicate, share and review patient medical records, lab results and provide assessments.

“Skype for Business will provide MDLIVE with a much more scalable architecture, so we can accommodate even higher volumes of video consults daily,” said Randy Parker, founder and CEO of MDLIVE. “The adoption of Skype for Business also enables us to deliver a significantly improved user experience for both patients and physicians.”

The initial focus of the SDK Preview is to power “remote advisor” solutions that enable consumer mobile and tablet applications to communicate with Skype for Business organizations. Businesses can leverage the power of their existing Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online infrastructure—including the familiar native clients they use today—to reach customers never before possible.

Whether you are looking to add voice, video or chat functionality into a new or existing application, the Skype for Business App SDK Preview makes it easy. The availability of these features is an important step in our Skype Developer Platform roadmap to combine the power of cloud voice, meetings and messaging with new cloud APIs and SDKs that work across a range of web and device platforms to drive new scenarios and help developers and partners re-imagine how they engage and win customers.

Download the Skype for Business App SDK Preview today. We look forward to your feedback on these new features and can’t wait to see what you build!

This preview release is a part of the larger Skype for Business developer opportunities announced at Build 2016. For more information on the Skype Developer Platform or additional resources be sure to visit the Skype Developer Platform.

—James Skay, senior product marketing manager for the Skype for Business team

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OneNote Class Notebook add-in and Learning Tools have truly changed my life

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Rachel Montisano, first grade teacher at the Ashton Elementary School.

Click, connect, discover. With every click my students make in OneNote, they connect with me, with each other and with the world around them. They connect to tools and learning that is unique and, in some cases, that would be otherwise unavailable. OneNote and the digital inking abilities of the Microsoft Surface 3 have led me to discover new ways to teach and bring learning to my students. My vision was to affect a shift from whole group instruction and passive learning to project-based, collaborative learning using OneNote. I knew that first grade students were capable of using these tools, but I was venturing into unknown territory. I had never used OneNote or digital ink, and I was up against a world of critics. Many teachers questioned the use of technology in a first grade classroom and doubted that these little incoming six-year-olds could be successful in this endeavor. Others were skeptical about this being appropriate for developing fine motor skills.

I wanted to increase overall student achievement through heightened student engagement, active learning and student accountability. I needed to tackle the challenge of shifting learning from passively engaged to actively engaged with the technology potentials of the Surface 3 and OneNote. I created a OneNote Class Notebook and sent it to the students. I explained how we were going to use the Surface and OneNote for our reading responses and literacy centers. They had their crayons, paper, highlighters, scissors, magnifying glasses, dictionaries and more, everything they needed digitally, and in one spot—in ONENOTE! The name said it all! Then they learned how to access their textbooks and split their screens using OneNote, so that they could see and hear the online text at the same time as their comprehension sheet stored in OneNote.

The process of teaching six-year-olds who struggle through text to go back and reread text to find text evidence used to be exhausting. It was hard work and required some serious convincing on my part and usually involved many sighs from these little students. Now with OneNote, they actually want to go back and find the answers in the story. Now they are begging to highlight text to prove their answers.

They are searching for different pieces of text that support answers to come up with something unique so that the teacher will choose them to “share their screen.” One of the biggest struggles in first grade is now one of the students’ favorite activities. OneNote has motivated these first graders to become very proficient text detectives! In fact, they come in each day and ask if we will be finding text evidence today. They cannot wait to highlight, underline and screen clip exactly the text needed. The fact that they can split their screens to access research and follow website links to discover additional information for their OneNote assignments and discussions has changed their worlds and mine! We are now essentially paperless for our everyday work. We use paper only for special projects, displays and taking assessments. Everything else is all in one spot—OneNote.

With everything in OneNote, I realized we had extra time and everyone was always prepared—even for projects or papers that we were working on for extended periods of time. I never have to spend time passing out papers or collecting papers. I don’t have to help search for missing papers or keep a store of extras for those who lost theirs, messed up, threw it out, ripped it, ate it or whatever else among the multitude of reasons that a first grader needs a new paper.

OneNote with digital ink was amazing. It was like a giant piece of paper. When teaching writing skills, the proper positions are identical to those using paper. Unlike paper, however, OneNote is able to meet the differentiated needs of all students’ motor capabilities. Students can screen pinch to make the papers or lines bigger or smaller in OneNote. My students, whose fine motor skills are not developed, can make the lines larger, allowing them more space to write and then pinch the screen to a smaller size to share or add other details. Unlike other programs, the text moved with the paper in OneNote, making this very successful for my students!

Looking back, I realized that I had invested about a week of time in which explicit instruction was specifically provided in teaching the students how to use OneNote and the technology components that go along with the Surface 3, digital ink, Office 365 and OneNote. It was not, however, much more instruction than I would have typically provided without the use of these technology tools. As the year progressed, this tool was opening more doors than I had initially imagined. Students were motivated to read complex texts, to search for text evidence, to write and edit—all because of the capabilities of OneNote. We were gaining instructional time by always having everything organized in one spot. Papers were never lost, and they were always ready. My students were getting more time to complete tasks and more one-on-one instruction from me to meet their varying needs. It was amazing!

As the year progressed, students were learning at increasing speeds, and their gains were becoming more and more apparent. They took their mid-year iReady diagnostic assessment, and at the halfway point, 67 percent of my students had already made gains equivalent to one year of  growth! The remaining 33 percent had started the year struggling. Of this remaining group, however, 89 percent of them were within 3–7 points of making a year’s worth of growth. Some who were far below grade level now had the chance, quite possibly, to be proficient by the end of the year, given their rates of growth. An astonishing feat! In math, students are also using the Surface. It seems there are limitless ways in which a student can make learning even more powerful through the use of OneNote.

The first graders were slow when it came to retrieving information put in the content library. So even though this was a tedious process for me, one by one I copied each page and tab the students would need for the day into each of their notebooks. Having their materials already prepared in their notebooks was time well invested because it gave me extra time in the classroom. But for any time gained in the classroom, I lost that at home.

Then the Class Notebook add-in was released. This changed my world both in the classroom and at home by giving me time back in my day. It was the amazing feature that I had been hoping for! Now, with two clicks, I can send out all the tabs/pages  that I had created or wanted to share with the students. Truly remarkable! Microsoft had just given me a tool that made me an even more effective teacher and gave me time back! Now I had more time at home to spend with my husband and kids without having to stay up till 2 a.m. every night! It even saved me a trip to school to change sub plans. My plans were there, but every teacher knows that sometimes we do not want a substitute to do what we had planned to do ourselves. I created and uploaded the work and activities that I wanted the students to complete that day with the sub, and with two clicks, the OneNote Class Notebook add-in tool allowed me to send out to the students a whole new tab filled with reading and math activities and directions for the day. No running to work to adjust sub plans and make extra copies for me—all thanks to this new Class Notebook add-in.

Not only did this impact my planning time behind the scenes, but it also impacted the students during class time. Now, when a student finds an article or a picture or a resource page that we all could use, I can send it out from their notebook in seconds. We can also quickly share multiple pages, giving the students access to more information quickly. For example, during a graphing lesson, the students used OneNote to survey classmates and collect different sets of data. Then they worked with a partner to create a bar graph. A collaborative project then became another piece of real information that gave additional practice to the class. Even though each student collected only one set of data, each completed partner graph could be sent directly to every student’s math OneNote Notebook. The students now had nine sets of practice data to analyze following their data collection experience—all right at their fingertips within seconds—allowing everyone to stay actively engaged in learning. No need to copy or project onto a screen—it is hands-on for them in about five seconds thanks to the Class Notebook add-in.

The newest addition to OneNote, Learning Tools, has helped some of my lowest students increase their recognition of high frequency words. This has helped level the playing field when it comes to reading pages and information put into their OneNote Notebooks. Before this tool, the students would come up to me and say, “but I can’t read.” Now, with the click of a button, the students are able to listen to all the information that is on a particular page. When dealing with informational content, students who are still emergent readers can receive help with any text in OneNote. They are more confident and able to participate and collaborate with peers because of this tool. They don’t have to wait for me to read with them or to them before being able to participate in a discussion, because they have already heard the information. And, in addition to hearing, when the immersive reader reads the text to them, it highlights each word, allowing them to continually hear spoken words matched to text.

After this year, I know that my students are not only strong first graders academically, I also know that they are ready to embark on a path to developing necessary skills in today’s age of technology. I know that both as a teacher and as the mother of three little kids that Microsoft OneNote with the Class Notebook add-in and Learning Tools have truly changed my life. It has significantly impacted my teaching and has given me back the one thing I never have enough of…TIME!

—Rachel Montisano

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Episode 093 on PnP and the SharePoint Framework—Office 365 Developer Podcast

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:00

In this episode, Richard DiZerega talks with PnP founder Vesa Juvonen about the evolution of PnP and the SharePoint Framework.

Download the podcast.

Weekly updates Show notes

Got questions or comments about the show? Join the O365 Dev Podcast on the Office 365 Technical Network. The podcast RSS is available iTunes or search for it on “Office 365 Developer Podcast” or add directly with the RSS

About Vesa Juvonen

Vesa Juvonen is a senior program manager within Office 365 engineering and more precisely in the SharePoint Customer Experience team. Prior to being a member of the CXP team, Vesa was a principal consultant with Microsoft Services for eight years before moving to product group. Vesa was also SharePoint Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) instructor for the life cycle of the program and is considered an industry expert on the use of the app/add-in model and more specifically on the transformation from farm solutions to the app/add-in model. Vesa leads the virtual team that created the Office 365 Developer Patterns and Practice (PnP) to help customers to learn how to use SharePoint add-in model and other Office 365 related technologies. Vesa is also a frequent speaker at SharePoint conferences and events. You can read Vesa’s blog here and follow him on twitter on @vesajuvonen.

About the host

Richard is a software engineer in Microsoft’s Developer Experience (DX) group, where he helps developers and software vendors maximize their use of Microsoft cloud services in Office 365 and Azure. Richard has spent a good portion of the last decade architecting Office-centric solutions, many that span Microsoft’s diverse technology portfolio. He is a passionate technology evangelist and frequent speaker are worldwide conferences, trainings, and events. Richard is highly active in the Office 365 community, popular blogger at and can be found on Twitter at @richdizz. Richard is born, raised and based in Dallas, TX, but works on a worldwide team based in Redmond. Richard is an avid builder of things (BoT), musician and lightning-fast runner.

Useful links

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Accessibility enhancements in Office 365 for people with vision impairments

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by John Jendrezak, accessibility lead and partner director of program management for the Office Engineering team.

To mark the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), I encourage Office 365 users to do a few simple things to make the digital world more accessible—including making a habit of running the Accessibility Checker on your documents (currently available in Office for PCs and coming by the end of the year to Office for Mac and Office Online). In addition, to help advance accessibility awareness, I’m pleased to share more about some of the enhancements we’re bringing to Office 365 that ensure people with vision impairments can work seamlessly with built-in accessibility settings on every device.

Windows, iOS and Android platforms come with unique accessibility settings and built-in assistive services that many people with disabilities rely on. As part of our plans to ensure Office 365 applications, on all platforms, are inclusive and truly empower people of all abilities to achieve more, a key focus area for the Office 365 team this year is to ensure that our apps on these platforms work seamlessly with these settings and services to empower everyone to be productive on every device.

Here’s an overview of how we’re enhancing Office 365 to work better with two specific platform settings and services that many people with vision impairments use:

  1. High Contrast themes in PCs
  2. Screen readers in mobile devices
Enhancing Office 365 to be usable with High Contrast themes in PCs

People with certain vision impairments, such as cataracts, rely on High Contrast themes to see apps and content with less eye strain. On a PC, without the High Contrast mode turned on, the icons on the Office ribbon may not be very visible to someone with reduced contrast sensitivity:

Simulation of how the ribbon in Excel in Office 365 for PCs might appear to someone with cataracts.

However, with the High Contrast mode turned on and with enhancements that we have recently added in Office 365 for PCs, the Office ribbon items are now much easier for someone with reduced contrast sensitivity to work with:

Simulation of how the ribbon in Excel in Office 365 for PCs might appear to someone with cataracts
when High Contrast Black mode is enabled.

If you have been working on a PC with this mode turned on, you will notice that the experience with Office 365 shown above is a significant improvement. The new ribbon has increased contrast, fewer icons with grey gradients and icons with clearer outlines that make it easier for people to identify them at a glance.

These ribbon enhancements in Office 365 for PCs, along with similar enhancements in dialogs such as “Add a chart” and in backstage areas such as “Print Settings,” are the first to become available to Office 365 users this year to make it easier to work in High Contrast Black mode. To try it out and see if it will be a good fit for you, press Left Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen on your keyboard. More enhancements are coming soon to improve the experience in High Contrast mode with shapes, pictures and SmartArt in Office 365 apps.

Enhancing Office 365 usability with screen readers on mobile devices

People who cannot see what is on a computer screen often rely on screen readers to hear what is displayed. Earlier this year, I announced that enhancements to make it easier for people to use many of our existing apps with screen readers would roll out regularly to Office 365 users throughout the year. As part of this effort, we have recently rolled out several enhancements for VoiceOver users in Skype for Business on iOS and Outlook for iOS. Also, in the latest version of the PowerPoint app on iOS, we have added support for multiple audio tracks so you can start hearing audio descriptions if they are included in videos within a slideshow.

Many more accessibility enhancements are coming in the next few months for additional Office 365 mobile apps. I am excited to announce that Office 365 teams are not only working on enhancing the usability of VoiceOver with Office 365 iOS apps and Narrator with Windows 10 Mobile apps, but also the usability of TalkBack with Office 365 Android apps. And to make it easier for you to discover the difficult-to-find capabilities in Office with a just few clicks, the Tell me what you want to do… control (already available in Office Online and Office for PCs) is coming soon to Office for Android devices and by end of the year to iOS devices.

In addition, I am excited to announce that new experiences launching in the coming months as part of Office 365, such as SharePoint mobile apps, are being designed in line with the principles of inclusive design and will be accessible and usable with screen readers from day one.

Ways for you to participate in this effort

I invite you to help us shape the evolution of Office 365 experiences so that they work seamlessly for people of all abilities. At any time, if you have feedback to help us improve the accessibility of any of our products, please submit it via the Microsoft Accessibility forum.

If you regularly use a particular assistive technology, I invite you to get a one month free trial of Office 365 Home and try out your assistive technology with the latest Office 365 experiences. You can get early access to the latest version by becoming an Office Insider. If you’d like to try all of the latest accessibility enhancements in Office 365 PC and Windows Store apps with the updated features of Narrator, you will also need to join the Windows Insider Program and opt in to receive preview builds of Windows 10.

Lastly, if you have a story about an experience using the latest Office 365 apps with assistive technologies that you would like to share with the Office 365 user community or a podcast or guide that you created/came across that can empower others, send us a tweet at @MSFTEnable.

Ways for you to get more information and assistance

In this update, I covered only a few of the accessibility enhancements that have or will become available in Office 365 this year and in the coming months. As Office 365 evolves, I will cover more. Meanwhile, if you’d like to see more news and demonstrations of key accessibility enhancements in Office 365 or other Microsoft products, follow @MSFTEnable on Twitter, bookmark our Accessibility Blog and tune in to our accessibility video series on Microsoft Mechanics:

If you need help getting started on various Office 365 apps with a screen reader or keyboard, review our latest help articles on by searching for the keywords “screen reader” or “keyboard.” Hundreds of new articles have been uploaded in the past few months to help you accomplish key tasks in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Sway with a screen reader or keyboard. More articles and trainings are coming in the next few months for additional Office 365 apps.

If you require an accessibility specialist to support you when using Microsoft products with assistive technologies, be aware that you can use the Disability Answer Desk service for free via phone, chat or ASL.

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Marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by John Jendrezak, accessibility lead and partner director of program management for the Office Engineering team.

Today, Microsoft joins in marking the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)—a day dedicated to raising awareness about making the digital world more accessible. In honor of this day and to help create a more inclusive environment, I encourage all Office 365 users to try three simple things. I also want to provide an update on the work that the Office 365 team is doing to make it possible to create accessible content from any device.

Three things to try today
  1. Before sharing any documents or making any presentations, ensure that the content can be followed by people with varying levels of vision, hearing, cognition and dexterity. One easy way to do this is to run the Accessibility Checker and fix any issues that are flagged. The Accessibility Checker offers guidance on ways to make your content accessible for everyone, including people who use assistive technologies such as screen readers to hear what is displayed on a screen.

You can launch the Accessibility Checker within Office 2016 apps on PCs by entering “check accessibility” in the Tell me what you want to do… text box. Simple changes to things like your hyperlink text, font styles and document structure can enhance the experience for your colleagues with low vision, blindness or dyslexia.

  1. Add subtitles or captions to videos that you share via Office 365 Video. Remember that people who can’t hear rely on you to provide accurate text descriptions of spoken words, background noises and sounds to follow the audio portion in your videos. You might be surprised at how adding captions significantly increases that viewer base of your videos.
  1. Ensure any images and media on SharePoint sites that you own are accessible. People who can’t see need accurate descriptions of any visual content in your sites via alternative text for pictures and audio descriptions for videos.

I hope everyone will make habits out of these practices—as they can have a lasting impact in making home, school and work environments more inclusive for people with disabilities. To get more detailed guidance on these topics, check out these resources for content creators from Office Support including this training on creating accessible documents using Word 2016:

Upcoming enhancements in Office 365 will aid you in accessible authoring

Previously, I shared our plans that ensure Office 365 applications on all platforms will meet more modern accessibility standards. Today, I am excited to give you an update on our work to enable you to create accessible documents from any device that is part of these plans.

We will be extending the Accessibility Checker (already available in Office for PCs) to Office for Mac. In addition, I am excited to announce Accessibility Checker will be coming to Office Online apps such as Word Online, PowerPoint Online, Excel Online and Sway. These enhancements will enable you to detect accessibility issues in your content on a variety of devices and will be available by the end of the year.

We also want to make it easy for you to begin authoring accessible content from any device. For this, I am excited to announce that we have recently added capabilities to insert or modify alt-text in Word Online for images, tables and charts and will make these available not only to additional Office Online apps but also to Office for iOS and Android apps by the end of the year.

In a complementary blog post, I provided an update on another key initiative that is part of our commitment to ensuring Office 365 apps are usable by people with disabilities: ensuring people can work seamlessly with built-in ease-of-access settings such as High Contrast modes on PCs and accessibility services such as screen readers on mobile devices. In the spirit of advancing accessibility awareness, I invite you to review this as well.

—John Jendrezak

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The Office Small Business Academy May webcast—“Keys to Successfully Launch Your Business”

Wed, 05/18/2016 - 09:00

Starting a new business, or re-energizing an existing one, can be daunting. A few key factors can make the difference between success and failure. Register now for the May episode of Office Small Business Academy, “Keys to Successfully Launch Your Business,” airing May 24 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET.

In this episode, we will help you navigate the areas of start-up funding, launching and crowdsourcing.

  • CNBC on-air contributor Carol Roth discusses how to work with angel investors and venture capitalists and the three most common mistakes to avoid in your pitch.
  • Business growth expert and author of “Launch!,” Scott Duffy, shares his checklist for a successful launch and the two questions you need to be asking your customers now.
  • Founder and CEO of Krowdster, Josef Holm, reveals how to crowdsource your next big idea and whether crowdfunding is the right move for your business.

Special offer—As a special offer for attendees, you can get a discount equal to two months free of Office 365 Business Premium when you purchase an annual 12-month plan.* After you attend the webcast, watch for an email from Office Small Business Academy with a link to redeem this offer from May 25 to June 8.

Join us on May 24 for essential advice from our small business team. Sign up for free!

For more information, visit the Office Small Business Academy home page.

*Terms and Conditions: 17 percent discount (equivalent to 2 months free) valid for first year of Office 365 Business Premium subscription only. Must redeem online between May 25 and June 8, 2016 through Valid only for first-time Office 365 subscribers who are original recipients of this offer from Microsoft and who attended the Small Business Academy webcast or the related in-person event on May 5, 2016. Requires annual commitment; discount applies to first 12 months of service, limit of 300 seats per customer (tenant); may not be redeemed by or transferred to another customer. Discount does not include taxes, shipping or other fees. Not available in countries where Office 365 has not yet launchedsee list of countries where Office 365 is available. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; may not be redeemed for cash or gift cards. May not be combined with other offers. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time. Use of Office 365 is subject to the Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement.

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Exchange Server 2016 online training courses now available

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 11:10

We are excited to announce the release of four new edX online training courses for Microsoft Exchange Server 2016. If you plan to implement Exchange Server 2016 or Exchange Online, or if you want to make sure that your implementation was done right, the Exchange Server 2016 online training courses are for you.

Course offerings include:

Each Exchange course is targeted to the IT professional audience, with hands-on labs that reinforce student learning. Students are graded on completing each module, as well as on module assessment exams and a final course exam. A Certificate can be earned by completing each course with a passing grade. Courses are self-paced, allowing IT professionals to build Exchange skills at their own pace as their schedules permit.

The first course, CLD208.1x: Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Infrastructure, is free. The remaining three courses are for-fee courses at $49 USD per course.

edX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider that was developed by MIT and Harvard University. The Microsoft Learning Experiences team has created a wide range of online training courses for edX, and these four Exchange courses are the team’s latest Office releases. They are the first of seven courses that cover the core skills an Exchange administrator needs to proficiently design, implement and manage an Exchange 2016 and Exchange Online implementation.

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New enhancements to Office 365 eDiscovery further simplify the eDiscovery process

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 09:00

To save you time and make it easier to perform investigations and eDiscovery from one central location, we have released several eDiscovery enhancements to the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center, including case management, search, hold and export. These new eDiscovery enhancements further strengthen the rich set of eDiscovery capabilities already present in Office 365 to help you quickly investigate and meet legal and regulatory obligations from the Security & Compliance Center.

Here are more details about the new eDiscovery features we released:

Enhanced case management and access controls

The eDiscovery page in the Security & Compliance Center now has an option for case management, allowing you to work on eDiscovery cases without leaving the Security & Compliance Center. Use the eDiscovery case management feature to control who has access to the case, place content sources on hold and associate Compliance Searches with the case.

Preserving vital information with Case Management Holds

Preserving information is integral to the eDiscovery process. With Office 365 eDiscovery Case Management Holds, you can select the mailboxes, OneDrive for Business sites, SharePoint sites and Office 365 groups you want to preserve as part of your investigation. Applying a hold preserves all data in the selected content sources until you release the hold. Content is preserved in place, so people can continue working on their documents and email without any loss in productivity; but behind the scenes, the content is preserved and is available to be searched and exported.

More granular search capabilities with Permissions

Now, in an eDiscovery case, you can create granular searches which allow you to search either a small number of locations or your entire organization. In addition, the searches you create as part of an eDiscovery case are only accessible by people that are part of the case. You can search and export data from mailboxes (active or inactive), public folders, OneDrive for Business sites, SharePoint sites and Office 365 groups.

Finally, you can also use searches to identify data to be analyzed with Advanced eDiscovery, which reduces the volume of data sent for eDiscovery review by finding near-duplicate files, reconstructing email threads and identifying key themes and data relationships.

Faster and more enhanced export capabilities

After completing a search and identifying the data you need, you can export the data to a local drive. You can export the results from searching tens of thousands of mailboxes—up to 100 GB of data in a single PST export. The ability to search all mailboxes in the organization and export the results in a single PST export, versus multiple PSTs, helps our customers collect email in an extremely useful format for broad investigations. The Export feature also includes new advantages: it maintains the metadata when SharePoint documents are downloaded, no additional permissions setup is required and two factor authentication is supported.

Future enhancements

To further improve your eDiscovery process, in the coming months we will be delivering additional eDiscovery enhancements, such as keyword statistics, source statistics and export de-duplication, in the Security & Compliance Center.

To take advantage of all the new eDiscovery enhancements we have introduced, simply go to the Security & Compliance Center in your tenant.

—The Office 365 team

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Try the OneDrive app for Windows 10 on your PC to access all your files

Mon, 05/16/2016 - 15:00

Today’s post was written by Reuben Krippner, director of product management for the OneDrive team.

We’re continually working on making the OneDrive experience on Windows 10 even better. Today, we’re releasing an update that brings the OneDrive app to your Windows 10 PC and the Surface Hub─a top requested feature on our UserVoice forum.

The new OneDrive sync client already comes pre-installed on Windows 10 PCs, allowing users to easily access their synced files through File Explorer. But this new app is a great touch-friendly complement to sync that lets you open, edit and share any of your personal or work files without having to sync them to your device.

Additional features previously only available in the browser experience are also available, such as restoring files from the Recycle Bin, easily dragging and dropping files to the app to upload them, quickly accessing recent documents─which will open directly in the Office applications on your computer─finding files shared with you by others and more.

This update delivers OneDrive experiences to even more devices, and we will bring other capabilities to this platform over time. As we announced last week, this app will also provide an easy and lightweight way to access your company’s SharePoint libraries, and we look forward to sharing additional details on what else we’re working on very soon.

In the meantime, make sure Windows 10 is up-to-date and head on over to the Store to download the app. As always, give us your feedback on UserVoice.

—Reuben Krippner

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Office 365 news roundup

Fri, 05/13/2016 - 13:55

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been sharing a lot of new information about SharePoint—a core part of Office 365—and talking about the future of the product and the capabilities it offers customers like you. We recently unveiled a new cloud-first, mobile-first vision and roadmap for SharePoint, along with innovations that empower people, teams and organizations to intelligently discover, share and collaborate on content from anywhere and on any device.

To start with, we announced the general availability of SharePoint Server 2016, which includes new hybrid capabilities that enable on-premises customers to tap into the innovation we’re delivering in Office 365. We also revealed our vision for file management in Office 365 across OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online. The idea is to provide unified access and intelligent discovery for all of your Office 365 files, making it easier than ever for you to create, share, collaborate on and manage documents from anywhere, on any device.

We’re also using SharePoint to make your intranet more mobile, intelligent and personalized based on your activities across sites, the people you work with, the content you work on and the business processes you use. And the new SharePoint mobile app, designed for Windows, iOS and Android, puts your intranet in your pocket, with full-fidelity access to your company content, sites and apps—no matter where you are. We also announced the SharePoint Framework, a more open and connected platform to better meet the evolving needs of developers in this mobile-first, cloud-first world.

In addition, we’re continuing to improve Office 365 with innovations such as Skype for Business for Mac, now in preview, and the new external groups feature in Yammer, which enables you to collaborate with people outside your organization. We also made the Office 365 Education Roadmap generally available, to help our education customers understand what updates and improvements we have planned for the software they’re using. And just this week, we announced the general availability of a new Office 365 datacenter region in Canada—following recent announcements of new datacenter regions in Japan, Australia and India—which will provide our Canadian customers with in-country data residency, failover and disaster recovery for their core data at rest.

Plus, in late April, Microsoft FastTrack announced the addition of user adoption services to FastTrack for Office 365, including guidance to help you secure executive support, generate awareness and implement end-user training to show everyone in your organization how Office 365 is relevant to their jobs and your business. Microsoft FastTrack is our customer success service designed to help you move to the cloud and realize business value faster, and it has rapidly evolved over the past year from a one-time onboarding benefit for our largest customers to an ongoing customer success service available for free to customers with 50 seats or more of eligible Office 365 plans. FastTrack is still evolving, so stay tuned for more announcements like this in the future.

Below is a roundup of some key news items from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Marks & Spencer uses Office 365 to boost competitive edge in global business—Find out how this famous retailer is using Office 365 to enable and support a new business culture that is modern, agile, connected and collaborative.

Seal Industries switches direction, gets to the cloud with minimum impact—Learn how Office 365 and Microsoft FastTrack helped this petrochemical company make a smooth transition to the cloud and connect its global workforce.

Microsoft FastTrack team helps airline soar to the cloud in 8 weeks—Discover how Air Malta was flying high with Office 365 in just a few weeks with the help of Microsoft FastTrack.

Driving successful adoption of Office 365 at Mott MacDonald—Find out why this international consulting firm called on the Microsoft FastTrack team to help it implement Office 365.

How the Browning Law Group helps safeguard client trust with Office 365—Discover why security played a key role in this California law firm choosing Office 365 for communication and collaboration.

Microsoft to expand cloud computing business in China—Learn why a growing number of Chinese companies are choosing Office 365 and Azure.

Nadella hails Office 365 as key to Microsoft’s platform growth—Find out why Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that Office 365 is the new cornerstone of Microsoft’s embrace-and-extend philosophy.

Indivior poised for growth with Office 365—Discover how this pharmaceutical company is preparing to grow with Office 365.

Atkins to become “digital by default” with move to Office 365—Learn how this global consulting company is using Office 365 to help its 18,000+ employees collaborate more effectively.

Global manufacturer switches to Office 365 to capture promise of digital manufacturing—Find out how Office 365 is helping a global manufacturing company compete in the digital economy.

The post Office 365 news roundup appeared first on Office Blogs.

Announcing the GigJam Invitation Preview—a new way to work

Thu, 05/12/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Vijay Mital, general manager of the Ambient Computing team.

Last fall, we unveiled the Private Preview of GigJam, a new product coming to Office 365 later this year that helps break down barriers between devices, apps and people. There has been a lot of progress since then and today we’re excited to announce that we’re expanding from the Private Preview to the GigJam Invitation Preview—now available to everyone who signed up for early access on the GigJam site. If you’ve already registered, look for an email inviting you to download GigJam.

What is GigJam?

Today, it’s hard to take what you’re working on and share just a portion of it momentarily with someone else. This means you miss opportunities to accelerate work, get spot input or get instant closure on actions. For instance, you want the person across the table to help respond to an urgent customer email but you don’t want to hand over your phone in case they hit Send, navigate back or see who is on the cc: line. Similarly, you can’t selectively reveal a few clauses in a contract without leaving the entire file behind. Finally, you can’t spontaneously take a couple of Salesforce orders and related Outlook emails and have a vendor help you update the information directly in the forms without sending over sensitive pricing and customer details.

GigJam helps you spontaneously and momentarily involve others in your work. You just summon all the live information you need, divvy it up by circling what you want to share and crossing out what you don’t and control what others can see or even co-work with you in real time. Now you can finally involve others inside and outside your organization to help you get work done in the moment.

These videos show just a few examples of how GigJam lets you change the way you work.

Watch this video and see how to get instant help and closure on a customer email:

This video shows how you can get spot feedback on a work in progress:

To see how to safely get a partner’s input, watch this video:

What’s next?

The Invitation Preview is available now for Windows and Mac OS X, with an iOS Preview coming soon. When you receive your invitation, download GigJam and start using it with anyone, even those without an invite.

If you haven’t yet signed up, visit the GigJam site and register to receive an invitation.

Over the coming weeks, we will be working hard to act on your feedback. We are targeting general availability as part of Office 365 later this year, so please stay tuned!

—Vijay Mital

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Assessment for learning using OneNote Class Notebooks

Thu, 05/12/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Brendan Cawley, engineering and technology teacher and first year head teacher at the Coláiste Pobail Setanta school in Dublin, Ireland.

Background of the Coláiste Pobail Setanta school

Coláiste Pobail Setanta is a vibrant, friendly learning community where students, teachers and parents are encouraged, supported and challenged in pursuit of the highest standards of achievement and academic excellence. We foster equality, respect and integrity in our college. We embrace diversity and recognize that everyone is unique and has a positive contribution to make.

Opening our doors in 2008, teachers and students were afforded the freedom and creativity to use the best practices for teaching and learning. Throughout the intervening eight years, teachers were encouraged and facilitated to introduce various active learning methodologies and Assessment for Learning (AFL) techniques into their teaching. AFL allows teachers to be informed about their students’ learning, subject knowledge and understanding of tasks, and is embedded in the teaching and learning process at Coláiste Pobail Setanta. Goal-setting, self- and peer-assessment, quality feedback and reflection are all key characteristics of AFL.

It is important that students can identify where they are in terms of their own learning. To achieve this process, teachers use lollipop sticks for questioning, mini-whiteboards for feedback, traffic light cups to measure understanding, quality questioning techniques and keyword checks, to name but a few. Coláiste Pobail Setanta is a recognized AFL school and a center of excellence for teaching and learning.

In 2014, we began to think about making the transformation to digital learning. We felt this was the next step on our journey to continue to be at the forefront of innovative excellence and enhance our teaching and learning methodologies.

Our learning journey

In February 2015, our staff received Microsoft Surface Pro 3 devices and began to use OneNote to create, display and share content. Led by Amanda Jolliffe (an MIE Expert) and this author, the Staff Digital Leaders worked closely with subject departments to develop a OneNote template that best suited our school’s needs. With some guidance, we created a general template for all teachers in all subject departments to follow, pages are set to double A4 size, text font in Comic Sans size 20 for title and 16 for content, and each aspect of learning has a different color code: learning objectives are in blue, keywords in orange, Bloom’s taxonomy tasks in yellow, homework tasks in pink and criteria for success in green.

This subject template was shared with department heads, who could slightly modify it to suit their department needs, and then shared with teachers in their department. Departments then worked collaboratively to develop OneNote chapters in specific subject areas. Each teacher would take a chapter each and use shared resources, such as PowerPoints, PDFs, Word documents and pictures, as their core content and augment this with links to YouTube videos, online games, websites, kahoot quizzes, homework and extension exercises. By May 2015, this process was well on its way, and throughout the summer, teachers worked on developing their OneNote Notebooks to present content. In September 2015, we welcomed 240 first year students (7th grade) who used a Surface 3 for their learning. Each class teacher then created OneNote Class Notebooks, where they shared their content with students. OneNote is a central location for all teachers’ resources, allowing them to access a wide range of educational resources, while the Class Notebook allows for collaboration between students, an array of different tasks and assessment methods, and instant feedback from teachers. All other year groups, from second to sixth year, also have access to OneNote through their Office 365 accounts, and it is used as a teaching and learning resource.

OneNote templates help facilitate student learning

Our OneNote templates are presented in a way that best facilitates students in their learning, and AFL techniques are embedded throughout each chapter. Students are active in their own learning and understand exactly what they will learn and need to know. At the beginning of every chapter, we have an outline of the learning objectives. Examples of these are shown in blue below for Geography, Spanish and German OneNote Notebooks.

In addition to the learning objectives being clearly shown in blue, students can identify what area of Bloom’s taxonomy they are using in their learning—content is presented and tasks such as classroom activities or homework are in pink.

OneNote has allowed teachers at Coláiste Pobail Setanta the freedom to include a wide array of different examples, sources and recourses to support teaching and learning in the college. Teachers and students can include pictures, videos, voice recordings, text, links to websites and online games in their notebooks, all in one central and easily accessible place. Students are also afforded the opportunity to engage in their own learning through fun and interactive methodologies. This has meant that students are not just recipients of information but they are now actively involved in their learning, and classroom engagement has improved. Students are now even more eager to learn, while class and homework activities are varied and engaging. Students also engage in peer assessment where they use the two stars and a wish method to evaluate another student’s work and give feedback on positive areas and areas in need of improvement. This process further allows students to understand the learning outcomes necessary for that topic.

Teachers use keywords as a tool in teaching and learning, with many teachers checking keywords at the door as students enter the classroom, giving incentive for students to know and understand them. Teachers have embedded keywords in designated pages at the end of every chapter, and the OneNote Class Notebooks allow students access to these keywords for the duration of their learning and in later months when they need to revise for exams.

Criteria for success

To further engage students in AFL techniques through OneNote, the last page in every chapter are checklists, where teachers summarize for students what they need to know at the end of every chapter. Students know what the criteria for success is for each chapter and use the “traffic light system” and smiley faces to self-assess whether or not they understand what they need to know for each chapter. Parents also have access to help support the student in their learning and what they need to know. Below each checklist are number lines that allow students to identify where they’re at in their own learning, choose extension tasks at their own ability and allows teachers to differentiate learning in the classroom. If a student is at level 1 or 2, they can do simple tasks like remembering and understanding or use a sneak peek to help them on their way. Level 3 or 4 students can attempt tasks to apply their knowledge or analyze something. If a student is at level 5, they can attempt a more challenging problem.


I hope this guest blog is beneficial to educators who wish to use OneNote as a teaching and learning resource. Teachers in Coláiste Pobail Setanta have made it their own by creating OneNote templates from the given examples above. This has allowed teachers to support and challenge themselves and students in pursuit of the highest standards of achievement and academic excellence. I would like to acknowledge my colleagues, notably Amanda Jolliffe, for their help and support in the creation of this blog. If you wish to know any more about us, then please visit our website or at @cpsetanta on Twitter.

—Brendan Cawley

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