Updates and new versions for Office 365 for Exchange Professionals

One year after we started to write the book, several thousand people have copies of “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals”. We are delighted at the feedback and positive comments that we have received. However, some questions have arisen as to how often we update the text and what right anyone has to receive an update, so here’s some information about editions and updates in an attempt to clarify the position.

We have published two editions of “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals” to date:

  • First edition: May 2015
  • Second edition: September 2015

The books are available online in EPUB (suitable for Sony Readers and iPads), PDF (best for PCs and Macs), and Amazon Kindle.

We plan to publish the 3rd edition, which will probably be renamed “Office 365 for IT Pros” to indicate the large amount of non-Exchange related material in the book, in late April or early May of 2016.

Each edition includes a substantial amount of new material to reflect new functionality introduced by Office 365. For example, the second edition has some 270 pages of additional material compared to the first book. As an indication of what we’re thinking about for the third edition, it will cover material such as Delve Analytics and the Office 365 Planner, both features that have not yet been released by Microsoft. In addition, we will revise coverage of the existing content to remove redundant material and to add, expand, or correct information as required. We know that many changes are coming for Office 365 Groups, so chapter 7 is likely to be overhauled (again). We are also consider changing the chapters for the third edition to create a more coherent flow.

Readers get the book in three ways:

  • Purchase from ExchangeServerPro.com and become a site member. We can then update you when new versions and updates are available, providing that you opt-in for these notifications.
  • Purchase the Kindle format from Amazon.com (or one of its country subsidiaries). Note that both the first and second editions are available on Amazon. The first is priced higher than the second and its descriptive text makes it very clear that this edition is now obsolete. We have kept the first online to retain the reviews as you cannot transfer reviews from one book to another.
  • Receive a copy from our sponsor (Binary Tree) or from a company who buys some copies to distribute to their customers. For example, Microsoft is currently providing copies to select attendees at its cloud roadshow series and Mimecast has bought copies to provide to webcast attendees.

It is important to know that we update the current book on an ongoing basis. We do this to remove “bugs” (in this case, bad grammar or spelling errors), address errors that are found or caused because new information comes to light, or to add some important information that we feel should be in the book. This approach matches the ongoing development that occurs within Office 365. The current version is indicated by a date on the inside cover (see screen shot below). The most recent version is dated 10 Feb 2016. 


We want to make updates available to people who have “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals”. Here’s the arrangement:

  • If you buy from ExchangeServerPro.com, you can download free updates for the edition that you purchase from the site.
  • If you buy a Kindle version from Amazon, you can download free updates from Amazon.com. You do this from the Amazon site by going to Manage Content and Devices, select the book, and click on Update Available. Amazon can sometimes be slow at making updates available through this route (they want to avoid lots of extra downloads, so they force authors to go through hoops before they release an update). If an update doesn’t show up, you might have to ask Amazon support to delete the entry in your list and get a refreshed copy of the book.
  • Free updates are not available to people who receive copies distributed by third parties. We provide updated content to companies who buy from us in order that they distribute the latest available text, but we don’t have a way to reach those who receive books in this manner thereafter.

It is also worth noting that if you buy direct from ExchangeServerPro.com, we will offer you discounts as new editions appear. For instance, site members who had bought the first edition received a limited-time offer to buy the second edition for $10 instead of its full price of $44.95.

I hope that this clarifies the way that we organize editions and updates and helps you find the most up-to-date content.

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Fitbit versus Microsoft: Charge versus Band 2


I’m somewhat of a geek, so the notion of wearing a device that provides data about exercise seemed like a good thing, if only because it would help me convince myself that exercise is something that needs to be fitted into my daily routine. After a small medical mishap at the end of 2013, I bought a Fitbit Flex. This is one of the simplest devices you can wear as its only interface is a set of five lights that illuminate to show progress towards your daily goal. In this case, to take 10,000 steps.

Fitbit.com offers a nice web site to track progress over time and I’ve been happily watch myself progress to a grand total (as of today) of 6.5 million steps or 4,866 km. I know that I would not have done this exercise without wearing a device, so that’s proof of their worth.

I went through several Fitbit Flex, mostly because they have a fiddly clasp that tends to fall off at the worst time, meaning that I have left devices behind in places like the Nice Airport car-hire facility. This fault and the lack of feedback from the device led me to by a Fitbit Charge, which I like very much. It’s simple to use but acts as a watch and provides feedback on steps taken, stairs climbing, calories consumed, and so on.

And then the Microsoft Band appeared. I didn’t like the first version because it was uncomfortable to wear and seemed expensive for what it delivered, so I waited for Microsoft to improve matters, which is what has happened in Microsoft Band 2 (on the right in picture above). I’ve been wearing the Band 2 along with the Fitbit Charge since the Band 2 was released on October 30 to figure out what I like about both and to make a decision as to what I’ll wear in the future.

The Band 2 is packed full of sensors and I delight in knowing my heart rate at a glance. People have been telling me for years that I am somewhat stressed when flying and this was confirmed by the finding that my heart rate increased from a normal 68-70 beats per minute to closer to 100 when flying.

You pay for the Band’s sensor capabilities with a short battery life. The Band 2 will last 48 hours on a charge, but that shortens to a day or less if you exercise with GPS turned on, which you’ll probably want in order to see maps of your course produced in the Microsoft Health dashboard. The Fitbit is simpler and offers much better battery life. I typically charge the Fitbit once a week whereas the Band 2 needs to be monitored daily to know whether it needs a quick charge. Charging is quick for both devices.

Speaking of dashboards, both Fitbit and Microsoft make data accumulated from the devices available for comparison and observation. Both are well laid out. I like the way Fitbit allows you to add activities that might not be recorded by the device (for instance, if you forget to wear it), while Microsoft’s provides more analysis of the data.

Both devices have companion apps available on all major mobile platforms. The Microsoft app (which I use on Windows Phone) has some additional bells and whistles, such as being able to change the tiles that show up on the device. For instance, I have no interest in accessing Cortana with the Band so I removed that tile. Speaking of tiles, the ability of the Band to display snippets for new messages (text and email) as they arrive is a nice feature. This depends on the presence of a Bluetooth-connected phone to receive the messages and broadcast them to the band. As you might expect, reading messages a couple of lines at a time quickly loses its appeal, but it’s a useful way to recognize when something important arrives and you need to take action.

Many will buy these devices to track the distance they cover on a daily basis through normal activities or exercise. All devices have their own way of measuring distance (the Band 2 uses GPS) and the two seldom agreed on the number of steps taken or the distance covered. That really doesn’t matter as long as you use one device on a constant basis and measure your own progress against whatever data it produces. I measured the GPS distance recorded by the Band 2 against Runmaster Pedometer, a GPS-capable exercise recording app running on my Lumia 1020. The Band 2 and the Lumia agreed within 2-3% most of the time.

I prefer the Band 2’s clasp. It is much more secure than the Fitbit Charge, which tends to pop out from time to time (but much less frequently than the Fitbit Flex). The Band 2 is comfortable to wear and I don’t notice it on my left wrist. I don’t wear a watch anymore and like the “glance” mode of the Band 2, which shows the time if you move your wrist. An important point is that the Band 2 is water resistant, which means that you have to take it off when showering. The Fitbit is happy to be clean and goes into the shower along with its owner.

The devices are obviously worlds apart from it comes to price so it’s a little unfair to measure the Fitbit Charge against the Band 2. There are more sophisticated Fitbit devices that are a better direct comparison with the Band 2, but I can only discuss what I have.

The Microsoft Band 2 is available for $249.99 at Amazon.com or £199.99 at Amazon.co.uk while the Fitbit Charge comes in at $116.05 at Amazon.com and £64.95 at Amazon.co.uk. To make the comparison more accurate between the U.S. and UK, you have to convert to a common currency and factor in sales tax, which differs according to the state of purchase. Taking an 8% rate for sales tax, the figures are as show below. As you can see, the Microsoft Band 2 is much cheaper in the U.S. while less of a difference exists for the Fitbit Charge, probably because it has been available for longer and some discounting is present.

  U.S. U.K.
Microsoft Band 2 $249.99 + tax = $269.98 £199.99 = $314.51
Fitbit Charge $116.05 + tax = $125.33 £64.95 = $102.14

Overall, both devices do a good job of helping people become less of a couch potato (if you let them). I like the simplicity of the Fitbit and its battery life. I like the approachability of the Band 2 and the data that it produces and that’s the reason why I will probably persist with the Band 2.

Everyone is different and wearing one of the more sophisticated Fitbit devices might be sufficient to tilt the balance the other way. And of course, newer devices when released will up the ante and set new benchmarks for wearability, usability, battery life, data gathering, applications, and dashboards. In the meantime, I’ll get on with achieving my daily goal for kilometres covered and steps walked.

Update (21 Nov): The small tab on the side of the Fitbit that you press to see the clock or other data has snapped off and can’t be fitted back. I guess it’s the Band 2 from here on.

Update 2 (1 Dec): Due to some excellent support from Fitbit, I now have a new replacement device. The old device is still working and reporting data, it just can’t display anything but the time (if you rap the screen).

Update 3 (19 Jan 16): The Band 2 has stopped charging, which seems to be quite a common difficulty experienced by people. Microsoft has provided me with a UPS label to return the device to a support center in Germany. We’ll see how long it takes to come back.

Update 4 (24 Jan 16): Microsoft has sent a brand-new replacement Band 2 to me. Let’s hope that this one doesn’t have the same difficulties with charging.

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Microsoft Cloud Roadshows use “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals”

I’m pleased to let you know that Microsoft has selected the “Office 365 for Professionals (2nd edition)” eBook for distribution to select attendees who attend the Exchange sessions at the Microsoft Cloud Roadshows that begun in Dallas on November 2 and will terminate in Hong Kong on March 10-11. Microsoft is providing copies of the book in PDF and EPUB formats. The version being distributed is up to date as at October 27.

Clearly the writing team is delighted that Microsoft is using our content in this way. We think it’s because the book provides a great overview of the potential of Office 365 for those moving to the cloud from an on-premises environment, including coverage of Delve, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business and comprehensive treatment of hybrid deployments.

Office 365 doesn’t remain static and we are busy keeping track of changes as Microsoft rolls them out into the service. We expect to have a third edition available in the March timeframe that will include coverage of major new features that we expect to see introduced between now and then such as Office 365 Planner and Delve Analytics. I’ll post more news about the third edition as we progress.

If you’d like to get a copy of Office 365 for Exchange Professionals, you can do so from:

ExchangeServerPro.com (EPUB and PDF formats). The EPUB format is suitable for iPad and Sony eReaders. People who buy through ExchangeServerPro.com can become members of the site and qualify for low-cost updates to new editions as they become available.

Amazon.com (Kindle) – or local Amazon sites

Now back to the writing…

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Posted in Cloud, Email, Exchange, Office 365 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

All about the second Exchange Oscars award ceremony


The first “Exchange Oscars” happened at MEC 2014 as a way for the Microsoft Exchange product group to come together with the Exchange MVPs and gently roast each other while enjoying some food and drink. Of course, in 2015 MEC succumbed to the Ignite conference and no Oscars were awarded – until last night.

Thanks to the generosity of Netmail and Binary Tree, we took advantage of the annual MVP Summit to gather at the Tavern Hall in Bellevue and celebrate the second Exchange Oscars. I didn’t make it until the award ceremony (such as it was) was nearly ready to begin, but when I arrived it seemed like everyone was very jolly and had enjoyed the food and drink that was on offer. It was great to have Perry Clarke (head of Exchange development) and Phil van Etten (CEO of Netmail) join a good crowd of Exchange and Office 365 MVPs along with many famous members of the Exchange product group. And of course, the remnants of Flat Tony

Greg Taylor and Flat Tony's head (See https://sway.com/PtkVrFyi2ee5zizc for more information

Greg Taylor and Flat Tony’s head (hopefully the last appearance of this cardboard entity)

The avuncular and well-spoken Greg Taylor (he of elephant protocol handling fame) acted as master of ceremonies and handed out the Oscars (organized by Justin Harris – @NtExcellence) in the following categories. First, the awards to members of the Exchange group as voted for by the MVPs:

Most Helpful Product Group Member – The most-looking for a good end of year review award: Brian Day (or as he is known more commonly, Brain Day)

Best Product Group Presenter – The loves the sound of their own voice award: Greg Taylor (@GregTaylor_Msft)

Best Advice Given – The I wish I had been a therapist but I failed the exams award: Tim Heeney (who does a great job of helping people master hybrid deployments)

Best Tool – Which I thought was quite rude really, so let’s find out who the biggest tool in the chest is…  ExRCA (the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer): Shawn McGrath and Brad Hughes

Best EHLO Blog Post (please add the post author’s name) – The please please please love me award: Ross Smith IV (who has written many good posts in the last year such as “Enabling BitLocker on Exchange Servers” (@RossSmithIV)

We then had a set of awards for MVPs as voted for by the members of the Exchange product group:

Best at knowledge sharing – Also known as the read my greatness, admire my greatness, even though all I did was re-tweet your greatness award: Jeff Guillet (@expta)

Best code contribution – the I have a real job and can actually write code unlike you bunch of tarts who simply write about code other people have written award: Glen Scales (@GlenScales)

Most promising MVP – The I haven’t yet become a parent and so I can still work all hours award: Andrew Higginbotham (@Ashdrewness)

Best use of social media (please add the author’s name) also referred to as the Tinder award: Michael van Horenbeeck (VanHybrid – @MVanHorenbeeck)


VanHybrid beams as Greg instructs him on the art of social media. MVP Frank Carius remains unconvinced that Twitter will ever succeed

Most influential blog (please reference the name of the blog and the author)  – aka the I’m going to just keep writing and writing until eventually it pays off award: Tony Redmond and his WindowsITPro blog


Kissing Greg on both cheeks to thank him for the Oscar. MVPs Justin Harris (left) and Thierry Deman-Barcelò aren’t too sure about what’s happening

Clearly there are many others who make a huge contribution to Exchange, the ecosystem that surrounds the product, and the community who deserve similar recognition. We’re just the folks who were fortunate enough this year.

According to its wiki entry and as far as I can recall at this remove, Microsoft released the first version of Exchange (4.0) to customers in March 1996. We’re rapidly approaching the 20-year anniversary and some debate occurred as to how this landmark should be recognized. Not many products have survived in such good shape, especially in terms of the transition to the cloud, and it would be nice to have an opportunity to celebrate all of the people who contributed to the success of Exchange. We’ll see what transpires here… Maybe it will be a mega-Oscars.

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Exchange Unwashed Digest October 2015

October 2015 started with the launch of Exchange 2016, included a fight about a report issued by a security company to show how user credentials might be exposed by OWA and ended at yet another conference in Las Vegas. Lots of things to discuss… Here’s what happened during the month on my Exchange Unwashed blog at WindowsITPro.com.

Understanding what the Exchange 2016 Preferred Architecture really means (Oct 29): As part of their launch of Exchange 2016, Microsoft is taking a harder line about the kind of designs that customers use in their deployments, which is why the Preferred Architecture exists. Of course, it’s only Microsoft’s view and you might have good reasons (like virtualization) to move away from their approach. All explained here.

Transition from on-premises to cloud reflected in Microsoft’s latest results (Oct 27): Microsoft’s Q1 FY16 results were the first using the new product categories so it was harder to make a direct comparison with the past, especially when currency fluctuations also exert an influence. But any look at their results demonstrate that Office 365 is still growing and that on-premises servers are declining.

Veeam and Office 365 – not today, maybe in the future (Oct 26): I visited the VeeamON conference in Las Vegas to get a view of what Veaam is up to and a good discussion about backups for cloud services resulted. In a nutshell, they’re waiting to see whether a true market develops.

What Exchange admins need to know about SharePoint Online backup and restore (Oct 22): You might know that Exchange Online disdains to take backups and depends on Native Data Protection. SharePoint Online is different and some backups are taken. It’s a small but important point to understand.

Creating a common groups platform for Office 365 (Oct 20): A follow up article to a previous post to explain what I would do to create a common technical framework for Office 365 Groups and Yammer to run upon. It seems strange that three years after the Yammer acquisition so much distance still exists between the two most common collaborative applications within Office 365.

Outlook’s likes and mentions really don’t float my boat (Oct 15): It’s Grumpy Old Man (GOM) time again. The news that Outlook and Outlook Web App are going to support Facebook-like “likes” and Twitter-like “mentions” brought a cold chill to my bones. I don’t like the ideas very much at all because I cannot see how likes will improve the quality or effectiveness of email communication. I am more positive about mentions. But at the end of the day, it all depends on how people use the technology. Some will like it (no pun intended). Others, like me, will simply be grumpy.

FUD continues over OWA backdoor exploit (Oct 13): I respect companies who focus on IT Security because their work keeps the bad guys away from essential IT systems. The research that they do leads to innovate techniques that detect, isolate, and deal with threats. It’s a difficult area of the industry because some of the challenges that these companies take on are mind-bendingly hard. And when something good happens, it’s right that a company who makes a breakthrough should benefit from that work. Unfortunately, all the whoo-hah about the OWA backdoor attack reported in early October obscured what seems to be some interesting techniques developed by Cybereason in favor of clickbait, press headlines, and page views. It would have been so easy to better present the offending report but that didn’t happen. Oh well…

The ongoing debate over Office 365 Groups and Yammer (Oct 8): One of the most common questions I see asked by Office 365 tenant administrators in Microsoft’s IT Pro Network is whether they should use Office 365 Groups or Yammer to help users to collaborate and work smarter. This is a complex question that cannot be adequately answered to the satisfaction of all in an article, but it’s a question that deserves some comment. So here goes. I now batten down my hatches in anticipation of some “forthright” comments!

Doubtful security report about OWA flaw gains headlines but offers little real value (Oct 7): FUD is a well-known term in the computer industry and it’s alive and well as evident in a recent report of an OWA vulnerability that emerged from security researchers Cybereason. The report is not well written and contains insufficient detail to know whether the issue it describes is real. I don’t think it is, but it’s hard to make the call without understanding how a hacker magically penetrated an Exchange server. Make your own mind up!

Microsoft intends to charge for the Office 365 Import Service (Oct 6): An interesting FAQ released to Microsoft partners contained the news that Microsoft intends to charge to allow Office 365 tenants to import PSTs and other data using the Office 365 Import Service. That news isn’t stunning because it’s a service and you can make the case that someone has to pay for the infrastructure, etc. etc. What was surprising was the price point. $8/GB is, shall we say, ludicrous? Anyway, now that we know what’s coming, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft prices the Import Service – and how third parties price to compete with the folks from Redmond.

Exchange 2016 debuts to delight on-premises customers (Oct 1): It’s October, it’s three years since the last version of Exchange Server was released, so it must be time for a new version. And so it is as Exchange 2016 makes its debut and becomes generally available to all who would like to install the new software. Of course, installing a new version (or an update) of Exchange is not something that anyone with an ounce of sense rushes to do, even in a greenfield environment, so the time clock starts now for the planning exercises that should lead to a wave of deployments as people who want to stay on-premises and run older versions seek to get to a version that will be supported for the next decade.

November is already proving to be busy. I guess it’s better that way than the other…

Stay in touch by following Tony @12Knocksinna

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Exchange’s underappreciated single-page patching capability

I really like single page patching, the facility first introduced in Exchange 2010 to enable a database to detect that a database page is corrupt and to retrieve replacement data from another database copy. It’s one of those elegant pieces of functionality that have been introduced as Microsoft improves levels of automated management and self-monitoring throughout Exchange.

Single page patching is not something you would necessarily notice. Unless, of course, you are in the habit of scanning the application event log or have configured some software to do the job for you. Being invisible yet effective is a major advantage. What you don’t know won’t worry you – and why should you be worried if holes appear in database pages that can be automatically fixed by Exchange?

Before single page patching came along, administrators lived in fear of the dreaded -1018 error, which indicated that corruption had appeared in a database. Corruption arose from many sources, software bugs and storage controllers often being likely culprits. When a -1018 error struck, the only solution was to restore the database from backup and bring it up to date by replaying transaction logs, an activity that was long, tiresome, and prone to error. No administrator ever got out of bed singing the praises of having to do a database restore to fix an ailing Exchange server.

The advent of the Database Availability Group (DAG) created a different environment. Sure, Exchange 2007 had introduced multiple database copies (well, two…) with CCR and SCR cluster configurations, but CCR/SCR operations were manual and complex.

A DAG is usually a more complex configuration than any CCR/SCR cluster. However, Microsoft did a good job of hiding the complexity that exists in the Windows Failover Cluster underpinnings of the DAG as well as most DAG operations (restoring a lagged database copy remains something that could be more automated). And because a DAG supports up to sixteen copies of a database (more like a maximum of four in practice), it is logical to assume that even if corruption was to strike one copy, an uncorrupted version of the affected data should exist and be available elsewhere within the DAG. This is the central notion that lies behind single page patching.

When a corrupted page is detected in the active copy of a database, the Replication service is able to issue a form of “all-points” bulletin that goes to servers holding the other (passive) database copies to request the data necessary to patch the active copy. The signal (the “page patch request list”) is recognized when it arrives on the servers hosting the passive copies and the required data is transmitted back to the requesting server, which uses the inbound data to patch the active database. Any updates with the same data that arrive from other servers are ignored. Simple yet effective.

Different processing occurs when a corrupt page is detected in a passive database copy. A request for data is sent back to the server hosting the active database, a copy of the good page is sent back, and is applied to the passive copy. Again, simple and effective.

Most of the problems fixed by single page patching are in the -1018 category. Other issues (such as another infamous bugbear, the -1022 problem) can also be fixed using this method.

The best thing about this form of patching is that you will probably remain blissfully unaware that it has occurred. Unless, of course, you scan the application event log and find events like this:

Log Name:      Application
Source:        ExchangeStoreDB
Date:          11/12/2014 7:24:56 PM
Event ID:      129
Task Category: Database recovery
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      xxx
At '11/5/2014 7:24:54 PM' the Exchange store database 'DB1' copy on this server encountered an error. For more detail about this failure, consult the Event log on the server for other "ExchangeStoreDb" or "msexchangerepl" events. Page patching was initiated to restore the page.
Log Name:      Application
Source:        ExchangeStoreDB
Date:          11/12/2014 7:25:00 PM
Event ID:      130
Task Category: Database recovery
Level:         Information
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      xxx
At '11/12/2014 7:24:58 PM', the copy of database ‘DB1' on this server encountered an error that it was able to repair. For specific information that may help identify the failure, consult the Event log on the server for other "ExchangeStoreDb" or "MSExchangeRepl" events. The Microsoft Exchange Replication service will automatically attempt to retry the operation.

Log Name:      Application
Source:        ExchangeStoreDB
Date:          11/13/2014 9:03:25 PM
Event ID:      104
Task Category: Database recovery
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      xxx
At '11/13/2014 9:03:24 PM' the Exchange store database DB2 copy onthis server experienced an I/O error that it may be able to repair. For more detail about this failure, consult the Event log on the server for other storage and "ExchangeStoreDb" events. Page patching was initiated to restore the page.

How often do these events occur? Hopefully, not often. A lot depends on the stability and capability of your storage infrastructure. High-end enterprise-class storage systems generally create fewer corruption events than low-end JBOD systems. Generally – not always.

I once asked some of the team that run the Exchange Online servers inside Office 365 how often they see events that result in single page patching. Their enigmatic answer was “often enough for the feature to be valuable”. Make of that what you will. All I’ll say is that the high availability story around Exchange would be very different if single page patching did not exist. And can you imagine how disruptive it would be within Office 365 if a database suddenly went bad and required human intervention to fix a corrupt page? That wouldn’t be good at all… and increasing automation is the reason why features like the Replay Lag Manager exist inside Exchange.

As Tim McMichael, Microsoft’s broken-cluster-and-high-availability fix-up guru (that’s not his real title, but I like it) observed at IT/DEV Connections in September 2014, just about the only downside of single page patching is that it can disguise some underlying hardware problem that hasn’t quite failed yet but will do so soon. Exchange is so good at patching that it can make a faltering storage controller look good… but not for long. After all, that would be a case of applying lipstick to a pig and the pig is still liable to burp. Or something like that.

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Posted in Email, Exchange, Exchange 2010, Exchange 2013, Office 365 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Office 365 Complete Guide to Hybrid Deployments available now

Last month, I reported on the launch of the second edition of “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals” at the IT/DEV Connections conference in Las Vegas. Subsequently, we made the Kindle edition available on Amazon after the usual struggle with the transformation of Word (2016) documents to EPUB format and hence to Kindle.

In fact, since we released the original version of the second edition, we have used the flexibility inherent in eBook publishing to refresh the text several times, most notably after the release of Exchange 2016. This is something you just can’t do with traditional publishing models and it helps us keep the text fresh, accurate, and up-to-date.

Given that Office 365 changes all the time (today’s news is that the Office 365 Groups document library feature has received the user interface makeover previously given to OneDrive), being able to push out updated books is a very good thing. Remember, if you buy the Kindle version from Amazon, you’re able to refresh your library to pick up the new version. And if you bought a copy (of the EPUB or PDF versions) from ExchangeServerPro.com and became a member of the site, you can fetch updated versions from there.

We don’t charge for updates we make to the current edition and becoming a site member enables us to offer you discounts for future editions, such as the one scheduled for next April. However, that edition was targeted to align with the next Microsoft Ignite conference, but Microsoft has just cancelled the event that was scheduled for May 9-13 in Chicago with apparent plans to reschedule for another location later in 2016. [Update: Ignite is now scheduled for September 26-30 in Atlanta] All of which means that we might adjust our date for the third edition. Stay tuned for more news.

The growing amount of information available for Office 365 makes it difficult to keep the book within reasonable limits. Right now, it’s at 788 pages of content (13 October version), or 808 pages in total including the foreword, preface, etc. It’s a big book. We’re aware of the size and we’re aware of the fact that this can be off-putting to some. After all, even with search tools, it can be hard to find the right information in 310,000 words.

It is also true that more and more non-Exchange material is being included in the book. This is a good thing as it reflects the breadth and diversity of functionality available within Office 365 and the different way that the cloud versions of on-premises applications integrate using the service fabric that exists within Office 365. But it does create pressure on page count, not to mention the need to be aware of developments across the entire service rather than just Exchange. Maybe the third edition will be called “Office 365 for IT Pros” to reflect the evolution of the coverage.

Because we have so much material to hand, we’re experimenting with the publication of select extracts as mini-books. The first mini-book is “Office 365 – the complete guide to managing hybrid Exchange deployments”, now available at a discounted price of $8.49. The normal price is $9.99 and we’ll adjust to that level when the mini-book becomes available on Amazon at the end of this month. Why? Well, we want to give people the chance to obtain the discount (we’re all about testing markets), but also because Amazon restricts our ability to discount once the Kindle version is available.

To create the mini-book, we took chapters 4 (“Hybrid Connections”), 10 (“Hybrid Recipients”), and 11 (“Mail Flow”) plus the Directory Synchronization appendix from the “big book” and edited them to fit together to create Michael Van Horenbeeck’s guide to eternal happiness for hybrid Exchange administrators, or something like that. Seriously, MVH is known as “Van Hybrid” in the trade and he’s pretty good at hybrid stuff, so we think you’ll find the mini-book to provide good coverage of all you need to know about designing, implementing, and managing hybrid connectivity between on-premises Exchange servers and Office 365.

We will monitor the results and feedback for the first mini-book and then decide whether it is possible to create further mini-books from the material that we have.

All of this flows from the publishing model that we use for the “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals” project. It’s been hard work (and frustrating too) at times, but we seem to have a nice platform for future editions and mini-books. Thanks for all the support we have received to get us this far. We would love to hear what you think about the mini-books idea and also your ideas for what should be included in future editions of the “big book”. Please comment here or send your ideas to our mailbox.

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