Updates to Microsoft Office 365 Secure Score

We have received a lot of feedback from the Tech Community on how to make Secure Score better and it is greatly appreciated by the team.  When reviewing your feedback and feedback from other organizations, a few requests were coming up regularly.  Some of what we have heard is around the average score that you can compare yours against. In addition, we heard that determining what security controls had changed and influenced the score where hard to track down. Today we are happy to share that we are adding a couple of enhancements to Secure Score to help with this.

Many of you like the idea that you can compare your score to the average score of all Office 365 tenants. However, some have concerns about the relevance of this to your organization. Based on this feedback we have a new average for you to compare against. The average seat size score shows you a score based on organizations that have a similar number of Office 365 active seats. There are seven seat size groups that we put everyone in, 0-5, 6-99, 100-249, 250-999, 1,000-4,999, 5,000-19,999, and 20,000+. For example, if you have 1200 active seats of Office 365 we will show the average score of other tenants that have active seats between 1,000 and 4,999.



Coming soon we will be introducing an industry average score, this will show you how your score compares to other organizations that have designated the same industry in Secure Score or the Service Assurance page of the Security and Compliance Center.

Another enhancement we are adding is around making it easier to find how your score changed between two dates and what the impact was. Previously you had to click on the line graph in the Score Analyzer tab to choose your date and then take a screenshot or try to remember what actions were completed as you clicked on another date in the line graph.  To make this comparison easier, we have added a “Compare scores” option to the Score Analyzer tab.



Clicking this will allow you to select two dates that you would like to compare the scores on. Upon choosing the dates you will get a list of what controls changed between those dates, and whether the result caused an increase or decrease in the score.



Along the lines of making things easier, we know that finding controls in the action list can be a challenge when the list is long. To help find controls faster we are introducing a search field for the action queue. By typing characters in this field, we will filter down the view list to help you navigate to the actions faster.



And finally the reporting actions have had an overhaul. The reports in Azure have under gone a significant optimization in terms of making them easier to consume and more relevant. Previously when using the Azure classic portal there was a direct report and corresponding Secure Score control for that report. Under the new Azure Portal these reports have been consolidated. This blog post explains how the new mapping works and what the previous reports now map to.

Secure Score has been updated accordingly allowing us to reduce the number of Azure report controls to two (whilst still allowing the same points total). These updated controls now take you to the updated Azure Portal.

If you want to check out all these new features, head over to https://securescore.office.com now. As always thanks for all the feedback and keep it coming!

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Windows 10 Now Used on 600M Active Devices






Microsoft’s annual shareholders meeting was held on Wednesday, and CEO Satya Nadella took the opportunity to confirm that Windows 10 is now in use on 600 million active devices every month.

To give you some idea of the growth rate, back in May at Build 2017 Microsoft stated Windows 10 had reached 500 million active devices. So that’s an additional 100 million devices in six months. As GeekWire reports, Microsoft’s original goal back at the launch of Windows 10 in 2015 was to hit one billion devices within three years. That now seems unlikely.

 The slower than expected rise of Windows 10 on the desktop could be put down to a number of factors including how device use is changing. But a big part of the problem is Windows 7. The latest figures from Netmarketshare show Windows 7 still counts for over 46 percent of the desktop operating system market. Windows 10 sits at just over 29 percent.

If growth continues at its current pace, Windows 10 will hit one billion devices just as we are about to celebrate Christmas 2019. Even so, Microsoft won’t be concerned when you consider its main rivals on the desktop only manage to grab 3.3 percent (Mac OS X) and 2.98 percent (Linux) of the market.

Microsoft needs Windows 10 to keep selling not only to continue its desktop market domination, but also to help pay for the Redmond Campus expansion and planned addition of 8,000 new employees there.

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Microsoft Uses AI to Tighten Word’s Translation Tool in Office Update

The latest batch of Microsoft Office updates includes a built-in translator in Word and search capabilities that help users connect with co-workers and their shared content.

Microsoft Office

Thanks to Microsoft’s accelerated software release cadence, Word now features an improved built-in translation tool that can help users make sense out of documents from their overseas colleagues.

Microsoft is taking a cloudlike approach to software updates, meaning that Office 365 users can expect to see new features and enhancements crop up on a more regular basis. The latest update offers some new tricks for users who routinely use Word’s translation tool to decipher documents authored in other languages.

“We’ve revamped the translation tools available within Word. You can now translate sections of text, or your entire document, and review or save the result as a regular document file,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president at Microsoft Office, in a blog post. “Translator supports 60 languages, including 11 that use neural machine translation, providing superior quality and fluency to help you work more confidently.”

Like Google, Microsoft uses neural network systems to improve the quality of translated text, yet another example of Microsoft employing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies across its software ecosystem. The new language features in Word can be found under the Review menu item.

Related Reading

In addition to more flexible translation tools, Microsoft has expanded the reach of Tell Me, the search and support tool in Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Users covered by commercial Office 365 plans can search for people and files across the entire organization, or share their own documents using Tell Me.

Now that Office 365 supports 3D objects, which can be used to spice up Word files or create eye-catching PowerPoint presentations, Microsoft is making it easier to share and organize 3D content using the OneDrive cloud file storage and sharing service. Users can now open and view 3D objects in the OneDrive app. The browser-based OneDrive.com service, meanwhile, supports direct viewing without an added plugin.

Outlook.com users now have a new way to keep tabs on their colleagues. The web-based email application allows consumer users to view LinkedIn profile information without leaving their inboxes.

The MyAnalytics (formerly the Delve Analytics add-on for Office 365) dashboard gains three new charts that can help users maximize their time and strike a better work-life balance. Building on the weekly snapshot visualization that shows users how much time they spend emailing co-workers, in meetings and doing other work activities, a new Trends chart displays changes in those activities over greater stretches of time, allowing users to see how well they are progressing on their work goals.

Another chart, called Your Time Investments, displays a user’s contacts in various “orbits.” Those contacts whose orbits appear closest indicate a tighter work relationship. Finally, the Your Groups chart shows the top six Office 365 Groups in terms of engagement. This video on the new MyAnalytics features provides a closer look.

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Get November Windows and Office updates installed — carefully

putting on a band-aid patch with binary code

The list of complaints about this month’s patches goes on forever. I covered the high points a couple of days ago. We’ve seen people who are running Win10 Creators Update and who specifically said they didn’t want to upgrade to Fall Creators Update get pushed into an upgrade anyway. Those using Epson dot matrix or POS printers lost them for a couple of weeks. Add to that a heaping handful of hooey and there were enough problems to keep most Windows customers shaking their heads. Or quaking in their boots.

I’ve been waiting to see what Microsoft would do with Win10 version 1709. There was an entry in the Win10 Update History listing for a cumulative update called KB 4051963, which would bring 1709 up to build 16299.96, but that entry mysteriously disappeared yesterday.

While waiting, Microsoft released an updated version of the Equation Editor patch. Per @abbodi86, the old versions (KB 4011276 and KB 2553204) only worked with English and Chinese versions of Office. The new patches, KB 4011604 (for Office 2007) and KB 4011618 (for Office 2010), now work with all languages.

We’re starting to see some consumer-grade malware that exploits the Equation Editor security hole, CVE-2017-11882, and that’s the primary reason for getting patches applied now.

.Net Patches

The latest versions of the .Net patches (released two days ago) appear to be working.

Office Patches

Microsoft has a catch-all web page for known (which is to say, acknowledged) bugs in Office patches. In it you’ll find entries for known Outlook problems (“Outlook was unable to recover some or all of the items in this folder” and “View Settings button is missing”), Excel problems (“Errors loading Excel Solver add-in,” “Excel may crash when you try to embed an object into a worksheet”), Word (“Export failed due to an unexpected error”), and OneNote (“This notebook may not sync correctly because another program is syncing these files”).

Surprisingly, there’s no mention on the bug page of a conflict with Dynamics 365 and Outlook, officially called “Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Outlook is unable to render webpages after installing the October 2017 Microsoft Outlook security update.” Avoid this month’s security patch for Outlook 2017 if you’re one of the unfortunate ones who need to use Dynamics 365 for Outlook 2017.

Windows 7 and 8.1 Patches

Microsoft has fixed the bug that clobbered Epson dot matrix printers in Win7 and 8.1. If you install patches this month using Windows Update, the installer will find the right fix, if you need it, and apply it for you. If you manually download and install the Security-Only patch (which I no longer recommend!), and you have an Epson dot matrix printer, you also need to install the fix, called KB 4055038, manually.

Microsoft is still blocking updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 on recent computers. If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC that’s no more than a year old, follow the instructions in AKB 2000006 or @MrBrian’s summary of @radosuaf’s method to make sure you can use Windows Update to get updates applied.

If you’re very concerned about Microsoft snooping on you and want to install just security patches, realize that the privacy path’s getting more difficult. The old “Group B” — security patches only — isn’t dead, but it’s no longer within the grasp of typical Windows customers. We’re actively discussing whether it’s worthwhile continuing to post information about the security-only patching path. Microsoft has made that option considerably more obtuse than it was a year ago. If you insist on manually installing security patches only, follow the instructions in @PKCano’s AKB 2000003.

For most Windows 7 and 8.1 users, I recommend following AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. If you want to minimize Microsoft’s snooping but still install all of the offered patches, turn off the Customer Experience Improvement Program (Step 1 of AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Windows 7 and 8.1 snooping) before you install any patches. (Thx, @MrBrian).

Watch out for driver updates — you’re far better off getting them from a manufacturer’s website. After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. Realize that we don’t know what information Microsoft collects on Window 7 and 8.1 machines.

Windows 10 Patches

If you’re stuck on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, version 1709, and you want to stay ahead of the malware mavens, you don’t have much choice but to use Windows Update to install KB 4048955 and bring your system up to build 16299.64. Before you do, read the KB article and understand that (1) you won’t be able to print on Epson dot matrix printers, and (2) “Internet Explorer 11 users who use SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) may not be able to scroll through a drop-down menu using the scroll bar.” Of course, if you’re still using IE 11, you have plenty of other things to worry about.

I’m still seeing lots and lots of reports of weird bugs in 1709. There’s an ongoing list on the AskWoody site here. I’ve also seen independent reports of problems with 1709 breaking search in Outlook 2007, as well as reports of folder permissions problems and autostart after boot inanities.

We’re still in the unpaid beta testing phase of Win10 version 1709. You’d be well advised to stick with your current version of Win10 and wait for the cannon fodder to fulfill their destiny.

If you’re running Win10 Creators Update, version 1703, and you want to stay on 1703 while those on 1709 get to eat Microsoft’s dog food, follow the instructions here to ward off the upgrade. As you go through the steps, keep in mind that Microsoft forgot to honor the “Current Branch for Business” setting — golly! — so you need to run the “feature update” (read: version change) deferral setting all the way up to 365. And hope that Microsoft doesn’t forget how to count to 365.

The latest cumulative update for 1703, KB 4055254, build 15063.729, released Nov. 22, has one acknowledged bug, which is the IE 11 SSRS bug mentioned for 1709.

If you’re still on Win10 Anniversary Update, version 1607, you need to be aware of yet another bug — the “CDPUserSvc_XXXX has stopped working” bug which Microsoft finally acknowledged last week. It’s been around for nearly two months. See my discussion here for details.

The latest 1607 cumulative update, KB 4051033, build 14393.1914, is just three days old. Aren’t you glad you waited?

If you’re running an earlier version of Win10, you’re basically on your own.

To get Windows 10 patched, go through the steps in “8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro.”

As is always the case, DON’T CHECK ANYTHING THAT’S UNCHECKED. In particular, don’t be tempted to install anything marked “Preview.” Thar be tygers.

Time to get patched. Tell your friends, but make sure they understand what’s happening. And for heaven’s sake, as soon as you’re patched, turn off automatic updating! Full instructions are in the referenced guides to patching.

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Microsoft Tech Support Summit Sydney Nov 16-17 2017 – Recap with Adam Fowler and friends!

Community Reporter @Adam Fowler did a fantastic job covering the Tech Summit in Sydney on Twitter! Now a week out I wanted to gather Adam’s thoughts on the event. Here is his interview:

  1. Of the sessions you attended, which were your favourites?
    I think the Office 365 sessions were my favorites, as they were focused at the IT Administrator looking after the environment. Learning about some of the logic behind Office 365 Groups I can take straight back to my place of business and implement. It’s always good to take away information you can immediately use.
  2. Who do you think was the best speaker of the event?
    I don’t like to pick favourites 🙂 It was great to see a lot of Product Managers from Redmond presenting, something we often don’t get in Australia. I did get to say ‘hi’ to @Michael Niehaus and saw a lot of other very high up people, which I think goes to show that Microsoft puts a lot of weight behind these events to make them successful and to share the knowledge.
  3. With a packed agenda, how did you determine which sessions to prioritize attending?
    I used the Microsoft Tech Summit app which gives a list of all the sessions. I added anything that sounded interesting for the entire event (some timeslots had 5 sessions I was interested in!) and then when the time came up, I re-read the sessions and decided what the best fit was. I find I make better decisions at the time just before I need to go and want to commit to the most relevant or interesting to me.
  4. Outside of sessions, what other things did you do at the event?
    I hung out at Microsoft‘s Tech Community Booth and answered a few questions from passers by which was fun, as I hadn’t done it in the context of being a Microsoft MVP before. I also went around to the vendor booths which is worthwhile finding out about other solutions out there as well as talking to existing vendors and getting an update on the latest information (and yes, getting swag is nice too!).
  5. What advice would you give someone who is attending the Tech Summit for the first time?
    Go to lots of sessions, but also don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with anyone you come across. From my experience, the people that attend these events are very friendly and happy to have a chat. If you can’t find anyone that way, talk to people at booths or speakers after an event. Find what you’re passionate about and go for that. If you’re the social media type, that can be a good way to make new contacts too – there were a bunch of people I got to meet for the first time that I’d been tweeting to for months or years!

We also had @Dux Raymond Sy on site interviewing a few Microsoft staff at the event, check out his video interviews here


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