What’s new in Office 2019?

Note: This update was designed for those of you (organizations and consumers) that haven’t opted for Microsoft’s Office 365 service with monthly feature updates.

With Office 2019, Microsoft launches an enhanced roaming pencil case and ribbon customization across all Office applications. PowerPoint now includes scalable vector graphic (SVG) images and 3D model support, play video in-click sequence, Morph transitions, 4k video export, and Zoom through which you can create cinematic presentations. With Excel 2019, Microsoft has added new formulas, charts and a bunch of improvements to PowerPivot tool.

The Office development team launches new data analysis features and for Word and Outlook apps, they introduce several features like Text Spacing and Read Aloud to simplify content management. Also, Focus mode can be used on both Word and Outlook. This capability can prove helpful as it blocks out most distractions and increases user productivity.

Word 2019

Word 2019 helps users better manage content organization. Learning tools like Read Aloud and text-to-speech, make it easier to engage with your content. There are also many accessibility and usability improvements in the last version of Word.

o Learning tools (captions and audio descriptions)
o Speech feature (text-to-speech)
o Use LaTeX math syntax in your equations
o Ability to draw and write with a digital pen
o Enhanced inking functionality
o Improved screen reader interactions and navigation
o Black theme

Excel 2019

Excel 2019 adds several new data analysis features, including 2D maps, formulas, new charts and enhancements to PowerPivot. In the Office newest version, users can now publish from Excel to Power BI (business analytics service that delivers insights throughout your organization).

o PowerQuery improvements
o Funnel charts, 2D maps, and timelines
o New Excel functions and connectors
o PowerPivot tool enhancements
o Ability to publish Excel to PowerBI

PowerPoint 2019

With PowerPoint 2019, Microsoft reveals the most enhanced zoom capabilities, the ability to manage 3D images within the app and enhanced roaming pencil case features. Now, you can create cinematic presentations with new visual effects like the Morph transition and Zoom. Microsoft also improved inking features across the apps in Windows as for instance the roaming pencil case, pressure sensitivity, and tilt effects which allow you to create documents easier than ever before.

o Zoom capabilities for ordering of slides within presentations
o Morph transition feature
o Ability to insert and manage Icons, SVG, and 3D models
o Improved roaming pencil case
o Recording features

OneNote for Windows 10

OneNote for Windows 10 comes pre-installed on every version of Windows 10, and it’s also included in Office 365 and Office 2019.

Microsoft said in a separate release that it combines OneNote 2016’s best features with Windows 10 usability. These features include ink-to-text, improved syncing and it offers an enhanced user experience.

Outlook Updates

In regard to Outlook, Microsoft has updated contact cards, supports @mentions now and just recently has introduced focused inbox feature that moves less important emails out of the way, so what is truly important will have your full attention.

o Updated contact cards
o @mentions
o Focused inbox
o Travel and delivery summary cards

In the coming weeks, Microsoft will release Exchange Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2019, SharePoint Server 2019, and Project Server 2019. Stay tuned for further information.

What’s new in Microsoft Office & Windows 10?

Note: Microsoft has recently stated that Windows 10 is now installed on more than 700 million machines around the world.

October 2018 Update

If you already have Windows 10 and have automatic updates enabled, this update will be installed on your device when it’s ready.

Here are the most recent updates.

Your Phone app

By installing Your Phone app on your Android smart device, you get smooth access to photos and texts from your mobile device on your Windows 10 PC. When you take a picture with your smartphone, you can drag and drop it from your device to your PC. So, you will be able to copy, edit or markup the photo.

You can also view, send and receive SMS text messages from your Android device on your PC through the Your Phone app.

There is an iOS version of the app that should be available in November, but the capabilities in iOS appear to be limited to being able to send a web page to your desktop or laptop, so you can pick up where you left off and continue surfing on a larger screen.

Inking & 3D

Microsoft announced new AI-powered inking and 3D updates for PowerPoint and Word. You can now sketch your project and Microsoft AI will transform it into perfectly designed slides. Artificial intelligence will also suggest slide designs based on handwritten ink or change written text to SmartArt.

The new 3D embedded animations will improve design by automatically turning your work into 3D animations.

Microsoft also added new pen gestures to simplify document editing: it’s now easier to insert new words, split or join words etc.

Timeline on smartphones

Microsoft rolled out the Timeline feature on Windows 10 in April. As you probably know, it lets you go back in time to find documents, URLs and other resources you were working on your desktop or smartphone.

The new Timeline update allows you to view and scroll back in time to find the files and websites you were using on your phone, computer and tablet. Share or remove activities from a specific day or hour. This feature is now available in preview for Android phone through Microsoft Launcher app and soon it will be available for preview also for iPhone.

Snip & Sketch

The new Snip & Sketch app will appear on screen once you press Alt + Tab, but you can quickly open the snipping toolbar by pressing the Windows key + Shift + S. Now you can simply snip a rectangle, the full screen or a free form area and you will be able to add text and share the screenshot, otherwise it will be stored to your clipboard, so you can share it later.

Microsoft has stated that the original Snipping tool for Windows 10 will still be available until/unless they receive feedback from their users suggesting that they don’t need both apps.

Microsoft Edge

In October, Microsoft introduced several new tools for the Microsoft Edge browser. Firstly, line focus which allows you to highlight a set of maximum five lines at a time, so you can focus on web content.

Microsoft Edge also brings new learning and grammar tools, an offline dictionary that allows users to look up definitions for any word in Reading View when scrolling a page or a document even if they are offline (not connected to the Internet).

Microsoft constantly explores how people use their software and hardware and focuses on further improving user experience. If your organization needs help implementing or configuring any Microsoft solution, reach us today at 855-397-8776 or at sales@computersupport.com.

OneDrive or SharePoint? Business perspective.

Microsoft’s cloud-based suite of programs is growing rapidly, and it includes several tools that have so much in common, yet there are so different because their design goals are divergent.

Briefly, OneDrive is a cloud-based document/file storage platform, typically used by individuals, but also by teams who need a singular platform to store and access their files. OneDrive’s versioning and sharing features make teamwork easier once private documents are shared. It’s essentially an online folder system and doesn’t include some of the resources available in SharePoint and the larger Office 365 cloud suite.

On the other hand, SharePoint is a more complex solution, a collaboration tool for businesses that have their employees and teams to work on documents and products at the same time. Over the last few years, Microsoft has released several updates to their Office365 suite which now includes SharePoint features and applications, but also the OneDrive storage platform, making those available on any device.

OneDrive gives your team members access to documents for storage/sharing purposes and tracks file versions, but SharePoint gives your team a collaborative workspace with dashboards, tasks, workflows, wikis, calendars, notifications, and updates.

You can set up a SharePoint site for each of your teams – marketing, sales, etc. You can configure a portal for your organization to host and manage searchable company-wide libraries and notifications. Also, you can assign each employee a security level to allow or forbid access.

Document and Resource Management

Many companies use SharePoint for company-wide document and file collaboration. Office 365 offerings provide collaborative workflows and granular permissions to help you move content from idea to publication hassle free. Your marketing and sales teams will appreciate SharePoint’s white label feature that allows you set up a customized intranet for your organization.

OneDrive (for Business) now contains all the original SharePoint document offerings, including workflows, auditing, templates, and version control. What it doesn’t include are some business operations resources, as for instance: business process automation with Microsoft Power Apps and Microsoft Flow, no maximum number of users etc. The business owns the account, and each user is assigned a personal account under the business’s account where individual documents can be created and stored before they are shared to a group of people.

Note: Both SharePoint and OneDrive allow synchronization, a great mobility feature, enabling you to save your files directly on your OneDrive/SharePoint folder from any connected device, anywhere in the world.

Encryption & Compliance

Organizations concerned with document safety or regulatory compliance benefit from SharePoint’s version control and user permission settings. This way companies can control the security of their internal documents, but also their customer data.

Both Office 365 and OneDrive use encryption to keep documents safe. The entire Microsoft cloud platform supports SHA-2 and TLS security protocols. Microsoft encrypts all your data upon transfer to and from their servers and stores it on Microsoft Azure in encrypted form.

Choose the best option

As a matter of fact, clouds are more secure than traditional IT systems and if you add the benefit of having Microsoft handle your software updates, you may find Office 365 a viable solution which integrates both OneDrive and SharePoint capabilities.

If you’re looking for a collaborative document management system for your business, SharePoint is the ideal solution. It offers several integrated apps and productivity tools to help your team members stay in touch and coordinate their tasks. Sometimes individual files grow in importance and become crucial to certain projects. When that happens, it makes perfect sense to copy files from OneDrive for Business to a SharePoint team site.

On the other hand, in case you’re interested only in storing your documents, syncing and sharing them occasionally, OneDrive should be your first option.

Still can’t decide between SharePoint and OneDrive? Contact us and we’ll help you take the best decision!

Microsoft Azure Traffic Manager

Azure Traffic Manager is a sophisticated DNS-based traffic load balancer that enables its users to distribute world wide web traffic to services across all Azure regions, while providing high availability, performance and responsiveness. Traffic Manager works purely at DNS level. As a result, once Traffic Manager has performed its designated task, the user’s device can access the selected instance directly.

What’s an endpoint?

Traffic Manager uses Domain Name System to direct client requests to the service endpoint (instance of your website or application with a public DNS that Traffic Manager can direct web traffic to) based on traffic-routing method but also on endpoint’s health.

Traffic Manager provides several traffic-routing methods and endpoint monitoring options to handle different application needs and automatic failover models. Traffic Manager was developed to be resilient to failure, including the failure of an Azure region.

You can set up Azure hosted endpoints, external endpoints – hosted outside of Azure, on-premises or with another host, and nested endpoints – where you can combine multiple Traffic Manager profiles.

Note:

All your endpoints must be static pages displaying the same content to the user, or they need to access a shared database in order for Traffic Manager to work properly. Otherwise, any change that users make while using your web service at one endpoint will not be coordinated with changes that users make at another endpoint.

Choose your DNS name

When creating a Traffic Manager profile, it’s mandatory to choose a unique name using the following format:

myexample.trafficmanager.net

This will become your DNS name when connecting to your Traffic Manager profile. Once a user’s local DNS server finds your Azure DNS server, the Azure DNS server will select an endpoint, according to the traffic-routing model you’ve chosen, to direct the user.

Note:

Before going live with Traffic Manager, it’s imperative to update your DNS records to reflect the change above.

Traffic Manager Profile

Choose a traffic-routing method

Azure Traffic Manager allows you to choose from four traffic-routing methods. You can choose only one traffic method per profile. However, you can create multiple profiles and combine them for a sophisticated traffic routing. This is commonly known as nesting. Keep in mind that all traffic-routing methods involve endpoint health checks and automatic failover.

Priority

The priority traffic-routing will allow you to choose a preferred endpoint to direct all traffic to. If your preferred endpoint is unresponsive, Traffic Manager will direct traffic to the endpoint under the next priority level.

Weighted

The weighted method allows you to distribute traffic by creating a custom ordering of endpoints. However, by using the Weighted method Traffic Manager will distribute traffic across all healthy endpoints. The amount of traffic Azure Traffic Manager allocates to each endpoint will reflect the specific weighting you’ve assigned to each of them. If you assign all endpoints the same weight, then Traffic Manager will evenly distribute traffic across all available endpoints.

Performance

Under the performance model, Traffic Manager will find and choose the closest available endpoint, which will have the lowest latency, or distance-driven delay, hence the best performance. For example, if a given user is in North America and you have an endpoint there, this endpoint will be automatically assigned to deliver content to your user.

Geographic

Somehow like the Performance traffic-routing model, the geographic method sends users to endpoints in their own region, based on local DNS. However, the Geographic model is slightly different compared to the Performance model because it is entirely possible for the nearest endpoint to be in a different geographic region than the user, such as a few miles across a region border. In this case, the nearest endpoint would be a good solution for performance, but not an option under the geographic approach.

Directing users to endpoints in their own region has several advantages. For instance, if your organization needs to comply with several regulatory restrictions in a certain region or if it wants to customize the user experience region-based, or to track traffic by region, then the geographic traffic-routing method is the right option.

Choose DNS Time To Live (health-check frequency)

One of the most important aspects to consider when configuring your Traffic Manager profile is TTL. Known as the time-to-live (TTL) for a DNS record, in the context of Traffic Manager this value represents the time that passes between endpoint health checks. The shorter the TTL, the higher the frequency of checkups and the more effective Traffic Manager will be at routing traffic away from unresponsive endpoints.

TTL

However, it’s not always a good idea to reduce TTL to the lowest possible period. This is because the more health checks Traffic Manager performs, the higher the cost to your company under Traffic Manager’s pay-as-you-go pricing structure. So, after you experiment Traffic Manager’s benefits, you will probably want to find a satisfactory compromise between affordability and optimal traffic routing.

The Overall Process

1. The user tries to access your URL (myexample.com).
2. The user’s local DNS redirects them to an alias – myexample.trafficmanager.net, your Traffic Manager profile, which resides in Microsoft Azure cloud.
3. Traffic Manager will select an endpoint to direct the user to, based on the traffic-routing method you have chosen.
4. Traffic Manager sends the IP address for the selected endpoint back to the user’s device.
5. The user’s device connects directly to the assigned endpoint.

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Azure Information Protection: overview & features

Azure Information Protection (AIP) is a Microsoft cloud-based solution that helps organizations classify and protect their documents by specifying appropriate labels. Those can be applied automatically by administrators who define policies, based on relevant suggestions or manually by users.

AIP simplifies data protection by offering a user-friendly solution, while enforcing certain policies and guidelines through visual elements, labeling and Rights Management Service (RMS) encryption.

Administrators can configure the labels with rules that detect sensitive data, as for instance credit card information, IBAN or social security numbers etc. When a user types in sensitive data or saves a Word document that contains a credit card number or other sensitive information, the user will get notified by an informative tooltip recommending the right label for the most appropriate classification.

AIP Labeling

Classify, Label and Protect

Firstly, a document is classified according to a certain level of security such as Personal, Confidential or Classified, either by the document’s author or through automatic labeling. The classification is identifiable regardless of where the data is stored or with whom it’s shared.

Secondly, the right label is applied to the document, based on the security classification that was previously determined.

Finally, labels can be associated with relevant Rights Management Service templates, which encrypt the document and protect it with preset permissions for viewers, readers, authors etc.

Rights Management Service (RMS)

The protection technology solution uses Azure Rights Management. RMS uses encryption, identity, and authorization policies. Similarly to the applied labels, protection stays with documents and emails, independently of the location—inside and outside your organization, networks, file servers, and applications.

RMS is integrated with Office365 and Azure Active Directory. It can also be used with other applications and data protection solutions your organization utilizes on-premise, or in the cloud.

These protection settings can be a part of your label configuration, so that users can both classify and protect documents and emails simply by applying a label. Nevertheless, the same protection settings can also be used by apps and services that support data protection, except labeling. For these applications and services, the information protection settings become available as Rights Management templates.

AIP Latest Features

  • Azure Information Protection scanner with its recent updates – In February, Microsoft rolled out The Azure Information Protection Scanner which can be used to discover sensitive information, when they are stored on Windows Server, network-attached drives, or on SharePoint Server data stores. You can specify local folders, UNC paths, and SharePoint Server URLs for SharePoint sites and libraries. The AIP scanner most recent updates include: Start-AIPScan PowerShell cmdlet which can instruct the scanner to start a one-time scan when the schedule was set to manual, after that only new or changed files will be scanned; the ability to create a file types list to include or exclude from scanning, or the ability to search and discover files with sensitive information types without configuring labels for automatic classification which is extremely useful.
  • New sensitive information types to help you classify files that contain personal information such as: EU phone number, EU mobile phone number etc.
  • ISO standard for PDF encryption, by adjusting the new advanced client configuration.
  • Labeling support for Strict Open XML Document format in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.

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