The Electric Wand

Weekly tips from the "Tip o' the Week" email distribution inside of Microsoft.

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  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #274 – Hello, Skype for Business

    Instant Messaging (and later, voice/video calling) has been with us, in the corporate world, for 15 years – the first real enterprise IM platform was Exchange 2000 Instant Messaging , which used a variant of MSN Messenger as its client, and some workers had been using MSN and AOL for a while before that...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #264 – BCC people to a meeting

    There’s a great deal of etiquette bound up in email communications – and it varies by culture and sometimes by country. Some people politely make the point of always addressing the recipient in an email, and in thanking them at the end, whereas others apparently look on it as a badge of honour to contain...
  • Blog Post: Exchange in the cloud or on the ground?

    Following the price cut on the desperately-in-need-of-renaming BPOS services recently, I’ve been talking with a few people about the where the tipping point might be for running Exchange in house vs using some form of hosted provision. There are plenty of reasons why a hosted offering makes sense...
  • Blog Post: Holy smoke, it's an explosive demo

    I've spent the last couple of days in London helping out with the first Exch ange Unplugged 2007 events , which have gone really well. One attendee to the first session, held with BT at the Tate Modern, said in 15 years of working in IT, it was the best Microsoft event he'd ever been to. Let's hope the...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft launches "Online" hosted services

    In an attempt to clarify the whole online software branding, with "Live" being consumer oriented and "Online" being aimed at businesses, Microsoft launched a new service recently, but that may have gone unnoticed (what with other launch events such as PerformancePoint Server for business intelligence...
  • Blog Post: When interaction design goes bad

    For various reasons, I've been testing & driving several different cars lately, a process I quite enjoy - getting to know the foibles of the car's cockpit, playing with the various toys and gadgets, as well as actually learning how to drive each one according to its size, performance etc. It's really...
  • Blog Post: Exchange 2003/2007 clustering & high availability

    The Exchange development team have done a nice job of expanding the high availability options with the 2007 release. With Exchange 2003, the only real HA design was to use what is now known as a Single Copy Cluster (SCC) - ie. there's one copy of the databases and log files, held on a Storage Area Network...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #29 – Filtering email to reduce the noise

    Anyone who gets lots of email will appreciate the importance of Outlook rules. Most rules run on the Exchange server, but some (like rules which move messages to a PST folder on your PC) will run client-side. In Outlook 2010, the Rules settings are available from the File menu (or Backstage ). Over the...
  • Blog Post: Exchange 2010 beta & high availability strategies

    Today, the Exchange team released details of Exchange 14, now to be known as Exchange Server 2010. [ download here ]. There’s plenty of new stuff in the box, but I’m just going to look at one: high availability & data replication. [My previous missives on Exchange 2007 HA are here , here and here...
  • Blog Post: Outlook 2007 signatures location

    Following my post about .sig files , I had cause to dig around looking for where Outlook actually puts the Signature files. I came across a post which Allister wrote a little while ago, but it's such a useful little tip that it's worth repeating... Basically, Outlook 2007 offers a nice simple editor...
  • Blog Post: Careful what names you give to Outlook Contacts when using UM!

    This is a follow up to Friday's post about what happens if you have Exchange Unified Messaging set up to send you notifications on missed call alerts (and on voicemail), using caller-ID to reverse lookup against the personal contacts folder. Stephen Spence commented: Fingers crossed nobody is using silly...
  • Blog Post: Exchange Archiving - to be, or not to be?

    A lot of customers have looked at archiving solutions for Exchange over the last few years, and the most common reason for doing so is to reduce the volume of data held on the Exchange server. This obviously brings benefits for the administrators - they don't need to back so much "stuff" up every night...
  • Blog Post: Living the dream with Office Communicator 2007

    I've been a long-time fan of instant messaging and pervasive "presence", especially the cultural changes it allows organisations to make in order to communicate and collaborate better. As a result, I've been really interested to see what's been happening with Office Communications Server (the soon-to...
  • Blog Post: Outlook 2007 update - performance improvement on large PST/OST files

    I've been beta-testing this update for a little while and it seems to make quite a difference to the performance of Outlook 2007 (especially at startup) when you have large PST files, or a large offline cache of a mailbox. The Outlook team released it live, yesterday. http://support.microsoft.com/kb...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #112 – Change Outlook’s startup folder

    Productivity gurus wax on about how gaining and maintaining control of your never-ending to-do list starts with the way you prioritise, and how you build discipline in working through your task list rather than being distracted by less important “stuff”. So, why is it that we stick with...
  • Blog Post: I learned a cool thing about Exchange UM today

    I've seen this behaviour in practice before, but I don't think it really clicked with me until Neil May from PostCTI (who was hosting our penultimate Exchange Unplugged event today) told me how pleased he was with it. This functionality concerns the "missed call notification" feature of Exchange Unified...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #96 – Reining back Outlook’s file size

    Outlook likes to cache lots of information on your PC – which is generally beneficial. All of the email in your mailbox, for example, is already on your hard disk, so when you open a message or an attachment, it can open it quickly. This is a Good Thing . In fact, it’s the reason why Office 365 works...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #26 – multiple time zones in Outlook Calendar

    Sometimes you need to create appointments that will make sense when you’re in a different time zone - it helps to use Outlook, Exchange and its phone integration to put relevant stuff in the calendar, so you can make sure you’re in the right place and at the right time. Now there are a couple of ways...
  • Blog Post: Bulk update Outlook Contacts' phone numbers to be E.164 compliant

    Here's a quick & dirty tool I put together for Outlook to be able to update all the phone numbers of contacts to make them E.164 compliant. It relates back to a post a while back around the challenges of formatting numbers 'correctly', particularly important once you get into using click-to-dial...
  • Blog Post: Remote control of Windows Mobile

    The other day when I posted about VIrtual Earth Mobile, I was using some really great software to do remote control of my device and screen capture from the PC... SOTI Pocket Controller Professional . It's perfect for demoing Windows Mobile devices... even comes with a huge library of skins (which are...
  • Blog Post: Exchange 2007 SP1 signed off

    The Exchange team gave the green light to build 240.06 of SP1 yesterday! The download will be available here as soon as they can get the packages deployed to the web. More information on what's in SP1 is on Technet already .
  • Blog Post: Windows Home Server - would you have it in your home?

    I just read an interesting article from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on ZDNet about Windows Home Server , speculating whether there really was a market for such a device, and who would buy it. Adrian's point - and it is a valid one, if you know anything about what the "typical" home user might do and buy...
  • Blog Post: Using Outlook Search Folders to filter only external mail

    Following on from my recent post about search folders, I got a few questions and comments via mail. One, from Christian, asked if it was possible to use a search folder to filter out only mail which came from "outside" - eg Only show me the last day's mail from external senders , thus filtering out all...
  • Blog Post: Outlook 2010 beta and E.164 number format updater

    Well hello again; it’s been a while. Normal service should now infrequently resume. I thought I’d update the instructions of a previous post, after I was showing someone how to use my old “ Contacts updater ” application to make all their Outlook contact phone numbers be E.164 compliant. (see blogs passim...
  • Blog Post: The lost art of the .sig

    Whatever happened to elaborate and amusing '.sig's? It used to be common practice to have a signature with some kind of witty/pithy quote appended at random to every email. Nowadays, the autosignature that most email programs can insert (such as Outlook's ability to have multiple autosigs , which vary...