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Office 365 ProPlus—IT Control and Management update

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 01:00

This post was written by Amesh Mansukhani, senior technical product manager for Office 365 ProPlus and Alistair Speirs, senior operations program manager for Office 365 deployment.

On March 16th, Kirk Koenigsbauer announced the IT Pro and Developer preview for Office 2016. We encourage you to download the Office 2016 Preview, keeping in mind that this is an early release showcasing a limited number of features, with additional features available for preview over the next several months. Today, we’ll discuss the IT Control and Management capabilities specifically around deployment and upgrade management for enterprise environments.

When we released Office 365 ProPlus, we focused on reducing the burden of traditional software deployment by making Office deployment fast and easy, so it’s always up–to-date, just like you expect from a cloud service. At the same time, we were very conscious to ensure this new deployment model would not impact app integration, Office customization and IT control that businesses rely on to do their best work. Since the initial release of Office 365 ProPlus, we have continued to improve on these capabilities, adding support for selective app installation, shared computer activation (to support virtual or shared desktop scenarios) and improved group policy support, and we’ve also reduced the size of monthly updates. Many large organizations have installed Office 365 ProPlus at scale, including our customers Merck, Henkel, 3M, TE Connectivity and many more. Their experiences and feedback have helped shape the product changes to date, and will continue to do so.

We know many organizations use Office not only as a productivity tool but also as a platform to run crucial line of business applications. To ensure these apps’ continued compatibility, we built a number of features that help maintain continuity as devices receive frequent updates.

We continue to fulfill our vision by delivering additional features, focused on Deployment and Update Management, making it easier than ever for enterprises to embrace Office. In the Office 2016 Preview, IT admins will see a number of significant improvements to Deployment and Update Management, designed to deliver the best Office experience with minimal effort, and provide high confidence around faster deployment, flexible update management and simplified administration.

We are starting our journey by announcing the following enhancements:

Better network traffic management—With the frequency of updates delivered to users there is an inherent concern about bandwidth management, especially in organizations with limited or with no direct access to the Internet. To help resolve this, we are integrating Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to ensure Office is a good citizen when on an organization’s network. Office will use BITS to transfer updates to a user’s device only when there is bandwidth not being used by other critical applications. Along with the previous introduction of Binary Delta Compression, BITS will also make Office updates smaller and more efficient when on the network.

Enhanced distribution management—For those of you who use the System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), we are introducing better integration to allow IT admins to efficiently download and distribute Office and any subsequent updates.

Flexible update management—We understand there is a need to reduce the number of feature enhancements on certain devices, especially for those being used for critical line of business solutions. For those devices, we are introducing the ability to receive feature updates no more than three times per year. In between these cycles, we will continue to provide security updates. IT admins will have the ability to easily define which system will take advantage of deferred updates versus the existing always up-to-date model.

Simplified activation management—Currently users have the ability to self-manage Office activations. We know that administrators also want the ability to centrally manage activations on users’ behalf to help reduce the amount of time spent on troubleshooting activation issues.  Starting April 2015, administrators will have the ability to use the Office 365 Admin Portal to identify and manage the number of device activations for Office per user.

These are just some of the new features we are introducing. Over the next several months we will provide additional information on how to leverage these features. Those of you who have already deployed Office 365 ProPlus can treat this release as a monthly update. If your environment is a managed deployment, you will be able to use the Office Deployment Tool to download the new package. You will be able to use the same tools and distribution mechanisms such as SCCM, Microsoft Intune, or distribution points to deliver the new update to your users.

Find out more at Ignite

We hope you are as excited as we are to see these features in action. We will be diving deep into each area and making additional announcements during the Ignite Conference, held May 4-8, 2015, in Chicago.

—Amesh Mansukhani & Alistair Speirs

The post Office 365 ProPlus—IT Control and Management update appeared first on Office Blogs.

Introducing Send Email in Access 2013 web apps

Mon, 01/12/2015 - 09:00

One of the top feature requests we’ve heard from customers using Access 2013 web apps hosted inside Office 365 is the need to be able to send emails from their apps. We listened and today we’re proud to announce that a new feature called “Send Email” is available to all of our customers using Office 365 with Access Services. Now you can send emails from your Access 2013 web apps to other members of your organization! Look for this feature in your web apps soon and try it out.

In order to see and use this new feature, you need to update Access: you must be using Access 2013 that has a minimum build number of 15.0.4649.1000. Once your Office 365 site has the new Send Email feature work turned on, and you’re using the minimum Access 2013 build, you’ll see the new SendEmail macro action in the Action Catalog when you’re designing data macros.

How does the Send Email feature work?

You can use the new SendEmail action when you’re working with data macros—both named data macros and data macros attached to table events (On Insert, On Update, and On Delete). When you’re working with named data macros, which you can run from control events on views displayed in your web browser, you can, for example, send an email about a specific record you’re viewing. In this scenario, you could create a command button or a custom Action Bar button on a view that uses the RunDataMacro action in the On Click event to run your saved named data macro that includes the new SendEmail action.

When you’re working with data macros attached to table events, you can send emails when new records are added, existing records are edited, or records are deleted. In this scenario, it makes it easy to alert relevant users within your organization when new records are created, modified, or deleted. To get started, you just double-click SendEmail in the Action Catalog to add it to the macro logic defined for that table event and fill in the required parameters.

Let’s take a closer look at how this works in an example of sending an email from a table event, in this case an On Insert event of an Orders table in an Access 2013 web app. As you can see in the following screenshot, the new SendEmail macro action is available within the Action Catalog.

Let’s discuss what the other data macro actions defined in this On Insert table event are doing before we discuss the new SendEmail action.

First, the existing defined macro actions look up the email address and first name of the employee for the new order entered into the app and assigns that information to local variables that are used later in the data macro.

Next, the data macro looks up the company name for the order and assigns that to a local variable as well.

The next three SetLocalVar actions build up various parts of the body of the email message, using HTML tags to add further customization to the message body. For example, if you want to include a line break in the message, you can use a <br> tag in the message.

The last action in the macro logic for this example is the new SendEmail macro action. To add the new action to the macro design window, just double-click SendEmail in the Action Catalog. The SendEmail macro action takes five arguments: To, Cc, Bcc, Subject, and Body.

Argument Required Description To Yes The recipients of the message whose names you want to put on the To line in the message. Separate the recipient names that you specify in this argument (and in the Cc and Bcc arguments) with a semicolon (;). Cc No The message recipients whose names you want to put on the Cc (carbon copy) line in the message. Bcc No The message recipients whose names you want to put on the Bcc (blind carbon copy) line in the message. Subject Yes The subject of the message. This text appears on the Subject line in the message. Body Yes The text that you want to include in the main body of the mail message.

For the To, Cc, and Bcc arguments, you can currently send emails only to people within your Office 365 organization. The email addresses used must be within the same company site or belong to guests of the site. For example, if your Office 365 company name is Contoso, the email addresses used with the SendEmail action must correspond to users of the Contoso site. Typically, they would be formatted as

Each of the arguments in the SendEmail action accepts the use of expressions. If you want to use an expression for one of the arguments, first type an equal sign (=), followed by the expression you want to use. When you type the equal sign, Access displays the Expression Builder button on the right side of the argument text box. You can click this button and use the Expression Builder dialog to help you build the expression, or combination of expressions, you want to use.

Using expressions, you can create custom emails that display relevant data from the app. In the following screenshot, you can see an example of the Expression Builder dialog displaying the expression we used for the Body argument of the SendEmail action for this table event. In this example, the Concat function is used in the Body argument of the SendEmail action to concatenate the three local variables previously defined in the SetLocalVar actions. The three local variables are combining HTML tags, custom message text, and record data within the app and the Body argument expression is combining all three of them together for the full email message. You can be very creative with the email messages you send from your apps using these expression techniques and your own imagination.

Here’s an example of what a completed email message looks like when you enter a new order into the app with the defined macro logic shown earlier.

That’s how using the new SendEmail data macro action on table events works. For sending emails from named data macros, you define the data macro logic the same way: just by double-clicking SendEmail from the Action Catalog and providing the needed parameters. And you also have opportunities to customize your messages in these scenarios as well.

Being able to send emails from your apps opens up more possibilities for using your custom Access 2013 web apps built on top of Office 365. We hope you enjoy this new Send Email feature within Access 2013 web apps hosted inside Office 365. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

—Jeff Conrad is a Senior Content Developer on the Office Creative Content Development team.

The post Introducing Send Email in Access 2013 web apps appeared first on Office Blogs.

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