So Build is in the books. And it was awesome. And I got to catch up with friends such as Vesa Nopanen, Chirag Patel, Sharon Sumner, Al Eardley, Kevin McDonnell, Chris Huntingford and Claire Smyth. I got to speak a bit on Metaverse and delivering next-gen experiences at scale at Microsoft 365. I got to start an Anti-Sticker and Pro-Golf (the car) movement with Garry Trinder. And then there was great food - and I am going to call out the wall full of doughnuts up on the first floor where I was speaking in particular. But all good things must come to an end. And by end I mean an opportunity to do other good things such as getting back to the blog. Now, I was torn between doing something quick and dirty this week, and doing something a bit more intricate. This is because Stranger Things Season 4 came out a few days ago. But however interesting the Mind-Flayer is, the Demogorgon - whoever they got this time running around going off their nut in Hawkins, Azure AD has a few new pieces currently in Preview regarding the old Identity Governance. So this is going to show off both multi-stage access reviews, as well as the ability to now remove Azure AD inactive users within the context of Teams. This will be another tool in the toolkit for dealing with Stale Users and Stale Guests: all of which could be used to get through to your users or your data.
From time to time, I receive the odd question about Microsoft 365 - and whilst it has been by admission difficult this year getting onto the Tech Community I am starting to make a general comeback into wider community pursuits outside of speaking and blogging. Now everyone pretty much knows I started out in the Tech Community. I like answering questions. They are always opportunities to help, learn or both. So I had a question this week regarding the new centralized voicemail settings in the TAC and this particular question referred to call answering rules. More specifically, what did it mean that you could forward a call which has gone to voicemail to the SIP URI of another user? Where could you find the SIP URI of a user? What is the SIP URI? Very good.
A year ago feels like a long time. It also feels like an incredibly short time. 2021 was the first year I spoke at Microsoft Build and having spoken at Ignite three times previously getting to another one of the big four felt like such an achievement. Of course it turned out to be as great as you would expect. I participated in several sessions. I did a blog. Knowing me I probably also got involved in a few AMA's at the time. Yet when these things come around annually it feels a bit like a birthday. You reflect. You look at how far you've come. At least I do. And what I have found in the last few days is that whilst much has remained the same: as in me being flat out; Vesku being the biggest Metaverse fan I know; and Deltinger still speaking about channels in some form out on the circuit, much has also changed. Firstly, Build is hybrid this year. That's right. Whilst much of the content will be digital and consumable online there will be regional spotlights which are in-person events held at the Microsoft HQ's in those countries. So this is not just a return to Build. This will be the first in-person event I have spoken at since Commsverse - and I don't mean the one at Mercedes Benz world I am talking about the original event which was held at the Microsoft Store in Oxford Circus about a month before we all went into lockdown. Secondly, it's been quite a year in terms of my personal life. I was hospitalized with Covid. I narrowly avoided burnout and one of my best friends and biggest supporters - my dad - recently passed away from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). So I very much feel like I am coming into this one older. More weathered. Finally, Teams Nation came to an end this year. Vesku and I felt like we had taken it through to its logical conclusion and wanted to go out on a high. I guess aggregating all these things together - plus the fact that we are living in such interesting times means that I am looking forward to Build more than I did last year. Much more. You know, I just want to go there stay up in Reading for a few days and just have fun with people who genuinely want to make the world better. Now whether you are joining it virtually, or have the opportunity to attend in person I could go on about Build being the bellwether and all that. I could reiterate what I said in the blog last year. But really? Come and have fun. Let's get behind the makers. My father had such a passion for carpentry that he used to say that when he retired he would do it full time. And he did. And you know what? It brought him so much joy. I love you dad.
Its Sunday night. 9pm. I am teaching Microsoft 365 Fundamentals the next few days. I am speaking at Build the week after. So you know the score. Yes - that's right it's Jack Bauer time all over again. And so this week I'm gonna change tack (yet again) and return to talking about Azure AD: this time about authenticator notifications and lighting up two preview functionalities. The first is Number Matching which requires users to enter the number displayed on the sign-in screen, and Additional Context which adds the app the user is signing into as well as their IP location. Why are these important? Well, imagine a user who simply - without thought - approves an authenticator request when it pops up on their device. What if that approval isn't actually legit at all. What if it's a malicious actor who has phished the users credentials and knows that if they periodically enter the username and password, that there is a high probability the user will approve the request. By default authenticator doesn't ask you to take any further actions apart from approval or denial nor does it make you second guess that. It doesn't give you any information to say what app is being accessed or where they are signing in from. If I put my security hat on that's problematic especially when accessing apps such as Teams which could contain a lot of sensitive information. So two nice adds to the authentication experience. They make the user more mindful and this should - in theory at least - harden the security posture.
Stream, or should I now say Stream on SharePoint? The last time I wrote on it was about the web app at stream.office.com which has now been available for some time. Since then, Mark Mroz and the team have been working on migration tools. They have also been working on the player and a ton of other things. Now, going back to that old marketing pitch, the point of Stream v2.0 was all about Stream becoming the video player for the whole Microsoft 365 ecosystem, as opposed to an app with it's own dedicated storage. I don't mind admitting I'm still kinda gutted about this because genuinely I thought the former experience was really really good whilst I also really felt for the team given they had to ice it and pivot to which I can only imagine the amount of pain involved. But I am endeavoring to be onboard with the new, and so when using Stream in my demo tenant a few days ago I saw that chapters had dropped. Chapters, which break up a video into sections and let you easily rewatch different parts, is one of the functionalities that the old version didn't have and the kind of functionality which feels good. It's part of a nice incremental development cadence which seems really well planned, so kudos again to the team