imageWe just announced “Surface 3”, the latest in the Surface line of devices!

The most notable differences between “Surface 3” & “Surface PRO 3” (and Surface 2 for that matter are):

  • Full Windows 8.1!  Not Windows RT
    (Uses Intel Atom X7, Cherrytrail processor)
  • 10% Smaller!  10.8” screen vs 12”
    (10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 in)
  • 25% Lighter!  1.37lbs vs 1.76lbs
  • 10% Better Battery life!  10hrs vs 9hrs max
  • Optional built in 4G LTE

Also as an added bonus, Surface 3 comes with:

  • The Surface Pen
    The same pen as on Surface Pro 3 for notetaking & sketching
  • 1 year subscription to Office 365 Personal
  • 8.0Mp rear-facing camera vs 5.0Mp
  • MicroUSB charging port
    (w/ 13W MicroUSB power supply)
  • Optional 128GB storage (vs 64GB)

And like other Surface devices, it comes with:

  • 10 point multitouch Display
  • Full size USB 3.0 port
  • MicroSD Flash slot for storage expansion
  • Mini Display Port for connecting to second display
  • Bluetooth 4.0 & WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Free upgrade to Windows 10
  • Mobile application sensors including: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Proximity Sensor, Ambient light sensor
  • Surface Type Cover Keyboard peripheral for $129 (Available separately)
  • 1 yr limited hardware warranty

And if you’re a student or a teacher?  There’s good news!

Introducing the new Microsoft Surface 3


Price list:

    • 64GB / 2GB RAM / Wi-Fi ($499)
    • 128GB / 4GB RAM / Wi-Fi  ($599)
    • 64GB / 2GB RAM / Wi-Fi + 4G LTE (TBD) 
    • 128GB / 4GB RAM / Wi-Fi + 4G LTE (TBD)


imageDid you know that Software Assurance customers are eligible to use their “Panning Services” benefit for the deployment planning of Office 365?

To be clear, Microsoft is not introducing a new or separate Planning Services offering for Office 365.  Instead,  DDPS, L&EDPS, and SDPS each include the Office 365 FastTrack ‘Getting Started’ as an approved engagement.

Deployment Planning Services

Software Assurance customers are eligible for planning assistance from qualified partners or Microsoft Consulting Services. These structured 3 or 10 day engagements help guide you through implementation planning for Office 365. This results in easier transition, amplified user engagement, reduced project risk and faster time to value.

The following are the Office 365 Planning Engagements that are offered through Planning Services:

3-day Office 365 envisioning workshop

This engagement helps customers envision an Office 365 solution. The benefit to the customer is an opportunity to work with an expert to discover how Office 365’s capabilities can help to achieve their business objectives. The outcome is a recommended approach to deployment with clearly defined next steps.

Suggested activities to undertake in this engagement include:

  • Planning workshop to understand project objectives,  challenges and success criteria of Office 365 project

  • Setup of a ‘Getting Started’ environment to help end users familiarize themselves with the Office 365 environment

  • Configuration of deployment training labs

  • Technical workshops to address specific customer concerns

At the end of the engagement, customers will be provided an Office 365 preliminary deployment plan with recommendations.

10-day Office 365 planning and assessment engagement

The 10-day engagement includes the outcomes of the 3-day engagement and helps customers envision, plan and get started with Office 365. The benefit to the customer is a deeper understanding of how Office 365 maps to their business priorities, access to technical expertise and recommended guidance. This results in easier transition, amplified user engagement, reduced project risk and faster time to value.
Suggested activities to undertake in this engagement include:

  • Detailed planning workshop to understand project objectives, timelines, current environment and technical requirements

  • Setup of a ‘Getting Started’ environment to help end users familiarize themselves with the Office 365 environment

  • Technical assessment of current environment using planning tools and remediation checks

  • Technical workshops to address specific customer concerns

  • Configuration of deployment training labs

At the end of the engagement, customers will be provided an Office 365 detailed deployment plan.

imageAre you a new customer of Office 365?  We’re released a series of new benefits that you may want to engage to kick off your deployment in the right way.

The Onboarding Center provides you with architectural & engineering guidance directly from Microsoft to move you forward with Office 365:

Office 365 FastTrack Onboarding Center
Get up and running with Office 365

Included as part of the service for new customers, Microsoft experts will support you to provision and configure your Office 365 environment

What to expect from the Onboarding team

  • Kicking off onboarding to Office 365
  • Assessing your environment
  • Remediate any issues
  • Core Enablement

FastTrack Onboarding Initiate

To view more of these videos on how the Onboarding process is executed, visit:

The Adoption Offer provides actual funded migration services either remotely or via a partner:

Office 365 Adoption Offer
Get your users productive with Office 365

Take advantage of Microsoft’s email migration service or receive funds to reimburse your partner for qualified adoption activities. Offer available until 31 March 2015.

The Customer Success Center has everything you need to get your users moving forward with Office 365s workloads:

Get the most out of Office 365

The new Office 365 Customer Success Center

New to Office 365 or looking for ways to boost adoption? The Office 365 Customer Success Center has everything you need to get started.

For more details about the Onboarding Benefit, visit the following URLs:

For more technical information on Office 365 for IT Professionals:

343 Industries put their first stake in the ground for what is meant to be a huge new chapter for Xbox One and the Halo Franchise. 

Halo 5: Guardians is shipping on October 27th, 2015.

Halo 5 Guardians Spartan Locke Ad: “All Hail”
Halo 5 Guardians Master Chief Ad: “The Cost”

Confused?  It gets better.  Check this out.  As a precursor to Halo 5: Guardians, there’s an audio documentary that’s published each week about the Master Chief’s background:

Benjamin Giraud
Journalist. War photographer.

For decades, I’ve served the galaxy as a journalist and war photographer. I’ve covered human-interest stories on Earth and in the Inner and Outer Colonies. I’ve also contracted for the government, covering military affairs. I was at New Mombasa when the Master Chief first appeared to combat the Covenant attack.

A few months ago I was hired to do an in-depth profile of the Master Chief.

An investigation into the origins of modern-day superhero Master Chief, this digital log serves as part docu-diary, part audio archive. Join me each week for a new episode as we question everything and assume nothing.

imageBeginning today the all new ESPN app is available for Windows Phone, free to download from the Windows Phone Store.  

The ESPN app – an automatic update to the ESPN Hub – delivers more personalization than ever before. The app allows fans to quickly access live scores, breaking news, and video highlights.

Read more here:

Great article.

On a campus notable for tight security and secret offices, Building 92 is a rare beacon of openness. Guests can enter without a Microsoft ID and browse corporate history in the visitor center or pop into the company store for branded water bottles, onesies, and my mom is a geek T-shirts. And yet, directly beneath them, tucked away in the basement, there is a lab so confidential that even most employees have never heard of it. Alex Kipman flashes his badge across the access pads to a set of double doors and goes bounding down the stairs.

Over the past five years, Kipman and a team of Microsoft engineers, designers, and researchers have toiled in this windowless space to create a top-secret product that might be the company’s most ambitious since the 2010 release of the motion-sensing gaming device Kinect: an augmented reality headset codenamed Project HoloLens. The device—a kind of face-computer that looks like a pair of space-age sunglasses—is a bit like the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. But while the Rift immerses its wearers in a completely digital environment, Project HoloLens weaves digital elements into the real world—a magical merging of the virtual and physical.

Read the entire article here:


There’s a way you can protect Office 365 services like Outlook Anywhere from individuals attempting to connect with an unmanaged device.  It’s called Conditional Access & it’s a function of Intune, Office 365, and Azure AD.

By using Conditional access in Microsoft Intune to secure email and other services depending on conditions you specify, you can detect unmanaged devices & optionally remediate them.

You can restrict access to:

  • Microsoft Exchange On-premises
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft Office 365 Dedicated
  • SharePoint Online

When devices do not meet the conditions, the user is guided though the process of enrolling the device and fixing the issue that is preventing the device from being compliant.

To implement conditional access, you configure two policy types in Intune:

  • Compliance policies are optionally deployed to users and devices to define the rules and settings that the device must comply with in order to be allowed access to services. These rules include passcode, encryption, whether the device is jailbroken or rooted, and whether email on the device is managed by a Intune policy. If a compliance policy is not deployed, then the conditional access policy will treat the device as compliant.
  • Conditional access policies are configured for a particular service, and define rules such as which Azure Active Directory security groups or Intune groups will be targeted and how devices that cannot enroll with Intune will be managed.

For more information on how to configure this:

imageJoin the virtual event to watch as Scott Guthrie announces an exciting new Microsoft Azure service for application developers.

Learn what’s new and how you can build cloud scale web and mobile apps faster than ever before and with less code.

Read up on the coming announcement from the Azure Blog:

Posted by: kurtsh | March 21, 2015

INFO: Office 365 Support Community


There’s a great site for Office 365 IT professionals called the Office 365 Support Community that contains a large amount of information for folks needing resources top to bottom around O365.  

Visit the site at:

Here’s some other community-oriented resources for Office 365:

imageWanna secure your data in Microsoft’s cloud but lock it up by “bringing your own keys” so only you have the ability to access it?

Check out our BYOK tools for Azure RMS & Azure Key Vault.

  • BYOK tools for Microsoft Rights Management service
    These tools allow tenant administrators of the Microsoft Rights Management service to securely upload their own key (BYOK) to the service.
  • Microsoft Azure Key Vault Service
    Safeguard cryptographic keys and other secrets used by cloud apps and services
  • BYOK preparation tools for Microsoft Azure Key Vault
    This toolset accompanies the Microsoft Azure Key Vault service. Learn more about Microsoft Azure Key Vault service.
    Azure subscribers can upload keys from an HSM (Hardware Security Module) that they own to HSMs in the Azure Key Vault service. This toolset is designed so that your key is always protected by HSMs, even during transport. This feature is called "bring your own key", or BYOK. The toolset on this page prepares your key for BYOK.
    The Azure Key Vault service is cryptographically isolated in each Azure geography (North America, Europe, Asia). You upload your keys to a specific Azure region in a specific geography.
  • SQL Server Connector for Microsoft Azure Key Vault
    Currently in Preview – enables SQL Server encryption to use the Microsoft Azure Key Vault as an extensible key management (EKM) provider to protect its encryption keys.

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