Office 2013 Suite RTM’d Today!

Today Microsoft made a huge announcement. Their entire Office 2013 stack RTM’d today!! What all does that include do you ask? It includes Office 2013 (duh), Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Lync 2013. According to Microsoft “This is the most ambitious release of Office we’ve ever done. It spans the full family of Office applications, servers and cloud services.”

When can you get your hands on the new code?

  • Volume license customers can start downloading the bits mid-November.
  •  IT professionals and MSDN subscribers will also get mid-November access
  • Office 365 customers, the timeline is a bit more fuzzy. They will have a rolling upgrade, starting in November and completing around Q1 2013.
  • Consumers can grab a copy of Office 2013 in your local store in Q1.
  • No word on when the “RT” version of Office 2013 will be released, as RT tablets will ship with a preview version to start with.

Consultants and Microsoft partners will rejoice at the flood of new engagements that will start next year. Enterprise customers will now need to start planning their migration efforts for the next 12-18 months. Fun times!

Immediately Activate Office 2010 and Win7 in a VDI Environment

Lately I’ve been working on a XenDesktop 5.0 Proof of Concept with Windows 7, and I wanted to make sure Windows 7 and Office 2010 were activated immediately when a VDI VM booted up. Normally after some period of time Windows 7 and Office 2010 will activate themselves, but this can take several minutes or longer. So I wanted a solution that would activate office 2010 and Windows 7 shortly after boot time, so I didn’t have to worry about any activation messages.

In my scenario I’m using a KMS server with DNS SRV records, so Windows and Office can automatically find the KMS server on the network. Windows 7 has a nifty new task scheduler, so I thought I’d see if I could make a boot time task that activated Windows 7 and Office 2010. Sure enough, it was pretty easy and works like a charm.

Here’s how to create the scheduled task:

1. Launch the Task Scheduler and find a good place to put your new task. I chose MicrosoftWindowsWindows Activation Technologies.

2. Create a new task and configure the General properties as shown below:

3. Configure the trigger settings as shown below:

4. Configure the actions as shown below (Note that I configured cscript as the ‘program’ and put the rest of the command line as the arguments):

5. I cleared all of the condition settings, as they were not relevant for this task.
6. Finally, I configured the following settings. These settings are not critical, so you can tweak them as needed.

At this point you now have a configured task the runs once right after a computer boots to activate Windows 7 and Office 2010, on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms. I wouldn’t run this on a physical computer, as activation is automatic and only is required every 180 days. But in a VDI environment where the VM’s state is reset after every reboot, I like making sure it’s immediately activated.

To validate that Office 2010 is activated you can run:

32-Bit: cscript “c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs” /dstatus
64-Bit: cscript “c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\ospp.vbs” /dstatus

To validate Windows 7 is activated you can run:

cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs /dli

P.S. Microsoft: Would it really be too much to ask that the Windows and Office teams collaborate on the command line switches for activation? Clearly there was no coordination as the switches are totally different between the products.

UNC04-INT: RMS with Exchange 2010 SP1

This session was an interactive session, meaning it was in a small room, and most of the discussion was directed by questions. I thought it was very enlightening, and I learned a lot of good information about the integration between RMS and Exchange 2010/SP1. Integration is very easy and seamless. Once you configure your RMS server, all of the Exchange integration is pretty much automatic and merely consists of selecting what template to use for a given situation. I don’t think it could get much easier.

– Exchange 2010 enables automatic protection of email messages and consumption of RMS protected messages in a variety of ways:

1. Transport rules – Configure granular rules to automatically apply RMS templates to messages that meet prescribed conditions. Conditions can include DLs, subject/body text, regular expressions, and dozens of other options. Extremely customizable. For example, you could setup a regular expression to search the body of a message for a string like “Company confidential” and not allow the message to be sent to external recipients. Or you could configure rules such that messages between two groups in your organization are always encrypted and you can’t forward them. The sky is the limit on how creative you can be with the conditions, actions, and templates.

2. E-Discovery – Journaled messages have the original RMS protected message and a decrypted version attached to the message. All RMS protected messages are indexed. This preserves the original message for compliance purposes, but also allows authorized e-discovery users to read the contents.

3. Extended to OWA and mobile devices – Seamless integration with OWA to set RMS policies and access protected messages. Mobile device support is up to the phone provider, but is enabled via Exchange Active Sync. Within OWA you can search RMS protected messages. iPhone support for RMS messages is TBD. Windows mobile 6.0 and 6.5 will support this feature.

4. Transport Decryption – Early in the transport pipeline messages are decrypted, transport rules applied, third party products can scan messages (such as anti-virus), then the message is re-encrypted before it leaves the transport server. This allows any transport functionality such as adding disclaimers, anti-virus scanning, or other products to access the contents of the message. RMS protected messages are now first class citizens in Exchange.

Outlook 2010 supports automatic protection rules. Unlike transport rules, Outlook protection rules apply content restrictions/encryption at the Outlook client before the message goes over the wire. The message is then protected in the user’s sent items folder as well. Transport decryption applies to these messages, so they are still scanned by AV and subject to content inspection rules. But the RMS template applied at the client is honored through the entire message delivery path and is not removed.

To get the full functionality of this ecosystem, you need Exchange 2010, Outlook 2010, and RMS running on Windows Server 2008 SP2 or Server 2008 R2. Most of the functionality is supported on down-level Outlook clients like 2003 and 2007, except for the Outlook automatic protection feature.

As a side note, advanced transport features such as message moderation are honored. Message moderation is where a transport rule invokes a work flow that requires a user or group of users to approve the sending of a message before the recipient(s) can read it. For example, if you are in a financial institution you could require message moderation for any messages between your stock traders and your investment brokers. Sometimes you hear these restrictions described as an ethical firewall. Transport rules could also completely block such communications, as well.

One caveat is that when using Outlook in cached mode you cannot search RMS protected messages. If Outlook is operating in online mode, or using OWA, you can search protected messages. This may change in future versions or service packs of Office.

OSP314: Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010 Better Together

This was a great session which covered the tight integration between Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010. In order to take advantage of many of the new features in the 2010 releases, you need both Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010. “Better together” features include:

– Ignore a conversation – Deletes all existing and future emails part of a particular conversation. Server side support, so even OWA and mobile users don’t see the messages.

– Conversation cleanup – Applies to a message or folder. Deletes all emails in a conversation with duplicate data. Preserves the last message which contains all previous body content. Does not touch emails with attachments or flags.

– Conversation View – Searches all folders and organizes messages in a conversational view. No more hunting aroundn different folders for all the messages in a particular thread.

– You can “reply with a meeting” to a message. Automatically puts body of email in the meeting request and adds everyone on the message to the meeting. Much faster way to schedule meetings in response to a message to multiple recipients.

– Quick steps – One click macros that users can configure to do lots of tasks like move and flag messages, forward to a boss. Highly customizable and one-click access from the ribbon.

– “Move conversation” Moves all current and future emails from a conversation to a folder.

– Suggested contacts – Automatically places email addresses for people not in the GAL or your personal contacts into a special contacts folder. Never lose an email address again, even if you delete emails.

– “Today Bar” now shows all day events.

– Tight integration with OCS and shows OCS contact cards in Outlook. Pulls up information such as phone number, title, office, address, etc.

– Meeting request emails have an embedded calendar preview of your calendar in the body of the message so you can quickly decide if you can accept or not. Don’t need to manually flip to your calendar and look at your schedule.

– Reading Mode – One click access that minimizes the ribbon, all toolbars, and preview windows to maximize the message reading pane. One click reverts back to previous view preserving the layout. Very good for reading messages that don’t properly format in a small window, or have large tables/graphics.

– Social media connector – Connects Outlook to services such as SharePoint, LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook to pull in pictures, previous emails, contact updates, and other data. Extensible to other data sources. Centralized admin control and limit the content, sources, and other features.

– Mail tips – Displays tips when sending a message, such as warning of external contacts, out of office status, can show distribution list information such as the purpose of the DL, notify you if a person’s mailbox is over quota, dynamically expands DLs (and nested DLs) to count and warn of high recipient count.

– Allows you to open multiple Exchange mailboxes at the same time. No more flipping between Outlook Profiles. Supports up to 10 concurrent Exchange mailboxes.

– 25 to 35 percent faster performance.

– Offline mailbox support in excess of 20GB.

– Supports automatic IRM message protection using MS RMS and Exchange 2010 transport rules.

– Outlook 2010 supports voicemail preview and text to speech transcript in conjunction with OCS. Also, if you click on a word in the text transcript, it will play the sound bite associated with that word, incase the text to speech engine couldn’t correctly understand the word. No need to listen to the entire message to hear a snippet.

– Outlook/Exchange 2010 can automatically tag certain emails via transport rules to set retention policies on mail, or to add IRM (via RMS) protection to messages. Rules can be based on a wide variety of message properties such as key words, recipients, groups, etc. Very powerful feature.

Office 2010 Beta Downloads now available!

For all of you TechNet or MSDN subscribers, the latest beta of Office 2010 is now available for download. Just sign in to your TechNet/MSDN account and download! Remember, Office 2010 now comes in native 64-bit support, as well as legacy 32-bit versions. I’ve been running the pre-beta since the summer on my home PC and I’ve really enjoyed the enhancements.

New Outlook 2007 SP1 Roll-Up

Every so often Microsoft releases a roll-up patch for Outlook which fixes a number of issues inbetween service packs. Last month Microsoft released another roll-up, which you may find useful. To download the December 2008 roll-up patch, click on View arequest hotfix downloads and Microsoft will send you an e-mail with the download link and password to unlock the zip file.