The feature has been a popular request among Education users, as successive Covid-19 lockdowns forces more academic institutions to adopt remote-teaching.
Teams supports up to fifty simultaneous breakout rooms with custom names, assigning individuals to specific rooms, organiser announcements across rooms, and automatic closing of rooms back into the meeting.
The additional control is still marked as ‘Preview’ while the feature is being rolled out to PC and Mac users.
Lineal are a certified Microsoft Gold Partner – for Microsoft 365 expertise and support, please contact our team today.
No need for a backup if it’s safely in the cloud, right? Wrong – here’s three reasons your team still needs to independently backup cloud data.
1. Retention Time
Popular cloud-storage platforms like Microsoft Office 365, Google G-Suite and Dropbox only retain deleted items in trash/deleted items for 30-days, with the longest ‘from beyond trash’ recovery being 90-days in some cases. Dropbox Pro and Business accounts may optionally extend this to 180 days, but this is still a limited window for many businesses.
Three months is not a long time – and users are often horrified to discover they can’t simply salvage a deleted file under any circumstances beyond this event horizon.
Astonishingly, this misunderstanding helps contributes to top cause of business data loss being… human error. Delete (an un-backed up) file in haste, and repent at leisure.
Advisable cloud-backup platforms such as Veeam Backup for Office 365 and Barracuda Cloud to Cloud Backup can be used to keep a fully automated and distinct backup of cloud-based data, well beyond the default retention limit.
2. Single File Recovery
Some cloud storage platforms only allow the user to recover one file at a time – designed as they are to be used by large numbers of users interacting with individual files. This feels very practical, until it comes to a situation where an organisation needs to restore larger quantities of data in one go – such as cases of widespread malicious deletion by an employee or hacker.
Even on a relatively serviceable 50Mb/s broadband download connection, 1TB of data would take more than five and half-hours to restore centrally – and some platforms even require each file to be restored individually via manual control. In the short term, this might put significant pressure on a business or organisation’s ability to function.
This is something often ignored in Business Continuity planning – not just whether recovery is possible, but how long will it take. More comprehensive backup options normally allow a full, automated restore, either to the existing platform or an entirely new environment.
3. The Email Problem
Despite premature claims of email’s demise, many users still keep their entire working life in their inbox – including not only communication, but attachments.
Having moved traditional Exchange servers to the cloud, businesses often don’t have a backup for these (even in text form) beyond that of files. Why should email be any different?
A much better solution, and one that guarantees better sleep, is to put in place a backup service that includes your email estate, that is fully indexed, searchable and restorable for when you need it most.
For IT Support and backup expertise, please contact our team today.
This week Microsoft Teams gained 12 million daily users, bringing the total to 44 million globally. During the past few days, Microsoft have raised cloud computing capacity by 600% to support this surge in demand for remote-working tools.
If it’s all new to you, or you’re working from home for the first time – never fear!Lineal haveassembled some of the best online Microsoft Teams resources to help users of all levels.
We’ll update this ultimate guide to Microsoft Teams to include valuable new videos, examples and training materials as we discover them.
Microsoft have combined the mobile versions of its Office programs into a single new Office app, uniting Word, Excel and Powerpoint under a single banner.
It’s true that Microsoft would prefer you use their whole Office 365 suite of apps, but the combination isn’t just strategic – the new mobile Office includes a whole toolkit of new abilities better optimised for mobile.
A number of typical tasks people might tackle when using a smartphone, such as PDF signing, reading QR codes, photo-to-document conversion or scanning PDFs with Microsoft Lens, are all ‘baked in’ to the new mobile Office version, with Microsoft clearly trying to maximise awareness of these lesser-known extras.
Such tools are activated from a new ‘Actions’ menu aimed at simplifying the controls users have to input to complete common tasks, as part of Microsoft’s Fluent design scheme.
Microsoft Word comes with a new dictation ability (which may be familiar to those using the desktop app) that supports speech to text. It’s hard to imagine users writing lengthy documents this way unless forced not to type, although assembling plain text into a OneDrive file for others to collate, or editing changes into an existing project might be more practical.
Excel is, of course, not a natural fit on mobile – where individual cells remain a bit fiddly on a touchscreen. Even so, there are improvements here too: Excel ‘cards’ simplify wide Excel rows into a simple summary, which ensures the user doesn’t have to open an unwieldy spreadsheet to find information.
Again, there’s an awareness here – that very few users will seriously attempt heavy editing via mobile, but access and convenience is critical for a workforce that increasingly operates on the move. Powerpoint presentations can also be created from a bullet-point list: not a work-of-art perhaps, but potentially a lifesaver at short notice.
Outlook, Teams, OneNote and the other Office 365 apps remain independent (for now) although it’s easy to imagine some of these also being merged into the combined app in future, as Microsoft seeks to build a seamless experience between the different productivity apps of the popular Office package.
In a diplomatic move, Office also includes support for popular third-party storage apps including Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud and Box.
Microsoft are offering an initial ten free Charity Microsoft 365 licenses for Nonprofit organisations.
Microsoft 365 allows users across an organisation to work more flexibly, collaborate on shared work and maintain an ‘always-up-to-date’ software base across a charitable organisation.
The flagship ‘Microsoft 365 Business’ cloud IT bundle, which normally retails at £15.10+VAT per user per month (Or £3.80+VAT per month for NonProfits) includes everyone’s favourite Microsoft Office 365 apps such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and more. 50GB of Exchange Online email hosting per user is also included as standard, with 1TB of cloud OneDrive storage, and Windows 10 Pro licensing for each user’s device, packaged with a host of organisational security features.
Lineal’s Head of Technical Services Matt Norris explained: “This is a super offer which we’re expecting to do some real good in the Charitable sector especially – and hopefully nonprofits will snap up their free Charity Microsoft 365 licensing while it’s available. Office 365 makes flexible working and collaborative projects much easier, advantages that we know are a key concern for many in the voluntary sector.”
Office 365’s Microsoft Teams has grown and grown to become far more than a simple work chat or video conferencing app.
As new features are added to the collaboration suite all the time, you could easily miss the best of the new updates – so we’ve collated some of the most interesting cool tricks for Teams:
Homeworking? Taking an important video call with a less than formal background? Unless you want to end up in a viral video clip like BBC commentator Professor Robert Kelly, Teams has got you covered with simple controls to mask your immediate surroundings from a video call.
With a simple toggle, Microsoft Teams will detect your face in the foreground and blur the remainder of the screen, to spare everyone the embarrassment of your favourite coffee shop or messy home office.
Screenshare to Mobile
Teams has had the ability to optionally share your screen with other attendees in the same meeting for some time, choosing to show either the whole Windows desktop or restricted to a single window (such as a presentation.)
However, Microsoft have also recently added this feature for iOS/Android, allowing attendees to enjoy the full Teams experience on the move.
Viewing a desktop on a mobile can be an eyesight challenge, although it’s especially handy to be able to view a shared Powerpoint presentation in Private mode – and skip back through slides without interrupting everyone else’s flow.
Join by proximity
Join by proximity allows Teams to detect meeting that’s physically located nearby. This seems like a peculiar idea to begin with, but is actually designed for more open ‘meeting’ situations – such as conference venues or hotdesking environments: making individuals’ screen space as collaborative as the room itself, or extending a spontaneous group meeting into a virtual one.
Teams will prompt within the meeting room lobby if any existing rooms are available nearby via Bluetooth, allowing the user to apply to join the meeting with audio muted, and without an original Teams invite. The meeting room organiser must accept via a Meeting Room control unit for security reasons, to ensure only welcome attendees join the meeting room.
Proximity join is available from May 2019, including on mobile versions of Teams.
Integrate Interactive Tabs
One of the best untapped features of teams is the ability to add custom tabs (click ‘+’) into each chat channel which allows for the creation of something entirely custom.
Of course, Channel admins can also add from a category simply marked ‘website’ – via which any responsive web service with a valid SSL certificate can be deployed neatly through teams for the look-and-feel of a more integrated desktop.
Get Notified of Availability
Status indicators mean its easy to tell if a contact is unavailable to chat, but right-clicking on a contact now offers a handy ‘Notify When Available’ option which performs the basic requirement of call back – allowing Teams to prompt you of contact availability the best time.
Microsoft Teams is available with Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials licensing and above.
Lineal are a Gold Microsoft Partner – for Microsoft Office 365 support, licensing and expertise, please contact our team today.
Early feedback from users was positive (despite recurring jokes that the Microsoft Office user-interface may also need a similar makeover from designers.)
That makeover has already begun with Office 365’s new fluent menus: specifically, streamlined menu bar options for both the web and desktop client versions of the major Office apps, which load faster during general use. The existing option-heavy menus will also remain optionally available, as might be expected for a product being used by more than a billion knowledge-workers worldwide.
Licensed Office 365 customers receive ongoing updates throughout the lifetime of their subscription, including security updates and all new visual improvements. However, revised icons for gradually retiring apps, such as Yammer and Skype for Business, might imply these products have greater independent lifespan than is actually expected by Microsoft support.
Microsoft Teams, a super-smooth instant messaging and group sharing app for business, will go head to head with rapidly expanding collaboration app rivals like Slack and Basecamp, but will incorporate the enterprise business telephony and conferencing abilities (including PSTN calling, video conferencing and group screen sharing) from the hugely popular Skype for Business.
On the Messaging side all new planned features (for example contact groups, chat between the two apps and Skype for Business contact import) will be available by the end of Q1 2018, although Meeting and Calling additions are more gradual.
Certain Meetings features, such as browser-based meetings via teams and audio conference calls will be available by Q4 of 2017, although power uses will need to wait until Q2 of 2018 for more advanced features such as recording, powerpoint share and PSTN fallback.
Call queues, out of office support and transfer to PSTN call tools will be running by next Summer, with call park and shared line appearance delayed until Q4 of 2018.
Users can already run both Skype for Business and Teams side by side, although Microsoft will increasingly push users in the direction of the latter. Extra help materials for organisations making the transition can be found here.
Both Teams and Skype for Business are already included at no extra charge to Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium customers, although many do not even realise the leading communication apps are available to use.
While the combined product is likely to be an extremely powerful and flexible business tool, Microsoft’s challenge for the Teams roadmap will be to make Microsoft Teams as much of a household name as the Skype brand.
Lineal are a Microsoft Gold partner – contact us today for Office 365 support.
Recently released in beta, Veeam Backup for Office 365 is a curious idea. Remember the old days of email? A physical server in a backroom somewhere sorting your business mail like a private sorting office?
It’s not really hard to see why that setup became redundant: that trusty piece of hardware, with its installed copy of email handling software like Microsoft Exchange or Kerio, was doomed to fail eventually, whether it be from an office disaster or the finite lifespan of hardware.
Then cloud-based services came along and ensured your email was suddenly resilient to real-world dangers. A cloud backup for your Exchange Onsite was dependable, and if backing up into the cloud wasn’t enough, why not just move there entirely? No service has exemplified this virtual shift more than Microsoft Office 365 – placing your entire Exchange (and operating your inbox client too if your prefer) off-site in the cloud, and letting Microsoft worry about the data centre infrastructure, has frequently been the smart choice for both IT strategy and budgets.
For many, the cloud was backup enough, but in larger organisations or those with special regulatory demands on email retention or availability, users are increasingly wary of certain dangers from a wholesale move to the cloud.
Because internet outages aside, the offline copy you have control over is only as reliable as the client laptop of smartphone it’s stored on, and client devices are frequently even more at risk than your old server. Break your device on the same day as your office loses connectivity for any reason, and your email history is suddenly hundreds of miles away.
Enter Veeam’s newest backup product: Veeam Backup for Office 365 – which turns the concept of a hybrid backup upside down to provide something new, in the form of a local backup for Exchange Online.
Backup for Office 365 replicates a backup of your Microsoft cloud-based email and calendars to a server of your choice (a physical piece of hardware if you wish) on specific backup terms. Users can continue operating Office 365’s wonderfully tactile email service from the cloud, knowing that Veeam will provide you an up-to-date local copy your IT team can immediately seize in event of an emergency.
The actual server architecture holding the backup can be physical or virtual (which potentially makes the entire notion of ‘localised’ hybrid backup a bit abstract, but bear with us) so Veeam’s solution is adaptable in the extreme – re-saving your emails wherever you prefer, to any machine with a Microsoft operating system.
The curious thing is that this hybrid inversion actually makes a lot of practical sense, and re-introduces a critical fail-safe role for a traditional ‘on-hand’ server. Veeam’s mission statement, to always provide ‘availability for the always-on enterprise‘ (a focus on constant, utterly uncompromising uptime of IT services and data for businesses that can’t afford any downtime) is demonstrated with a technical obsession to fulfill even the most demanding business continuity planning.
For business continuity and IT contingency planning, contact Lineal today about Veeam Backup for Office 365
iOS 11 users who updated their iPhones and iPads this week have been given a nasty shock, upon discovering Microsoft email services will no longer function correctly.
Apple are reported to be ‘working closely’ with Microsoft to resolve the issues – affecting compatibility with Microsoft Exchange 2016, Office 365 and Outlook.com – which display an error message informing users that their mail account “Cannot send mail. The message was rejected by the server.”
One week on from Apple’s flagship iPhone X launch, the problem leaves the tech giant with a public relations headache, as early adopters of the newest touchscreen operating system rush to complain online.
Rubbing salt in the wound, Microsoft also published an official support warning on Tuesday, rather mischievously entitled: “You can’t send or reply from Outlook.com, Office 365, or Exchange 2016 in iOS 11 Mail.app”. According to MacRumors, beta testers (including engineers at Lineal) were raising the Microsoft email service problem as early as July, although it appears to be unresolved by Apple’s developers.
Users urgently needing email are advised to download the Outlook for iOS app from the App Store as a lifesaving alternative, suffer a more Microsoft branded email experience, and await rescue from Apple bug fixers.
Are Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business about to merge?
Teams and Skype for Business – Microsoft’s two key communication applications may be about to merge, following a series of leaked hints from the Office 365 message centre.
Microsoft Teams – Redmond’s answer to easy-use messaging and group sharing apps for business (think Slack, or Basecamp) that have seen massive growth in popularity, already looks visibly similar to the Skype for Business client on Mac, and it’s easy to imagine the two becoming a single, powerful unified communications product.
Quite whether Skype for Business or Teams would be cut is an interesting dilemma. Despite a slow start, Skype for Business has proved very successful in the telecoms world – expanding to cover video conferencing, Outlook calendar integration and other established business functions, whilst Teams is still in its early stages.
Microsoft Teams though is clearly closer in concept and execution to the ‘appy’, casual platforms that, quite frankly, Microsoft wishes it was as cool as. This is also where the unified communications industry is heading generally: mobile friendly, cross channel communication apps with unimaginable technical wizardry happening unseen in the cloud.
Believe it or not, Slack has been around since 2013. Basecamp even longer. ShoreTel recently announced the new ShoreTel app, replacing their old mobility client with a mobile friendly, cross-platform, cloud-based, messaging and VOIP collaboration platform. Microsoft (traditionally very slow to any new party) must surely arrive eventually.
This is in part because the generation that have grown up with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger simply don’t see messaging and audio as separate realms, and are noticeably more open to the idea of a business application with something of the ‘look and feel’ of social media.
Merging the two makes excellent commercial sense for the unstoppable business behemoth that is Microsoft, and would park the tanks on several lawns at once.
Contact the IT and communications specialists – speak to Lineal today: 01271 375999
Microsoft Forms has launched in initial preview to commercial customers – adding data gathering, surveys, opinion polls and quizzes to Office 365’s list of abilities.
Originally released to Microsoft Education customers for classroom use, the commercial release is likely to interest those gathering client or staff feedback, or doing market research.
The delay in launch has been worth it though: entirely cloud-based Microsoft Forms boasts some more advanced features than free alternatives, including branching surveys which alter question paths as the subject answers, and more extensive visual customisation – helping companies match each survey to their branding.
By swapping from the ‘Questions’ Tab to the ‘Reponses’ tab form-builders can view data collection in real-time and Forms integrates nicely with other popular business applications in Office 365, including Excel and even SharePoint. As with others, form-builders can also use a range of link-based permissions sharing to make surveys open to exact security groups.
It’s not yet been made clear which Office 365 packages will grow to include Forms as standard, although it looks intuitive, clear, responsive across a wide array of screen-sizes, and powerful enough to become a firm-favourite.
Lineal are a Microsoft Gold Partner and Authorised Education Gold Partner: for Office 365 support and advice – contact our team today.
At Lineal we’ve found the most commented upon feature of Microsoft’s Office 365 email has been the reduction of spam – but why does running your email from the cloud make Outlook 2016 so much better at blocking these annoying spam emails?
On your old in-house email server, Outlook stops spam emails being delivered based on whatever policies and protection you’ve put there and maintained (or not…,) whilst Office 365 is managed all year round as a remote service, with up-to-the-hour security updates in Microsoft data centres. Moving your business email to the cloud ensures your inboxes are not just company compliant, but physically and virtually safer.
Firstly, Office 365 checks your email for known suspicious attachments or malicious links. If neither are found, your email is screened through three independent Anti-virus engines, before being delivered safely to your inbox.
But what if something suspicious is found? Malicious links are re-written where possible, and suspicious attachments are removed to a sandboxed (isolated in software) ‘detonation chamber’, where they are opened safely to check for harmful code. Any attachments still deemed to be dangerous are removed from the email before being processed further.
Due to sheer volume of email processed through Office 365, Microsoft are also able to use information about all threats seen worldwide, and protect your inbox from even brand new ‘zero-day’ dangers seen elsewhere online.
Microsoft Access is making a return to Microsoft Office, and will soon be offered as a free extra to many cloud customers.
In a recent announcement from Microsoft, the ‘Access Team’ confirmed that the popular business database tool would be making a return as a part of the standard package available to all Office 365 Business Premium customers.
Officially the move continues Microsoft’s commitment to keep expanding Office 365’s cloud service to make more features available (including the new Slack-style Microsoft ‘Teams’) giving Office 365 subscribers ever more for their money.
Unofficially, we wonder whether omitting Microsoft Access from the well-known ‘suite’ of Microsoft Apps (Word, Excel, Powerpoint and others) has seen Microsoft lose it’s 1990s database dominance to other platforms or CRM systems. Reintroducing the app may be timely for modern businesses that are increasingly interested in studying their data, and help encourage a wider audience to take a second look at the powerful program.
Recent iterations of the popular database management system have expanded on the traditional database store and report tools, allowing power users to use Access to develop web apps and other software, or act as the practical visual ‘front-end’ for more complex ‘back end’ database systems like Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle.
In addition, Access will be available with a set of enterprise data connector allowing Office 365 users to integrate their databases with Dynamics CRM, Salesforce and others.
Microsoft’s Office 365 Team have announced the availability of multiple UK data centres for customer data.
The move follows increasingly strict rules on data compliance in the financial, security, health and public sectors – with more cloud IT users looking to ensure their data remains safely located in the UK.
Prospective customers considering the implications of Office 365 are able to view the locations of Microsoft’s uk data centres with this online ‘Where Is My Data?’ map, which now displays both the additional data centres and the Microsoft cloud services they support, in both London and Durham, with a third site anticipated for Cardiff.
Office365 and Azure Users will also have the ability to ‘re-locate’ their data from regional data centres (in most cases based within mainland Europe) to the new UK service.
In addition to the security and legal advantages for protecting sensitive data, cloud users of Office 365 are likely to benefit from lower costs, online backups and collaborative, remote access to files.
For now, the ability to re-locate Office365 or Azure data to the UK is likely to be restricted, with priority expected to be given to high-profile UK public sector customers including NHS Trusts and the Ministry of Defence – the latter mirroring many customers belated move to the cloud, upgrading legacy on-site systems in use since 2005.
The new infrastructure has been widely praised, with Microsoft clearly investing heavily in addressing the doubts many have about moving their IT to the cloud; reducing Office365 downtime to just 4 hours per year, and now re-locating data within country of origin for compliance with a high standard of data protection.
Contact Lineal for advice on moving to the cloud, or for a free trial of Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium, click here.
This week’s IT security alert from Lineal – fake invoices which ask users to run a dangerous piece of code.
The example above comes from a fake Word document emailed with a typical text line, such as ‘Please check this invoice’ or ‘Double check my numbers for me’, to an unsuspecting user.
Upon opening, the document appears to load a popup from Office 2016 prompting the user to ‘Enable Content’ for compatibility purposes, before they can view the detail of the ‘invoice.’
In fact, the display is just an image within the word file, and the ‘Enable Content’ content button instead runs a piece of Visual Basic code downloading unknown malware from the internet.
The scam relies on users’ curiosity at the unusual $1999.00 charge, and upon reaching a user still running an outdated version of Microsoft Office.
Several measures can be taken to prevent this kind of attack:
Don’t click any popup that doesn’t visibly pop ‘open’ in Microsoft and don’t ‘Enable Content’ you can’t see in a document.
Consider an email filtering service like Barracuda – in the above example, Barracuda had recognised this email as malicious and stripped the code from the document before placing it in the correct email inbox for the intended recipient.
Lineal has been certified as a Gold Microsoft Partner with immediate effect, becoming the only such Gold Partner in the North of the region.
Our official Microsoft Partner status was upgraded from Silver to Gold after Lineal’s team qualified for Microsoft’s Gold Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions competency – the result of several month’s efforts by the team comprising training, outstanding performance in our deployments and a large number of highly satisfied customers.
Head of Technical Services, Matt Norris, praised the team on all their hard work: “Lineal’s Gold award shows our commitment to providing our customers with only the highest quality Microsoft Cloud Services and Support – and to the continued development of our team’s expertise. I cannot be more proud of our team and the dedication to excellence they have shown which has been recognised in this award.”
Microsoft certified partners must undergo a rigorous program of technical assessments and examinations via the Microsoft Partner University, as well as demonstrating real-world proficiency in undertaking complex Microsoft deployments for customers, in order to qualify for the prestigious ‘Gold’ status.
In addition, and pivotal to Lineal’s commitment to exceptional knowledge and expertise in the South West region, each Gold Partner must employ a number of Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) whose skills match the requirements of each award. MCP is the global standard for measuring expertise in Microsoft products and technologies with each of our team being required to hold multiple MCP Certifications which are regularly renewed. MCP examinations are widely recognised to be among the hardest professional qualifications to attain in the IT industry.
Lineal’s team are now working towards additional Microsoft Gold awards covering new Microsoft specialisms and products.
For expert Microsoft Services and Support, contact Lineal today by clicking here
Lifecycle support for Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2007 email will end in April 2017, Microsoft has confirmed.
Existing email servers will continue to work past this date initially, but will receive no further patching without purchasing ‘custom support’ at an unknown extra cost. Each version of Exchange is predicted to last only around 10 years, with the 2016 edition lasting until 2025.
Exchange 2007 was included as part of Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 which went end of mainstream support last year. With the challenges of ensuring systems are secure, upgrading from SBS 2008 sooner rather than later will be the order of the day for many businesses.
Unfortunately, upgrading old copies of Exchange Server 2007 to Microsoft’s latest version of Exchange Server (2016) may be more challenging than many organisations will expect, as a direct migration is not available.
This forces users to stepping-stone via the 2010 or 2013 versions, a restriction that will be familiar to any business that has tried to upgrade a legacy Windows XP system to Windows 10, who must buy a redundant Windows 7 license just to make the transition.
Lineal can offer consultancy services for upgrade and migration planning in addition to being a certified Microsoft Partner. We specialise in Office 365 and hybrid deployments across the entire Microsoft product set.
Please get in touch to find out how easy and cost effective it can be to move your email to the cloud with Lineal.
Ever wish you could add handwritten notes to documents in Microsoft Office? Now you can – as Microsoft have unlocked the ‘Draw’ tab for Office 365.
The new tools come with a range of pen shapes and bright colours, and have been designed particularly with touchscreens and tablets in mind. Accessible across all Office 2016 documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notes, the ‘Draw’ tab follows the recent releases of Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro. Those with clumsy fingers may prefer to use a stylus.
It’s undoubtedly a pretty and relevant addition to Microsoft’s historically bland Microsoft Office – the simple colour wheel can be used for highlighting text or adding freeform annotations in various ‘ink’ colours.
Behind the new sketchpad fun is some intelligent software, which includes shape recognition that allows users to ‘rough’ draw polygons for conversion to regular shapes for use in diagrams or flowcharts .