BPOS 2010 aka Wave 14

BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), Microsoft’s Online Services offering has been somewhat successful over the last year or so, but it is about to become a much more robust platform. Over the next few months the “Wave 14” rollout will begin, with an aim to being completed by the end of 2010.

The biggest update is that the products will match the versions that are available to purchase “on-site”. That is, BPOS will offer Exchange 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 with near feature parity; removing one of the biggest hurdles to BPOS adoption…at least in my experience.

However, there are a number of other additions and improvements coming…

Identity and authentication has been an issue for many people, as this whole area is quite clunky & “un-modern”. As Program Manager Dan Kershaw says:

“the password policy isn’t configurable, you can’t use the same credentials used inside the company for single sign-on with BPOS so admins have to maintain separate credentials, there’s no two-factor authentication and no role-based administration”.

The fact that Microsoft recognise these limitations is great as that means they’re also working on fixes. The update will bring:

  • Password Policy controls
  • Five admin roles
  • Federated ID’s w/ 2 factor authentication for single sign-on
  • New Admin Console
  • Service connector for managing Pcs & apps.


Powershell is definitely the way forward for 21st century system admins and, while it can be used for certain things with the current iteration of BPOS, more is coming soon.

I covered off some of the new features of Sharepoint Online 2010 in this post but now there is more information on what’s coming for Office Communications Online (OCO) over the next year.

Currently OCO gives IM and presence, along with peer to peer video, only within the customer’s domain. One of it’s biggest limitations is the inability to “federate” with on-premise OCS servers…this slightly puzzling block will be removed with Wave 14.

It’s said there will be “full integration” with Exchange & Sharepoint, both on-site and online.

This will lead to:

  • using the calendars on Exchange/Sharepoint to determine someone’s IM availability
  • voicemail in Exchange Online
  • IM functionality in OWA 2010.

One of the biggest questions people have is whether Office Comms Online will have VOIP/Voice capabilities.

"it might be more than a year later," says Ziv Fass, Senior Product Manager in the OCS team "but it won’t be years".

From a reseller AND a customer point of view, the updated versions of Microsoft’s Online Services will be a real benefit to us all.

Outlook 2010 Social Connector

Outlook Social Connectors have been announced for Outlook 2010; these will allow you to connect with social media sites directly from your email client.


The initial announcement is that a connector to business networking site LinkedIn will be announced early next year:

“Simply click on a message from a co-worker to discover what new connections they’ve made on LinkedIn, or click the LinkedIn badge underneath a photo to jump right to a person’s profile page on the Web.”

I have to say I’m surprised that Twitter isn’t in there from the start but perhaps that would seem a little gimmicky? However, don’t worry as:

anyone can build a provider to connect the OSC to a social network, their company’s line-of-business applications, or literally any system that can produce streams of activity about its users”

That’s right! Just as numerous 3rd parties have built some excellent apps for Twitter, people will soon be able to create connectors to give us Twitter in Outlook…which will be awesome! Plus I imagine that FaceBook will be added in pretty sharpish too, for all you FB’ers out there 🙂 You will be able to download the SDK from MSDN tomorrow (19-11-09).


This screenshot from Microsoft (which might be a mockup?) shows what it will look like further down the line…you can see emails, Live updates, Twitter updates, documents…pretty fantastic!

I’m very excited about this and will be very interested to see what connectors people start making. If you’re a dev and you’re looking for testers – let me know 😉

Go check out the Office blog here for more details.

Microsoft Office 2010 beta: A Look

The beta of Office 2010 is available now from MSDN and Technet and this is a look at what’s new, what’s fixed and what caused me problems…hopefully it will be interesting and useful for you 🙂

Installation and some issues:

The first thing to note is that you can’t upgrade from the 2010 Technical Preview; this means you’ll need to uninstall and do a reboot. I had a bit of a hairy moment where I logged in after the reboot and was presented with a guest account…I had a little “oh dear” moment thinking I’d managed to screw up my machine! Thankfully it was just a little glitch, I logged out and back in and all was well.

I double clicked the .exe and…I got the “cannot upgrade from previous versions” message again! I had a little stress and then started looking for the culprit…turns out it was the Office Outlook Connector that was getting in the way. If you’ve got that installed so you can access Hotmail from Outlook, make sure you uninstall it 🙂

After the install was complete, which took about 20 minutes, I started up OneNote…and got a warning box that I had possibly counterfeit software! It told me it was for “corporate or institutional use” only and that I had to connect it my corporate domain…WHAT?! I was told on Twitter that it had worked fine for other people so I tried again…added the key & clicked “Install Now” again. The next time I opened up OneNote it asked me to activate it online, which thankfully worked!

So now I’ve got it all installed and activated but it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride! To be fair, this machine has had a few issues with various iterations of Office over the years so I guess there is something not quite right in the registry!

What’s New?

The first thing I notice is that the Office components have all got new icons:



The Outlook Connector doesn’t recognise the beta and installation fails; however as you’re setting up Outlook, it offers to go off and install the Connector for you. I gave it a try and it pulls down a different beta file…clearly made for Office 2010 as it installed without a problem.

Having said that, the Outlook setup wizard doesn’t recognise that it’s installed, which is pretty annoying, and so goes off to find the settings online. After checking and double checking my account details to no avail, I tried another reboot…lo and behold, this time, it recognised that the connector was installed and went through with the account setup 🙂

Web test:

The folder structure on the left looks different than the Technical Preview and I noticed this:


See Web test at the bottom…what could it be? Let me show you:


That’s right, Twitter inside Outlook as default…that’s pretty cool 🙂 Once you’ve logged in, you can leave the Web Test folder and still be logged in when you come back.

Social Media Integration:

At the bottom of a new email, you now get this:


If you expand it using the arrow on the right, you get:


Click to add networks and you get:


Which hints at the social networking features present in Sharepoint 2010 🙂 It says there are more providers available online, but the link just takes you to a general Office site at the moment 😦 Once this is up & running, it will be pretty awesome…having, and I’m guessing at which will be included, Twitter, FaceBook & LinkedIn info and profiles available inside Outlook will be great. I’m not on Facebook (I know!) but I use the other two, especially Twitter, quite heavily for networking with suppliers, customers and colleagues.

Blurring the divide between “Social Media” and “Corporate Resources” is a great move, one aimed at this “New World of Work” that will resonate with the graduates coming into the workplace as well as us cool, hip (!) people that get it too. I can imagine some managers/directors being a bit unsure about this but I’m confident they’ll quickly see the benefits…just like corporate IM.

I’ve linked one of my Live Accounts into Outlook and just sent my first test email. It asked me to complete a “captcha” to verify my account before it would send it…something I don’t remember 2007 doing? You only need to do it once 🙂

New network pane:

Once you open up a new mail to someone who has emailed you, you get a message that Outlook wants to run an add-on. Click to run it and then Outlook starts showing you related mails and items.


I have to say that it takes quite a while for new mails to show up in the networking pane…hopefully this will be improved in the final version.

Also, I’m finding that I’m needing to close and re-open Outlook for all the changes to take place and, while it’s showing emails, attachments aren’t showing up in the pane. Again, I think this is down to it’s beta status.

This is very much a work in progress…I posted early so people could see the screenshots 🙂

The Backstage Icon look a bit different too, a bit more boring:


Was there the option to swap colour schemes in 2007 and/or the 2010 tech preview? I’m quite liking the black:


This leads me onto something I realised the other week. I’ve been paying much more attention to the ins & outs of Office 2010 than I ever did 2007 and so finding all kinds of great new features. However, I can’t be 100% sure if they’re new to Office or just new to me 🙂 There are a few in Outlook where I think this may be the case…if so, feel free to let me know in the comments!

Options –> Proofing –> AutoCorrect Options

That takes you to the section that shows you what things are replaced with what. There are things such as “yuor = your” but it also shows you how to make the sign for Pi and much more…pretty interesting:



Another feature I like the look of is “Keep track of formatting”:



As for the other components:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • Powerpoint
  • OneNote

I have to say that they all look pretty much the same to me, at least at this early stage!

Microsoft PDC 2009

Microsoft’s annual Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2009 starts next week on Tuesday 17th (to the 19th) and I’m hoping we’ll see some great announcements and revelations, just like last year.

Windows 7 is out now so all eyes are turned towards “Wave 14”, specifically Office 2010 and Sharepoint 2010…at least these are what I’m looking for more info on! It’s expected that the official release of the Office 2010 beta will be announced, as well as a beta of Office Web Apps.

The other big announcements will be around Windows Azure, which will be coming out of “Community Technical Preview” at the conference; so we’ll get more info on pricing and licensing.

I’m hoping there will be some BPOS news as that’s something of a pet area of mine, so it’s always good to learn more 🙂 I can see there’s a session titled “SharePoint Is Not Just On-Premise: Developing and Deploying Solutions to Microsoft SharePoint Online”…this is based on Sharepoint 2010 so should give some good hints and insight into what will be coming next year.

I’m not going to be there but I’ll be following it online and via Twitter so I’ll be posting all the big news for sure 😉

The keynotes will be streamed like from http://microsoftpdc.com/ starting at 08:30 PST (16:30 GMT) and feature:

Day 1: Ray Ozzie (Chief Software Architect) & Bob Muglia (President Server & Tools)

Day 2: Scott Guthrie (VP Developer Division), Kurt Delbene (Senior VP Office Business Productivity) and “Special Guest”

Not sure why but my guess is that the Special Guest will be Alec Baldwin…let’s see how wrong I am on that!

A look at Exchange 2010

I’ve been looking around the Microsoft New Efficiency site (blog post here) today and there are a number of great videos giving an overview and introduction to the new features of Exchange 2010. One of the key ideologies behind the new version of Exchange has been that it will behave the same whether it’s on-site or hosted in the cloud. The slide below shows the main pillars of Exchange 2010:


The following screenshots go into more detail on the features behind the above:






You’ll see here that Exchange 2010 now has integrated archiving capabilities. As you can see below, it gives users a 2nd mailbox which can be used to store archived data with all the familiarity and ease of Outlook.



It also has a new “Legal Hold” feature which tracks all edits etc on a user’s email-even those that are deleted.

Other features/news:

I saw this week that Exchange 2010 has the ability to migrate users during an upgrade (from 2007) without any downtime! A huge bonus to System Admins everywhere 🙂

Outlook Web Access is now called Outlook Web App, so still the same initials but it shows a different approach. Rather than it simply being a way to get your emails when you’re without Outlook…it is now a proper, defined entity in it’s own right. That is also shown by the fact that OWA 2010 will have around 95% feature parity with the full Outlook client. I don’t know what the percentage is currently but certainly in my opinion OWA 2007 is lacking a lot; so roll on OWA 2010! This will be of big interest to people looking at Exchange Online aswell…

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