Microsoft

Outlook 2016 Secondary Mailbox Cached Mode

After migrating to Outlook 2016 from 2010, I noticed this inconsistency.

If you use secondary mailboxes in Outlook, you’re probably going to want them in Online Mode rather than Cached Mode. With Cached Mode on, you’ll have an OST file created for each extra mailbox you add, and you’ll hit performance issues if you have over 500 folders over all mailboxes added to the account.

One of the ways to avoid these performance issues is turning off ‘Download shared folders’ in the mailbox settings:

‘Download shared folders’ disabled

This can be done manually, or company wide with the Group Policy setting “Disable shared mail folder caching” found in User Configuration / Administrative Templates / Microsoft Outlook 2016 / Outlook Options / Delegates. Enabling this will disable and grey out the option as per the screenshot above.

However, I was previously doing this through a registry setting ‘CacheOthersMail’ under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\office\16.0\outlook\cached mode with the value set to 0. This worked on Outlook 2010 fine I believe, but in 2016 it did something slightly strange. Although clicking on a secondary mailbox’s folders showed they were in Online Mode with the status bar status of ‘Online’, the ‘Download shared folders’ tickbox was still enabled. I’ve confirmed this on both CTR and MSI versions of Office 2016.

At first I thought nothing of this, as it seemed to be working as intended. However, after a while I worked out that having it configured this way lead to performance issues, and people who had over 500 folders had cases where the inbox would stop updating. Changing the tickbox setting resolved the issue, despite the secondary mailboxes before and after this showing as ‘Online’. I didn’t dig into this any further so I can’t explain what was actually going on, but at a guess it was still doing some sort of sync or connection on each folder despite it being in Online Mode.

My advice is – make sure the ‘Download shared folders’ tickbox is off rather than just checking that the folders show as being ‘Online’. If you really need a secondary mailbox in cached mode but want to disable it by default, you could add it as a seperate mailbox account which will have it’s own cached mode settings.

 

 

Updating the On-Premises Power BI Data Gateway

Power BI’s on-premises data gateway needs updating from time to time – Microsoft are pretty good at communicating this to the Office 365 tenant administrator via email when required.

One of those times is now at the time of writing this blog post – due to end of support of TLS 1.0 on March 15th 2018. The installer itself is pretty much a next, next finish wizard, but there’s a few tricks that can cause the wizard to fail.

The gateway installation failed.

The error logs may not spell out what the problem is. I saw:

Product: EgwComponents -- Installation failed.


Windows Installer installed the product. Product Name: EgwComponents. Product Version: 1.15.6170.1. Product Language: 1033. Installation success or error status: 1603.

The reasons I’ve seen reported online are:

  • Installer not being run as Administrator (UAC may be in the way) – right click the installer and ‘Run As Administrator’
  • Installing .NET 4.6
  • Disable any Anti-Virus product

None of those fixed it for me, but I soon realised an obvious one – check for pending reboots. Windows update had run and was waiting for a restart, after that the installer worked perfectly. It won’t be the last time I forget to turn it off and back on again.

 

Excel – Something Went Wrong While Downloading Your Template

Excel 2013 and 2016 have a great inbuilt feature of having online pre-built templates available for different purposes. You find them by going to File > New. Templates such as Family Budgets or Back to School Planners. They’re hosted by Microsoft and download the template as you need them:

List of Excel 2016 Templates

Normally you’d pick the template you want, and use the create option:

Creating an Excel 2016 Template

However, there’s a scenario I found that this doesn’t work, and you’ll see the message ‘Something went wrong while downloading your template’:

Something went wrong

After digging around for a bit, I found this Technet thread which mentioned uninstalling Visio Viewer to fix it. Seems strange, but I tried this and it worked. I wasn’t happy with that as a solution though, so logged a Microsoft case.

I went through the process of capturing fiddler traffic and logs, but was then asked a simple question: Was Visio Viewer 32 or 64 bit? I had a look and it was 64 bit, however the Office 2016 suite itself was 32 bit. I quickly guessed that 32 and 64 bit wasn’t a good mix for Office products, even if they were installed separately.

Sure enough, using Visio Viewer 32 bit with Excel 2016 32 bit fixed the problem.

 

TL;DR – Visio Viewer needs to match your Office/Excel install – 32 bit or 64 bit for both.

Microsoft Word – Show all formatting marks

Microsoft Word 2016 and earlier versions have a handy toggle for ‘Show/Hide paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols’. It’s that backwards P looking thing in the Word ribbon:

… but also choosable from Word’s options under the Display section, called ‘Show all formatting marks’:

By default, this option is off. I had a business requirement to have it on by default, which proved harder to work out than I thought.

Normally for Word and Office, a user option is controlled by the registry. Procmon is great for capturing those changes, but I couldn’t see anything when toggling this option.

Jeremy Moskowitz from PolicyPak gave me a hint on finding the solution on this one; Word sets some of it’s user settings at the time of closing Word, rather than changing an option and pressing ‘OK’.

Once I knew that, the setting was easy to find.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Word\Options

DWORD Value - ShowAllFormatting

1 - Enabled / On

0 - Disabled / Off

Word will read this setting at startup, and write to it at shutdown based on what the setting was last set to.

Using Group Policy Preferences and setting the option ‘Apply once and do not reapply’ to push out the registry setting will make it the default, but let users change it as they please.

Deploying a Locked Down Start Menu in Windows 10

The tiles in Windows 10’s Start Menu can be rather messy. By default, you get a lot – and they may be things you don’t want there such as News, Sports, Photos, Microsoft Store etc.

Since Windows 10 1607, there’s been a way to control this. Customize Windows 10 Start and taskbar with Group Policy covers how to do this, but there’s some errors and links that don’t work, so I thought it was worth giving a quick overview on how to do this.

Keep in mind that this process locks down the Start Menu tiles completely, users won’t be able to add, remove or change anything to do with tiles.

The first step is to configure the Start Menu tiles how you want them on a computer. You can add, remove, move, resize etc until you’re happy with how it looks.

Once that’s done, you’ll need to export the layout to an XML file. Easily done by opening PowerShell and running Export-StartLayout. This needs the -Path switch, e.g. Export-StartLayout -Path “C:\temp\startmenu.xml”

Copy the resulting startmenu.xml file into a central location that clients will be able to access, or copy it out to each machine through Group Policy Preferences. This XML file will be called in the Group Policy setting “Start Layout”.

The Group Policy setting called “Start Layout” lives in User Configuration or Computer Configuration > Policies> > Administrative Templates >Start Menu and Taskbar. You’ll probably want this at the user level rather than the computer level, but it depends at what layer you want this locked down at. 

If you can’t see this policy at all, then you may need to update your Group Policy templates. Each time a new version of Windows 10 comes out, there’s usually new or updated Group Policies to use. There’s a good step-by-step here if you need help – I’d recommend downloading the templates that match the latest version of Windows 10 you’re managing.

Start Layout in Group Policy

For this policy, you’ll be setting the radio button to Enabled, and setting the Start Layout File value to the path of the XML file that you copied out or placed centrally.

Start Layout Settings

Once that is done, the Group Policy object containing this setting needs to be pointed at the users or computers you want it to apply to, just like any other Group Policy.

The end result is the client then having the same Start Menu tiles configured in the XML file.

You may find that some of the tiles are missing. I’ve seen this happen when the shortcut the XML points to isn’t in the location expected. Here’s an example XML file with just one tile configured for Notepad:

<LayoutModificationTemplate xmlns:defaultlayout="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/FullDefaultLayout" xmlns:start="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/StartLayout" Version="1" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/LayoutModification">
 <LayoutOptions StartTileGroupCellWidth="6" />
 <DefaultLayoutOverride>
 <StartLayoutCollection>
 <defaultlayout:StartLayout GroupCellWidth="6">
 <start:Group Name="">
 <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Notepad.lnk" />
 </start:Group>
 </defaultlayout:StartLayout>
 </StartLayoutCollection>
 </DefaultLayoutOverride>
</LayoutModificationTemplate>

When a Tile is added to the Start Menu, if it doesn’t exist already, it will create a .LNK file and uses that for the tile. You may need to copy these off the computer you created the tiles on the in first place too, and copy them out to the same path on the computers you’re pushing this setting to.

You can also manually update or change the XML file yourself, which can sometimes be easier than going through the whole export process again.

One last thought I have on this, is that you can have multiple XML files going to different computers or users based on their requirements – but don’t over complicate things or you’ll be constantly managing tiles!