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Top 5 new Microsoft 365 features from 2018

Welcome to Ironstone Advent blog series. We will discuss some of our favorite features that were released by Microsoft ...

Welcome to Ironstone Advent blog series. We will discuss some of our favorite features that were released by Microsoft during 2018.

Last week you could read my colleague Olav’s article about our choice for the Top 5 Azure Features in 2018. This week it's all about Modern Management. In a Microsoft world this is spelled out as Microsoft 365. I know what you might be thinking, “Only choose five things in a world as big as Microsoft 365? Good luck, Chuck!” Well, I couldn’t agree more! But, let's have a look at the top five. So, before I begin, I would like to mention two things.

First, Microsoft 365 consist of three huge products: Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Windows 10, all bundled up in one product. Each of these could arguably have their own Top 5 list.

Second, ever since Ignite last year (2017), it's been rather clear that Modern Management with Microsoft 365 is the future. Microsoft is investing a lot of time and effort to push new features, to make them the number 1 market leading company when it comes to modern client management.

Without further ado, I'll kick off this blog post quoting my colleague Olav from his last blog post:

You might disagree with our lists, but they are completely subjective, based on our day to day operation, and have affected us in a positive way.


1. Intune Win32 Application within Intune (Public Preview)

We go out big and start with the one thing that the sysadmins have been longing for ever since the re-work of Intune, the possibility to deploy win32 (.exe) applications via Intune. Sure, before this was available there were ways to deploy your line-of-business apps, but it was single file .msi and/or with the utilization of PowerShell (if you wanted to deploy really cool stuff). There was a sense that something was missing.

This is a true game changer when it comes to Mobile Application Management. The possibility for you as an organization to deploy your existing line-of-business apps, this truly is a feature that removes any blocker/question marks that your organization might have in shifting your client management to the Cloud and Microsoft 365.




2. Skype for Business > Teams

It has been known for quite some time that Microsoft Teams is supposed to be the primary communication platform within the Microsoft 365/Office 365-sphere. Microsoft is constantly pushing new features to this application, improving the quality and increasing the range of features. Everything from IMs, project management to third-party integrations. Microsoft Teams isn’t far from being the ultimate communication tool.

To be honest, the ways Microsoft Teams allows you and your team to work more productively are truly something you don’t want to miss out on. If you’re working on the Office 365 platform, and NOT using Microsoft Teams, you’re missing out big time!



3. New Admin GUI

As mentioned before, with Microsoft 365 being a combination of three rather complex products, the administration might get a bit rough. As a result of this, Microsoft racked up a total amount of 23 different admin interfaces of all these products.

In the long run, this wasn’t very user friendly. With the new admin center, the admin experience becomes more intuitive and streamlined and you as an admin have a simplified way of supporting your users.

The new admin portal: https://admin.microsoft.com

To learn more about the new admin center, I recommend this session from Ignite.


4. Zero Trust Network

This subject could easily be a part of the security blog post (coming next week), but I felt it deserved its own spot here on this list.

In the era of Modern Management, the traditional perimeter-based network can no longer meet the needs of your end-users. The mobile end-user expects to work from anywhere at any time from any device.

The perimeter-based network infrastructure can’t meet these requirements. Instead of enabling your users, it is holding them back with its obsolete architecture.

To solve this Microsoft has come up with a concept they call ‘Zero Trust Network’. A concept relying heavily on features within Microsoft 365, and one of the major building blocks Conditional Access.

I strongly recommend to read the following blog post on Building Zero Trust Networks with Microsoft 365, it is time well spent.


5. More support for macOS

This might feel a bit strange. "Didn’t he say this would be all about Microsoft 365 features? Why is Apple even mentioned?".

I sure did!

Even if I might be what some people would say a Microsoft fan-boy, I can’t stop being amazed by how the Microsoft 365 team keeps embracing the Modern Management mindset that the modern user should be able to work from any device. We're not only talking about iPhones here.

Looking back on the Intune released features for macOS over the last year, it clearly shows that Microsoft no longer live in their own bubble of operating system. It shows that they are committed to delivering a backend platform that supports any organization that wants to empower their users by letting them choose the platform of their liking.

Some highlighted features:

  • Support for the Apple Device Enrollment Program
  • Deployment of line-of-business apps
  • Support for TeamViewer on iOS and macOS devices

And many more…

To read more about features related to Intune, see: What’s new in Intune


Honorable mentions

Azure Active Directory Terms of Use with Conditional Access:

  • The possibility to set up Terms of use for your employees or guest to access company resources.
    How to set it up


OneDrive for business – Known Folder Move:

  • Redirect local folders to OneDrive for Business


Windows Enrollment Status Page / Track enrollment:

  • Provides you with a cleaner more professional look when users enroll their Windows 10 devices.
    How to set it up


Windows Updates for Business – Delivery Optimization:

  • Reduces bandwidth usage with for Windows updates and applications installation
    How to set it up


Autopilot Hybrid join (Preview):


Removal of stale Intune Devices:


Device based subscriptions:

  • Possibility to manage shared devices


Conditional Access, ‘What If’-feature:

  • Conditional Access can sometimes be tricky. Utilize the ‘What if’ – feature to see how your users and/or devices react to the policies you have configured.


For the rest of the blog series, see below: