Microsoft Office blog posts

Save hard drive space with OneDrive files on-demand

Published March 19, 2018

OneDrive has just gotten better with the addition of "OneDrive Files On-Demand." This is a great feature that I'm extremely excited about and love using. It allows you to see your entire OneDrive, and access all the files and folders you store there, directly from File Explorer. However, this functionality used to be standard in Windows 8 (then called "Place Holders"), but for whatever reason and without warning, Microsoft took it away from us and in its place implemented a selective folder sync capability which was nowhere even close to comparable.

Now that it’s back, this new version, called Files On-Demand, Microsoft claims to have fixed all the issues that apparently plagued Place Holders (though I never experienced them) and it’s supposed to work better and faster than ever.

Here's how to get started:

  • Select the OneDrive icon in the system tray, open the application and click on settings
  • Screenshot from OneDrive
  • Enable the option "Save space and download files as you use them."
  • Screenshot from OneDrive settings
  • After enabling the function, OneDrive will require a bit of time to sync your complete cloud-based file listing to your computer. But after its done, you can go to OneDrive in File Explorer to see all the OneDrive folders you've chosen to sync to your computer available offline. Also, there's a new Status column, available in the OneDrive folders, which indicates whether each file or folder is "available when online," "available on this device," or "sync pending."
  • Screenshot from OneDrive directory

If you're a OneDrive user (if not, you should be!), there's no good reason not to be using this feature. So, do yourself a favor and start using it now!

O365 version history

Published February 19, 2018

Ever wish you could restore a previous version of a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet? Well if you are an Office 365 subscriber using SharePoint, OneDrive, and OneDrive for Business, you can! Office 2016 automatically saves versions of your files while you’re working on them. This feature allows you to see how files have changed between versions or even restore to an older version should the need arise.

In Word, you can view and restore previous versions by clicking File – View and restore previous versions.

O365 version history screencap

The the list of previous versions of the document opens.

O365 version history list screencap

Check out the Microsoft Support article View previous versions of Office files for more details.

FindTime - an awesome meeting schedule tool

Published June 19, 2017

Screenshot of FindTime meeting details screen.

Okay, scheduling more than one person for a meeting is hard. Millions of electrons give their lives for the countless numbers of emails saying stuff like "Hey can you do Monday at 10:00," "No howbout Tuesday at 3:00," "That doesn’t work for me"; which led to tools, perhaps the most popular being Doodle that allowed for meeting polls.

Microsoft likes to keep up with the Joneses, or, in this case, the Doodles. One way they do keep up is by purchasing, like they did with MileIQ. The other way is that they do things in-house, which is the case with FindTime, written by the experimental folks at Microsoft Garage. FindTime is a meeting polling add-in for Outlook that helps suggest the best meeting times. The cool thing is, of course, it is integrated with Office 365 and will suggest the best meeting times for each recipient in your organization. Of course, it doesn’t know the status of attendees outside your organization (but I bet they are working on it).

It is worth a look. Protip: Avoid using the "calendar hold" feature, it can lead to clutter in the attendees' calendars. I really like this tool, and I think you will, too.

MileIQ Premium now integrated into Office 365

Published April 17, 2017

Microsoft is constantly adding features to 365, so I’m going to try to keep everyone abreast of some of the cooler features as they roll out.

So my wife has been hassling me for years to try MileIQ for tracking my work-related driving. She uses it for her business and absolutely loves it because she drives a lot. But the last thing I needed was yet another app to sign into, keep track of, blah blah blah. Basically, I’m lazy, and I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle. But now I’m out of excuses: MileIQ premium is now integrated into most Office 365 subscriptions, and is totally free.

If you need to keep track of your travels for business (or any reason, really), and you are on 365, you can go to, sign in, and see if your O365 plan qualifies.

I have not been able to track down which 365 plans include MileIQ, even after conversations with our Microsoft Partner Support folks. We’ll update everyone in a future newsletter as soon as Microsoft catches up to itself.

Why did Microsoft make the decision to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service?

Published July 24, 2013

Illustration of a tombstone with Microsoft TechNet on it.

On July 1, 2013, Microsoft announced the end of the 15 year program, TechNet Subscriptions. Microsoft’s TechNet Subscription Program is a paid program which allows partners to download full copies of most software titles to be used for lab or testing purposes. In an email announcement to partners, Microsoft said “In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources. As a result, Microsoft has decided to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service and will discontinue sales on August 31, 2013″. Many have tried to guess the real reasons behind Microsoft’s decision to end the program because the substitutes Microsoft left in place, though free offerings, are just not adequate.

IT pros are now going to have to struggle with time-limited versions and will be more likely to lose interest when reviewing and testing newer products because, like me, most of us never know how busy we’re going to be. To have to go through the bother of tracking when a particular piece of software was installed or to fire up a program only to get an error that it expired, may not make it worth it.

So, why did Microsoft make this decision? Many believe that Microsoft is shutting down TechNet subscriptions to force IT professionals and companies towards “cloud based” solutions like Office 365, Hosted Exchange and Windows Azure, where profits are based on subscription models rather than one-time purchases.

I know this is crummy news, but their might me a glimmer of hope. Thomas Lee and Jonathan Medd pointed out that Microsoft tried closing the MVP program once. The announcement caused uproar leading to MVPs organizing. They fought closing the program by writing Microsoft directly. Inboxes of Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and vice presidents soon flooded as supporters expressed the value of the MVP program. Three days later, Microsoft recanted and reinstated the MVP program. The event is chronicled here.

The similarities between the MVP and TechNet cancellations are very similar. Despite what skeptics say, it just might be possible to convince Microsoft to keep TechNet open. Microsoft is always listening, believe it or not (Just look what happened with the Xbox One). Microsoft is watching online, and collecting data for evidence that customers are unhappy. Many, many people have taken to blogs and articles to voice their anger. A quick Google or Bing search for “TechNet subscription” will give confirmation. Microsoft just HAS to notice all of this backlash.

If you feel compelled to act, please write Microsoft. Start with Steve Ballmer. His email address should be Outline in your own words reasons for keeping TechNet open and its importance to you. Also, a public petition, entitled, “Continue TechNet or Create an Affordable Alternative to MSDN”, is attempting to gather enough signatures to get attention from Microsoft so they will consider reinstating TechNet subscriptions, or at least, provide an affordable alternative.

The petition has over 6,500 signed supporters from all over the globe. As the word continues to spread throughout the IT community, I expect the number of signatures to keep growing, especially when subscriptions start to run out. If this news is reaching you for the first time, I highly suggest showing your support by signing the petition.

You can sign the petition at Continue TechNet Or Create An Affordable Alternative To MSDN.

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