Microsoft

Microsoft TechCommunity Top Posts February 2022, Week 1

Time to go through the week’s TechCommunity posts and check out my favorites:

Microsoft Forms as a Tab in Teams using graph API in Power Automate

I like content like this where it’s stepping through exactly what to do, to make three different parts of M365 talk together. Great if you’re learning about Power Automate.

Don’t pay more for SharePoint Storage than you have to :-)

SharePoint Online isn’t an infinite bucket of storage, and this post covers how (he thinks) it works, and some considerations on how to control and clean it up. There’s also a script to run that will show how much storage can be saved per site collection – useful!

Attack Simulation Training: User tags based targeting in simulations – now live!

Tags are apparently the new groups and I’m not actually sure what advantage Tags have over managing Groups for this sort of thing, but it’s there and live. The Attack Simulation Training in Office 365 Security is actually quite good, and I like how it shows an example email and points out the areas to look at. Worth checking out.

Turn off Mirror my video in Microsoft Teams meetings to match your video to your audience’s view

These titles are getting longer. Microsoft Teams is rolling out the ‘Mirror my video’ option so you can see how others see you, now how you’d see yourself in a mirror which is the default (and can take a minute to process the difference). A good explanation and screenshots in this one, in case you’d like to inform your user base.

ProvisionGenie 🧞 – a community driven initiative

If you’re brave enough to let end users create their own groups, this seems like a more structured way of allowing it and having more of it build the way they want. Looks like a really cool community driven piece of work!

Demystifying Microsoft Teams Rooms (Windows) application releases

If you have Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) devices running on Windows, then you should be across how updates are applied and in what frequency, just like Windows 10/11 and Office 365. There’s also the Microsoft 365 Public roadmap to get an idea what’s coming for MTR devices.

The Power BI Roadmap – Released!

No beating around the bush on this one and I’ll save you a click, the Power BI roadmap has been updated.

What’s new in Microsoft Endpoint Manager – 2201 (January) edition

Although my brain can’t handle the yymm format of MEM releases, this shows the product is still alive and being well developed. The three items highlighted are – Microsoft Tunnel client functionality on Microsoft Defender for Endpoint iOS, Filters in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and enabling .DMG app installs on macOS. Filters also has it’s own dedicated post here, and it’s also worth mentioning the ‘Visualize your content package distribution in Configuration Manager TP 2201‘ post which does what it says, nice little addition there.

What’s New in Microsoft Teams | January 2022

If you want a popular post, this is one of them at 30k + views already. There’s so many new features listed that I started writing them down and changed my mind – go check out all the new stuff.

Try Microsoft Lists with your Microsoft account (Preview)

Microsoft takes another step into the consumer world with releasing Microsoft Lists for Microsoft accounts. It’s limited to the first 200,000 people who sign up for it – I’m a huge fan of Lists and I’m sure people using spreadsheets for this sort of thing for personal reasons would get some benefits of using Lists instead.

Troubleshooting RBAC configuration issues in Exchange Online

If you’d like to see what someone has to go through when troubleshooting why someone can’t run a certain command, and why people end up using Domain Admin/Tenant Admin, here’s a good example :) Permissions are tricky, and here’s some common scenarios and how to work your way through them.

Speed up data entry and validation with AutoComplete for dropdown lists in Excel for Windows

I’m trying not to make jokes here, but this is now trying to make Excel more like Microsoft Lists, and probably does it better than Microsoft Lists’ dropdown options. Only in the beta channel for Excel at this point in time.

Tips for task management across Microsoft

Confusing about when to use Microsoft To DoMicrosoft ProjectMicrosoft OutlookMicrosoft OfficeMicrosoft Teams, and Microsoft Loop for task management? So is everyone else, and this is a great rundown of what to use and when.

PowerBI: Screen scrape to Gorgeous Visual in 5 Easy Steps

Daniel Kim asks “Have you ever wanted to scrape data from a website and create a dashboard with the data?” and I hadn’t, but this still sounds pretty cool and I had no idea Power BI could do it.

How you can learn Python with this 11 part series

I’m not going to learn Python, but this is free learning content for anyone who does. Free!

Microsoft Sentinel – continuous threat monitoring for GitHub

Sentinel is kicking goals as a very good SIEM solution. Now it can monitor GitHub for suspicious activities. If you’ve got Sentinel and GitHub, connect these two up!

Introducing MTA-STS for Exchange Online

This is something for Exchange Online admins to look into – a new security standard which is already on, and is designed to avoid man-in-the-middle attacks. Read up on this one.

That’s it for this week, as always you can see the entire feed of TechCommunity posts at https://twitter.com/MSITTechNews and you can see my previous TechCommunnity picks here https://www.adamfowlerit.com/tag/techcommunity/

Microsoft TechCommunity Top Posts January 2022, Week 4

Here’s my selection of TechCommunity posts for this week. My plan was to pick 5ish, but there’s a heck of a lot of content to go through, read, then decide if it’s worthy:

Mainframe Data Modernization to Azure

If you like visuals, you’ll like this post. The exponentially increased amount of data we have to work with becomes more difficult to manage on-premises, and this article covers some of the considerations around this and methods to move your data to the cloud. Nice for some future planning considerations.

Windows Server End of Support: Key Dates

Don’t forget those end of support dates! Windows Server 2022 is out, 2008 + R2 is on extended security updates, and 2012 + R2 has a bit under 2 years left before standard support ends (unless of course it gets extended). If you have 2008 or 2012 servers in your environment, just remember how old those are already. Upgrade sooner rather than later, instead of getting caught out by a project where something needs your domain forest level at 2019, and all your DC’s aren’t even on that version of Windows Server…

Users get intermittent credential prompt on client browser when using IIS Windows Authentication

January 2022 wasn’t a good month for Microsoft patches, one of many problems was this “After installing this update on domain controllers (DCs), affected versions of Windows Servers might restart unexpectedly.” Nice. Spend some time understanding the state of patches right now and make sure you’re not experiencing any of the several issues we’ve seen, including this.

Achieve better patch compliance with Update Connectivity data

A nice report in Intune shows the ‘Update connectivity’ stats of devices – the idea behind this is to see if devices aren’t online long enough to get updates. This data doesn’t really give you solutions to the problem, but does give you an idea on the risk in your environment if devices aren’t getting patched regularly, and how many devices have this as an issue. Everyone loves a donut graph, especially Microsoft.

Microsoft Teams users can now chat with any Teams user outside their organization

Pretty big news for work based Teams talking to external people via their Microsoft personal (consumer) account, or phone number. Note that this doesn’t create a SMS conversation, it requires a Microsoft account and will invite someone to sign up if they don’t already have one. This can be a good way for staff to talk to external people live, but still in a regulated/logged way, and the same way they’d talk to internal staff. External people also don’t need to install software (back in the day everyone wanted Skype installed to talk to that 1 external person) which is another plus. Lots of details on this post showing how it works and how to make sure it’s enabled in your tenant.

Sending From Email Aliases – Public Preview

I like this one. You can turn on the setting ‘SendFromAliasEnabled‘ in your tenant which lets users pick from a list aliases to send from – across Outlook for the Web and Outlook for iOS and Android. There are known issues so be very careful about enabling this in your tenant, but for people who need to send from different aliases for different reasons, this looks like a very useful new feature in Exchange Online.

Announcing general availability of vulnerability management support for Android and iOS

That other device that every employee has is often deemed as too hard to do much about, so it’s good to see something actually happening in the iOS and Android space for Defender – although there’s not too much it can do yet (especially for iOS). Still, this is worth looking into and is probably one of those things that if something bad did happen, you’d be happy you proactively rolled it out.

Onboarding Devices in the Microsoft 365 Apps Admin Center

Lots of content in this one. I don’t see too much content around the Microsoft 365 Apps Admin Center (and maybe that’s because when I see the name, my brain drops out the word ‘Apps’ and I’m thinking of the wrong portal). It’s https://config.office.com/ and the feature list here is continually growing. Looking through the reports will give you a better insight into what’s happening in your environment, and probably raise some questions :)

That’s it for this week, as always you can see the entire feed of TechCommunity posts at https://twitter.com/MSITTechNews and you can see my previous TechCommunnity picks here https://www.adamfowlerit.com/tag/techcommunity/

Hornetsecurity Overview – 365 Total Protection


The Microsoft 365 Suite contains a lot of different solutions; and varying levels of security on those solutions, depending which tier of licensing you have. Microsoft’s security answers have varying levels of user experience, technical requirements, and administrative burdens.

For example, if you’ve used Microsoft native solutions to look at mailflow regularly compared to third-party solutions, you’d probably agree that Microsoft do not provide a quick and easy experience in troubleshooting why an email didn’t arrive. If you have to go back more than 2 days, then you’ll potentially have to wait a few hours just to get the results of the mailflow steps.

Third-party solutions must compete with Microsoft in their own space for security solutions, which means they need to be adding value somehow; cheaper, easier to use, more features, and/or quicker.

Hornetsecurity’s answer to this is their 365 Total Protection solution. I’m fairly experienced with Microsoft’s first party offerings, and a few other third-party mail security solutions, so was interested to see how this stacked up and where it might fit.

Hornetsecurity shows the 3 different tiers of licensing, and an option to start a free trial:

The above pricing based on the feature set seems quite reasonable to me, and from the page you can click on each feature and see more information including a screenshot.

The free trial process is well documented – the first page lays out what you’re in for which will unsurprisingly require tenant admin access to approve tenant permissions for Hornetsecurity.

Once you accept the permission request, a synchronisation will start. As I’m doing this in my own tenant of 1 user, it took about 20 seconds to perform. You’ll then need to update MX records so mail flows through the Hornetsecurity service, so it can do many of the services listed.

Not all services rely on mail flow, there is also an Outlook add-in. For older versions of Outlook it can be downloaded and installed like a traditional add-in, or there’s the much nicer modern method that’s controlled from inside Microsoft 365 admin center to deploy and show for users (I wish more vendors did this!).

Either way, the Outlook add-in provides several functions such as being able to report emails, block/allow emails, and view archived emails.

Some other notable features of the 365 Total Protection solution:

  • Email Archiving – something Microsoft can do, but don’t do a great job of exposing the archived emails. 10 years of email retention should be more than enough for most companies, and even if you have archiving enabled in your tenant natively, this gives you a backup of all your emails.
  • Email Live Tracking – a real time view of mail flow that works quickly and doesn’t require reports to be generated after 2 days that are CSV files.
  • Individual User Signatures – Centralised signatures that are also monitored for people who decide to change them away from the company standard. Different groups can get their own style of signature too. Microsoft still has nothing in this space natively and is still in the early days of having a signature saved to someone’s profile.
  • eDiscovery – Being able to search quickly across all emails in the company for keywords is a handy thing. Another one that Microsoft can do, but it’s clunky and far from quick.
  • Email Continuity Service – If Microsoft’s mail services go down, you can keep going until they’re back – delivering and sending emails directly through Hornetsecurity, then syncing up what happened after the event.
  • Automated backups for mailboxes, Teams, OneDrive and Sharepoint – this is really where all your Microsoft 365 data will live. Again, it gives you somewhere this data can be backed up and restored outside of Microsoft’s ecosystem.

There is of course a lot of security aspects to the solution such as Forensic Analyses, URL Malware Control and Realtime Threat Reports, but I quite like the Malware ex-post alert and Malware ex-post deletion. Malicious emails that get through on any system (and I’ve seen this with other third-party solutions as well as Microsoft) need to be detected and cleaned up, as well as investigated on whether anyone clicked the link. This ties into URL Malware control, which will do URL rewriting. Microsoft do this natively, but I’ve found the cleanup aspect can take a little while to perform and isn’t a seamless process from detection to cleanup.

One last point – it is good to see that they have a data centre in Australia as I see many of these companies ignore our region, which makes it hard when you need to keep your data in-country.

I look forward to playing around with Hornetsecurity further. If you’re curious too, then check out their free trial here.

Microsoft TechCommunity Top Posts January 2022, Week 2

Here’s my weekly picks on the subjectively best blog posts from TechCommunity:

Released: January 2022 Exchange Server Security Updates

Security updates for Exchange 2013, 2016 and 2019 are out, and as always, there’s exploits these mitigate. Note that https://aka.ms/ExchangeUpdateWizard will ask what you’re upgrading from and to, and talk you through the process – although it does expect you’ve done this before with some high level ‘Update your AD schema with this switch’ instructions that require you to go work out how to do that – which does involve downloading the latest ISO for Exchange, mounting it, then running the setup.exe with some switches. It also notes that these patches don’t fix the January 2022 transport queue buildup issue (Y2K22). Get patching!

Create a resume website – no coding experience required!

This one’s a really neat idea – use GitHub Pages for free, to have a static online resume. No fees, no special hosting stuff – it’s what I run msportals.io off of. Good practise in doing something fairly simple on GitHub Pages. A workshop is available to work through it all.

SQl Injection: example of SQL Injections and Recommendations to avoid it

I’m not someone who dabbles in SQL too often, but this is a nice clear post demonstrating simply how SQL Injection can work by searching with the string ‘ or 1=1 or 1=’ – then how to avoid it in code, and how Microsoft Defender for Cloud can detect and notify on those sort of attacks.

New to Microsoft Certification exams? We have something you need to try

Really good idea from Microsoft here – an exam sandbox so you can get a feel for how the exams work (without actual exam questions) which can help people be prepared for what they’ll experience doing their first real Microsoft exam. I’ve added this to https://msportals.io too :)

Continuous Access Evaluation in Azure AD is now generally available!

This is a great addition to the security Azure AD provides. Instead of just assessing risk at the time of login, Azure AD will now continually assess risk, and force re-auth if something changes that it decides has increased the risk of the account such as location change or password change. It’s auto-enabled so you don’t have to do anything, but good to be aware of.

Getting Started with a Windows 365 POC

I personally haven’t even looked at Windows 365 yet – so if I was going to get started, this is the perfect sort of blog post to get things going. It looks pretty easy without too many steps, so check this out if you want to have a play.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 Now Included in M365 E3/A3 Licenses

Defender for Endpoint P1 is now in M365 E3/A3 licenses. If you’re wondering what P1 is, the article has a comparison table. That means if you have Defender for Endpoint already, it’s probably now P2. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint P1 is looking pretty cheap at $3US per user per month if you don’t already have E3/A3. This still goes to show that Microsoft licensing is hard and confusing, with so many factors to consider.

That’s it for this week, as always you can see the entire feed of TechCommunity posts at https://twitter.com/MSITTechNews

Microsoft TechCommunity Top Posts January 2022, Week 1

This year, I’m going to pick the most interesting TechCommunity Blog Posts on a weekly basis, and talk about them. There’s so much good content that gets posted and can be missed. This is of course from my point of view and the things I care about, but I hope it’ll help others pick up on some things they might have otherwise missed.

I also have a dedicated Twitter feed that posts all TechCommunity and Azure Blog Posts at https://twitter.com/MSITTechNews if you’d rather see everything.

Here’s my picks:

Email Stuck in Exchange On-premises Transport Queues

Yikes, not a great way to start the year off – referred to as the Y2K22 bug, Exchange On-Premises servers (including ones for hybrid) were getting stuck in transport queues and eventually rejecting emails due to a date issue in malware scanning – it didn’t like the year 2022. Amusingly, the fix sets the date on the signature file as December 33rd, 2021 to get around it. The latest CU11 for Exchange 2019 doesn’t fix it, so unlikely other CUs for other versions of Exchange fix it either.

How to Remote Assist Autopilot Deployments with Quick Assist

This is about using Quick Assist to remote onto someone’s computer as part of Autopilot. It’s interesting we don’t have a nice native way of remoting into a computer we control still without requiring user input – but it does make sense if the machine is still being configured. It’d be better if one of the first things Autopilot did was allow remote controlling by an administrator without having to talk the user through opening command prompt with key combos and typing in commands.

Zero-touch onboarding of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint on iOS now in public preview

Using Microsoft Endpoint Manager to deploy Defender to iOS devices without any user input – I love the idea, but this one needs careful planning, testing and communication. What does Defender on iOS actually do? Check out the capabilities such as Web Protection, Threat and Vulnerability Management, and Jailbreak Detection.

Cannot enable Advanced Threat Protection on Managed Instance server

A simple post showing an error when trying to enable Advanced Threat Protection (we’re still apparently calling it that because it’s a pain to update everything with constant name changes!) and workaround. I’ve posted there suggesting they have a readable screenshot of the actual error, and put it there in plain text too so it’s searchable.

How to Manage Microsoft Teams Meeting Recording Auto-Expiration

“New recordings will automatically expire 60 days after they are recorded if no action is taken, except for A1 users who will receive a max 30-day default setting. The 60-day default was chosen because, on average across all tenants, 99%+ of meeting recordings are never watched again after 60 days. However, this setting can be modified if a different expiration timeline is desire”

I’ve gone and turned off the auto-expiring of meeting recordings. Why would I want that? Microsoft’s argument quoted is that people don’t watch them after 60 days 99%+ of the time – except what about the < 1% when you do need it? I only need to lose one meeting to be angry that this setting was ever there. There’s also a slight error in the post:

“To change the default auto-expiration setting for your tenant, go to admin.teams.microsoft.com, navigate to Meetings > Meeting Policies > Add in the left navigation panel”

Add isn’t in the left navigation panel, and we probably shouldn’t be adding a new policy, but instead adjusting the Global (Org-wide default). Creating a new policy that’s not applied to anyone won’t do much :)

I’ve posted the above there and hopefully will get updated.

That’s it for week 1!