Windows Server 2012 R2 Update

**UPDATE** Oddly this portion of the update is no longer published in the TechNet Article. Hoping that it’s added back soon.

To coincide with the Microsoft Build conference and the announcement of Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft will be releasing an update for Windows Server 2012 R2 per the published TechNet article on 2 April 2014 found here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn645472.aspx

The most interesting of the three major updates as noted in the TechNet article is by far this:

Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) has added the capability for an administrator to enable signing in with an alternate login ID that is an attribute of the user object in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). This enables customers to adopt Azure Active Directory without modifying on-premises User Principal Names (UPNs). It also allows users to log in to the computer using an Office 365 email address instead of a UPN. This change does not affect the Active Directory schema. For more information, see Configuring Alternate Login ID.

If you start to think about the opportunities this provides for an additional way to store user identity without necessarily having to go through and completely change the naming schema that you’re using for your AD at the moment. Or at least that’s the way that I see it.

Looking forward to these bits being available on 8 April 2014 on the Download Center to begin testing this things out.

Official blog announcement from the Windows Server Product Team available here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/archive/2014/04/02/windows-server-2012-r2-update-is-now-available-to-subscribers.aspx

A pleasant surprise…

This morning I received a note from the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program stating that I’d been selected as an MVP for technical expertise within the SharePoint Server community.

In a word a few words – stunned, flattered, honored.

I’m flattered and honored to have been recognized by Microsoft. Six years ago I would probably have told you that I never expected to really be that involved with the community – the SharePoint community was just starting to get on board with Twitter and connections were being made between individuals throughout the community across the country. I had met a few folks, Becky Isserman, Eric Harlan, Shadeed Eleazer, John Miller, Dan Lewis, Dux Raymond Sy,  Joel Oleson, Mike WatsonCathy Dew, Laura Rogers, Lori Gowin, Geoff Varosky, Michael Gannotti, Fabian Williams, Susan Lennon,  Rob Foster, Eric Shupps, and none other than Joel Ward.

Over the years I’ve made several other connections and friendships for a life time with folks like Scott Hoag, Joel Ward and Jason Himmelstein, Cathy Dew, Lori Gowin, Becky Isserman, and Isaac Stith and so many more that I think that I’d run out of room here :)

Needless to say, I want to say thank you to the SPS Events crew that I’ve been able to be a part of the past five years. Eric, Tasha, Susan and folks that helped start the group – thanks for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. To the DC crew, I’d be remiss without saying thanks to Rachel and Adam (and Scott and Isaac of course).

So what changes? Nothing, really. I’m still Dan Usher. Still organizing SPSEvents DC with the help of the crew, still running the Reston SPUG that Scott and I started a bit over a year ago, still toying with Azure and Office 365 in my free waking hours.

I look forward to being able to be a part of the MVP community over this coming next year and hope to be able to continue to support the DC community. Let’s rock and roll friends!

Seeing through the sensationalism…

I do have to say that it cracks me up seeing authors try to spin different information from a non-technical perspective to explain things to consumers rather than just stating, “Hey, it’s a service that already exists, they’re just allowing you to buy it separately.”

In this case it’s an article on CMSWire on the topic of OneDrive for Business takes on SharePoint.

I’m sorry, what? OneDrive for Business, formerly SkyDrive Pro, is comprised of two components. Me thinks it’s not trying to take on SharePoint as a whole. The article might as well say “XYZ document synchronization software takes on SharePoint.”

The client agent for OneDrive for Business is an outgrowth of SharePoint for Workspaces 2010 which was an outgrowth of Microsoft Groove 2007 which was a rebrand of Groove 2006. The OneDrive for Business is merely the document library that’s standard for a user’s mysite user profile that happens to now connect back into the Groove software, I mean OneDrive for Business software with a special folder that shows up through File Explorer / Windows explorer thanks to the client agent. On a side note, all the functionality that you had in Groove and SharePoint Workspaces for metadata synchronization, forms, conversations and such no longer exists in OneDrive for Business.

I would like to say that my hat goes off to the Microsoft Office SharePoint Product Group and the associated teams that were able to make OneDrive for Business possible. It’s not easy to integrate something like this and it’s further not something simple especially with all the other turning wheels in the SharePoint platform wheelhouse.

Back to the article though… do I think that OneDrive for Business is taking on SharePoint? Trying to replace it? For certain use cases? Sure. If you’re an army of one or a small team of individuals that lack hard core processes, don’t require workflow and are primarily concerned with document management and collaboration, sounds like a nice service offering to go after.

For team collaboration however, where you’re working in an integrated workspace with calendar information, tasks, workflows, metadata, applications, dashboards, project schedules and other particular information – no.

Also, it’s interesting that the article mentions the “OneDrive for Business” following document libraries… that would be the client software allowing you to sync to document libraries… perhaps I’m missing the significance here but that’s SharePoint document libraries.

The subscription service to me is basically Microsoft offering it out there to compete with Dropbox for Business or other enterprise services. This just happening to key off the capabilities of SharePoint that already exist. Props to Microsoft for setting up the infrastructure and commoditizing it for those simply looking for document management and document collaboration through Office Web Applications.

All in all, I’m excited to see OneDrive for Business continue to gain popularity since until now SharePoint MySites and the document library were largely overlooked in SharePoint 2003/2007/2010.

To me though, the best part, if you look in task explorer and look at the process that’s running, while it might have a label that says “OneDrive for Business” it’s still good ole Groove.exe. :)

Come to the dark side…

It’s been a fairly light week after all the news pouring out from the Consumer Electronics Show, but a few highlights of interest.

  • It would seem that Andrew Connell has finally come back to the dark side with the procurement of a MacBook Pro. Funny enough that he’s got a similar logo on his MBP as Scott Hoag. As for me I’ve been sporting a Lego on my MBP for a couple of years now.

Speaking of off-topic, there’s been the drive as of recent for Microsoft to be recognized as more of a devices company than a platform company. In as much, we’ve seen Office 365 begin to bridge that gap, offering Office Web Apps that for the most part provide similar experiences across devices and browsers. Granted, not all browsers are created equal (IE6, you’ll always have a special place in my heart…). Nevertheless, I came across Addictive Tips blog postings on the “Best of Addons for 2013.” Specifically for FireFox and Chrome. So eat your heart out and check these out when you’ve got a few spare cycles:

With all of the security concerns as of recent note such as the Starbucks App being found to store passwords in clear text, it’s interesting to see that Google is adding the ability to send e-mail messages to individuals that you happen to be connected with through Google+. Note that there are ways to get out of this engagement by simply going in and changing your settings. More on how to do this is available here:

http://www.addictivetips.com/web/how-to-opt-out-of-gmails-new-email-via-google-plus-option/

And speaking of Google, don’t forget that the same technology baked into the Galaxy Nexus 5 where you simply say, “Okay Google” and a search page pops open ready to listen to your every beck and command – it’s also available for your Chrome web browser as an extension that can be added from the Google Chrome Store here:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-voice-search-hotwo/bepbmhgboaologfdajaanbcjmnhjmhfn?hl=en-US

If you’re me and you’re still looking to finish out your MCSE SharePoint certification and just have to knock out the 70-417 MCSA upgrade exam, it couldn’t hurt to check out some of the materials that the Microsoft Virtual Academy is offering up on the Windows Server platform. More details are available here – and best of all, the training is free.

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/product-training/windows-server

The Microsoft Office 365 team has updated the services that were added to Office 365 today for the December 2013 update on their Service Update Wiki. More details on this are available here – http://community.office365.com/en-us/wikis/office_365_service_updates/974.aspx#dec2013. Nothing overly significant, just three modifications.

On January 15, the Apps for Office and SharePoint blog posted an article on “Publishing apps for Office and SharePoint to Windows Azure Websites.” Definitely a handy article and walk through when you’re looking to create provider-hosted apps. Kudos to the Office Developer Team.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/officeapps/archive/2014/01/15/publishing-apps-for-office-and-sharepoint-to-windows-azure-websites.aspx

Last but not least, the Simpsons will be available throug the FX app as its sister station FXX has the exclusive on-demand rights for the show. The details are thin at the moment but it looks like a cable subscription will be required. More on this is available from the Unofficial Apple Weblog post here:

http://www.tuaw.com/2014/01/16/dedicated-app-will-stream-every-episode-of-the-simpsons-and-mor/

UserCode Solutions… collaborative guidance

This just in, we finally have a ruling from the SharePoint court of appeals… Sandboxed Solutions are deprecated!

Okay, some of them are deprecated. If you’re using declarative code and JavaScript, then keep on writing those Sandboxed Solutions, they’re still supported.

If you’re using the slimmed down API that Microsoft presented to us in SharePoint 2010 for the use of custom code within a Sandboxed Solution, then you’re outta luck as the SharePoint Developer Team has posted guidance leaving things pretty cut and dry as to where things stand. The only caveat being that they don’t define what they mean by “deprecated”.

More on this thrilling story is available here – Deprecation of Custom Code in Sandboxed Solutions.

Something that the article calls out, but I’m guessing that a lot of developers still may have overlooked is the Reimagine SharePoint Development session that they’ve been pushing folks to check out.

If you’re not too keen on these changes though, or you have a use case that you feel will make Microsoft think a little differently or perhaps augment the way custom code Sandboxed Solutions are handled going forward, be sure to speak your mind over at the Customer Feedback for the Office Developer Platform.

If you happen to live in the DC area, there’s an IT Pro Camp going on
22 February 2014 at the Chevy Chase offices of Microsoft. More details are available along with registration here:
Washington DC IT Pro Camp

A few other articles of note that might come in handy that I’ve come across from friends in the community:

Patch Tuesday – January 2014

A few quick bits of information for today that might be of interest to those of you working with the Microsoft Stack.

If you dig into the KB2916605, it’s labelled as important, not critical but probably something you’ll still want to address. This impacts impacts Microsoft Word across several versions as well as the Word Automation Services and Office Web Apps of SharePoint 2010 and 2013.

Also new today, Power BI is now available for purchase for your Office 365 SharePoint Online tenants. If you have an E3/E4 subscription you’ll see a heft discount.

This past weekend I mentioned during a presentation on getting started with Office 365 that there are service updates that are pushed regularly. To get more information as to what’s being pushed each month, check out the Services Updates for Office 365 for enterprises, mid-size businesses and Education (English) here:

And if you’re interested in learning more pertaining to the Office 365 Service Upgrades that are ongoing for the Enterprise, more information is available here:

Looking for the latest and greatest when it comes to new content for SharePoint 2013?

Nothing really of note, the last update was back on 16 December 2013 with:

  • Deactivated controls in SharePoint Designer 2013 (new)
  • The building blocks of SharePoint hybrid (new)
  • Set-SPAuthenticationRealm (updated)

If you’re looking for updates for MSDN related SharePoint articles, you can find that content here – New and updated content for SharePoint 2013

Call to Action… Get in Community!

So often we find ourselves struggling with a technical issue or looking for a way to start working toward a business problem from an approach perspective and we find ourselves feeling somewhat alone, without really knowing where to turn.

This weekend I found it interesting going down to Virginia Beach and meeting folks from the DC area that hadn’t heard that there were SPSEvents DC (http://www.spsdc.org) or that there were user groups that they could get involved in.

Nevertheless, if you’re curious as to some of the happenings, check out the different user groups in the area:

SPSEvents – Virginia Beach 2014

Well, it’s 2014 and you all know what that means… SPSEvents presents SharePoint Saturday Virginia Beach at the Tidewater Community College ATC. This was the sixth year for the event and the community was great! It’s been interesting to have attended several of the SPSVB events over the years and see them continue to refine, get better, introduce new speakers and also to see the community continue to develop.

As for me, it was a great time to bump into the likes of Adam Levithan, Fabian Williams, Patrick Curran, David Berry, Tasha Scott, Susan Lennon, Becky Isserman, Christian Buckley, Joel Oleson, Erin Glenn, Stephen Heister and Benjamin Niaulin.

I presented two sessions at the event in the afternoon. One on the topic of “Getting Started with Office 365.” It’s a quick overview of licensing, some of the plan information, what all’s included with Office 365 and some tips and tricks to consider while making a decision about how you’re going to approach it. Slides are available from Slide Share here:

Additionally, I spoke on the topic of one of the more dear topics that I deal with on a regular basis – “Authentication, Authorization and Identity – it’s more than meets the eye.” This topic covers the core background of AuthN, AuthZ and ID and provides advice on things to consider when planning out your environment. The slides for this session are available here:

Thanks to all that were able to attend – you all make these events incredibly worthwhile to speakers looking to share knowledge.

DNS Flush…

So if you’re running into an issue where you need to flush DNS on your machine, there are a couple ways to do so… the two most common ways for me at least (long live the command line interface!) are to either pop open a run dialog in elevated permissions mode on a Windows box or open up a term shell on OSX.

For Windows, open an elevated permissions run dialog and then type:

ipconfig /flushdns

For Mac OSX, open a term shell and then type:

sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

Happy flushing and hope that your DNS records start resolving soon.

SharePoint Online versus On-Premise (v15)

If you’re looking for a comparison of the SharePoint Online offering that’s a part of Office 365 broken down by product SKU with what is provided for with SharePoint 2013 Enterprise for your on-premise implementations, you can! Microsoft released this in the form of an Excel Web App as a link off of the SharePoint Online service description on TechNet located here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/office365/fp123607

But then you think to yourself, what if I need to be able to download a copy and work through it in Excel on my desktop machine, no problem, you can either click on the Excel looking icon on the bottom of the page aforementioned or you can click on the below link to pull down a local copy:

http://bit.ly/1ekEeMT

Happy comparisons!

Connecting… Collaborating… Communicating…