Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Microsoft and their frequent product name changes

Today I learned that the Microsoft Federation Gateway was rebranded to Azure Authentication System some time ago. This reminded me of that one time when we made a marketing video and had the narrator use the name Windows Azure when Microsoft decided to rebrand the service to Microsoft Azure. We had to pay the voice actor again to record the text for a second time, now with Microsoft Azure.

Word Cloud-1Sometimes a new name makes perfect sense, for instance when Microsoft renamed the RPC over HTTP protocol to Outlook Anywhere. Or when they rebranded Business Productivity Online Suite (deskless worker anyone?) to Office 365.

In the Exchange space the favorite buzzword today seems to be Modern. The newly architected Public Folders in Exchange 2013 and Exchange Online became Modern Public Folders. The smoother ADAL based authentication became Modern Authentication and I overheard someone jokingly using the term Modern Outlook Anywhere for MAPI/HTTP.

Smart branding can add tremendous value to a product, but inconsistent and frequent renaming will confuse customers and hurt the recognizability of a product. An example that comes to mind is the product we know today as Skype for Business, this product received a new name with every single release. Another bad example is the recent rebranding of the Exchange web interface to Outlook on the web. I always grin when I find another ‘Outlook Web App’ in an Exchange 2016 TechNet article. It looks like even the technical writers have a hard time keeping up with the name changes. I can’t blame them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Focused Inbox for Outlook is delayed

When Microsoft announced Focused Inbox for Outlook and Outlook on the Web (OWA) in July they planned to release the new features to First Release customers starting early September 2016. Roll-out to the 4th ring of customers was scheduled for October.


One month between First Release and GA may seem much, but for organizations that need some more time to understand the impact and communicate the changes with the end-users, a month isn’t that much time.

But more importantly, September has already passed and we have not seen the new feature to appear nor any new updates on the Office Blog or documentation for administrators.

Last week I attended Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta and had the pleasure to speak with some members of the Outlook time. My understanding is that the feature is ready, the documentation has been written but the actual deployment has been rescheduled to the November/December timeframe.

Microsoft has promised to do a better job than they did with the roll-out of Clutter. Documentation for admins should be published before launch to First Release tenants. If you want to be prepared, read up on Focused Inbox admin controls in my previous article.