New Office 365 Groups Management Tools, Get & Transform in Excel 2016 Updates

New enhancements for administering Office 365 Groups, five new data transformation and connectivity features for Get & Transform in Excel 2016. Power Query add-in.

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Several new enhancements to make it easier to manage Office 365 Groups on Thursday to allow administrators to restore deleted groups, manage group content by creating retention policies and use labels to classify group emails and documents for governance was announced.

Additional enhancements will be added in the next three months. Here's a look at some on Microsoft's roadmap:

  • Expiry policy—Soon, you will be able to set a policy that automatically deletes a group and all its associated apps after a specific period. The group owner(s) will receive an email notification prior to the expiration date, and they will be able to extend the expiration date if the group is still in use. Once the expiration date is reached, the group will be soft deleted for 30 days (and hence can be restored by an administrator if needed).
  • Azure AD naming policy —Admins will be able to configure a policy for appending text to the beginning or end of a group's name and email address no matter where the group is created, such as Outlook, Planner, Power BI, etc. Admins will be able to configure a list of specific blocked words that can't be used in group names and rely on the native list of thousands of blocked words to keep their directories clean.
  • Default classification and classification description—Will enable admins to set default Office 365 Groups classification at the tenant level using PowerShell cmdlets. In addition, admins will be able to provide a description for each of the defined classifications.
  • Classification is available when creating or modifying a group across apps—Selecting a group classification will be available when creating or editing a group across the following Office 365 applications: Outlook, SharePoint, Planner, Yammer and StaffHub.

The enhancements announced today include:

  • Restore deleted groups are now retained for 30 days by default, and can be restore along with associated apps and data via PowerShell cmdlet.
  • Retention policies apply to the group's shared inbox and files in one step using the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center.
  • Label management—With labels, you can classify Office 365 Groups emails and documents across your organization for governance, and enforce retention rules based on that classification.
Office 365 Groups

Microsoft also added five new features to Get & Transform in Excel 2016 today provide data transformation and connectivity capabilities requested by many customers.

The new updates include support for same file extensions in Text and CSV connectors, support for select related tables in the ODBC and OLE DB connectors, ability to combine multiple files directly from the Data Preview dialog through enhanced folder connector, option to specify desired column type and locale for data conversion, and the ability to insert new steps into queries.

Get & Transform Excel 2016 new file extension
New file extension support in Excel 2016

These updates are available as part of an Office 365 subscription. Those, having Excel 2010 or Excel 2013, can download latest Power Query for Excel add-in for taking advantage of the updates.

Other recently rolledout group management tools to Office 365 customers include:

  • Guest access enables collaborating with people from outside the organization by granting them access to group conversations, files, calendar invitations and the group notebook.
  • Upgrade Distribution Groups to Office 365 Groups with just a single click.
  • Cuxtomizale data classification such as unclassified, corporate confidential or top secret.
  • Usage guidelines to educate users about best practices that help keep their groups effective, and educate them on internal content policies.
  • Azure AD Connect enables group writeback to your Active Directory to support on-premises Exchange mailboxes.
  • Dynamic membership using Azure Management Portal or via PowerShell. Group membership is usually updated within minutes as users' properties change. This allows easy management of larger groups or the creation of groups that always reflect the organization's structure.
  • Hidden membership let you hide Office 365 group members from users who aren't members of the group.
  • Creation policies—There may be some people in your organization that you don't want to be able to create new groups. There are several techniques for managing creation permissions in your directory.
  • Office 365 Groups activity report includes group properties, messages received and group mailboxes storage over time. Note you can also leverage the SharePoint site usage report to track groups' file storage.

Microsoft has also released a new preview of Outlook 2016 for Mac, version 15.34 (170404) in the Fast ring of the Office Insider Program brings the following improvements:

  • Google accounts: Instead of authenticating within Outlook, you'll now get redirected to your browser for authentication; released to select Insiders
  • New account setup: If the wrong password is entered for an IMAP account, we no longer prompt twice for email address and password
  • Clicking mailto links or sharing page from browser now properly opens a new email compose window
  • We now perform routine database optimization in the background and show progress when appropriate
  • When copying a calendar event by holding Option plus drag and drop, the event now copies with correct start and end times