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We take a quick look at some of the new features recently announced for both Office 365 and Microsoft 365, including an Office Client Policy Service, 64-bit Office installs by default and the Microsoft 365 Identity & Threat Protection package.

Office Client Policy Service

Firstly, to the release of a preview for a new management portal, the Office Client Policy Service. In short, this is a web portal that enables Office 365 administrators to configure many user-based policies for Office 365 ProPlus implementations.

The web portal’s main draw is its ability to quickly manage policies for all users in their organisation; these includes policy enforcement for unmanaged devices that may be personally owned, but used for business purposes. In such cases, the administrator can enforce policies without any infrastructure or MDM services such as Microsoft Intune. Instead, policies are assigned via the Azure Active Directory and implemented when users log in to their Office 365 ProPlus account.

It is also possible to select any existing policies created for Office 365 ProPlus implementations from within the Office Client Policy Service portal and then make any necessary changes.

Other new features announced

Other new additions and changes for Office 365 users include:

  • 64-bit Office installs – new installations of Office ProPlus (the productivity suite that comes with Office 365 subscriptions) and Office 2019 are going to be 64-bit by default. Organisations will get some benefits from running 64-bit Office, such as better performance for memory-intensive operations, when running Excel calculations or when using large pictures or videos in PowerPoint. However, organisations can still opt to use the 32-bit versions of Office if they wish or if they are confined to using a 32-bit Windows operating system. It is also possible to run 64-bit Windows and 32-bit Office together.
  • 3DES – Microsoft will end support for the Triple Data Encryption (3DES) algorithm in Office 365 at the end of February and push organisations towards using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 protocol or greater instead.
  • Skype for Business – this service will no longer be capable of using ‘third-party’ (non-Microsoft) audio conferencing services as from the 1st of April 2019, though the change appears to apply to new Skype for Business deployments on that date.

New Offerings

Elsewhere, the need for security and compliance solutions, together with the complex information protection needs of regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), have been the drivers for two new offerings. These are aimed at business customers who might not be ready to subscribe to the highest-end Microsoft 365 E5 bundle, but who are interested in some of its security and compliance features:

  • Identity & Threat Protection – a new package that brings together security value across Office 365, Windows 10 and EMS in a single offering. It includes Microsoft Threat Protection incorporating Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), Windows Defender ATP and Office 365 ATP, including Threat Intelligence, as well as Microsoft Cloud App Security and Azure Active Directory
  • Information Protection & Compliance – this package combines Office 365 Advanced Compliance and Azure Information Protection. It’s designed to help compliance and IT teams perform ongoing risk assessments across Microsoft Cloud services, automatically protect and govern sensitive data throughout its lifecycle and efficiently respond to regulatory requests.

It’s worth noting that customers can continue to purchase security and compliance components on a standalone basis.

Matt Barclay

Solutions Architect

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