Partner Technical Services Blog

A worldwide group of consultants who focus on helping Microsoft Partners succeed throughout the business cycle.

August, 2013

  • Customizing the AD FS Sign-in Pages–with PowerShell

    In Windows Server 2012 R2, administrators can customize the overall look and feel of the AD FS web pages using a set of PowerShell scripts. 

    login screen
    Default look and feel

    The administrator can:

    • Change the company name
    • Change the company logo
    • Change the illustration on the left
    • Add a Help Desk, Home, and Privacy Link
    • Add a description text to the sign in page
    • Customize the web theme
    • Customize error messages

    customized login screen
    Look and feel with some customizations

    Learn more here: Customizing the AD FS Sign-in Pages

  • Microsoft Office 365 Single Sign-On (SSO) with Shibboleth 2

    As part of the refreshed Practice Accelerator for Office 365 training (new content and new dates coming shortly!), we mention in passing that Shibboleth can be configured to provide Single Sign-On for Office 365.  In that training we don’t discuss how to configure Shibboleth, so if you are trying to do so… I thought I would point you to a very well-written white paper from Jean-Marie Thia with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Philippe Beraud (Microsoft France):

    Through its support for the SAML 2.0 protocol, Internet2 Shibboleth 2 provides claims-based (Web) single sign-on (also known as identity federation) with the Microsoft Office 365 offering and its Web application and e-mail rich client applications (such as Outlook).

    Building on existing documentation, this document is intended to provide a better understanding of the different single sign-on deployment options for Windows Azure Active Directory and the services in Office 365, how to enable single sign-on using corporate credentials and the Shibboleth 2 Identity Provider to Windows Azure Active Directory and the services in Office 365, and the different configuration elements to be aware of for such deployment.

    This document is intended for system architects and IT professionals who are interested in understanding the basics of the single sign-on feature of Windows Azure Active Directory/Office 365 with Shibboleth 2 along with planning and deploying such a system in their environment.

    Download the paper here: Office 365 Single Sign-On with Shibboleth 2 whitepaper


    Paper Contents:

    1      Introduction. 1

    1.1      Objectives of this paper. 2

    1.2      Non-objectives of this paper. 6

    1.3      Organization of this paper. 8

    1.4      About the audience. 8

    1.5      Terminology used in this guide. 9

    2      A brief overview of Shibboleth 2. 10

    2.1      A short introduction on SAML 2.0 standard. 12

    2.2      Logical architecture of the Shibboleth system components. 15

    2.3      Interaction principles and associated profiles. 18

    2.4      Federation metadata defined. 19

    3      Federated authentication in Windows Azure AD/Office 365. 21

    3.1      Sign-in Experience for Federated Identities. 22

    3.2      Types of authentication for Federated Identities. 23

    4      Understanding the SSO configuration and related considerations. 25

    4.1      Preparing for the single sign-on. 25

    4.2      Planning and deploying a Shibboleth 2 identity provider. 26

    4.3      Configuring Shibboleth for use with single sign-on. 65

    4.4      Installing Windows PowerShell for single sign-on with Shibboleth 2. 72

    4.5      Setting up a trust between Shibboleth and Windows Azure AD.. 76

    4.6      Setting up directory synchronization. 83

    4.7      Verifying single sign-on with Shibboleth 2. 84

    4.8      Troubleshooting the single sign-on (SSO) with Shibboleth 2. 92

    5      Understanding how federated authentication works in Office 365. 93

    5.1      Understanding the Shibboleth 2 configuration. 93

    5.2      Understanding the passive/Web profile authentication flow.. 99

    5.3      Understanding the ECP – Proxy Auth profile authentication flow.. 100

    Appendix A. Shibboleth 2 Glossary/Concepts. 102

    APPENDIX B. Shibboleth 2 configuration file samples  104
  • Need more space in the Cloud? We have you covered!

    Two huge Office 365 announcements!  From the SharePoint Online Team: SkyDrive Pro increases storage from 7GB to 25GB

    Today, we're pleased to announce three new significant improvements to SkyDrive Pro for Office 365 business subscribers - to help you be more productive:

    • Each user now gets 25 GB of SkyDrive Pro storage space (up from 7 GB).
    • You can now increase users' SkyDrive Pro storage beyond the default 25 GB-up to 50 GB and 100 GB.
    • With the new Shared with Me view,you can easily find documents others have shared with you.

    Let's dive into the details!

    Read the rest of the post here:

    From the Exchange Online Team: Exchange Online mailbox sizes are doubling

    The size of user mailboxes in all Exchange Online and Office 365 service plans is doubling. Beginning today, the current 25 GB of mailbox storage is increasing to 50 GB. With this increase even the most active email users don't have to worry about mailbox size limitations-we've got you covered! There's no price increase associated with this change. Our doubling of your mailbox storage is simply part of our promise to continuously deliver value to our Office 365 customers. 

    You don't need to do anything to take advantage of this new mailbox size. Your mailbox size will automatically be increased. The increase starts rolling out to customers today and continues through November.

    This increase to a 50 GB mailbox per user benefits Exchange Online and Office 365 service plans, including: Exchange Online Plan 1, Office 365 Small Business, Midsize Business, Enterprise E1, Government G1, and Education A1. If you have one of our premium service plans (Exchange Online Plan 2, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4, Government G3 and G4, Education A3 and A4), you already enjoy unlimited email storage through your personal archive, but now your default primary mailbox size is increasing to 50 GB. Kiosk user mailboxes are doubling in size, too-from 1 GB to 2 GB.

    In addition to doubling the storage in your users' primary mailbox, we've increased the size of other mailboxes to help you work even more productively. Shared mailboxes and Resources mailboxes are both increasing to 10 GB (more than doubling), so you'll have plenty of room to store everything you need for your projects and collaborations. The size of Site mailboxes remains unchanged. 

    Here's a summary of the new mailbox sizes by plan:

    For complete details about mailbox types and sizes, read the Office 365 service descriptions

  • The SharePoint Online Site Collection Upgrade Experience–Part 2

    In Part 1 of this post, we walked you through resolving the “Upgrade is currently disabled for your site collection. Please check back later to see if it has been unlocked for you” error that users may see when trying to upgrade their SharePoint Online site collection. 

    Now, join Partner Solution Consultant Jon Horner as he walks through everything you need to know before, during, and after the upgrade process, including how to update MySites to SkyDrive Pro.

    Session PowerPoint Deck: Office 365 - Upgrading to the new SharePoint Online

    *Note: The video mentions that SkyDrive Pro comes with 7GB of storage.  As of last week when the video was recorded… that was true.  Today, the SharePoint Online team announced that:

    • Each user now gets 25 GB of SkyDrive Pro storage space (up from 7 GB).
    • You can now increase users' SkyDrive Pro storage beyond the default 25 GB-up to 50 GB and 100 GB.
    • With the new Shared with Me view,you can easily find documents others have shared with you.

    Read more at the following post: SkyDrive Pro increases storage and ease of sharing

  • The SharePoint Online Site Collection Upgrade Experience–Part 1

    Recently, we have seen questions coming in from Partners about the site collection upgrade experience for their customers who have been upgraded to the new SharePoint Online.

    After Office 365 (and SharePoint Online) are upgraded to the new version, end users should not notice a difference with their site collections.  They will continue to look and function as they did before.



    However, if the Site Collection Administrator pokes around in Site Actions –> Site Settings, they may stumble across the “Site collection upgrade” option, and then hit the following error:

    Prepare for takeoff!

    Upgrade is currently disabled for your site collection. Please check back later to see if it has been unlocked for you.


    This is due to a setting that can only be changed by the SharePoint Online (or Global) Administrator.

    After your Office 365 subscription has been upgraded, for a limited time you can give users a choice between creating site collections by using the SharePoint 2010 look-and-feel, or by using the new SharePoint 2013 experience.

    Depending on the setting you choose, you can also control whether or not SharePoint Online site collections created with an earlier version of the templates can be upgraded to the current versions. For example, if you want to temporarily prevent users from upgrading sites while you update any customizations you’ve previously made to a SharePoint Online template, you can configure these settings to prevent the upgrade of any existing sites that use this template.

    (Click to see picture full size)


      To configure these settings:

      1. Go to Admin > SharePoint > Settings
      2. In the Global Experience Version Settings section, choose one of the following options:
      1. Allow creation of old version site collections, but prevent creation of new version site collections. Prevent opt-in upgrade to the new version site collections to only allow users to create site collections using the SharePoint Online 2010 templates and to prevent them from upgrading these site collections to SharePoint 2013.
      2. Allow creation of old version site collections, and creation of new version site collections. Allow opt-in upgrade to the new version site collections to allow users to create either SharePoint Online 2010 site collections or SharePoint Online 2013 site collections and allow them to upgrade the 2010 versions to 2013.
      3. Prevent creation of old version site collections, but allow creation of new version site collections. Allow opt-in upgrade to the new version site collections to only allow users to create site collections using the SharePoint Online 2013 templates and to allow them to upgrade any existing SharePoint Online 2010 site collections to SharePoint Online 2013.
      1. Click OK.

    You can watch a short video of this upgrade process here:

    After enabling the upgrade, from the SharePoint Online admin center, you can select multiple site collections, and send Upgrade notifications (with instructions) to Site Collection Administrators.


    You can also view the Site collection upgrade settings, looking at the current experience version (2010 or 2013), get the link to the demo site (if the site collection administrator has created one), and enable/disable upgrade on a site-by-site basis.


    For more information, see:

    In Part 2, I’ll post a video by Partner Solution Consultant Jon Horner that goes into detail on what to expect before, during, and after the upgrade; and how to upgrade My Sites to SkyDrive and Team Sites to the 2013 experience.

  • New Azure Troubleshooting Resource

    I wanted to take just a minute today to share a new resource we’re bringing to you on MSDN Channel 9 for Windows Azure Troubleshooting.  Our support teams have been creating short, technical, videos that highlight common questions we’ve been getting.  As you build your Windows Azure practice consider subscribing to this channel for updates on the latest tips from our support experts.

    Also, if you have any Windows Azure topics you would like to see a video or other content on, please leave a comment below or send me an email (

    Have a GREAT day!

  • Is it supported on Windows Azure Virtual Machines?

    I have seen a few questions recently about support* for hosting various products on Windows Azure VMs.  Can you run SharePoint? TFS? SQL Server? Hyper-V? What versions?  Fortunately there is a KB article for that :)

    Microsoft server software support for Windows Azure Virtual Machines:

    This article discusses the support policy for running Microsoft server software in the Windows Azure Virtual Machine environment (infrastructure-as-a-service). 
    Microsoft supports Microsoft server software running in the Windows Azure Virtual Machine environments as listed in the "More Information" section. This support is subject to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy. For more information, visit the following Microsoft website:

    All Microsoft software installed in the Windows Azure Virtual Machine environment must be properly licensed. Windows Azure Virtual Machines include by default a license for use of Windows Server in the Windows Azure environment. Certain Windows Azure Virtual Machine offerings may also include additional Microsoft software on a per-hour or evaluation basis. Licenses for other software must be obtained separately. For information about Microsoft’s License Mobility program see:

    In some cases, specific versions of Microsoft server software are required for support. These versions are noted in this article, and the supported versions may be updated as needed.

    As the article is updated regularly, I won’t copy over the list, but the list includes products such as Project Server, SQL Server, System Center as well as Windows Server Roles and Features. (Active Directory? Yes. DHCP Server? No.)

    *Note: “Supported” is different from “will it work?”.  It is entirely possible (maybe even likely) that <random product> will install and run just fine on an Azure VM.  “Supported” means that it has been tested, and you can call into the support team and receive support if you hit problems with deploying a supported product on Azure. I managed to fit the word “support” into that last sentence 4 separate times.

  • Is VB 6.0 Keeping You on Windows XP? There is a way out.

    In Partner Services we’ve been getting questions lately from Partners working with customers to migrate off Windows XP.  One of the common issues is custom applications written in VB 6.0 that needs to be updated to .NET or another current language.  Sounds easy enough, but what if you have thousands of lines of VB Code, and don’t have a spare developer just waiting around to update them one by one?  Well, there is help.

    I recommend you spend some time over at the Visual Basic 6.0 Migration Resource Center.  You will find many helpful tools, trainings, assessments, and general guidance.  Here is a snip from their page:

    Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Migration Resource Center

    Microsoft’s Commitment to VB 6.0 Customers- Microsoft is committed to helping Visual Basic 6.0 customers upgrade to .NET and preserve existing assets. Visual Studio shipped a Visual Basic 6.0 project migration wizard through 2008 in all Visual Studio SKUs. While Microsoft no longer ships the migration wizard, our partners are offering free migration tools and solutions. Here are more resources to help answer questions on how to migrate from Visual Basic 6.0 to Visual Basic .NET and Visual Studio 2010.



    As always, partners can always contact partner services for 1-1 customized help with these topics.

    Happy Developing!

  • Free Development, Testing, and Demo Resources from Microsoft (and you could win an Aston Martin)

    Stop and ask yourself one question.  Do you have an MSDN subscription?  For so many of our partners, the answer is yes.

    Now ask yourself a second question, how much do you spend on machines for development, testing, demos, etc. per year?  Would you like to spend less and scale more?  Well, you can.  In this post by some of our friends over in Windows Azure they explain how you can utilize your MSDN benefits to try Azure with the credits included in your MSDN subscription.  Oh, and one extra perk: sign up before the deadline to be entered to win an Aston Martin!

    For developers this is a great way to scale your capacity, but I tend to think it goes way beyond that.  For Partners running demo systems or needing to scale up and down based on demand, using VMs running on Azure is a way to manage this without buying and managing more hardware.

    If you haven’t ever tried running a VM in Azure it is EASY.  If you have ever run a VM in Hyper-V you know most of what you need to know.  So, why are you leaving money on the table?  Head on over and sign up for Azure and give it a try. See how quickly you can begin building your VMs and explore how this could expand your organization’s capacity.

    If you want some help getting started on Azure, let us know.  We’d be happy to assist.  Are you new to Azure and want to tell your story, please post a comment below.

  • Ignite – In Person Events

    3326.ignitelogoblack_08162013.png-550x0While there are many opportunities for webcasts and recorded videos available from Microsoft (the Partner Technical Services posts a number of our own up at the Partner Learning Center as well as to our Microsoft Partner Support YouTube Channel.  That said, in-person events are a great way to meet with product experts from Microsoft, ask questions, and network with peers across the industry.

    Ignite Summits are unique and special events for IT Pros and Developers delivered by the Office team. We share our knowledge and experience deploying and managing the new Office products and services and hear from you on what you love and what you’d like to see.  Ignite content is designed and delivered by product experts from across Microsoft (Engineers, Technical Writers, Product Managers & Consultants). In October and November, we will be hosting the following Ignite events:

    • Hong Kong - October 8-10
    • Prague – October 22-24
    • Washington DC - November 5-7, 2013
    • Dubai - November 19-21, 2013

    Register to attend one of these events at

    These 3 day events give you the opportunity to meet, discuss with Microsoft’s product experts a wide variety of topics from Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Project, Yammer and developer content – over 70 sessions covered. Specifically, for Office 365, we will be discussing how to deliver the capabilities that users demand while staying in control of your environment. Adopting Office 365 requires IT Pros to adapt their traditional client-server skills for the cloud computing era.  We will also talk about how new features come to Office 365 first, learn about the new tools and processes to migrate on premises environments to Office 365, and prepare for the new operational role of IT.

    Day 1

    • Ignite Keynotes
    • Office 365 for IT Professionals
    • Messaging & Communications services in Office 365
    • Collaboration services in Office 365

    Day 2

    • Productivity Tools in Office 365
    • Getting Started with Office 365 Deployment
    • Deploying Office 365 in Production (Part 1)
    • Deploying Office 365 in Production (Part 2)
    • Office 365 Deployment Patterns and Practices

    Day 3

    • Enhancing Office 365
    • Exchange Hybrid environments
    • Exchange Online Protection
    • Business Intelligence with Office 365
    • Office 365 Service Management

    These events are a significant investment in our time and resources, but we are pleased to continue our policy of not charging for these unique training opportunities. However we will impose a no-show fee of $600 (USD) if you register, but do not cancel your registration before the summit. Accommodations for this summit are not included, however we have arranged discounted rooms at the event venues on a first come first serve basis. More details are posted on our registration site ( Of course, if you can’t make it to one of our events, you can join us on our weekly webcasts or see other upcoming technical events and learning resources at

    Hope to see you soon!

  • How to create your first app for Windows Phone

    Our friends over at the Windows Phone Dev Center posted a great article last week titles “How to create your first app for Windows Phone”.  For anyone thinking about building a Windows Phone app for the first time, this is a quick and easy way to get started.

    This topic provides step-by-step instructions to help you create your first app for Windows Phone. You’re going to create a basic web browser. This simple app lets the user enter a URL, and then loads the web page when the user clicks the Go button.

    As always, if you have feedback, comments, questions, or ideas about a topic you’d like to know more about please post a reply below or email us (

    Happy Developing!

  • Which Azure Execution Model Should I Use?

    I was talking to someone last night, and he asked a question that why should we use Azure Cloud Services and not the Azure Websites as most common things that people do in the cloud is run web sites and web applications. I never heard this question as You can combine these methods as needed to create the right application for your business. I told him that the approach you choose depends on what problems you're trying to solve.

    You can create an inexpensive development and test platform using the language, tools and templates (libraries) of your choice on Virtual Machine; or simply extend your web site running on your on-premise datacenter. These apps can use the Azure provided data management options (Table (No SQL concept), Blob or SQL DB, including MySQL). Azure Virtual Machines gives you lots of flexibility, including administrative access, and you certainly can use it to build a very scalable application, but you'll have to handle many aspects of reliability and administration yourself . Windows Azure Web Sites allows creating the web application and offers low-cost web hosting, but don't provide administrative access.  

    If you need administrative access and control; and want to handle the other management and administration work including load balancing, reliability etc. automatically, then you need cloud services. In cloud Services, your instance would run on WS (Azure VM, separate from VM you create. Web role instances run on IIS.). Windows Azure maintains this VM such as monitoring, patch management etc. Please refer to for details on execution models.

    In short, Windows Azure Cloud Services is the best choice for creating scalable, reliable applications with low administration costs. And as mentioned earlier, you can use these technologies separately or combine them as needed to create the right foundation for your application.

  • Windows 8.1 to Launch on October 18th

    Windows 8.1 will begin rolling out worldwide as a free update for consumers on Windows 8 through the Windows Store starting October 18th. Windows 8.1 will also be available at retail and on new devices starting on October 18th by market. Windows 8.1 brings many improvements in areas like personalization, Internet Explorer 11, search which is powered by Bing, built-in apps including a few new ones, an improved Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity with SkyDrive (and much more) that people will enjoy.

    Microsoft hasn't announced RTM today. This announcement is just for general availability. We also haven't made any new announcements for TechNet subscribers.  Please find more information on this announcement at Windows blog.

  • WS2012, SC2012 R2 is coming this October!

    Microsoft made the public announced today about the availability for Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Intune updates.  On October 18th, 2013 eligible customers will be able to download the new versions through a variety of channels, and evaluation versions will be made publicly available through the TechNet Evaluation Center.  On November 1st, 2013 these products become available for new purchase

    More details on  “What’s New in 2012 R2.

    Microsoft will announce to partners through MPN social channels and MPN newsletterPartners can access information on the latest versions of our products and licensing at We are not communicating any information regarding the RTM dates at this time. Customers who have active MSDN or TechNet subscriptions, and those customers that have access to future versions based on their VL use rights will get it via VLSC downloads on October 18, 2013. The latest update to the Windows Intune online service will roll out to existing subscribers.

    Please find more announcement details's in Brad Anderson’s Blog


  • Office 365 Mail Flow Troubleshooter

    The Office 365 Support team has just released a guided mail flow troubleshooter here:

    If you have users complaining that mail delivery takes too long, or that mails are remaining in their outbox, or that recipients are not receiving e-mails at all; the guided walkthrough will step you through the troubleshooting steps required to diagnose and resolve the problem


    Access the troubleshooter here:

    For your reference, the following diagram shows many of the components involved with mail delivery from sender to receiver, any of which could be interfering with your email arriving:

  • MVA Live Q&A: Windows Azure

    MVA Live Q&A: Windows Azure: Did you recently attend our Windows Azure for IT Professionals Jump Start and have some follow-up questions? Here’s your chance to get them answered! We’ve asked Microsoft Technical Evangelist and Azure expert David Tesar to host a 90-minute “MVA Live Q&A” session on the topic. If you’re interested in learning more about Windows Azure, please join us on August 27th for this event.

  • Windows Store Apps with HTML5 Refresh - Free Jump Start Training

    Discover how to make your Windows Store apps for Windows 8 even better by taking advantage of the new features available in Windows 8.1. This refresh Jump Start builds on everything you learned about developing apps in the original all-day Jump Starts: Developing Windows Store Apps with HTML5 Jump Start and Advanced Windows Store App Development Using HTML5 and JavaScript Jump Start.

    Sign up for this free training here:

    Live Event Details

    August 22, 2013

    9:00am - 5:00pm (PDT)

    What: Fast Paced Live Virtual Session

    Cost: Free

    Audience: Developers

    Prerequisites: To get the most out of this event it is recommended that the user reviews the following Jump Starts and has a solid understanding of HTML5. Developing Windows Store Apps with HTML5 Jump Start and Advanced Windows Store App Development Using HTML5 and JavaScript Jump Start

  • Microsoft Project webcast series

    Microsoft Project webcast seriesReady to learn how Microsoft Project can help you get more out of your projects? The new Project offers flexible service or on-premises solutions for project portfolio management and everyday work, enabling you to effectively execute winning projects and achieve strategic priorities. Now's the time to register, attend our free Project webcast series, and find out more about Project 2013.
    All webcasts will begin at 1:30 pm EST / 10:30 am PST and will run for 90 minutes.

    Register here to attend our free Project webcast series.

    Date Title of Webcast Presenter
    September 17, 2013 Connect ERP Systems with Microsoft Project
    Add to calendar
    Stefan Haffner,
    Campana & Schott
    October 22, 2013 Managing Projects - Never Easier - Project 2013 and SharePoint 2013
    Add to calendar
    Eamonn McGinnis,
    Brightwork, LLC
    November 19, 2013 Avoiding the 14 Hour Work Day - Understanding Resource Allocations in Project
    Add to calendar
    Matthew Davis,
    PM Providers
    December 17, 2013 Scrum and Agile Planning with Microsoft Project 2013
    Add to calendar
    Tim Runcie,
    January 21, 2014 Integration of Social Networks with Microsoft Project to Improve the Project Management Experience and Outcomes
    Add to calendar
    Gary Gratny,
    Quantum PM
    February 18, 2014 Manage More Work with Less Effort with Project 2013
    Add to calendar
    Rob Hirschmann,
    March 18, 2014 Sharing and Collaborating Within Project 2013
    Add to calendar
    Ben Howard,
    April 22, 2014 Fast Track Project Management Success with Project Online
    Add to calendar
    Dux Raymond Sy,
    May 20, 2014 Project 2013 Customer Case Study
    Add to calendar
    Presenter TBD,
    June 17, 2014 Topic TBD
    Add to calendar
    Presenter TBD,

    Read detailed descriptions of each session, and add reminders to your calendar here.

    After the initial webcast date, the webcasts will be available on-demand by visiting the webcast portal. Register here for access to all past and upcoming webcasts.

    H/T to for announcement

  • Administering Office 365 for Small Business Jump Start

    If you are planning on taking the new 74-325 exam, and haven’t visited the awesome Microsoft Virtual Academy, then drop everything and head over!

    Watch this one and a half day, demo-rich Jump Start aimed at helping IT Pros administer Microsoft Office 365 for small and medium businesses. Stephen Hall, CEO - District Computers, LLC and Chris Oakman, Chief Infrastructure Officer - Eastridge Technology are back with a new and updated version of their popular MVA course covering Microsoft Office 365. This is a fast-paced and engaging learning experience to help you get ready for the new and upcoming Microsoft Office 365 exam 74-325.


    Direct Links:

  • Windows Azure Delegate Accounts

    This video demonstrates how to enable, view and delete account delegates for a business account in the Microsoft Account portal.

    Account delegates have full access to your account; however, they cannot add, remove, or view other account delegates. You can configure up to 10 account delegates.

    The account delegate does not gain access to the information in the Windows Azure Management Portal. Account Delegates are different from Co-administrators.

    The Windows Azure Account Center currently does not display when a user is logged on as an account delegate. It is up to you to administer account delegates in the Microsoft Account portal.

  • Partner Technical Services at TechEd

    Lead Partner Solution Consultant Marc Perez presented a session on Designing for High Availability and Disaster Recovery in Microsoft Lync Server 2013 at TechEd in June, and I highly recommend watching.

    When you are done, if you still want to watch more sessions from some of the greatest minds at Microsoft, head over to MSDN to watch any of the hundreds of other sessions that are available for free:

  • Exchange Server 2013 Deployment Assistant Updated!

    The Exchange team just announced the latest updates to the Exchange Server 2013 Deployment Assistant!

    The updated Deployment Assistant now includes the following new scenarios:

    • Upgrading from a mixed Exchange 2007/Exchange 2010 deployment to Exchange 2013
    • Configuring an Exchange 2013-based hybrid deployment for Exchange 2010 organizations

    These new scenarios provide step-by-step guidance about how to upgrade your mixed Exchange 2007/Exchange 2010 organization to benefit from the improvements and new features of Exchange 2013. Additionally, Exchange 2010 organizations can now configure a hybrid deployment with Office 365 using Exchange 2013 if you would like to leverage the newest improvements to the Hybrid Configuration Wizard.

    And, we’re working on even more future improvements to the Deployment Assistant! We’ve listened to your feedback for improving both the Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2010 Deployment Assistants and we’re combining both of these tools into a single deployment resource. All the on-premises and hybrid deployment scenarios for Exchange 2010 in the Exchange Server 2010 Deployment Assistant will soon be incorporated into the Exchange Server 2013 Deployment Assistant. The new and improved “Exchange Server Deployment Assistant” will soon be a one-stop shop for deploying multiple versions of Exchange. Keep checking back here for an announcement to learn when this is available!

    In case you're not familiar with it, the Exchange Server 2013 Deployment Assistant is a web-based tool that helps you deploy Exchange 2013 in your on-premises organization, configure a hybrid deployment between your on-premises organization and Office 365, or migrate to Office 365. Supported on most major browsers, the tool asks you a small set of simple questions and then, based on your answers, creates a customized checklist with instructions to deploy or configure Exchange 2013. Instead of trying to find what you need in the Exchange library, the Deployment Assistant gives you exactly the right information you need to complete your task.

    Exchange 2013 Deployment Assistant

    You could figure out how to setup a hybrid deployment of SharePoint by reading tons of pages of documentation on TechNet, but why would you? I highly recommend using the Exchange 2013 Deployment Assistant to help plan your next deployment to make sure you plan everything needed for a successful deployment.



  • New MPN Learning Path Tool

    If you have not yet seen the new MPN Learning Path Tool, take a few minutes to check out the video below.  In the coming weeks and months those of us who spend time on Partner Readiness will be adding more suggested learning paths and courses to the tool. Our goal is to make is as easy as possible for you to help your teams get to the training that will benefit them the most.  We’ll spend our time filtering through the many training options to pick the very best for you.

    Also, if you have a learning path you’d like to see or some training that is just plain hard to find, please let us know in the comments below or via email (  We want your feedback!

  • Building Windows Store Apps for iOS Developers Jump Start

    Attention iOS developers! View this Jump Start to learn how to develop and monetize apps for Windows Store. Microsoft Principal Technical Evangelist Jaime Rodriguez and Big Nerd Ranch trainers Eric Jeffers and Sean McCune share some of their lessons learned in transitioning from iOS to Windows Store development. They use iOS terms and concepts to explain features in Windows, ensuring that you can make use of what you already know and learn the new concepts in your own terms.