It has been a pretty busy time for Office 365, and I am not even talking about the Customer Preview of the next major update of the service which includes the 2013 products. Wanted to take a few minutes to highlight a few of the new and improved features for the current version of Office 365.

Filtering for Directory Synchronization (DirSync)

This is a huge improvement, now Microsoft supports the ability to be able to filter what on-premises Active Directory objects are sync’d to Office 365. This has been a feature that many organizations have asked for, and now that it is available here’s a quick overview. Filtering allows the admin to filter out either OU’s, entire domains, or User Attribute filtering. Once filtered out, the objects contained in the OU, domain or containing the user attribute would not be synchronized to Office 365. A warning for this, most of you reading this and wanting this feature already have DirSync enabled and it is syncing all items from your domain/forest. By implementing filtering be careful, once you configure this an object that was originally being sync’d that then becomes filters out is treated as a delete (Soft Delete, read more later on in this blog) in Office 365. So if it was a user that had a mailbox the Office 365 mailbox is deleted and so is the user account.

On the Office 365 Community page Wiki page has been posted on how to configure filtering, http://community.office365.com/en-us/wikis/sso/configure-filtering-for-directory-synchronization.aspx

Soft Delete

This is another great feature improvement, think of this as a recycle bin for user accounts deleted from Office 365. This covers both online account and AD sync’d accounts. The great thing here is now when a user account is deleted online it is not lost and needs to be re-created, it can be restored. Here is the page about deleting and restoring accounts from the Online Help, http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-enterprises/hh534386.aspx. I recently ran into a need for this with a mailbox and blogged about restoring a soft deleted user and mailbox.

Password Change Notification for Outlook

With the August 2012 cumulative update for Outlook 2007 and 2010 users will now receive notification when using Outlook (2007 or 2010) to access their Office 365 mailbox will receive a pop-up warning that their password will expire. This applies for online accounts, and not Federated users using SSO with on-premise Active Directory. The time period to warn the users about the password expiration is defined by the admin. More information can be found here, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2745588.

Office 365 Expert Discussion Series

The second edition of the Office 365 Expert Discussion Series is scheduled for August 30th 8:00am Pacific Time. The topic is around Autodiscover and Outlook Anywhere. Highly recommend you join, I previously blogged about the first session in this series.

Lync to Learn Session

I am still waiting for finalization of my Lync to Learn session about the Lync to Phone service using Jajah. Currently we are shooting for September 20th.

Office 365 International User Group August Meeting

The August meeting for the Office 365 International User Group is schedule for next Tuesday the 28th at 8:00pm GMT/UTC. For the full meeting invite and the agenda head here.

Office 365 MVPs

Did you know that the majority of Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP) can be searched for and in some cases offer direct ways to contact them? Go to the Public MVP site and you can search for an MVP on any of the awarded categories.

Here is a picture I captured showing my fellow Office 365 MVPs!