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An exorcism at Microsoft | Computerworld

Satya Nadella has been Microsoft CEO for more than five years, having replaced Steve Ballmer in February 2014. Along the way, he’s made dramatic changes in the way Microsoft operates, doing things that Ballmer likely never would have done, including writing off, for $7.6 billion in 2015, Ballmer’s Nokia acquisition.

But at Microsoft’s recent annual Ignite developers conference, Nadella took actions that killed off Ballmer’s ghost — Microsoft now is clearly Nadella’s company, and Ballmer’s influence has been laid to rest. None of the actions was dramatic in its own right, but taken together, they show just how little of Ballmer’s legacy is left at Microsoft.

Let’s start with Microsoft’s unveiling of a release candidate of its new Edge browser. It’s based on open-source Chromium, which was originally developed by Google and powers Google’s Chrome browser.

Microsoft announced the move to Chromium months ago and has been releasing betas of the new Edge since then. But by showing off the browser at its annual developers conference, rather than rolling it out quietly, Microsoft emphasized how important the move is to the company’s future. It is saying that it will be working with multiple platforms, in a more open way.

These days, a browser might not seem central to Microsoft’s fate. But under Gates and Ballmer, owning the browser market with proprietary technology was at the core of the company’s Windows-centric strategy, a way to own people’s relationship with the web. Microsoft built Internet Explorer into Windows, wouldn’t allow other browsers to ship with Windows, and did its best to make sure alternate browsers couldn’t be easily installed.

We all know how that turned out: The federal government went after Microsoft for antitrust violations, and Google and other competitors arose.

Yet through the years, under Gates and then Ballmer, Microsoft continued its go-it-alone, proprietary browser strategy. The result: Today, according to NetMarketshare, Google’s Chrome has more than 67% of the desktop browser market, with Internet Explorer and Edge weighing in with a mere 17% combined.

Despite that failure, Ballmer likely never would have agreed to base Microsoft’s browser on code developed by one of its top rivals, nor would he have been inclined to make that browser available on multiple operating systems, not just Windows. Nadella is doing exactly that, though. And in January, when the new Edge formally ships, Ballmer’s browser legacy will be dead.

There’s another Ballmer legacy that bit the dust at Ignite: the ill-fated decision to bet the company’s future not on software that runs on the Windows desktop, but instead on apps written on an entirely new platform. Those apps have been called various things through the years, including Metro apps, Modern apps and Windows Store apps.

These apps are written using what Microsoft calls the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which is anything but universal. UWP was rolled out for the terrible, ill-fated Windows 8, with the idea that Microsoft would force people to give up using applications like Office that run on the desktop. (Those applications are called Win32 apps.) UWP apps would run only on the new part of Windows, designed primarily for mobile rather than desktop computing. These new apps would become the center of the Windows universe.

The strategy failed miserably, with UWP apps consistently underpowered, and often useless. Consumers avoided them, and developers refused to write them. Still, Ballmer persisted pushing UWP.

But at this year’s Ignite, Microsoft announced a change that finally killed that strategy. The company released the alpha version of a library for developers, WinUI 3.0, that will allow developers to take capabilities and features from UWP and include them in Win32 apps. Expect UWP-only apps to bite the dust.

And to emphasize that Microsoft has finally thrown in the towel on its UWP platform, the company also announced that its OneNote note-taking app will continue to live and be developed as a desktop app, even though it previously had said the desktop version of OneNote would get no new features. The idea seemed to be that the UWP version would take the reins while the Win32 OneNote rode off into the sunset.

Now, the desktop version of OneNote will get plenty of new features. Don’t be surprised if the UWP version doesn’t. In essence, this spells the death of UWP, which was Ballmer’s baby. There’s not a chance Ballmer would have killed it, as Nadella is doing.

It’s been clear for a while that Nadella is pursuing his own vision for Microsoft, separate from Ballmer’s. It has paid off spectacularly, with the company worth more than $1 trillion. And now, the ghost of Ballmer past has been exorcized from the company as well.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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FAQ: Microsoft sharpens Edge | Computerworld

Microsoft will release the polished version of its overhauled Edge browser in less than 10 weeks.

While the new Edge has been built using technologies from a fierce rival – Google, which controls two-thirds of the global user share – it’s also an attempt by Redmond to resurrect its own browser fortunes. Edge, the old Edge, the browser that debuted alongside Windows 10 four years ago, was roundly rejected by users.

Now, Microsoft wants a second chance. But will customers grant the company a mulligan?

We don’t know. But we do know answers to a variety of other important questions about Edge Part Deux. In fact, we have more answers than space, so we’ll revisit second-chance Edge before that January 2020, roll-out arrives.

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5 Anti-Spam Filters for Microsoft Outlook That Raise Your Protection

Microsoft Outlook is one of the most popular email clients in the world. Despite the popularity, Outlook’s integrated spam filtering doesn’t catch much. As spammers use increasingly novel methods to skirt the default Outlook spam blocker, your inbox can come under attack from all manner of spam emails.

If your Outlook inbox is under spam-siege, check out the top anti-spam tools for Outlook.

SpamBully takes the crown as the top-rated spam filter for Microsoft Outlook. It is a premium spam filter, but it delivers excellent results straight out of the box as it purges inboxes and keeps them clean.

SpamBully works with Outlook, Office 365, Office 2019, Office 2016, and older Office versions.

SpamBully brings an extensive range of spam filtering and blocking to Outlook. It learns how you use your email, making sure that only the good email passes to your inbox even as it removes spam automatically without you constantly updating your block list.

One of SpamBully’s best features is the option to “punish” the spammer. You can return spam mail automatically to the sender so that it doesn’t clog your inbox. It also reports the sender to the server it came from. The idea is to increase the cost of sending spam.

Another interesting feature is the email password for unfamiliar senders. If the address looks suspicious or spoofed, you can request the sender to enter a password before the email enters your inbox. A spammer isn’t going to take the time to enter individual passwords for each spam email.

If you are unsure about malicious email, why not try Google’s phishing email quiz

This Google Quiz Will Help You Spot Phishing Emails

This Google Quiz Will Help You Spot Phishing Emails

How good are you at spotting phishing emails? To test your skills, Google has developed a Phishing Quiz using real-world examples.
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? It teaches you how to spot and avoid phishing emails and other malicious email types.

A 1-year SpamBully subscription comes in at $29.95.

Download: SpamBully for Windows (Free Trial)

outlook spam filter mailwasher pro

MailWasher is an Outlook spam filter that receives excellent reviews. MailWasher comes in two flavors: Free and Pro. The free version works with a single email account, and you cannot block incoming mail based upon country of origin.

Those limitations aside, MailWasher Free offers much of the same features as the Premium version.

MailWasher uses an automated learning system to figure out what is spam in your inbox and what it should leave intact. It has extensive filtering, which it uses in conjunction with customizable blacklists. The MailWasher interface is easy to use, allowing you to sort through spam emails rapidly. The auto-account detection works well, too.

A 1-year MailWasher Pro license will set you back $39.95, and a lifetime license comes in at $100. MailWasher is also available for iOS and Android.

Download: MailWasher Free for Windows (Free)

outlook spam filter spamfighter

SPAMfighter is an award-winning free spam filter for Microsoft Outlook. SPAMfighter is a Microsoft Gold Partner, too, working closely to deliver a great spam filter.

Once installed, SPAMfighter protects all the accounts on your PC (including Outlook Express and Mozilla Thunderbird). When you receive an email, SPAMfighter checks it automatically. If it is spam, it heads straight to your spam folder.

If SPAMfighter misses a spam email, you can update the SPAMfighter definitions with a single click. The updated definition will eventually filter through to all other SPAMfighter users.

Handily, SPAMfighter creates whitelists automatically, and you can also filter emails using the language list.

Download: SPAMfighter for Windows 10 (Free for home users)

Spamihilator Settings screen

Spamihilator takes the prize for the best spam filter name. It isn’t just an amusing name, though. Spamihilator is a useful free anti-spam tool for Outlook that will keep your inbox clear. Once installed, Spamihilator sits between Outlook and your network connection, catching spam before it hits your inbox.

Spamihilator hasn’t received an update in a while, but it is still a great free tool. The “Training Area” feature lets you mark specific emails for future filtering, teaching the program to remove messages with similar content. Spamihilator becomes better the more you use the filters.

There is a setup wizard that appears automatically after installation. The wizard is fine if you have a POP3 email account. However, if you use IMAP, you need to enter your email configuration within the Spamihilator settings.

If you are unsure about what email type you use, here are the differences between IMAP and POP3.

Unlike most other spam filters, Spamihilator offers a portable installer. A portable installer works directly from a USB flash drive, meaning you can use it to clean up spam on a different computer without installing. You can find the portable installers on the Spamihilator download page.

Download: Spamihilator for Windows 32-bit | Windows 64-bit (Both Free)

outlook spam filter spam reader

Spam Reader scans your inbox with impressive speed after installation. No sooner had I opened Outlook, Spam Reader reported back over 8,000 spam messages. It had scanned my existing spam box, but also caught a lot of spam lurking in my inbox. Spam Reader nestles in your Outlook toolbar, as per the above image.

Aside from rapid scanning speed, Spam Reader tracks and analyses your inbox to understand your usage.

In this, it uses a “Sure/Not Sure” method to deal with potential spam. Marking messages Not Sure keeps false negatives from deletion before you have had a chance to check manually. Over time, Spam Reader learns that those false negatives should head straight to your inbox.

There are two Spam Reader versions: Free and Pro. The features are exactly the same. But after 30-days, the free version adds a small message to your outgoing emails. If that is not something you want, the Pro version comes in at $39.95 for a lifetime license with minor upgrades, or $59.50 for a lifetime license with major upgrades.

Download: Spam Reader for Windows (Free)

What Is the Best Outlook Spam Filter?

The default Outlook spam filter doesn’t cut out enough spam. Spam is big business, and Microsoft is losing the war.

Spam varies between inboxes, of course. If your email has found its way onto a spam list, you will receive more spam than most. Data breaches are extremely common, unfortunately, so your email address could well be in the hands of the spammers.

The best Outlook spam filter is SpamBully. It catches almost every bit of incoming spam and learns about your inbox and usage habits quickly. SpamBully does come with a price tag. But for the sake of keeping your Outlook inbox free of time-consuming and potentially malicious spam, it is a worthwhile investment.

If you want to power-up your Outlook inbox, check out these Microsoft Outlook add-ins for a better email experience

6 Free Microsoft Outlook Add-Ins for Better Emails

6 Free Microsoft Outlook Add-Ins for Better Emails

Add-ins can add functionality that Outlook is missing by default. We show you six free add-ins to increase productivity and fun within Outlook.
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This 11-course Microsoft & Oracle SQL certification prep bundle is only $39 today

If you’re interested in a career in data administration, you’re in luck! Nowadays, companies handle larger data sets than ever before, so the need for data experts is higher than ever. Whether you’re new to the field or you want to brush up on your database management skills, this $39 bundle is for you. 

The Complete Microsoft & Oracle SQL Certification Bundle features 11 courses on how to become a skilled database administrator. One of the most popular relational database management systems is Microsoft SQL Server, and you’ll learn the basics behind this tool such as modifying data and combining data sets in Microsoft 70-461: Querying SQL Server 2012. Alternatively, you can specialize in Oracle, another popular RDBMS, by completing Oracle 12c OCP 1Z0-061: SQL Fundamentals. Once you’ve completed either of these, you can pursue advanced SQL certifications to design data warehouses, design business intelligence solutions, and more. 

Database administration requires certified skills in an RDBMS, and the Complete Microsoft & Oracle SQL Certification Bundle has all the information you need to get there for $39, or 98% off.

Prices subject to change


The Complete Microsoft & Oracle SQL Certification Bundle – $39

See Deal

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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How to Insert a Watermark in Microsoft Word (Or Remove One)

The humble Microsoft Word watermark says a lot about a document. The most frequently used “Draft” watermark tells everyone that this is an early copy. The “Confidential” mark alludes to something hush-hush.

A watermark is just a faint or washed-out text or a picture behind the text. It can be a branding or a warning.

That it can say a lot sitting behind the main content suggests its importance. It is so easy to insert watermarks in Word. Let’s learn how.

The screenshots below are from Microsoft Office 365.

Insert Watermark in Word

Word supplies four default watermarks like “Confidential”, “Urgent”, “ASAP”, and “Do Not Copy” in text form. If they are all you use, then it’s almost a single-click operation to insert them in your document.

1. Launch Microsoft Word. Select the Print Layout from the three icons at the bottom right of Word.

2. Go to the Ribbon > Design tab.

3. Click on Watermark in the Page Background group to expand the options under it.

Insert watermark in Word

4. Choose any of the default watermarks from the choices Word provides, but do make sure it is appropriate for the document.

5. Word places the faded watermark on the document just behind your text. Again, the watermark is only visible in the Print Layout view.

An inserted watermark in Word

How to Use a Custom Watermark

The default watermarks are there when speed and convenience matter. But there may be occasions when the limited choices on Word don’t work for you. You can use make your own watermark and use it with the document.

Custom watermarks are of two types:

  • Text watermark
  • Picture watermark

Follow the same steps as above but choose Custom Watermark under the dropdown menu.

Insert custom watermark in Word

How to Insert a Custom Text Watermark

Custom watermark ideas can include your organization’s logo, your name, a copyright symbol, or anything that’s relevant to the document.

Here’s how to create a text watermark.

The Printed Watermark Window in Word

  1. The Printed Watermark window opens.
  2. Choose the Text Watermark option. The fields are self-explanatory
  3. Type the text you want to use as a watermark into the Text box. Configure the options for language, font, size, color, and orientation. Select the Semi-transparent box if you want a lighter shade of the text, or de-select it if you want to go darker.
  4. Click Apply and OK when you’re done.

How to Insert a Picture Watermark

You can get really creative with picture watermarks because images used well can say a thousand words. For instance, with casual documents, you can use a funny image or the number of minutes it will take to read the page.

You can even make a pattern that repeats across the whole page. Set it up with these steps.

Use a Picture Watermark in Word

  1. In the Printed Watermark window, select the Picture Watermark option and then click on the Select Picture button.
  2. You can upload an image file from your desktop, search Bing for an image, or source it from your OneDrive folder on the cloud.
  3. Click on Insert if you upload an image from your computer. For the other two online options, just click on Apply to use the watermark.
  4. You can tweak the appearance of the watermark. The “Scale” is set to automatic by default, but you can use the dropdown to select a specific percentage.
  5. The Washout option displays a watermark the way it is supposed to be—faded into the page. You can disable this to bring out the actual image, but it can overpower the text on top of it.

Select and Customize Your Watermark

Just adding your own text or a picture isn’t the only way to customize your watermark. The basic ones are all pale gray. Word also allows you to click the appearance by changing its color, size, and position on the page manually.

But how do you select the watermark when it is in the background?

The watermark is part of the header in the document even though it appears in the middle of the page or repeats across the entire page. All you have to do is open the header by double clicking somewhere near the top of the page.

With the header section open, click the watermark to select it like any other object on the page. Move the cursor over the watermark until the cursor turns into a four-headed arrow.

Select and Customize Your Watermark

Then, you can customize it in four ways after selecting it:

  • Drag the watermark to any part of the page.
  • You can add different watermarks to the different sections in your document.
  • If it’s a text watermark, you can use the WordArt Tools tab to customize the text.
  • If it’s a picture watermark, you can use all the options in the Picture Format tab to adjust the image or apply effects.

Change one watermark and the customization will automatically reflect in all the pages of your document.

How to Remove a Watermark

There are two ways to remove a watermark.

  • Open the Header and Footer area as explained above. As the image or text watermark is now editable, you can select it and hit the Delete key.
  • Go to the Design tab > Click the Watermark button > Select the Remove Watermark option.

Just like moving or resizing a watermark, deleting one removes it from every page of your document.

A Few More Tips on Word Watermarks

There are a couple of more things you can do with watermarks to speed up your productivity in any documents that follow.

1. Save a watermark to the gallery and reuse. You can customize a watermark and select it. Then from the Watermark menu in the design tab, just select Save Selection to Watermark gallery. Give the watermark a name, and click OK.

Save Watermark Gallery

Try this out: On a blank Word page, insert your own text and customize its size and appearance. Select and save it to the watermark gallery.

Select it under General in the gallery of watermarks and apply it to any other document. 

2. Insert watermark in Word on just one page. Word automatically places a watermark on all pages of your document. If it’s an overkill, just apply the watermark to the first page of your document.

Place your cursor on the right page. Go to Design > Watermark > Right click the watermark you want >SelectInsert at Current Document Position. The watermark is displayed within a text box which you can then move, rotate, or resize.

Insert watermark at current document position

Use Watermarks for Both Work and Personal Use

A watermark can be just one of those little things that amp up the professional look of your document. But as we suggested above, don’t let that stop you from using it on personal documents.

It is one of those overlooked features in Microsoft Word

10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Word That’ll Make Your Life Easier

10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Word That’ll Make Your Life Easier

Microsoft Word wouldn’t be the tool it is without its productive features. Here are several features that can help you every day.
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that make makes your life easier.

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Microsoft combines Intune with ConfigMgr

Microsoft has combined its System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) with its Intune unified endpoint management (UEM) platform, enabling users to access both using just one interface.

The combined products are now called Endpoint Manager, which makes licensing for Intune available to all ConfigMgr customers to co-manage Windows devices. Between the two cloud services, more than 200 million devices are being managed, Microsoft said.

ConfigMgr and Intune provide on-premises and cloud management tools as well as co-management options to provision, deploy, manage and secure endpoints and applications across an enterprise.

“Our management vision has not been as simple as it could be. ConfigMgr and Intune have both played a role, but it hasn’t always been clear what the future holds. So, let me be very clear—this vision includes both ConfigMgr and Intune. Co-management isn’t a bridge; it’s a destination,” Brad Anderson, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, said in a blog post.

Along with offering a single management interface for ConfigMgr and Intune, Endpoint Manager includes the Device Management Admin Center (DMAC) and Desktop Analytics.

“That’s pretty big news because the Systems Center community, which is a big business for Microsoft, gives them much more clarity in terms of how they operate both Intune and System Center together, and it kind of unifies those two worlds,” said Nick McQuire, vice president and head of enterprise research at CCS Insight.

Users who want to manage non-Windows devices through Microsoft Endpoint Manager will need to purchase either a separate Intune license, an Enterprise Mobility & Security (EMS) license, or a Microsoft 365 E3 or higher license, the company said.

“The direction of travel isn’t that you need to shut off System Center to take advantage of Intune; you can run them both together and take a workload-based model around management around all your end points, as opposed to just your Windows environment,” McQuire said.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Microsoft sets Jan. 15 launch for its second-chance Edge

Microsoft will release a production-quality version of its recast Edge browser Jan. 15, or in just over 10 weeks.

What the Redmond, Wash. company this week called a “release candidate” of the final version can be downloaded from the firm’s website. The build — the label usually applies to finished code that may still harbor some bugs — has been marked 79.0.309.11 and issued as the latest Beta for Windows and macOS.

Microsoft first broached the idea of remaking Edge in December 2018, when it announced it was discarding its own rendering and JavaScript engines — the technologies at the core of any browser — and instead adopting those built by the Chromium project, the open-source effort led by Google that fuels Chrome. With that declaration, Microsoft gave up on building a modern browser — one that would replace the ancient and obsolete Internet Explorer (IE) — and follow in the footsteps of such niche applications as Opera and Brave.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft cast it differently. “We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers,” wrote Joe Belfiore, a corporate vice president in the Windows group, at the time.

Since then, Microsoft has released multiple versions of the “full-Chromium” Edge using the same development channel nomenclature Google does for Chrome — Canary, Dev and Beta — for first, Windows 10 and macOS, and then somewhat later, for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Microsoft’s assignment of 79.0.309.11 as the release candidate — and more generally, version 79 currently as the Beta channel build — points to that edition as what the company will offer on Jan. 15, 2020. Chrome will rely on the same foundation — Chromium 79 — for its Dec. 10 release, labeled Chrome 79. The two, Edge and Chrome, will therefore not be on the same release schedule.

Nor will they be for at least one additional upgrade. Chrome 80, built upon the same-numbered version of Chromium, will debut at the end of January (Jan. 28, to be exact) or early the next month (Feb. 4). Those dates would seem far too close to Microsoft’s Jan. 15 to be used for the first Edge upgrade.

Earlier, Microsoft did not explicitly say whether it would keep pace with Chromium’s (and thus Chrome’s) calendar, releasing an upgrade every six to eight weeks. In fact, in June a program manager said the opposite: “We’re not beholden to six weeks or four weeks or something like that,” Chris Heilmann said about Edge’s future release tempo. Yet in online documentation, Microsoft said that, yes, it will release like Chrome, if not on the same dates. “Feature updates will be released on a 6-week cycle (approximately),” the updating support doc said.

Yusuf Mehdi, the executive in the Modern Life & Devices group who introduced the release candidate in a Nov. 4 post to a Microsoft blog, touted several features in the impending final, most of which had been disclosed previously.

One is the browser’s tracking protection, a defensive technology that debuted in June with the very preliminary Canary build. At the time, the feature was burdened with a bare-bones UI (user interface) and Microsoft relegated it to a behind-the-scenes option panel.

Edge tracking prevention Microsoft

Edge’s tracking prevention feature has had its UI fleshed out and is turned on by default, part of Microsoft’s effort to make its Chromium-based browser stand out from Chrome.

Now in finished form, tracking prevention is switched on by default and boasts a polished and prominent UI. Like similar technologies featured in other browsers, Edge’s tracking protection comes in several levels of intensity, from basic through balanced to strict. Each successive level increases the kind and number of trackers that are blocked.

Microsoft put Edge on the same path Mozilla and Apple set Firefox and Safari, respectively, staking out an anti-tracking position. Not only does this play to users concerned about online privacy — specifically how sites and advertisers monitor their movements and behavior — but it positions the Chromium Edge as different from Chrome, the Chromium original.

Other Edge features that have been fleshed out to completion include IE mode, which emulates the old browser for customers stuck with earlier generations of web apps, intranet sites and mission-critical websites of suppliers and partners. Also prominent in Edge’s release candidate is Collections, a set of tools that lets users gather information from multiple online sources, then organize it for content creation or decision making.

Ironically, Edge’s planned Jan. 15 launch date will come a day late for most Windows 7 users. The day before, Jan. 14, Microsoft will issue Windows 7’s final for-the-general-public security fixes, then officially retire the 2009 OS. But Microsoft has a reason for the apparent madness: It sells post-retirement support, called Extended Security Updates (ESU), to business customers for up to three years, or until January 2023. While Microsoft has not said it aloud — at least to Computerworld‘s knowledge — it will almost certainly service the new Edge on Windows 7 with security and feature updates.

Edge 79 Beta can be downloaded for Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Server and macOS from Microsoft’s Edge Insider website.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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You Can Now Try Microsoft Office for Mobile

Microsoft has released a new, unified Office app for mobile. Office brings together the core Microsoft Office apps of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into one app. And it’s now available to try for free in public preview on both Android and iOS.

Microsoft Starts Taking Mobile Seriously

Microsoft is synonymous with PCs. This is because Windows is by far the most popular desktop operating system. And Microsoft’s failure to compete with Android and iOS in the mobile sector only solidified that connection.

However, in recent years, Microsoft has made a concerted effort to become more mobile-friendly. The company now happily releases apps for Android and iOS, including mobile versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. And now it’s combining all three.

Microsoft Launches an Office app on Mobile

Microsoft launched the Office mobile app in a post on the Office Apps Blog. The company bills Office as “a new vision for how people get work done on a phone” and “a new app that’s ambitious enough to simply be called Office.”

Office for mobile has been built with mobile users in mind at all times. So it’s optimized for use on mobile devices, with Microsoft “combining the existing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint mobile apps into a single app.”

Anyone who has already used any of these Office apps will recognize them immediately. It’s just that Microsoft has squeezed them into a single app. This means you get to enjoy an integrated experience, while also gaining some mobile-centric features.

Combining its existing apps into one “brings all of your Office documents together in one place, reduces the need to switch between multiple apps, and significantly reduces the amount of space used on your phone compared to multiple installed apps.”

How to Try Microsoft Office on Your Smartphone

To try the Office for mobile app on Android, simply visit this page and follow the instructions. Unfortunately, due to Apple limiting public previews to 10,000 users, iOS users who haven’t already downloaded Office will now have to wait until its full release.

For an app still only in public preview, the new Office app is looking good. And it’s only likely to get better. However, many people would still prefer to use an alternative to Microsoft Office. So here are the best free Microsoft Office alternatives

The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives

The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives

Microsoft Office is the king of office suites, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Here are some other office suites you might like better!
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Microsoft Intune can now block unauthorized BYOD hardware

Microsoft has integrated third-party mobile threat defense (MTD) software with its Intune unified endpoint management (UEM) platform, enabling corporate systems to detect when an employee’s unenrolled, smartphone or tablet has an app potentially infected by malware.

The new Intune capability is particularly useful for companies with bring-your-own device (BYOD) policies in that it can block access to enterprise systems on devices flagged by the MTD software.

The mobile threat detection feature on Intune will initially allow it to work with software from Lookout for Work, Better Mobile and Zimperium. “In future, we expect other partners to add support for this integration,” Microsoft said via a Monday blog post released during its Ignite conference.

Microsoft Intune threat detection Microsoft

The Intune setup page for mobile threat detection

“By blocking compromised mobile devices from [the] ability to access corporate resources like Exchange and SharePoint, this information helps organizations protect the modern workplace against device-based attacks,” Microsoft said. “In the past, this capability required end users to enroll their devices with Intune for mobile device management (MDM).”

The new MTD capability is integrated into the MDM client itself so IT shops won’t have to enroll users separately – they can be provisioned provision together; that makes BYOD enrollment simpler, according to Nick McQuire, vice president and head of enterprise research at CCS Insight.

The Intune update, McQuire said, is about enabling mobile application management (MAM) features for BYOD corporate programs, which typically require companies to purchase more than one software license.

Microsoft mobile threat detection Intune Microsoft

MTD set up page

Microsoft’s strategy is to enter the mobile threat defense marketplace – first, through integration deals with third-party MTD providers – and later possibly by creating its own solution or by acquiring a competitor, McQuire said.

IT shops often struggle to find a good MTD product in a relatively nascent marketplace.

“Ultimately, customers don’t want to run two different agents on a device and pay separately for mobile threat defense. This is a good step for Microsoft. I think it’s a sign Microsoft will go harder into this arena,” McQuire said.

Microsoft already offers threat defense software for enterprise PCs and laptops via its Microsoft Defender firewall, so it’s a natural evolution to begin offering it for iOS and Android mobile devices.

“Currently, there’s no clear winner in the MTD space, so it makes sense for Microsoft to maintain its neutrality. Ultimately, Microsoft will need that capability across all end-points and not just in the PC environment.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Microsoft Teams gets private channels, email integration with Outlook

Microsoft Teams users can now converse with colleagues privately after the long-awaited introduction of private channels – one of a variety of updates announced by Microsoft at its Ignite conference in Orlando, Fla. this week. The company also highlighted enhanced integration with Outlook and a multi-window feature.

Private channels have been in high demand from Teams users, and are the most requested feature on the Microsoft User Voice feedback page for Teams. The feature had been proposed by Microsoft before the launch of Teams in 2017, with a preview announced earlier this year.  

The new feature allows Teams users to create channels that that are viewable and accessible only by specified coworkers, which can be useful for teams dealing with sensitive or confidential content. 

“Every group, every team, every business has some discussions where they need to maintain some level of confidentiality,” said Karan Nigam, group product marketing manager for Microsoft Teams. “For a lot of companies, it is the financial data. With private channels, the intent is that any team can restrict the membership of that particular channel so that not everyone has access to [it], …only a certain set of people do.”

Teams private channels Microsoft

AUp to 30 private channels are available to each team, and each channel can contain up to 350 members.

“Private channels are important for any collaboration offering, just as a private conference room is required for in-person meetings,” said Patrick Moorhead, founder and president of Moor Insights & Strategy. “I believe it will facilitate more open conversations and engender trust.”

Outlook integration with Teams

Microsoft also unveiled plans to integrate Teams more deeply into Outlook, with the addition of a button in the email client that can send information from an email into the work chat app. The opposite is also possible, allowing messages from Teams to be sent to Outlook. The interoperability is designed to allow users to more easily select the communication venue that best suits them, whether that be real-time chat or asynchronous communications via email. 

“It is a simple construct, but at the same time very powerful, to be able to bridge that gap between different modalities of communication,” said Nigam. 

“Shifting between Outlook and Teams is natural,” said Moorhead. “When workers get into a 50-short-email back-and-forth, it would be better to be a Teams chat as it’s easier to see the information and respond at the right point in the thread. Conversely, a 700-word chat or report over Teams doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and would be better for Outlook.”

The addition of the feature comes as rival Slack also moves to link its platform more tightly with email clients, including Microsoft’s Outlook. Slack is also planning to go one step further and let users reply directly between email and chat.

Tasks in Teams Microsoft

The Tasks in Teams feature is slated to be available early in 2020.

Microsoft has also rolled out a unified view of assigned tasks within Teams. That allows tasks assigned to a user across a range of tools within Office 365 – To Do, Planner, Outlook and Teams – to be visible on a single page and accessible as lists, charts, boards or schedules. The single-window view is due out early in 2020.

Also new: multi-windows, Yammer integration and frontline worker features

Other Teams announcements at Ignite include:

  • Pinned channels to keep track of important conversations.
  • A pop-out multi-window feature to make it easier to access information within Teams from   separate chats, meetings, calls or document windows. 
  • Updated features for frontline workers, including the ability to sign in using a mobile phone number for authentication (a public preview will come early next year) and Global Sign-Out to ensure that all apps are exited on shared mobile devices at the end of a shift. (A public preview for  Android devices is expected early in 2020).
  • Messaging extensions such as polls and surveys for chat and channel conversations that should be available later this year. 
  • Power Apps that can now be published as custom Teams apps, accessible via an organization’s app library or pinned to the left-hand navigational bar. 
  • Features for IT admins, including Advisor for Teams to offer recommendations when deploying Teams teams; a certified app catalog that offers details on available app; and policy packages that let admins assign predefined policies to users with similar roles.
  • Access to Microsoft’s Whiteboard “digital canvas” from Teams.
  • A Linux client for Teams, with a public preview later this year.

The full list of this week’s Teams announcements is available here. 

In related news, Lori Wright, the general manager for Teams, has moved to become general manager for Microsoft’s Xbox division. Microsoft declined to comment on the change or her replacement. 

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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