IT

What is Microsoft Editor?

Microsoft Editor is a new tool from Microsoft, which I’d never heard of before.

Funnily enough, I found out that Microsoft Editor existed after upgrading to Windows 10 2004. One of the fifteen tips when you ‘See what else is new in this update’ after upgrading is this tip below. I couldn’t really understand what application the tip was referring to – the home tab, in Word, in browser mode via Edge?

Although I then found other tips that seemed purely Office 365 related (like PowerPoint and Excel tips) which is strange to advertise as part of a Windows 10 upgrade, the button on this tip takes you to a page that does a much better job of explaining what it is:

Microsoft Editor checks grammar and more in documents, mail, and the web

Here it explains that Microsoft Editor (which the full name wasn’t mentioned in the tip!) is an optional add-in available for Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. It’s also coming to Word and Outlook. Also, if you log into it with an account that has a Microsoft 365 subscription, you’ll get advanced grammar and style refinements.

There’s a bit more info about the Microsoft Editor browser extension here, with direct links for the Chrome and Edge add-ons.

Once installed, you’ll have this little icon in the top bar of the relevant browser:

Clicking it will ask you to sign in:

and you can sign in with a free consumer Microsoft account, or a Work account. After signing in, the icon will turn blue, and you can click it again to see your options.

Note that it uses English (United States) as the default language, which you can change by clicking on the current language which takes you to the options:

‘Show synonyms for spelling suggestions’ is also off by default, so I’ve turned that on.

Here’s a spelling correction and a grammar correction while writing this blog post:

Spelling correction
Grammar correction

I’ll have to use it more to see how good it is, but I am happy to see hopefully a useful tool to help everyone write better. If it’s being added into Word and Outlook, there’ll be extremely elevated expectations of this solution doing its job well!

Synology DiskStation Office 365 Backup Review

Synology sent me a new DiskStation to review after I’d acquired an older one myself to look at it’s ability to back up Office 365 data (or Microsoft 365 Data as the Office 365 name seems to disappear). Being a Microsoft MVP in Office Apps and Services category, so I was very interested to see how it worked.

After reading up on and seeing that it was a completely free piece of software available as part of owning a DiskStation, I was hoping this would be a good solution at an incredibly low price – buy your DiskStation and disks, some time to set it up, and you’re done. To me, that’s already a very appealing offering, along with Synology having a good reputation for maintaining and supporting their hardware several years on – which was proved by the 7 year old DS1813+ I set up a few months ago.

I’ve left the new Intel-based DiskStation 1618+ – Quad Core CPU and 4GB RAM (expandable) running for about a month now, backing up my Microsoft 365 tenant’s data. I ticked ALL the options to see how it went. This tenant is just for me, so the data set is smaller than most tenants – but I do run a few live things through it like email and OneDrive. There’s also a little SharePoint Online data from Micrsoft 365 Groups and Teams I’ve played around with.

Here’s what the dashboard looks like now:

Some useful information there around what’s being backed up and how big it is. You might notice there’s a few errors on the summary. I drilled into those and each was because ‘The Microsoft Server is busy’, and a few minutes later it would try again successfully.

This is likely because I used a backup option to get incremental changes, rather than at a set time. Maybe I’m hitting it too much and getting blocked occasionally.


I know I’ve gotten ahead of myself here, so let’s go back to how to set this up. Assuming you have yourself a Synology DiskStation of some sort that supports ‘Active Backup for Office 365‘ – and which models are those? Here’s the list:

  • 20 series:FS6400, FS3600, FS3400, RS820RP+, RS820+, DS920+, DS720+, DS620slim, DS420+, SA3600, SA3400, SA3200D
  • 19 series:RS1619xs+, RS1219+, DS2419+, DS1819+, DS1019+, DVA3219
  • 18 series:FS1018, RS3618xs, RS2818RP+, RS2418RP+, RS2418+, RS818RP+, RS818+, DS3018xs, DS1618+, DS918+, DS718+, DS418play, DS218+
  • 17 series:FS3017, FS2017, RS18017xs+, RS4017xs+, RS3617xs+, RS3617RPxs, RS3617xs, DS3617xs, DS1817+, DS1517+
  • 16 series:RS18016xs+, RS2416RP+, RS2416+, DS916+, DS716+, DS716+II, DS416play, DS216+, DS216+II
  • 15 series:RS815RP+, RS815+, RC18015xs+, DS3615xs, DS2415+, DS1815+, DS1515+, DS415+
  • 14 series:RS3614xs+, RS3614RPxs, RS3614xs, RS2414RP+, RS2414+, RS814RP+, RS814+
  • 13 series:RS10613xs+, RS3413xs+, DS2413+, DS1813+, DS1513+, DS713+
  • 12 series:RS3412RPxs, RS3412xs, RS2212RP+, RS2212+, RS812RP+, RS812+, DS3612xs, DS1812+, DS1512+, DS712+, DS412+
  • 11 series:RS3411RPxs, RS3411xs, RS2211RP+, RS2211+, DS3611xs, DS2411+, DS1511+, DS411+, DS411+II

From the DiskStation desktop, open Package Center and follow these steps:

This was a very easy setup to do – I took screenshots of every step involved, but it barely needs an explanation for anyone who’s an admin of a Microsoft 365 Tenant.

The program will then go off and start backing up what you told it. The ‘Activities’ section of Active Backup for Office 365 will show any backups running, and you can also use the inbuilt ‘Resource Monitor’ to see upload/download speeds, disk utilization etc.

It’s also worth noting that the backup you created has an ‘account discovery’ option where it’ll find any new accounts created and automatically add them to the backup, which is great for not having to change backup settings each time you have a new user start.


Running a backup is great, but how do you restore the data? There’s a second app you’ll need, ‘Active Backup for Office 365 Portal’. Launching this will take you to a web interface where admins can browse all data, and users can browse just their own (user access can be disabled if you prefer).

On this web interface, you can then find the file(s) you want to restore, and restore them. You also get a nice timeline down the bottom so you can move backwards and forwards to see a snapshot of a certain time.

Although Mail, Calendar, Contact, and Site (SharePoint) support searching across all backups for names and contents, at the time of writing this isn’t possible for OneDrive backups. It’s worth being aware of this – if someone requests a file restore you’ll need to know exactly when from. I don’t see this as too much of an issue though, as OneDrive has great version control natively, and an automatic recycle bin – so you’d probably rely on the native solution for finding a file, but still it’s worth knowing this existing limitation.

That was the only slight negative I could find while testing. Everything else just worked, was quick to browse and restore, and incremental backups appeared to be on the DiskStation within several seconds after creating a new file in OneDrive.

Again, this is an incredibly cheap Office 365 backup solution. Some may question if you need to back up Office 365 at all. You could set up infinite retention against all content, so why take a backup? To me it’s a definite grey area, and partly depends how much you value the data. Microsoft may never lose your data, but will it be available 100% of the time? What if that important document is in your OneDrive and hadn’t synced down, and there was an outage? We’ve seen a few outages lately, including ones that have broken authentication – your data is still there, but you can’t get to it. In that scenario, having a local copy of something time sensitive could be worth it. Considering the relative low cost of buying a Synolgoy DiskStation – your disks are probably going to cost more than the unit itself, I consider it a pretty easy sell.

Enabling Dictation in Windows 10

Dictation is a pretty cool feature in Windows 10. Press Winkey + H, and up comes a small prompt in the middle of your screen telling you it’s listening – you can start talking, and your words start appearing wherever your cursor is.

Not only that, but you can give commands like a light version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking such as ‘delete test’ to delete the last word ‘test’. Or ‘Select the next three words‘ to highlight them – basic cursor management you’d normally need a mouse for.

A managed Windows 10 computer however, may not have all the components required to use Dictation, and a user may not have the access to download the speech packs themselves.

I hit a problem where Dictation would say ‘Download a Speech package for dictation’, but clicking that link would take me to settings and show that it was already installed. An admin of the PC doing this however, would somehow trigger a component to install and Dictation would work fine.

An admin of the PC doing this however, would somehow trigger a component to install and Dictation would work fine.

Under the user context, going to the Speech settings would show all the options as greyed out and blank:

After raising this with Microsoft Support, this was the method we found to make it all work:

These are the components that I required for Dictation:

• Language Basic component
• Language Text-to-speech component
• Language Speech component

These components are available to download via the “Windows 10 Features on Demand Pack 1” which you can find in your MSDN My Visual Studio downloads (the latest being version 2004). You’ll probably need a subscription for this.

Features On Demand are also available via Windows Update but this may not help you if you have a WSUS server.

The resulting ISO, e.g. en_windows_10_features_on_demand_part_1_version_2004_x64_dvd_7669fc91.iso will contain a separate .cab file for each feature. From this, it’s then a matter of using the DISM tool to inject each feature into Windows 10:

Dism /Online /Add-Package /PackagePath:F:\Microsoft-Windows-LanguageFeatures-Basic-en-au-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~.cab 

Note you can add multiple packages to the above command, so could do all three with a single line. If you want to know what packages are already installed on a Windows 10 device:

Dism /Online /Get-Packages 

Privacy

There’s one big other catch with Dictation. You’ll need to enable ‘Online speech recognition’ which leverages Microsoft cloud based services as part of using Dictation.

If you’re running a computer that’s logged on under a Microsoft account, everything you say is being captured. You can view this data here and choose to delete it:

https://account.microsoft.com/privacy/activity-history?view=voice

I’m still clarifying how this works in other scenarios, and will update this blog post if I find out any more information.

If as a company, you’ve decided and accepted this scenario, you can toggle the option on for users using this registry setting:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Speech_OneCore\Settings\OnlineSpeechPrivacy

HasAccepted DWORD

0 = Off

1 = On

Maybe you won’t need to do any of the above at all – but it’s worth understanding what’s out there, and if you understand and accept the privacy aspect; and if you do, then promoting it to your userbase as a potentially big timesaver… especially for those 1 finger keyboard typists!

It’s also worth nothing that several Microsoft 365 products include Dictate inside the app, more about that here.

Connecting to Skype for Business Online via PowerShell in a Hybrid Environment

How to connect to Skype for Business Online via Powershell

To connect to Skype for Business Online:

  • Download and install the module from Microsoft

  • Run the following commands in PowerShell:

    Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector

    $sfboSession = New-CsOnlineSession -UserName “admin@contoso.com” -OverrideAdminDomain “yourtennant.onmicrosoft.com”

    Import-PSSession $sfboSession

    Applies To : Windows 10, Windows Server


    I’ve been caught out by this twice and it’s taken me a while to find the rather simple answer.

    Most instructions give you a pretty simple way to connect to Skype for Business Online (or they’ll just call it Skype for Business). You install the module via executable, downloaded from Microsoft, and then try to run the following PowerShell commands (or some similar variation):

    Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
    $sfboSession = New-CsOnlineSession -UserName "admin@contoso.com"
    Import-PSSession $sfboSession

    If you don’t have Skype for Business On-Premises, it should just work. If you DO have it and set up hybrid, you’ll probably get this error:

    Unable to discover PowerShell endpoint URI.
    At C:\Program Files\Common Files\Skype for Business
    Online\Modules\SkypeOnlineConnector\SkypeOnlineConnectorStartup.psm1:155 char:9
    +         throw $resources.DiscoveringEndpointFail
    +         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        + CategoryInfo          : OperationStopped: (Unable to disco...l endpoint URI.:String) [], RuntimeException
        + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Unable to discover PowerShell endpoint URI.

    Or, you might get this error if you managed to get the interactive logon to pop up first and then entered your credentials there:

    Get-CsOnlinePowerShellAccessToken : One or more errors occurred.
    At C:\Program Files\Common Files\Skype for Business
    Online\Modules\SkypeOnlineConnector\SkypeOnlineConnectorStartup.psm1:214 char:28
    +             $accessToken = Get-CsOnlinePowerShellAccessToken @params
    +                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        + CategoryInfo          : NotSpecified: (:) [Get-CsOnlinePowerShellAccessToken], AggregateException
        + FullyQualifiedErrorId : System.AggregateException,Microsoft.Rtc.Management.OnlineConnector.GetPowerShellAccessTo
       ken

    There’s a huge amount of potential fixes offered, but for me it was one simple switch, which I found thanks to enterinit.com – use the -OverrideAdminDomain switch.

    Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
    $sfboSession = New-CsOnlineSession -UserName "admin@contoso.com" -OverrideAdminDomain “yourtennant.onmicrosoft.com”
    Import-PSSession $sfboSession

    Really easy fix, but the errors really don’t make it sound like this could be your problem. Now the next time I try to connect, I’ll re-read my own blog post to remind me of this switch :)

    Note: I had to connect to this to make a Microsoft Teams change!

    My Current Home Network Setup

    After getting Gigabit NBN at home, I thought it was about time to review my home network setup.

    I’d recently bought an Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine (UDM) to replace my two ASUS DSL-AC68U‘s which had been a bit prone to freezing, as well as having some other quirks around aiMesh not supporting ethernet backhaul on the model, and the 2.4Ghz mode causing issues around older devices not being able to connect to it when meshed, causing me to create another guest Wifi network that wasn’t meshed… yeah, I was done with them.

    The UDM was a huge step up in features and visibility. I could actually clearly see what devices were on my network, what their signal strength was, an overall health rating of my network, bandwidth used overall and by each device… so much data.

    UniFi Dream Machine – Out of the box but not set up yet.

    It meant I could actually see that at one end of the house, the devices were fine on Wi-Fi , but I wanted as close to perfect as possible. That lead me to buy a Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Lite to put at one end of the house for better coverage. Adding the access point onto the network was the easiest network thing I’d ever done – plug it in, discover it on the UDM, and that’s it.

    The UDM shows a nice graph of my devices and where they’re connected to (it isn’t aware of non-managed downstream switches though):

    It even has an option to create a floor plan of your house and give recommended settings based on it – you upload an image, draw in the walls and what type they are, run a scan and it gives recommended settings and expected coverage:

    To test my rusty Visio skills (which are still rusty after this), I thought I’d try and draw a topology of my setup. Still not being able to wrangle lines and make them go exactly where I wanted, I think I did an OK job of showing what I have and how it’s connected:

    I’ve actually got a few CAT6 points in the house – from the lounge to a cupboard, and from the cupboard to the family room and one of the bedrooms.

    What I realised out of this was really how many devices I had. I didn’t get close to adding everything in (which was easy to check against the UDM’s client list) – Chromecasts, a Google Mini, other devices that had been offline for a bit or tablets I’d forgotten about – there’s a heck of a lot of devices on the network.

    As my kids get older, and more technology enters our lives, this will continue to get complex. Earlier this year I was still thinking “I’ll never have faster than 100mbit internet” and then gigabit internet came along – making pretty much every device have the ability to get whatever it wants from around the world, at the full speed it’s connected to the rest of my network, rather than having the service running into the house being the bottleneck.

    What’s my real point in all this? I guess just be aware of what you have, what might be actually on your network, and get decent gear if you want to have a good experience. Don’t be afraid to invest in network points in your home, and 5G isn’t going to solve your devices talking to each other in your own home (although I am interested in seeing what real world speeds are like, now that I’ve got coverage).

    With my Gigabit NBN and decent router/access points, the Ubiquiti UDM itself gives a nice summary (and I know we’re 2% short here, it’s as close to perfect as I can get):