Here’s everything that’s new in Office 365 administration for April 2016

Microsoft spoke at length about upcoming features and updates to the Office 365 platform during its Build 2016 developer conference. According to Microsoft’s executive vice president of Applications and Services group, Qi Lu, Office 365 users can look forward to popular service add-ins such as Starbucks and various vacation aggregators. Other upcoming features include further deployment of the platform extending Office 365 Connectors, which will allow a multitude of online services to tap into Office 365 APIs to offer more robust experiences within the Office framework.

Even as Microsoft offers a glimpse of what is in store for Office users in the future, the company would like to remind present day Office 365 users of all the features and updates they currently have access to. In April, Office 365 users should make note of updates to the Office 365 admin center, Directory Synchronization status monitoring, company email protection, managing share mailboxes and much more.

Here are all the updates that have arrived for Office 365 users during the month of April for 2016.

Updates for the new Office 365 admin center

  • Quickly find what you’re looking for with expanded search—In addition to users and groups, you can now search for tasks, settings, and pages. The improved search at the top of the home dashboard makes it easy for you to quickly get to any feature you’re looking for. Some of our first release customers have even shared the feedback that they love the search so much they use it more than the regular navigation now. Try it out!
  • Monitor your Directory Synchronization status—We added a new tile to the dashboard that makes it easy for you to see the status of your Directory Synchronization (DirSync). The tile shows important information such as last sync time, possible issues, and information on how to troubleshoot. Only customers who have DirSync set up will see this tile.
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Directory Synchronization Status

  • Understand how your users are using Office 365—The new usage reporting portal provides you with valuable insights about how the Office 365 services are being used in your organization and delivers details down to the individual user level. The first reports available focus on active Office 365 users, email activity, and Office activations. As of last week, the rollout of additional reports providing insights on SharePoint and OneDrive site usage and Yammer and Skype for Business activity have started. Read our recent blog post for more information.
  • Get more information about your users and manage user lists more efficiently—The user list now includes information about which licenses are assigned to a user. To access additional details such as “Date of last password change” or to further filter and analyze the user data, you can now export the whole user list into a CSV file. Also, you can now bulk import users through CSV as well.

In addition, we added the ability to create and manage company contacts and equipment—such as a company car—as well as direct links to Mobile Device Management and data/email import functionality.

If the new admin center is not your default experience yet, you can directly log in to it at portal.office.com/adminportal/home. Or you can click the Get a sneak peek link at the top of the old admin center.”

Updates for the Office 365 Admin mobile app

  • The Office 365 Admin mobile app just keeps getting better as well, having just added the following new features:
  • Protect your organization’s email—Providing an employee with access to a specific mailbox or preserving mailbox content are often very time-critical actions. Now, you have all these functionalities available on the go as the Office 365 Admin mobile app now allows you to set mailbox permissions, block email protocols or place a mailbox on litigation.
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Office 365 admin mobile app

  • Manage groups, conference rooms, equipment and shared mailboxes—You can now create and edit security groups, distribution lists, conference rooms, equipment and shared mailboxes directly in the Admin mobile app.
  • Stay informed through push notifications—Keeping up with changes just got easier. The admin app now supports push notifications for message center updates. Make sure to enable these in the app settings.
  • Manage license count—No need for your employees to wait until you’re back at your desk. You can now increase the number of licenses directly from the admin mobile app and also view your bills.
  • Manage Office 365 from your desktop—The beta version of the Office 365 admin app for Windows 10 is now available, enabling you to administer Office 365 directly from your desktop. You only have to sign in once, as the app keeps you logged in. The app supports notification integration with Windows 10 as well as Microsoft Partner scenarios, allowing you to easily switch organizations if you manage Office 365 for multiple tenants.
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For the past two years, Microsoft has pivoted to pitching Office 365 as a platform rather than a standalone grouping of productivity tools. With a new focus on creating platforms out of previous one-off products categories, Microsoft is now putting the effort into making properties such as Office 365 as feature oriented as Windows. Similar to Windows, Office 365 has seen monthly updates, patches, fixes and feature releases and will presumably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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What is your most used feature in Office 365, and what would you add?