Live Session: Are Team Sites Dead? #Collab365

This week sees the online conference called Collab365 which is run over 24 hours with sessions from great names from around the SharePoint and Office 365 community.  Alongside at the same time of the record sessions, there are live sessions part of the Collab TV hosted by different people from around the world.

I’m delighted to be speaking on a hot topic with is ‘are teams sites dead’ but we wanted to do something a little different!

Mark Stokes and I have had many debates about the future of team sites and during one evening I pitched the idea to turn this into a battle during a live sessions at a conference.  Collab365 will be round 1 and I hope to take an early lead in convincing you that it’s time for us to move away from team sites and think differently.

Come register and listen along at 5.45pm UK on Thursday and hear the battle.

“Are team sites dead?!!  A big question that has been asked for some time now as the Office 365 platform has changed and developed.  Today the heat is on as the battle between Alex Pearce (Office 365 MVP) and Mark Stokes (SharePoint MVP) fight for your vote but whos side are you on?  Do you we stick with the traditional SharePoint team sites or do we need to move away from Team sites to Office 365 Groups or are there other options?  Our host Andy Tablot will be the ring master while the two sides battle it out and you crown the victor at the end.”

OneDrive is not the location for Business Data

Over the past few months I’ve noticed more Office 365 solutions and Add-Ins that use OneDrive as the location to store data. This has always concerned me as I see OneDrive for Business a very different solution to others so I hope this brings some clarity to my thinking and hopefully start a discussion where either I will be put right or wrong.

Lets remember what OneDrive for Business is first. It’s a storage place for you to store data within your Office 365 tenant. But what is more important is how do we get this personal storage? OneDrive for Business is part of a SharePoint license. You can assigned a user a SharePoint Online license and they can access what they are given access to but they do have OneDrive straight away.

Now here is my main point. A users OneDrive is only a temporary location of storage during the life of an organisation. A users OneDrive is created when that user is licensed. When the license is removed, the OneDrive is deleted 30 days as part of an Office 365 retention policy meaning any data that is not backed up or achieved from that location is deleted and not recoverable.

Knowing this, do you want business critical data stored in a temporary location. If data is important and needs to be kept when this user leaves or the license is removed, you need to ensure that you have your business continuity.

So how should we use OneDrive?
• OneNote Notebooks – Your notes from meetings. If you need to share them for business use, store them in the right location such as CRM if they are customer based or the SharePoint team site.
• Expenses Forms (Before submitting)- While you fill out your form during the month but then an app is used to send the files to the right SharePoint team site or third party location

Where I feel you shouldn’t be using OneDrive
• Customer Note
• Customer opportunity information
• Customer proposals – this includes draft version. These should be stored in the right location
• Business critical data

If a member of staff leaves and you decide to archive their OneDrive to SharePoint Online – why? Why not make them store this information in there anyway.

It makes me wonder why we need more than 1TB of storage in OneDrive for Business – what do you need to store in there for it to be 1TB, or 2TB, 10TB and of course this only increases as we will soon get unlimited storage. Just because OneDrive for Business has more storage available to you than SharePoint Online, does not mean you should store your data there.
So please do let me know your thoughts, am I right, wrong or should I be thinking it in a different way?

OneNote Class Notebook Implementation Guide

In the past 9 months we have seen a new add-in added to all Office 365 Education tenants which has encouraged people start using OneNote as a tool in the classroom allow a teacher and their students to view and share notes between each other.

The tool have moved through a few updates and is seeing further implementation in classrooms around the world.

I’ve recently been at some of our customers where they have implemented OneNote Class Notebook and they as they start to think about technology for the next academic year, they wanted some guidance around what to do next.

In this article, I’ve tried pass on how I see the product and explain why OneNote and the Class notebook should be considered and how the setup of the add-in at this moment in time works with academic years.

It then goes onto considerations how you should implement it across your tenant. Its not as easy is implementing it and using it as this is not what you do with normal student notebook (in paper format). This also talks about some of the limitations you might get with the Office 365.

The final section is a bit of a guide to implementing a structure around the add-in and how you can do this.

Special thanks to Alan Richards (Office 365 MVP) for his input on this.

Click here or the image below to download the whitepaper


Sway now in Office 365

At the recent Microsoft Ignite, it was announced that Sway was coming to Office 365 and that it would be here for First Release Office 365 tenants in the next month. Well we were pleased to see it added to some of our customers with those settings today (21st May).


So what does it look like? Well first we have Sway now in the App Launcher. Nice an easy to fine and to start Sway’ing. At the time of writing this, even though I was logged into my account, I had to log in again and confirm that I wanted to log in with my Office 365 account not my personal Microsoft account.

One I had done that, Sway is the same but I get two examples of Sways for me to play with and see what can be done with the product.

There are a few options regarding Sway now in my Admin Portal. I can either turn Sway on or Off for my tenant, or prevent Sways from being accessed externally.


Happy Swaying

Slides from SharePoint Evolution Conference

I always enjoy presenting and having done three presentation at the recent SharePoint Evolution Conference, it has left be buzzing and look forward to speak to more people soon.


Managing Security and Permission in SharePoint: Level 100


Next Generation Portals in Office 365: Level 100


Office 365 Groups Deep Dive



Future of Microsoft Technologies in Schools: The IT Mans Challenges

It has been a strange few years for me as I’ve looked to bring in a new company which evolves itself around an ever changing platform called Office 365. Having spent years working with SharePoint and Microsoft technologies in the education space, I’ve been able to build a good understand of how the two work together. This has helped the business to stay innovative and stay with times as new feature continue to be added to Office 365 Education.

This post is more about getting people who work in the education sector thinking more about how other Microsoft technologies are moving and changing like Microsoft and Office 365 and the challenges we have at keeping up with the times.

Office 365 as a cloud platform under the control of Microsoft has completely changed the way of IT Change Management. Over the past 20 years we have been able to install our preferred version of Windows, Office and other selected software needed for classroom monitoring and teaching and learning. This has helped to maintain a strong and robust network where we can train staff to a certain level and keep it at that, something I did as IT Manager in my previous schools. Windows XP was very mature at this point and Office 2007 had just come out. We didn’t want to go Windows Vista as it wasn’t really ready or suit our hardware requirements and to get all the staff laptops in and upgrade them seemed to be a bit of a time waste.

Office 365 has changed this way of thinking and I’m glad I cottoned on early and have spent some time thinking and forming a business around it. Now before you start thinking it’s only an issue with Microsoft technologies, it’s not! Google is the same and so has any other solution you have which is hosted externally, you are in their control.

Windows 10 and Office client through Office 365 Pro Plus brings a new level of change management to schools which we have to support for our learners which we may not be able to control. With the increase of BYOD for students, Windows 10 and Office 365 Pro Plus will be updated with no control from ourselves.

Windows as a Service means that new updates will come to the OS without us having to wait for a service pack or the next version of Windows. As Windows 10 may be the last OS we implement, this brings several questions and challenges to us working in the education sector.

  • How do we keep change under control with our network?
  • How do we stay innovative giving our students and staff the latest features they hear about on social media?
  • How do we keep managed devices within school at the same level as BYOD?
  • Are our skills ready to cope with fast updates and implementation?
  • Do my school support me in these changes and why my network might look a bit different next week after the latest update?
  • How do I keep myself trained to the highest level of Windows 10 ready for those updates?



This is the same for Office 365 Pro Plus. In recent weeks we have seen updates to Outlook where Office 365 Groups can now be navigated and created from the client instead of the browser. This again is change we can control but will come to the client eventually as the only way to give the new feature to our learners. Another change we have seen through Office 365 Pro Plus is through the name change from the Lync client to Skype for Business. How did you communicate with staff that these changes have come, the change of icon but no actual feature changes or improvements?

These changes would have come on the day for Office 365 Pro Plus users on their own device or where you have deployed them where you aren’t controlling the updates.

So is it time that we get innovative to support our students and teachers. If we are teaching coding to students as they will need them for employment, how do we support that with the latest and being competitive towards Mac, iOS and Android? Do we need to do this to be more competitive for places at our school? How many of you advertise that students and teachers get Office for free as part of being a student?

As a final thought, look at how technology is being used in your school, do you fit the change of the world and how to get yourself personally trained to support the needs of a 21st student.

#SUGUK Manchester: Next Gen Portals: 7/4/2015

It was great for me to share with you on the “Next Generation Portals” coming out of Microsoft at the moment.

Here some links regarding some of the portals and features we talked about.




Understanding More of the Free Office 365 Benefits to Students

There are different scenarios around how the new Office 365 free offering of Office 365 Pro Plus and it is important to know this if you are a council/district, college or IT Manager for your school.

Microsoft offering Office 365 Pro Plus is great but does come with different configurations to your Office 365 tenant and knowing what they are is important to supporting your schools.

First you need to know which scenario you are in but it is important that you read each of these to fully understand what is going on.  The scenarios are based around how you currently use Office 365 and you domain name registered in Office 365.

  • First User to request license and no Office 365 tenant registered with your domain name
  • All other users request license and no Office 365 tenant registered with your domain name
  • First user to request license and domain is registered in Office 365
  • Domain is registered in Office 365 but users are not created

First User to Request License and no Office 365 Tenant created

As part of the process behind the sign up process of Office 365 for teachers and students it will check that your domain is eligible to have a license.  Microsoft have a checking process but that is currently unknown but if a user passes they can they get Office 365 Pro Plus.  What this does in the background as the user requesting the license it will create a full Office 365 Education tenant with your school domain name verified in it.

Office 365 licenses are added to that tenant however not all elements are added to the user.  The new Office 365 Education for Student license includes

License include in Office 365 Education for Student Added as part of Scenario
Yammer Yes (No effect as Yammer is not provisioned as part of Office 365 tenant creation process)
Office Online for Education Yes
SharePoint Plan 1 for EDU Yes
Exchange Online (Plan 1) No
Office 365 Pro Plus Yes
Lync Online (Plan 2) No

Users are given Office Online and SharePoint as this gives them OneDrive for Business allowing them to have 1TB of storage and will be available to them when they install Office 365 Pro Plus on their device.

Note: Because this tenant now has your school domain name added, you will not be able to add it to another tenant until it is removed.  There is a process to get admin access to this tenancy which I will post about soon.

Additional Users request and no Office 365 tenant registered

As a follow on from the above, the next users requesting eligibility will have a username created in the same Office 365 tenant and the same license assigned as above.

First User to Request License and Domain is Registered in Office 365 (UK and other EU countries, not sure about about worldwide)

In this scenario, you would have created your Office 365 tenant and registered your domain in there.  By default, when a user requests eligibility it will do a check to see if the domain is verified in Office 365 and then ask the user to log in.  If they haven’t got a username they will not be able to get Office 365 Pro Plus.  If they log in and the domain passes its eligibility tests, they will be given just the Office 365 Pro Plus part of the Office 365 Education for Student license and keep what ever they currently have.

What happens is that  Office 365 Education for Students and Office 365 Education for Faculty licenses are added to your tenant.  It adds 1 million student licenses and 500,000 faculty which you can then use to assign to all your users.

Domain is registered in Office 365 but users are not created but can be.

You might think I’ve covered this in the scenario above, however there is a setting which will allow students and teachers to create users in your tenant.  This is turned off by default but can be enabled if you want it to.

Set-MsolCompanySettings -AllowAdHocSubscriptions $true

If you have got hold of your tenant from the first time following the first two scenarios, you may want to turn this setting to false.

Set-MsolCompanySettings -AllowAdHocSubscriptions $false

You will need the Azure AD PowerShall Cmdlets to do this.


Get Microsoft Office for Free: Students and Teachers

So the title is correct – you can now get Microsoft Office for free if you are Student and Teacher.

Its known as friction free but how does it work and where do you go to get it?

The solution is part of Office 365 and even if your school doesn’t have it, you can still get Office for free by registering.

So to get it, if you are a student you need to go to and if you are a teacher go to

What do I get?

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Microsoft Publish
  • One Drive for Business (1TB of Storage)
Its important to note that the school domain has some validation against your schools Microsoft licenses that checks your school is editable.


How to get Office 365

Its important to know your school email address as you will need to know this as part of the subscription process.  Go to the correct URL above for student or teacher.

Click on Find out if you’re eligible



Enter your school email address


The website will now do a check to see if your school already has Office 365.  If it does it will ask you to log in.  If you don’t, it will ask you to create a username and password.


Agree to the terms and conditions


and then…..

You can download Office 365 Pro Plus….


It says I’m not eligible!! 

Well its not all bad news but you need to get your school domain registered with Microsoft.  Once I have more information on this, I’ll post it here

How to get Office 365 ProPlus Benefit for teacher & FAQ

In an post last night on the Microsoft in Education Blog, Anthony Salcito announced that Office 365 Pro Plus is now available to teachers as well as students.

Some time ago Student Advantage was released where schools could request from the Microsoft Licensing Reseller licenses for their students and get Office 365 Pro Plus as part of their current license agreement.  Now renamed to Office 365 ProPlus Benefit for Students, teachers and faculty staff can also request a licenses but how do we get these added to the tenant?

Office 365 ProPlus Benefit for Teachers

It’s a matter of requesting the licenses from your Microsoft Licenser Reseller in the same way as you did for Student Advantage.  So get on the phone, get your email off and request your licenses.


Q. Is this one or two licenses?

A. These are two licenses, one for students and another for teachers.  Assign the right licenses to right stake holder.

Q. What should I get from my licensing reseller?

A. You will get an email per license type (one email for teacher licenses and another email for students)

Q. We only pay Microsoft Licenses for Full Time (FTE) staff.  Can I request more to cover all faculty and teachers?

A. Yes you can, all you need to do is request the number of licenses you want from your reseller.

Q. What do I do when I have received the licenses and added them to my Office 365 Tenant?

A. You must assign the licenses to the students and teachers that you want to have this functionality

Q. What is included in the license?

A.  The following are included in the full version of Office 365 Pro Plus Benefit for teachers and students

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • Lync
  • Publisher

Q. Do you have anything that would help me promote this around the school?

A. Take a look at the promotional material from the Microsoft UK Education team on their slideshare.