Windows App Studio being sunset

We want to directly thank each of the users of Windows App Studio and we want to be sure you have a smooth transition off when Windows App Studio service ends on December 1, 2017. What will happen to App Studio afterwards? Windows Template Studio is the evolution of Windows App Studio. We took our learnings from the code generation engine and the existing wizard to provide a strong foundation for our code generation and developer experience in Windows Template Studio. Best of all, it is open source over at http://aka.ms/wts.

Details on the transition

Windows App Studio has been a free, online app creation tool that allowed enthusiasts and developers to quickly build complete Windows Universal Apps. Applications using Windows App Studio then could also be downloaded, extended and compiled with Visual Studio and submitted to the Windows Dev Center.

Any user of Windows App Studio will need to download your projects and data prior to December 1, 2017.

We’ll provide multiple email communications with users between now and December 1, 2017, but we want to be upfront and clear that you have a path forward to continue building great apps for Windows 10. We’re doing a phased approach with the sun setting process. Here are the three critical dates:

  • July 15, 2017
    • Only existing users can sign in
    • Finished application projects can be downloaded
    • No new dynamic collections data sources allowed to be created
    • Dynamic data will be allowed to be downloaded with a migration path provided
  • September 15, 2017
    • Application editor will stop working
    • Dynamic collections API will stop providing data to your existing applications
  • December 1, 2017
    • Windows App Studio will be shut down

Once again, we want to thank each of the users of Windows App Studio, and we view the smooth transition for users critical.

Ensuring Windows 10 devices are up to date has never been more important

The most secure Windows device today is an updated one: running both the most recent feature update – the Windows 10 Creators Update – and the most recent monthly quality update.

In each Windows feature update we build the latest security technology deep into the operating system, providing defense-in-depth features that prevent entire classes of malware from impacting your device.  In each monthly quality update, we add another layer of security, one that tracks emerging and changing trends in malware to make up-to-date systems safer in the face of changing and evolving threats.

Taking extra steps to keep systems updated and secure

Given the Windows 10 Creators Update provides the latest security protections to help keep you safe, we want to help update your device as soon as possible. In April, I shared as part of our commitment to your privacy, you will have the opportunity to review your privacy settings before your device is eligible to take the Creators Update. If you have not already taken this update, starting this week, we will prompt you to review your privacy settings.

You can choose to postpone this process up to five times with the next prompt asking for confirmation of your privacy settings.  It will only take a few moments for what we believe provides you with the best balance between privacy, security, and control.

Don't wait - review your privacy settings to get ready for the next update

Please note that we are not changing the update experience itself.  Once your machine is ready to update to the Creators Update, you still have choice over when that update happens as I described earlier in my April blog.

By staying up to date on both the latest feature and quality updates, you’re assured of being on the most secure version of Windows 10.  If you want to double check that your system is up to date, simply visit the Windows Security page and scroll down to click “Verify you’re updated.” We’ll let you know if you need to update your device to the Creators Update.  And, if you are having trouble updating your device, see this helpful article.

End of Service

As a reminder, the first version of Windows 10 is at end-of-service. While you can continue to use this version and your computer will still work, you will no longer receive the monthly quality updates that contain protection from the latest security threats. To remain secure your device should be updated to the latest feature update.  We will start sending a notification if your device needs to be updated to the latest feature update. If you have trouble, try these helpful tips.

Your privacy and security are important to us. We will continue to evolve our approach in providing a great Windows experience. As always, we encourage you to share your feedback as we grow and improve.  The Feedback Hub application is a great way to do this.

This Week on Windows: Ultimate Game Sale, customize your desktop and more

We hope you enjoyed today’s episode of This Week on Windows! Check out our Windows 10 Tip on how to personalize your PC with themes in the Windows Store; head over here for more on the Ultimate Game Sale, beginning Friday, June 30; read all about the biometric identity ring that works with Windows Hello; get better viewing with Sling TV Cloud DVR, now for Windows 10 – and keep reading for what’s new in the Windows Store.

In case you missed it:

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Pinball FX3 coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One this summer

Pinball FX3

Pinball FX has a long and storied history on Xbox Live, having released in the early days of Xbox LIVE Arcade in July 2010 (almost 7 years ago!). Now the time has come to evolve the Pinball FX2 platform, with Pinball FX3: the biggest, most community-driven pinball game ever created. New single-player modes have been developed that will help make players develop their skills and perform better, and you can bring the majority of your previous PFX2 purchases to PFX3 at no charge. Head over to Xbox Wire to read more, and keep an eye on pinballfx.com for news and updates!

Here’s what’s new in the Windows Store this week:

Spartan Jerome-092 and Arbiter Ripa ‘Moramee clash in Halo Wars 2 on Windows 10 and Xbox One

Two iconic figures from the Halo Wars series return to the forefront in the latest downloadable content for Halo Wars 2: the Icons of War pack. First up is Commander Jerome-092, Spartan-II super soldier and leader of Red Team aboard the UNSC Spirit of Fire. Next is the deadly and merciless Arbiter Ripa ‘Moramee, who may not have survived his stint as the primary antagonist of the first game, but arrives in Halo Wars 2 with loads of resentment and zero Regret. Both Jerome-092 and Arbiter Ripa ‘Moramee are available as part of the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass, or available for individual purchase at $5.99 USD each. You can also purchase a special 2-pack version that includes both Leaders for $9.99 USD. As always, new Halo Wars 2 content will continue to come in the months ahead, so follow @Halo and stay tuned to Halo Waypoint and Xbox Wire for the latest info. See you on the battlefield!

Killer Instinct

 A new warrior comes to Killer Instinct in this latest update.

A new warrior comes to Killer Instinct ($4.99) in this latest update. For Aria, Eagle is the most valuable being on the planet. His ability to commune with and influence all forms of life, including machines, holds the key to her total destruction. Now, set free after years of imprisonment in Aria’s dream world, Eagle returns to restore balance to the Earth.

Fate of the Furious

Fate of the Furious, available now in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store.

When a mysterious woman draws Dom into her world of crime in Fate of the Furious, his friends will crisscross the globe to stop her and bring back the man who made them a family. Own the latest installment in this blockbuster franchise two weeks before Blu-ray, available now in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store. Plus, for a limited time, purchase Fate of the Furious and get a free in-game item for the Rocket League game on Xbox One!

Preacher Season 2 – Buy from $22.99

Preacher Season 2 now in the Windows Store

Preacher ($24.99 HD, $22.99 SD) is back for a thrilling second season as Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy set out on a road trip to find God and get caught up in an epic battle spanning Heaven, Hell and humanity. Watch the season premiere of this twisted comedic drama now in in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store!

Have a great weekend!

Windows Hello in Token, a biometric ring

Token, a biometric ring

There’s a good chance you’ve received an email today saying, “Congratulations, you’ve won!” or that “Your friend has tagged a photo of you” on a social networking site and you need to check it out now. Online schemes often shift from technical to social, and you don’t need to be a tech guru to know that there are bad guys out there trying to compromise your identity.

Our online identities are presented and verified hundreds of times each day as we navigate documents, apps, services and websites. Establishing trusted identities is how a web-based economy functions, and criminals know it. What’s more, passwords can be a hassle, and most of us don’t create strong passwords or follow the best practice of maintaining a different password for every site. Often times, we create easy-to-remember passwords and typically use the same passwords across all of our accounts.

Studies show more than 80 percent of people use the same password across multiple web sites, managing around 20-30 different accounts. When the same password is used across several sites, compromising one account can expose many others to abuse. Log in credentials are such an important layer in securing your device because malicious actors can use social engineering, phishing, or keylogging techniques to steal passwords from your device, or compromise the server where the passwords are stored.

Protecting identities while simultaneously empowering people to be productive requires solutions that are engineered from the ground up to work together. At Microsoft, our approach to multi-factor authentication is a combination of a device and a second factor, say a PIN or a biometric signature, you create on the device. So it requires something you have as well as something unique only you know or have.

Microsoft designed Windows Hello to help enable people to move to a password alternative that is fast and has enterprise-grade security from the online threats and we’re thrilled to work with Token to make the Windows Hello experience even better. With its simple design, Token – a biometric identity ring changing the way you prove and protect your identity by streamlining the process of authentication throughout your day – logs you into Windows 10 seamlessly in a way that feels natural and familiar.

We’re excited to continue working with our partners like Token to make Windows devices and people’s online experiences more secure. Embracing new innovations like this one, we are continually fostering a vibrant ecosystem of partners across the industry who are committed to working together to make life harder for the bad guys, and easier for you.

Delivering the Modern IT promise with Windows 10

Our goal with Windows 10 has always been to modernize the way IT interacts with Windows devices, adopting simpler and easier approaches that leverage cloud-based services and help employees be more productive with Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS).

Today, I am happy to announce the latest innovation that helps enable this vision – Windows AutoPilot, a suite of capabilities powered by cloud-based services, designed to simplify deployment and management of new Windows 10 PC’s along with enhancements to Mobile Device Management and new Device Health features in Windows Analytics.

Self-Service Deployment with Windows AutoPilot

Getting a new PC at work should be a magical experience for an employee. It shows the company cares about making sure employees are productive and successful. Microsoft wants that experience to truly feel rewarding at the same time as we optimize results and cost for the whole company.

Imagine being able to take a new device out of the box and with just a few clicks fully configuring it for productive use – no more images to create and maintain, no infrastructure to manage, and a simple process. Now imagine that any member of the organization can easily setup a new device without needing any IT assistance. For most organizations, this represents a significant departure from how Windows 10 devices are deployed and managed today, but brings with it significant benefits, both from a process perspective and an economic one.  We are announcing today Windows AutoPilot Deployment, a new cloud service that enables IT to customize the Windows 10 out of box setup experience using a cloud configuration, delivering a self-service deployment experience with new Windows 10 devices.

Windows AutoPilot Deployment works seamlessly with existing Azure Active Directory and Intune mobile device management (MDM) services, enabling a new PC to be easily transformed into a business-ready device: joined to Azure Active Directory, enrolled in Intune, transformed to Windows 10 Enterprise, settings applied, Office 365 apps and line-of-business apps installed. Ready to go!

Of course, there is no better way to understand how this process works than to see it in action.

As part of Windows AutoPilot Deployment, we will roll out the Windows AutoPilot Deployment Program to enable OEMs, distributors, and resellers to link devices to an organization. We’re happy to announce Surface will pilot Windows AutoPilot Deployment program with select customers and partners this summer.  We are also working with our OEM partners, distributors, and resellers to roll out support for the Windows AutoPilot Deployment Program and will provide more information about broad availability in coming months.

The Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Partner Center will soon provide Windows AutoPilot capabilities so that organizations as well as partners managing IT for organizations can link and configure devices.

We’re just getting started with Windows AutoPilot and several new features will be added in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update later this year:

  • Windows AutoPilot Reset – a new reset mechanism to reset a fully configured device while maintaining MDM management and AAD connection state and automatically get the device back into a fully configured state.
  • Enhanced Personalization with Windows AutoPilot Deployment – ability to pre-assign a device to a specific employee in the organization via cloud-configuration.
  • Self Service Active Directory domain join – self-service deployment to get new Windows 10 devices into Active Directory domain joined state along with Microsoft Intune enrollment.

Simplified Management

New mobile device management (MDM) and security features we’ve introduced with each Windows 10 update have continued to contribute to our modern IT goal. In the Windows 10 Creators Update that began rolling out in April, we enabled management of key security settings and features, such as BitLocker. We added support for hundreds of the most-used Group Policy settings available directly via MDM through support for ADMX-backed policies. This helps customers with their migration process from Group Policy to MDM.  We also released the MDM Migration Analysis Tool (MMAT) to show organizations what equivalent MDM policies exist for Group Policy settings in use by the organization. In addition, we introduced new dynamic management capabilities to enable settings based on location, network or time.

Now, with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, we will continue to focus on management of additional security capabilities. You will be able to deploy and configure Windows Defender Application Guard, as well as configuring security baseline settings (such as account and logon policies), to make it easy to use recommended security settings on MDM-managed enterprise devices. We’ve also added the capability to configure Windows Firewall rules.

To ensure great experiences with Windows AutoPilot scenarios, MDM capabilities in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will provide the option to show progress during the device provisioning process, to let the employee know what configuration activities are in progress and when the device is ready to go. In addition, the employee can see information on what their organization is managing, in Settings, thereby ensuring transparency.

 MDM support for Active Directory domain joined devices is coming to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

MDM support for Active Directory domain joined devices is coming to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

MDM support for Active Directory domain joined devices is coming. A device joined to Active Directory domain can be automatically registered in Azure Active Directory and automatically enrolled in Microsoft Intune or another MDM service. We will enable this for both existing devices already joined to Active Directory and new devices deployed into this state through Windows Autopilot Deployment.

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will also add new kiosk configuration and management features, supporting new multi-app scenarios and greatly simplified lockdown configurations.

Proactive Insights

With the introduction of Windows Analytics, we have delivered capabilities that organizations can use to make sure they are ready for the latest Windows 10 release through Upgrade Readiness, as well as new Update Compliance features to ensure devices are up to date with the latest quality and feature updates.  Today, I am pleased to announce the latest addition to Windows Analytics: Device Health.

Device Health functionality is designed to ensure employees have the best possible experience with Windows 10.  To achieve that goal, it helps identify issues that could affect a person’s experience, before they may even notice, while also identifying steps needed to resolve those issues proactively.  This reduces helpdesk calls and support costs, saving time and money.

Device Health is the latest addition to Windows Analytics. Device Health helps identify issues that could affect a person’s experience.

Device Health is the latest addition to Windows Analytics. Device Health helps identify issues that could affect a person’s experience.

New Device Health features will soon be available to preview, with general availability expected later this year.

In the spirit of agile service development, we continue to enhance the capabilities of the Upgrade Readiness and Update Compliance features. In Upgrade Readiness, we made it easier to rationalize apps by bubbling the low risk apps upfront. We added insights for prioritizing app and driver testing to move more devices to ‘Ready’ state quickly.

With these enhancements coming with the Fall Creators Update, along with the security features we announced earlier this week, Microsoft continues to improve the entire lifecycle of the device. From provisioning to ongoing management, to data-driven run-time insights, we want to help partners and enterprises be more efficient, secure and improve employees’ experiences with Windows 10.

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 16232 for PC + Build 15228 for Mobile

Hello Windows Insiders!

Today we are excited to release Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 16232 for PC to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring! We are also releasing Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 15228 to Insiders in the Fast ring. Earlier this week, we announced new end-to-end security features coming with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and this build for PC includes some of those new security features.

A note about app updates

In order to provide Windows customers with the highest quality inbox apps possible, we will pause testing new versions of our inbox apps with Windows Insiders. This means that Insiders will not receive app updates from the Windows Store for our inbox apps that are newer than the apps included in the build. Insiders may notice that some features we were testing in our inbox apps – including recent updates to the Photos app – will temporarily disappear. This is because some of our inbox apps won’t have all the latest new features without getting an update from the Store. It is critical that Insiders are experiencing the same version of Windows that will be released as the default version for all Windows users. Insiders will once again start receiving app updates in the very near future. As always, your feedback will help us tremendously to define the overall Windows experience and insure the quality of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is excellent for our customers.

What’s New in Build 16232 For PC

Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) Improvements:

Giving you access to all the rich features in Microsoft Edge while using Application Guard: Building on our work in Build 16188, we have added support for Microsoft Edge data persistence while using Application Guard. Once enabled, data such as your favorites, cookies, and saved passwords will be persisted across Application Guard sessions. The persisted data will be not be shared or surfaced on the host, but it will be available for future Microsoft Edge in Application Guard sessions.

How to take advantage of Data Persistence when using Microsoft Edge with Application Guard: You enable Data Persistence for Microsoft Edge in Application Guard using Group Policy. Note that Data Persistence for Application Guard with Microsoft Edge sessions is not enabled by default. To enable data persistence, close all Microsoft Edge windows and update the Windows Components > Windows Defender Application Guard policy to turn on data persistence:

To enable data persistence, close all Microsoft Edge windows and update the Windows Components > Windows Defender Application Guard policy to turn on data persistence.

After the Group Policy settings are set, next launch New Application Guard Window from the Microsoft Edge menu:

Launching a New Application Guard Window from the Microsoft Edge menu.

New Application Guard window.

Then browse to your favorite web site and add it to Favorites in Microsoft Edge as shown here:

Browse to your favorite web site and add it to Favorites in Microsoft Edge.

How to find your Favorites after you close Edge with Application Guard: Since you have enabled Data Persistence using Group Policy for Application Guard, the site you saved to your Favorites will be available for later use, with Microsoft Edge in Application Guard, even after reboots as well as build to build upgrades of Windows.

The site you saved to your Favorites will be available for later use, with Microsoft Edge in Application Guard, even after reboots as well as build to build upgrades of Windows.

Read more about what the Windows Defender Application Guard team has been working on in this latest Insider Preview by visiting this community page

To learn more about what’s coming in Windows Defender Application Guard, please take a look at this new Microsoft Mechanics video.

Introducing Exploit Protection:

We’ve heard your feedback regarding the upcoming EMET EOL, so we’re excited to announce that starting with this build you can now audit, configure, and manage Windows system and application exploit mitigation settings right from the Windows Defender Security Center! You don’t need to be using Windows Defender Antivirus to take advantage of these settings.

After upgrading to this build, you can find these settings by opening the Windows Defender Security Center and going to the App & browser control page:

  • Either right-click the icon in the notification area on the taskbar and click Open, or search via the Start menu for Windows Defender Security Center
  • From Windows Defender Security Center, click on App & browser control and then scroll to the bottom of the resulting screen to find Exploit Protection

Introducing Exploit Protection.

More detailed documentation will follow on Microsoft Docs, and remember that Exploit Protection is a work-in-progress and might not be fully functional just yet!

Introducing Controlled folder access in Windows Defender Antivirus:

In this build, we’re making it easier for you to protect valuable data from malicious apps and threats, such as ransomware. To enable the feature, search for and open the Windows Defender Security Center from Start, go to the Virus & threat protection settings section, and set the switch to On:

Enable Controlled folder access.

Controlled folder access monitors the changes that apps make to files in certain protected folders. If an app attempts to make a change to these files, and the app is blacklisted by the feature, you’ll get a notification about the attempt. You can complement the protected folders with additional locations, and add the apps that you want to allow access to those folders.

Allowing apps can be useful if you’re finding a particular app that you know and trust is being blocked by the Controlled folder access feature. Click Allow an app through Controlled folder access and locate and add the app you want to allow.

Allowing apps can be useful if you’re finding a particular app that you know and trust is being blocked by the Controlled folder access feature.

You can add additional folders to the list of protected folders, but you cannot alter the default list, which includes folders such as Documents, Pictures, Movies, and Desktop. Adding other folders to Controlled folder access can be handy, for example, if you don’t store files in the default Windows libraries or you’ve changed the location of the libraries away from the defaults.

Click Protected folders in the Controlled folder access area and enter the full path of the folder you want to monitor. You can also enter network shares and mapped drives, but environment variables and wildcards are not supported (for right now).

Click Protected folders in the Controlled folder access area and enter the full path of the folder you want to monitor.

Changes, improvements, and fixes for PC

  • We fixed the issue that was causing updating to the latest build to fail and roll back to the previous build if you had the .NET 3.5 Framework installed. You should no longer need to uninstall .NET 3.5 before trying to update to this build.
  • We fixed an issue for those with certain languages installed in the last flight where ctfmon.exe would go into a crash loop, resulting in typing in the Start menu and UWP apps becoming impossible.
  • We’ve listened to feedback and in Windows Defender Security Center you will soon have the option to dismiss recommendations (yellow badged items). In this build, you will see the upcoming addition however it is under construction and not up and running yet.  Stay tuned and we’ll let you know when we have it finished.
  • We fixed an issue where some games like Mass Effect 3 would crash if you used Alt + TAB after 5 minutes of game play.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in Word 2016 crashing if you attempted to ink in it.
  • We fixed an issue where using the new Ctrl + Win + C hotkey to enable and disable color filters would unexpectedly open Settings.
  • We fixed an issue from the last flight where auto-complete in the URL bar of Microsoft Edge might fail on some devices – searching for a partial string instead of the autocompleted text. This fix should also address the feedback some of you were reporting where Cortana sometimes couldn’t keep up with typing on that flight and the letters would end up out of order.
  • We fixed an issue where the File Explorer Ribbon assets were blurry if the window’s DPI was not equal to the system DPI.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in apps that start with X, V or Q being incorrectly categorized in Start on Polish builds.
  • We’ve moved the new Video Playback Settings page to now be listed under the Apps category, and have fixed the issues on the page where the video and battery dropdown weren’t displaying correctly.
  • We fixed an issue with the XAML Acrylic Brush that could result in certain apps, for example Maps, occasionally crashing due to attempting to load acrylic brushes while the app was suspended.
  • We fixed a rare condition that could result in Start menu appearing to flash/flicker continuously.

Known issues for PC

  • Your PC may fail to update to this build with an 0x80070643 and rolls back to the previous build. We are investigating.
  • We’re continuing to investigate reports that the battery status on certain laptops isn’t updating while the device is unplugged. If you think you are seeing this, please send in feedback via Feedback Hub and use the capture feature when logging your feedback so we can get your logs.
  • You may notice some of your inbox apps are now displaying a name that looks like “ms-resource:” and are listed at the bottom of Start. We’re investigating. In the meantime, the app should still launch normally, it’s only the name resource that’s impacted.
  • Some UWP apps such as Twitter will crash on launch.
  • Xbox Live in-game experiences may fail to load. These include gamer profiles, achievement details, and other dialogs that may pop up on top of an Xbox Live-enabled game.
  • Please avoid doing a PC reset via Settings > Update & security > Recovery and choosing “Remove everything”. This may put your device into a reboot loop.
  • Task Manager may hang on launch on this build.

Changes, improvements, and fixes for Mobile

  • We have fixed notifications (SMS, Calendar) with all Fitbit trackers.
  • We have fixed crashes reported while using Photos app.
  • We have fixed a deployment issue in where if an admin uses ActiveSyncCSP to provisioning email account on device running the Windows 10 Creators Update without providing a valid password, and the email server enforces a limited number of denied access retries, then the server will lock out the email account.
  • We have improved battery performance by fixing a bug in a scenario where 30% more power was used during Camera app preview and capture mode.
  • Some Insiders provided feedback that playing video on phone resulted in a black flash and/or stuttering when in landscape mode. We have fixed this issue.
  • We have improved Bluetooth connectivity with Garmin Wearable devices.
  • General improvement in reliability of phones by fixing top crash issues.

Office Insider Poll

Our friends in Office are running a poll on their Twitter account asking what is most important to you as an Office Insider. Help them out by answering the poll! Not an Office Insider? Click here to join the Office Insider Program.

No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,
Dona <3

Scrutinize the Office 365 roadmap to steer clear of trouble

Microsoft wants Office 365 administrators tracking every new feature and update that it puts out, but that’s not as easy as it sounds.

The cadence of releases for a cloud-hosted product can be a perk, with a steady arrival of innovative tools and functionality. But it can also be a pain, particularly if Microsoft deprecates a component that a business needs.

On its Office 365 roadmap website, Microsoft lists more than 200 features in development, rolling out or recently launched. New or upcoming features range from Advanced Threat Protection Status — which reports on the malware that ATP catches — to an option for users to delay or choose when Office 365 sends their message. As Microsoft expands Office 365 into a security, collaboration, cloud storage, private branch exchange and communication suite, IT admins must stay updated on the latest changes on the platform and alert users on the availability of new apps and features.

These Exchange and Office 365 experts — all TechTarget contributors — offered their insights on how Office 365 administrators can adapt to Microsoft’s constant changes and their experiences with how businesses handle the twists and turns of the Office 365 roadmap.

Perils of constant change

Michel de RooijMichel de Rooij

Many organizations use IT Infrastructure Library-based processes to implement new Office 365 features, which can be problematic because of the service’s rapid rollouts. Instead, look to Microsoft’s Office Insider program, with its fast and slow update rings, to bring updates into your business at the right pace.

Editor’s note: Microsoft’s Office Insider program allows Office 365 subscribers to receive early access to new features that they can test out and provide feedback on.

Let a few power users and IT operate on the fast ring to try out new features, but remember that those updates might never arrive based on your region. For example, I still haven’t received Focused Inbox in Outlook 2016, despite running First Release in Office 365 and Insider Fast for Office 2016. Microsoft sometimes pulls features, which happened to the automatic creation of groups for delegates. Also, Microsoft can turn new features on by default, often without administrative controls. An organization that signs up for these early releases needs to be comfortable with a certain amount of unpredictability.

Finally, Microsoft seems to push for certain features that its customers do not care for, such as the option to create Office 365 Groups when you actually want to create distribution groups.

It’s difficult for email and collaboration tool admins to act proactively against the sudden changes in Office 365’s roadmap, but they should always provide feedback to Microsoft when they have strong opinions about features. Administrator pushback caused Microsoft to pull the change for automatic creation of groups for delegates. There will be discrepancies between what the software provider develops and what customers are comfortable with or actually use.

Keep track of the Office 365 roadmap for changes, both for planned updates and those in development — the latter might arrive sooner than you think.

For more from Michel de Rooij, please visit his contributor page.

Users want the latest and greatest

Reda ChouffaniReda Chouffani

Office 365 changes constantly. Users will hear about new features and demand training for them. Administrators have to adapt, and they might even block new features from end users until IT can thoroughly test these updates. But admins cannot restrict the flow of enhancements as a long-term solution; users will still want to get what’s new. The IT staff needs to consider what users want while it evaluates whether these features provide a tangible benefit to the company.

New features can also be disruptive after organizations adopt and master them, if the service changes. For example, Microsoft offered a free version of its cloud-based business analytics Power BI feature, but some of its capabilities — such as dashboard sharing — disappeared when a new edition superseded the old. Early adopters of Power BI had to choose between a trial or the paid version — or lose the capability altogether.

Office 365 changes constantly. Users will hear about new features and demand training for them.

There are risks, but Office 365’s constant updates can benefit those who plan ahead. Microsoft helps IT departments implement and adopt platform features with its free FastTrack service. FastTrack ensures the IT team uses best practices with Office 365 and also provides technical assistance with implementation of its services.

For more from Reda Chouffani, please visit his contributor page.

Keep an eye on the roadmap

Neil HobsonNeil Hobson

Microsoft’s Office 365 roadmap site lets administrators understand what lies ahead for significant service and feature updates. This roadmap is split into five categories: in development, rolling out, launched, previously released or canceled. To avoid issues, administrators need to check the roadmap regularly for new items that might affect their Office 365 deployment. This gives them the early visibility required to commence high-level planning.

As new features on the roadmap near rollout, Microsoft posts announcements to the Message Center, which can be found within the main Office 365 administration portal. The Message Center also contains dated announcements about changes and actions that prevent or fix issues. Announcements contain a short description of the feature or issue, information on how it will affect the organization, actions to prepare for the update and a link to more detailed information. It is vital that administrators check Message Center posts often to be fully prepared for the imminent changes. Some actions must be completed by a specific date to avoid problems.

Admins can configure Office 365’s tenant release option to manage how the platform pushes out new features. An organization selects the First Release option to receive new features early. Admins can then choose to release those features to the entire organization or just specific users. Alternatively, the Standard Release option means that new features come via the default release schedule.

For more from Neil Hobson, please visit his contributor page.

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UWP App Diagnostics

At Build this year, we gave a sneak preview of a set of new APIs designed to provide diagnostic information about running apps. You can see the videos here and here – but note that these were based on a pre-release implementation. So, while the Build videos are still correct on broad functionality, the final API names are almost all slightly different. Plus, we added a couple of extra features after Build.

The final versions for the upcoming release are available in the Insider builds from Build 16226, along with the corresponding SDK.

At a high level, these APIs allow an app to:

  • Enumerate a list of running apps, including UWP apps, Win32 apps, system services and so on.
  • For each app, get process-specific metrics on:
    • Memory usage (private commit and working set).
    • CPU usage.
    • Disk reads and writes.
  • For each UWP app, get additional metrics on:
    • Memory usage (including shared commit) equivalent to the Windows.System.MemoryManager report previously available to an app for its own usage.
    • State info: running, suspending, suspended, not running.
    • Energy quota info: under or over.
    • Enumerate a list of any background tasks that are active for the app, including name, trigger type and entry point.
    • Enumerate all the processes for the app (using an enhancement to the existing Windows.System.Diagnostics.ProcessDiagnosticInfo class that was previously restricted to an app for its own usage).

The API has a simple hierarchical structure:

  • The AppDiagnosticInfo type represents a single app. Callers would normally request either a single AppDiagnosticInfo for the app you’re interested in or a list of AppDiagnosticInfos if you’re interested in multiple apps.

  • Once you’ve gotten hold of an AppDiagnosticInfo for an app you’re interested in, you’d call GetResourceGroups to get a list of AppResourceGroupInfo objects. Each AppResourceGroupInfo corresponds to a resource group. An app can define resource groups in its manifest as a way to organize its components (foreground app, background tasks) into groups for resource management purposes. If you don’t define any explicit resource groups, the system will provide at least one (for the foreground app) plus potentially more (if you have out-of-proc background tasks, for example).

  • From there, you’d call any of the AppResourceGroupInfo methods to get snapshot reports of memory usage, execution and energy quota state, and the app’s running background tasks (if any) via the AppResourceGroupMemoryReport, AppResourceGroupStateReport and AppResourceGroupBackgroundTaskReport classes.

  • And finally, each group exposes a list of ProcessDiagnosticInfo objects.

As you can see from the class diagrams, the AppDiagnosticInfo and ProcessDiagnosticInfo each have a link to the other. This means you can get all the rich process-specific info for any running process and get the UWP-specific info for any process related to a UWP app (including Desktop Bridge apps).

These APIs are intended to support app developers who either need more diagnostic support during their own app development and testing, or who want to build a general-purpose diagnostic app and publish it in the Windows Store. Exposing information about other apps raises potential privacy concerns, so if your app uses these APIs, you’ll need to declare the appDiagnostics capability in your manifest, along with the corresponding namespace declaration:


&lt;Package
  xmlns:rescap=&quot;http://schemas.microsoft.com/appx/manifest/foundation/ windows10/restrictedcapabilities&quot;
  IgnorableNamespaces=&quot;uap mp rescap&quot;&gt;
  ...

  &lt;Capabilities&gt;
    &lt;rescap:Capability Name=&quot;appDiagnostics&quot; /&gt;
  &lt;/Capabilities&gt;
&lt;/Package&gt;

This is a restricted capability: If you submit an app with this capability to the Windows Store, this will trigger closer scrutiny. The app must be in the Developer Tools category, and we will examine your app to make sure that it is indeed a developer tool before approving the submission.

At run time, the capability also triggers a user-consent prompt the first time any of the diagnostic APIs are called:

The user is always in control: If permission is denied, then the APIs will only return information about the current app. The prompt is only shown on first use, but the user can change his or her mind any time via the privacy pages in Settings. All apps that use the APIs will be listed here, and the user can toggle permission either globally or on a per-app basis:

Given the richness of the APIs, it’s not too much of a stretch to envisage creating a UWP version of Task Manager. There are a few features that we can’t implement just yet (terminating apps and controlling system services, for example), but certainly most of the data reporting is perfectly possible with the new APIs:

The first thing to do is to request permission to access diagnostics for other apps using AppDiagnosticInfo.RequestAccessAsync. The result could be Denied, Limited (which means you can only get information for the current app package) or Allowed.


DiagnosticAccessStatus diagnosticAccessStatus = 
    await AppDiagnosticInfo.RequestAccessAsync();
switch (diagnosticAccessStatus)
{
    case DiagnosticAccessStatus.Allowed:
        Debug.WriteLine(&quot;We can get diagnostics for all apps.&quot;);
        break;
    case DiagnosticAccessStatus.Limited:
        Debug.WriteLine(&quot;We can only get diagnostics for this app package.&quot;);
        break;
}

Then, to emulate Task Manager, you’d start with a list of the ProcessDiagnosticInfo objects for all running processes.


IReadOnlyList&lt;ProcessDiagnosticInfo&gt; processes = ProcessDiagnosticInfo.GetForProcesses();

For each running process, you can extract the top-level process-specific information such as the ExecutableFileName and the ProcessId. You can also get the more detailed process information from each of the three reports for CpuUsage, MemoryUsage and DiskUsage.


if (processes != null)
{
    foreach (ProcessDiagnosticInfo process in processes)
    {
        string exeName = process.ExecutableFileName;
        string pid = process.ProcessId.ToString();

        ProcessCpuUsageReport cpuReport = process.CpuUsage.GetReport();
        TimeSpan userCpu = cpuReport.UserTime;
        TimeSpan kernelCpu = cpuReport.KernelTime;

        ProcessMemoryUsageReport memReport = process.MemoryUsage.GetReport();
        ulong npp = memReport.NonPagedPoolSizeInBytes;
        ulong pp = memReport.PagedPoolSizeInBytes;
        ulong peakNpp = memReport.PeakNonPagedPoolSizeInBytes;
        //...etc

        ProcessDiskUsageReport diskReport = process.DiskUsage.GetReport();
        long bytesRead = diskReport.BytesReadCount;
        long bytesWritten = diskReport.BytesWrittenCount;
        //...etc
    }
}

For any process associated with a UWP app, the IsPackaged property is true. So, for each of these, you can get from the ProcessDiagnosticInfo to the AppDiagnosticInfo. It might seem strange that we can get AppDiagnosticInfos (plural) from a process – but this is to allow for the possibility that a single process is associated with more than one app. That’s an extremely uncommon scenario, but it is possible in the case of VoIP apps where two or more apps in the same package can share a component running in a separate process at run time. In almost all cases, though, there will only be one AppDiagnosticInfo per process.


if (process.IsPackaged)
{
    IList&lt;AppDiagnosticInfo&gt; diagnosticInfos = process.GetAppDiagnosticInfos();
    if (diagnosticInfos != null &amp;&amp; diagnosticInfos.Count &gt; 0)
    {
        AppDiagnosticInfo diagnosticInfo = diagnosticInfos.FirstOrDefault();
        if (diagnosticInfo != null)
        {
            IList&lt;AppResourceGroupInfo&gt; groups = diagnosticInfo.GetResourceGroups();
            if (groups != null &amp;&amp; groups.Count &gt; 0)
            {

From the AppDiagnosticInfo, you can walk down the hierarchy and get a collection of AppResourceGroupInfos. Then, for each AppResourceGroupInfo, you can get the UWP-specific state and memory information:


AppResourceGroupInfo group = groups.FirstOrDefault();
if (group != null)
{
    string name = diagnosticInfo.AppInfo.DisplayInfo.DisplayName;
    string description = diagnosticInfo.AppInfo.DisplayInfo.Description;
    BitmapImage bitmapImage = await GetLogoAsync(diagnosticInfo);

    AppResourceGroupStateReport stateReport= group.GetStateReport();
    if (stateReport != null)
    {
        string executionStatus = stateReport.ExecutionState.ToString();
        string energyStatus = stateReport.EnergyQuotaState.ToString();
    }

    AppResourceGroupMemoryReport memoryReport = group.GetMemoryReport();
    if (memoryReport != null)
    {
        AppMemoryUsageLevel level = memoryReport.CommitUsageLevel;
        ulong limit = memoryReport.CommitUsageLimit;
        ulong totalCommit = memoryReport.TotalCommitUsage;
        ulong privateCommit = memoryReport.PrivateCommitUsage;
        ulong sharedCommit = totalCommit - privateCommit;
    }
}

Note: to get the packaged logo from the app, there’s a little extra work. You call GetLogo from the AppDisplayInfo to return the data as a stream; if there are multiple logos available, this will return the largest one that is within the specified size.


private async Task&lt;BitmapImage&gt; GetLogoAsync(AppDiagnosticInfo app)
{
    RandomAccessStreamReference stream = 
        app.AppInfo.DisplayInfo.GetLogo(new Size(64, 64));
    IRandomAccessStreamWithContentType content = await stream.OpenReadAsync();
    BitmapImage bitmapImage = new BitmapImage();
    await bitmapImage.SetSourceAsync(content);
    return bitmapImage;
}

Once you’ve collected all the various detailed metrics you’re interested in, it’s a simple matter to populate your viewmodel for data-binding purposes, to perform data analytics or to do whatever other processing you might want.

In a later post, we’ll look at how you can integrate the diagnostic APIs with existing developer tools such as Visual Studio and Appium.

Announcing the Ultimate Game Sale, beginning June 30

Mark your calendars as summer kicks into high gear beginning this Friday with the Ultimate Game Sale, featuring a killer collection of deals on more than 350 games, gaming hardware and accessories. With savings up to 50% across the Microsoft Store, Xbox Store and Windows Store, the Ultimate Game Sale will appeal to PC and Xbox gamers alike.

You could also win one of two Ultimate Prize Packages, worth up to $5,000 each, by participating in the Ultimate Game Face Sweepstakes!

You could also win one of two Ultimate Prize Packages by participating in the Ultimate Game Face Sweepstakes!** Simply share a photo of your Ultimate Game Face on Twitter or Instagram and tag #UltimateGameFace AND #XboxSweepstakes or #PCSweepstakes, now through Monday, July 10, for a chance to win. Visit microsoft.com/ultimategameface for complete details.

We’ll be updating this blog post with specific deals on Friday,, June 30, so bookmark this page and be sure to come back to see all the great Ultimate Game Sale deals.

*All offers shown are available on select items 6/30/2017 to 7/10/2017. Limited quantities available, while supplies last. No rain checks. Availability and pricing varies by location. May not be combinable with other offers. Certain other exclusions and limitations may apply. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; cannot be transferred or otherwise redeemed. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue any offer at any time. See webpage for each offer’s specific details.

**No Purchase Necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S. + DC 14+. Game ends 7/10/17. For details, visit: microsoft.com/ultimategameface/terms.