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    Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Office 365 MVP Brett Hill as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Office 365" series. Brett is a newly awarded Office 365 MVP.  He spends a lot of time at Office365Answers.com where he’s building out content on Office 365 and BPOS  including an Office 365 Newsletter. Before starting his own business, he worked on the BPOS / Office 365 team as a program manager for Partner technical readiness.  His  recent work in includes several Office 365 service descriptions,  Office 365 Identity, end user training, and Microsoft Online Trial Guide and 20 webcasts on the Microsoft Online team blog.   

    Microsoft has announced the updated services platform, Office 365, should be available this calendar year. Even so, with the recently announced January 2011 Service Updates they continue to update the existing platform, Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) with additional features. 

    This gets my attention for a couple of reasons.  When Microsoft told the world details about Office 365 in Nov 2010, they essentially turned up the heat on themselves to get the services out. As a result, you might expect that with the complexity of the services and intensified importance to offer them commercially, that all resources would be focused on Office 365 rather than BPOS.  Releasing new features for BPOS while driving toward Office 365 is very encouraging as it tells me that Microsoft is still committed to improving the services for existing and new customers.

    Another reason this is interesting is Microsoft doesn’t have to do this. When you sign up for BPOS, Microsoft doesn’t commit contractually to providing updates to the services – but they have.  In fact, if you look at what they’ve added since the services were released, it’s pretty impressive.  Here’s a sample of features that are available now that were not available when the services were first released – and the price did NOT go up. (When was the last time you had a service that improved and didn’t charge more?)

    ·         25 GB Exchange Mailbox by default

    ·         Increase attachment size from 20MB to 30 MB

    ·         Allow 250 anonymous users per Live Meeting (up from 15)

    ·         Max file size increased to 250MB for SharePoint Online

    ·         Max number of SharePoint site collection increased from 20 to 100

    ·         Support for up to 30,000 users in the Admin Console

    ·         Management of Users with Different UPN and SMTP Address

    ·         Updated Live Meeting client and Outlook plug in

    ·         Support added for Outlook 2003

    ·         Sign on Client for Mac

    ·         Partner name on Invoicing

    ·         SharePoint Auditing Enabled

    ·         New countries and languages supported

    ·         User configurable Mailbox Access Permissions with Powershell

    ·         User administration with Powershell (create, license, change password, etc)

    ·         SMTP Relay supported

    ·         Support for external journaling services by Exchange Online

    ·         Hosted Blackberry Administration Center added

     

    To be fair, it’s pretty clear that Microsoft is not doing this entirely because they are simply being gracious.  You can imagine how this goes. Updates like Blackberry support and Outlook 2003 make the list as they are driven by customer requirements.  Features like adding Powershell commands probably reduce support calls as well as enable partners and customers to automate features.  Features like increasing the number of users from 15 to 250 per Live Meeting event? I still can’t get over that value and have no clue what drove the decision  - but that capability alone is well worth the $10 per month.


    The point is that with the most recent service updates for BPOS, Microsoft is saying they are continuing to improve BPOS for customers even though they are moving full speed ahead on Office 365.  To me, that’s evidence that Microsoft is serious about this business and bodes well for not only current and future BPOS customers, but Microsoft as a whole as they move more and more business to an online model.

     


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    I just came back from tasting the food that we will be offering at the MVP Global Summit attendee party. WOW! Talk about amazing!  I sat down with others from the MVP Award team and we gave the caterer a run for his money.  As they brought out each dish we ranked it based on display and taste. I was harsh on some of the dishes, but I can honestly tell you that a majority of the food was spot on delicious! After making our suggestions to the menu, the catering company made the adjustments and the food is going to be incredible!

    While I was there, I took some footage of Safeco field. It is one of baseball’s most beautiful stadiums. I am so excited and proud that we can show it off to you while you are here! Make sure to stay connected with all things MVP Summit on our MVP Global Summit 2011 blog.


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    This quarter, the MVP Award has been extended to the Office 365 technical expertise. Eight MVPs have been awarded as Office 365 MVPs! As apart of our "MVP Monday" series, we have reached out to these MVPs and asked them to talk about the product and share helpful tips, tricks, and insight. Today, we would like you to get to know them a little better! 

    Have a look at the below interviews for some fun questions and answers!

    Office 365 MVP: Chad Mosman

    Q. What does being an MVP mean to you? (How did you feel to be awarded an MVP?)

    A. The thing I like most about being an MVP is being part of a community that is passionate about the technology and helping others.  The MVP award isn’t something you can buy or get study guides to help you attain, you get it by working hard and earning the respect of your peers in the technical community, and that is what really makes it special.

    Q. What are you most excited about or looking forward to in Office 365?

    A. 2 things, ADFS and Remote PowerShell.  For large organizations ADFS has tremendous potential to cut down on the password issues you run into with BPOS and should make for a much better user experience.  Remote PowerShell, because it’s so powerful and gives control back to Administrators.  I just love the PowerShell in general.

    Q. What is your motto?

    A. It’s not really a motto, but more words to live by from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are probably right.”  It’s all about keeping a positive mental attitude and believing in yourself.

    Q. What was the last movie you saw?  OR What was the last book you read?

    A. Last movie was True Grit.

     

    Office 365 MVP: Myles Jeffery

    Q. What does being an MVP mean to you? (How did you feel to be awarded an MVP?)

    A. It’s great to have my input to the Office 365 community recognized. It shows that someone is watching and taking note of what ordinary people like me contribute day in day out. Being an MVP gives me a sense of greater responsibility and a feeling of pride.

    Q. What are you most excited about or looking forward to in Office 365?

    A. For me, Office 365 represents a mountain of untapped potential. There has been a wave of interest building up in the cloud through BPOS, but still there are many businesses that have been holding back for various reasons. Office 365 will be the catalyst that really opens the flood gates and gets these businesses to harness the power of cloud. No longer will the cloud be a buzzword, it will be the standard for most businesses to run on.

    Q. What is your motto? 

    A. My motto is “achieve your potential”. I am an entrepreneur at heart. I believe that everyone has the ability to achieve what they want with the right support. For me, the cloud is that great enabler that gives ambitious businesses that platform to achieve their potential.

    Q. What was the last movie you saw?  OR What was the last book you read? 

    A. The Hobbit. I’m still reading it; to my daughter. She loves the Lord of the Rings movies so I promised I’d read her the Hobbit until that comes out on the big screen. But with a release date of end of 2012 we are having to set a very slow reading pace!

     

    Office 365 MVP:  Arnaud Alcabez

    Q. What does being an MVP mean to you? (How did you feel to be awarded an MVP?)

    A. My first nomination in 2004 was a surprise, because I did not know the content of the MVP program. Until 2010, I shared special instants with the Exchange teams and I would like to thank them for their encouragement and their availability to share their knowledge with their MVPs. This is the main advantage which I see: an annual pass to allow discussing equal to equal with Microsoft’s internal teams.  After some years, I consider the renewal Microsoft MVP recognition as a good metric of my commitment. Being a MVP, I need to know how to share my knowledge with others and how I can improve it. Day after day, it is difficult to make sure if I respect this practice. The recognition as MVP is a good method to assess it.  I would like to say thank you to my employer, Capgemini, where I work as Office 365 technical expert to bring its support in this recognition. And the last, but not the least, the MVP recognition is a ticket to promote the French culture and expertise and maybe to destroy clichés (for example: Always ready to criticize ;-)) about the strange French people. ;-)

    Q. What are you most excited about or looking forward to in Office 365?

    A. One of the major shifts for Microsoft is to achieve its move to the cloud computing, and transform its applications so that they can work in different modes to correspond to the needs of each firm (on premise, hybrid, online). I am therefore very passionate to follow it, and if I can it, give my small contribution in this change. Microsoft Office 365 has the best trumps to be a decisive SaaS to favor the adoption to the cloud computing. Besides, two of applications who compose offer Office365 – Exchange Microsoft and SharePoint Microsoft – won the award price of « InfoWorld Technology of the Year 2011 » in their respective categories.

    Q. What is your motto?

    A. “We’re all in”. Behind this motto, two valuable things: The first one is to say that we are all interconnected. The second is to say that we have a collective liability to build all together our future.

    Q. What was the last movie you saw?  OR What was the last book you read?

    A. Vápnfirðinga saga and þórðar saga hreðu: Two Icelandic sagas. Fan of Iceland, I am under the charm of Icelandic human values and of fantastic landscapes which gives the country. It is also ideally located exactly on the rift valley between Europe and the United States. Halldor*, you can call me when you want if you look for an Office 365 MVP ;-) *Halldor Jorgensson is the country manager of Microsoft Iceland :-))

     

    Office 365 MVP: Brett Hill

    Q. What does being an MVP mean to you? (How did you feel to be awarded an MVP?)

    A. When I was awarded the MVP, my wife and I drank champagne. It means a great deal to me cause I’m really passionate about technology and work at contributing useful content to the community.  Having an MVP is like instant status when you meet people and that goes a very long way, not because I’m want to be all that important, but because when you know something real about technology and you’re providing expertise to people, if you have an MVP, people are more likely to value what you say which is good cause  MVP’s know what they are talking about.  In addition, the MVP community is a great group of people that a smart, on the edge of the technology wave, good communicators and when get a few of them together – can be known to have a good time.

    Q. What are you most excited about or looking forward to in Office 365?

    A. Office 365 is going to go wild. When I saw the feature set for Office 365 for Small Business, it had to check with some people as I was thinking “this can’t be true.  That’s just too good a deal to believe” and it’s been a long time since I had that feeling (lol). But is was true and the package of features you get with Office 365 is an incredible value. When businesses get the message about what features they can have the price point, there will be tsunami of onboarding activity.  While Exchange Online is what gets people to talk about on line services, I’ve become something of a SharePoint fanboy lately.  I’m lucky enough to have a SharePoint Online account in the Office 365 beta and am actually using the sharing features to invite people I work with to my document library where they can check in and check out documents we are collaborating on. That has been very easy to use and is already providing a great value. Take that to scale in a larger company and the cost benefits are clear. And that’s just one feature of one service! There are too many to review , but I would suggest people interested in Office365 head over to Office365anwers.com and click on the Office365 resource page. Take a look at the Office 365 beta service description for Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. If you’re like me your thinking “I get all this for $10 a month? Wow!”

    Q. What is your motto? 

    A. Hard to pick just one. One of my favorites was something I learned from a wise man who said to me “ When dealing with a complex subject, approach it simply”. This has been a real guide to me when wrestling how to explain or teach some technology, or being to solve a problem.  I supposed another one would be “do no harm.”

    Q. What was the last movie you saw?  OR What was the last book you read?

    A. I am reading “Against the Machine – Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob” by Lee Siegel. Very interesting stuff that asking us to evaluate the impact of technology on human relationships.

     

    Office 365 MVP: Daniel Trautman

    Q. What does being an MVP mean to you? (How did you feel to be awarded an MVP?)

    A. Being an MVP, to me, means that I have shown initiative to proactively assist people with situations where documentation has not yet been developed or solutions not yet found.  It also means that I am dedicated to perform to the best of my abilities whenever possible in order to accomplish this.

    Q. What are you most excited about or looking forward to in Office 365?

    A. To be able to provide the control of an on-premise environment in a cloud-based experience (and the ability to find new and inventive ways of providing required business solutions).

    Q. What is your motto? 

    A. “K.I.S.”  Keep It Simple.  Too often do people over-complicate their lives in order to achieve very simple goals.  If you want to be happy, smile at someone; knowing you have made someone else’s day better by simply being there and showing you care is the best feeling in the world.

    Q. What was the last movie you saw?  OR What was the last book you read?

    A. The last book I read was “Spook Country” by William Gibson, but, my favorite is still Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson which is a very complex story of cryptography, covert missions, and the explosive growth of the Internet (and buried treasure).

     

    Office 365 MVP: Zoltan Zombory

    Q. What does being an MVP mean to you? (How did you feel to be awarded an MVP?)

    A. I have been working with Microsoft technologies since more than 15 years ago. More than a year ago I had started to share my knowledge with the community, which is a great and new experience for me. The MVP award is a big honor for me. I hope being closer to Microsoft opens me a new world of possibilities and knowledge.

    Q. What are you most excited about or looking forward to in Office 365?

    A. It is a possibility for the smaller companies to have Enterprise level IT. Originally I worked for multinational company, currently I am a business owner and my company has small business customers as well. Finally we can bring the latest technology to all of our customers.

    Q. What is your motto? 

    A. Technology makes us better. Hundred year ago only the photographers had photo machines, now everybody can have it and share it in the cloud in seconds.

    Q. What was the last movie you saw?  OR What was the last book you read?

    A. The last movie I had seen in theatre was Avatar, I science fiction is my Favorite.  My last book I read was about Forefront TMG.

     


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    MSMVP events are gaining momentum and as they sweep across the west coast, and what better than to take over Microsoft’s newest retail store in Bellevue, Washington-right before the biggest MVP conference of the year! Perfect timing? I’d say better than perfect timing. Not only will MSMVP lead – Marques Lyons be hosting this event, there are already 64 confirmed attendees, most who are MVPs and key community leaders.

     

    This event is taking place on Saturday, February 26th at 6:00pm. MSMVP events are known for offering demos, presentations, and great giveaways! MVPs will be bringing their exceptional level of expertise to the local store, proving they are serious and passionate about customers and the community.


    The participating MVPs represent multiple Microsoft technologies including Xbox, Zune, and SQL Server. Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with members of the Microsoft MVP community and discuss the latest technology innovations.


    MSMVP events are all about bringing the community together with MVPs. These events provide the community the chance to get face to face, real-time advice, assistance and guidance for the Microsoft technologies they currently use or are interested using.


    During the past year we saw 3 MSMVP events: these took place at Mission Viejo, CA; San Diego, CA and Scottsdale, AZ stores and during these events an average of 50-60 enthusiastic community members connected one on one with MVPs representing various technologies. More events are being planned this year.


    Make sure to visit the MSMVP Facebook event page for the February 26th event. If you want more information about MSMVP and upcoming MSMVP events in your area please visit the MSMVP page.

     


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    Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Office 365 MVP Arnaud Alcabez as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Office 365" series. Arnaud drives technical projects for French corporate companies on directories, messaging systems, security, virtualization solutions, and windows client & server platforms.  An MVP since 2004, he works as senior architect on Office 365, Exchange Online and Exchange Server at Capgemini (http://www.capgemini.com). 

    He’s a frequent speaker at Microsoft events and formed part of the editorial board of Exchange Magazine in France (http://www.itpro.fr). In addition, Arnaud represents the French Exchange Server community group, which contains more than 3,500+ members. (http://www.msexchange.fr)" 

    How to create a secured kiosk access with Office 365?

    Among the many new functionalities, it is interesting to analyze the “quantum leap” that Microsoft Office365 realizes in terms of administration and user access strategies in comparison with BPOS v1. Previously, the configuration of administration of BPOS was limited to indicate which user was administrator of the platform, and which one was only user.

    Some commands (PowerShell cmdlets) for delegation or, for example, for changing user password were available, whereas it was necessary to open an incident ticket on the Microsoft Online Administration Center (MOAC) for many other operations.

    As Jon Orton (a product manager on the Exchange team) stated recently, in Office 365, Exchange Online adds the capabilities of Exchange Server 2010 to the benefits described above. Here are just a few of the new features to look forward to:

    1. Compliance and archiving: Exchange Online provides the robust archiving and eDiscovery capabilities of Exchange Server 2010, with built-in personal e-mail archives, multi-mailbox search, retention policies, transport rules, and optional legal hold to preserve email.

    2. Management Tools: The Web-based Exchange Control Panel from Exchange Server 2010 is available in the cloud, so you can manage policies, security, user accounts. You can also use PowerShell to manage all aspects of your hosted Exchange environment remotely across the Internet.

    3. Role-based access control: You can delegate permissions to responsible users based on job function, without giving them access to the entire management interface. This means tasks such as performing multi-mailbox searches no longer have to be the sole responsibility of IT.

    4. Enhanced web experience: The premium Outlook Web App experience is available in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. Instant messaging integration allows users to chat from right within OWA.

    5. Coexistence/migration: You can move users to Exchange Online over a weekend with new lightweight, cloud-based migration tools. Or, you can connect your Exchange 2003/2007/2010 environment to the cloud and enjoy rich coexistence, which lets you share calendar free/busy data between cloud and on-premises users, and migrate at whatever pace you want.

    In this article, I am going to use three of the new functions of Office 365 to configure and secure mail usage in public zones:

    Step 1: Create a kiosk account and associate a K1 plan license (Kiosk).

    Step 2: Create a new role based access control (RBAC) in order to prevent that the users reach the ECP (Exchange Control Panel) or change their password.

    Step 3: Create a new policy and set it to limit the functionalities being able to be used with OWA and apply the new policy on the CAS for the kiosk account.

    Note: Unfortunately, the Office365 version of Set-CASMailbox does not have -ECPEnable switch implementation and the Office365 version of Set-OWAMailboxPolicy does not have -ChangePasswordEnable switch implementation either. The only way to tackle this is through RBAC. Instead of attempting to directly set OWA policy, create a new User Role Assignment Policy and make sure that "My Base Options" is NOT checked. Assign this role to whatever user mailboxes you wish, and make sure that anyone accessing that mailbox will not have ECP permissions.

    Step 1: Create a kiosk account and associate K1 license

    1. Go to the Office 365 user portal (portal.microsoftonline.com) and sign-in with an admin account

     

    2. Select “Admin” to open the administration portal, then click on “New user” in “Administrator shortcuts”

     

    3. Create the new account (in my demo: kiosk.principal.hall@puredemo.onmicrosoft.com). Assign user role (non admin) and the location, and most importantly, choose K1 license plan.

    Step 2: Create a new secure role based access control

    1. On the Office 365 admin home page, select Exchange Online, Manage.

    2. On the Exchange Online Control Panel (ECP), select Roles & Auditing, User Roles, create a new Role Assignment Policy (example: “Secured Public Kiosks Policy”), and keep “MyBaseOptions” unchecked.

    3. On Users & Groups, select the Kiosk Principal Hall, click on Details. Go to Mailbox Settings and change the role assignment policy.

    Step 3: Define a new secure policy

    1. Open a PowerShell v2 session. Note: you need to authorize at least RemoteSigned scripts to run on your computer. To change the Set-ExecutionPolicy, you need to run PowerShell with local admin account rights.

    2. Connect on Office365 tenant as admin.

    3. Create a new OWA policy “Public kiosks”

    4. Set the OWA policy. In the example presented here, I remove Calendar switches from the OWA. In a similar way, I can configure hundreds of switches in the following categories: Outlook Web App (OWA), Exchange ActiveSync, Federated Calendar Sharing, User Role Assignment, Mail retention, FOPE (Forefront Online Protection for Exchange), Exchange UM policies, and Throttling policies.

    5. Apply the OWA Policy for users on the Office 365 CAS

    Note : An overview of Get-OwaMailboxPolicy switches

    Conclusion

    As you can clearly see, Office 365 provides us with settings on a granularity level as yet unknown. At Capgemini, this gives us the possibility to accompany our customers in the implementation as well as in the fine-grained   integration of Office365 in conformity with the administrative teams in place.

    For the scheduling of your project, especially if you are not familiar with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Microsoft Exchange 2010, I advise you to move your mailboxes to Microsoft Office 365 first. Then, you can refine the granularity of your solution in a second phase. 

    However, within the framework of large projects, the first stage consists of a fundamental functional study of RBACs and policies, which is a big change in Office365 compared to BPOS. They will have to be implemented and tested during a pilot phase or a proof of conception before the production settings and the migration of the users towards Office365.


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    Guest post by Paulette Suddarth, MVP global events marketing manager

    We’ve come a long way since 34 MVPs gathered at the first MVP Summit nearly two decades ago. 

    Next week Microsoft will welcome at least 1,500 MVPs from 80 countries, speaking 39 languages.  

    Back then, we held seven feedback sessions with the Microsoft product groups. This year, we’ll hold 700. 

    Just as the MVP community has evolved, so has this event. And largely for the same reason—the commitment of everyone involved with this community to continual improvement.

    Each year, I ask MVPs, members of Microsoft’s product groups, and the MVP Award team  to tell me how things went at the MVP Global Summit. From food to feedback sessions, from shirts to shuttles--that input helps make the next MVP Global Summit that much better. 

    For instance, one of the things MVPs tell us they value enormously about coming to the MVP Global Summit is having the opportunity to share best practices and swap war stories with other MVPs—many of whom they see just this one time a year. So this year we created MVP Summit Connect, a platform which enables scheduling ad hoc networking opportunities, and a whopping 90% of MVP attendees have already signed up. 

    We’ve also enhanced the amount of time MVPs and product group teams get to spend together, opening up some sessions beyond specific areas of technology expertise and offering business-focused sessions that align with scenario and ecosystem tracks.

    I even got valuable feedback on this year’s trademark MVP Global Summit shirt—which may seem like a small thing, but not if it’s too small! A number of MVPs volunteered as a screening committee, and the shirt made its way from one to the other, through the mail, to get hands-on reviews.

    It’s that level of engagement and commitment to improvement that makes this such a great community to work with. Thank you to everyone—and I’m looking forward to seeing you next week!


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    Today Nestor Portillo, director of Community and Online Support at Microsoft, gives a shout out to the MVPs flying in from around the world to attend MVP Global Summit next week. He highlights how the Summit has become a pivot for other community events—such as GeekGive this Saturday and MVPNation next Thursday. And he discusses some of the new  business-focused and ecosystem sessions which executives will provide MVPs.

    Take a look!


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     MVP Global Summit kicked off at 9am today in Redmond, but the excitement and community contributions got a jump start around the Puget Sound this weekend. We brought you footage and photos from four different events—check them out below!

    It started bright and early Saturday morning when more than 60 MVPs and Microsoft employees—as well as some of their families—filled two large buses and headed to Northwest Harvest to help pack food and fight hunger in Washington State. 

    This was the second project for GeekGive, organized by MVP Steve Andrews. Last year, GeekGive helped build a house for Habitat for Humanity at Tech-Ed in New Orleans. This year, they packed 10,000 lbs. of green beans, 4,896 lbs. of dry pasta, and 1,125 lbs. of grapefruit for more than 15,000 meals. 

    A few hours later, more than 100 MSMVPs converged on the Microsoft retail store in Bellevue, offering hands-on help for hours to a packed house—everything from technical advice for WP7 to SQL server.

    The next morning, the familiar long Summit registration tables, flanked by red-jacketed event staff, opened for business and nearly 75% of the MVPs signed up for Summit took advantage of the early start.

    Many attended side sessions offered that day: Emily Freet, MVP regional manager for the Americas, organized the Summit’s first Women in Technology session. Eight accomplished women—MVPs and Microsoft employees—served as panelists to discuss a range of issues, including gender disparities in technology careers and ideas for inspiring and including girls in studies of math and science. They fielded questions from an audience comprised almost equally of men and women.

    Immediately afterwards, a session with Microsoft Developer Platform Evangelists explored how their relationships with MVPs provides value to customers and the community.

    And this is what MVPs did before the Global Summit even began!


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    By Toby Richards, general manager, Community and Online Support, Microsoft

     

    Yesterday I had the privilege to speak to the MVPs here at the Summit as one of the keynote speakers.  Presenting at the MVP Global Summit is always an exhilarating experience, and having to speak right after Steve Ballmer definitely created some additional excitement, and anxiety. 

     My team, and customer support overall, is focused on reducing effort to improve people's experiences with Microsoft--for all customers, including MVPs. I think about this in three ways--community and online, continuous improvement, and automation and integration.  

     Yesterday during the keynote, I talked about community and online efforts—improvements in tools like MS Answers for our customers to find credible, helpful information and experts like MVPs. And I discussed tools that are coming to make it easier for MVPs to share their knowledge and expertise, including improvements in TechNet and MSDN.  

     Continuous improvement consists of two connected areas:  listening and product improvement.  Listening is a key way we can reduce effort and improve experiences.  We have to listen well to experts—like all the feedback MVPs provide to Microsoft product groups at the MVP Global Summit, in product group interactions throughout the year, and through the MVP email distribution lists that connect the community to product group teams. We also need to listen to communities of customers and experts together. Historically, we've acquired incredible amounts of data from areas like forums on TechNet and MSDN, but had a huge challenge in converting all that unstructured data into useful feedback for our product groups.  Now we can intelligently process those millions of bits of information—weighting what's important, associating similar issues, and ultimately making all the questions asked and knowledge shared more valuable by feeding it back into the product cycle.

     Automation and integration is one of the areas where we can really reduce effort. Over time, the goal is to fix issues before they ever become problems. The Microsoft project codenamed "Atlanta" is a great example of this—it's a secure configuration assessment service that can reduce troubleshooting time and effort for IT Pros. To get on the Atlanta beta go to www.microsoftatlanta.com.

     I’m always seeking suggestions about ways we can reduce effort and improve experiences from the MVP community. One of the things I enjoy most about the MVP Summit is the opportunity to speak to this amazing community—during the keynote, but also one-on-one in conversations that continue to inform and inspire my work here at Microsoft. 


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    Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Office 365 MVP Myles Jeffery as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Office 365" series. Myles is the owner of Thinkscape, a product development company and early adopter of Microsoft cloud. Myles contributes to the community through the Microsoft SharePoint Online forum, presenting at Microsoft cloud events and through his blog http://mcgeeky.blogspot.com/

    Myles is busy managing the development of migration tools and business productivity solutions in readiness for Office 365 GA.

    Organize Your Information Better in SharePoint Online Office 365 with Managed Metadata

    SharePoint Online Office 365 brings a host of new features. The one I’d like to highlight is managed metadata. Managed metadata is “a hierarchical collection of centrally managed terms that you can define, and then use as attributes for items in SharePoint Online”.

    Managed metadata is an exciting way to categorise and discover information. I can see this helping a lot of businesses work more efficiently with information.

    Let’s take a look at an example. I recently purchased a new laptop. I did my research in-store; the kinds of things that were important to me were price (of course), processor, memory, screen size, manufacturer… and colour! Those attributes are just the kind of thing that works well for managed metadata.

    That gave me the idea for the scenario for this article; I am a retailer of computer hardware and need a means to classify our laptop product description documents in SharePoint Online. I choose managed metadata to do this. This will give me uniformity over the classification terms and ease of finding the documents. Here’s how to do it.

    I’ll create the terms first. To do that, I go to the SharePoint Online administration centre and select Term Store: terms are how we classify information. SharePoint Online gives me an easy to use interface to create my terms. Here’s how I created mine, you can see how the terms are hierarchical in nature:

     

    These terms are now available to all my site collections. Next, using the SharePoint Online administration console, I create a new site collection. I select the Document Centre template.

    The Document Center template creates a document library for me as standard called Documents. For each of the term sets (manufacturer, screen size, processor etc.) I added a new column to the Documents library, set the column data type to managed metadata and selected the appropriate term set in my term store. This is a screenshot when I set up the Manufacturer column, I chose the Manufacturer term set:

    So now I have a document library with a column for each of my term sets. I then uploaded my product description documents and assigned the appropriate terms for each.
    Entering the term information for each document is easy. SharePoint Online supports type-ahead suggestions as you can see here:
    Now the final part. I want to enable SharePoint Online’s metadata navigation and filtering capabilities so that my employees can easily navigate and find the right information using the term sets. To do this, I go to the document settings page and select the Metadata Navigation Settings option. From there, I can then choose which columns I want to appear in the hierarchy navigation menu and the filter fields area. These are the settings I chose:
    And this is how it looks. The term sets can be navigated in section 1. It’s just like a folder structure except it’s for the terms I created. The filter area in section 2 allows me to filter out information I don’t want (it applies no matter what I select in section 1). And finally, in section 3, my document list updates to show only the documents that match the term sets selected in the hierarchy and the filters.
    With all this information entered, now let’s explore it! I can navigate in to my term set hierarchy and filter the documents. Finding all the product information documents for the Intel Core i3 is as easy as expanding the terms and selecting the Core i3 term:
    If I want to see all product description documents for Intel, I just have to select the Intel term and all the child terms are selected automatically. The document view updates accordingly:
    I hope you found this article useful and you learned something new about managed metadata in Office 365 and how it might help your business in future. I can’t wait for Office 365 to go GA, it’s going to have an immensely positive impact on business productivity worldwide!

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    Former MVP, and current SMBNation CEO, Harry Brelsford saw an opportunity at the approach of this year’s MVP Global Summit. “Where else in the world would you see this level of expertise gathered in one place?” he asked. That was the beginning of MVPNation, which gathered business leaders, members of the community and—of course—MVPs for two very full days of deep dive sessions into technology and business building immediately following the MVP Summit. According to Harry, only roughly 10% of the participating MVPs were local to the Puget Sound region—and 25% of the 100 MVPs in attendance served as speakers. We grabbed some footage to give you a feel for the event. Take a look!


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  • 03/10/11--10:00: A Great Week with MVPs
  • Over the week or so, we took advantage of having more than 1,500 community leaders in town by getting their thoughts on being an MVP and the Summit. We chased them down outside of feedback sessions, at the Keynote presentations, around campus and, of course, outside The Company Store. We asked them to give us a couple of words to describe their experience. I can give you ours: Inspired.


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    Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Windows Phone Development MVP Kevin Wolf as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Windows Phone 7" series. Kevin is a Windows Phone 7 Development MVP from Tampa FL.  With over 20 years in the software development industry, he has worked on everything from small embedded systems to a large decision support BI database.  Currently he is helping his clients maximize their investment in mobile technologies across all mobile platforms but specializes in Microsoft technologies.  When not shipping software for his clients, he is building the next Windows Phone 7 killer app!

    Over the past few months on my blog at The Wolf Bytes, I’ve published a number of Quick Tips on developing for Windows Phone 7.  These were primarily lessons learned while creating some applications I’ve published on the Marketplace.  What follows are some fairly simple things you should be able to pickup and use right away while developing application for Windows Phone 7.

    Windows Phone 7 Quick Tip #1 – Use App.Resources for your Application Title

     

    On most screens within your Windows Phone 7 application you might need to display your application name. This might be in a simple page or one that contains a Pivot or Panorama.

    Standard Page

    Pivot Page

    Panorama Page

     

    With the XAML that gets generated you can enter your application name for the respective page types as:

     

    Notice how the same text is entered for each title as a string literal?

     

    A better solution is to use a string resource. To create a string resource, add the following to your Application.Resources node within the App.xaml file.

    Then everywhere you need to use your application name you can use the following syntax

    An even better approach might be to use a resource dictionary, but that might be a little overkill if you aren’t planning on globalizing your application. 

    Windows Phone 7 Quick Tip #8 – Making your Images “Theme-able”

    When building your Windows Phone 7 application you should be aware of the concept of themes. I’ve got another Quick Tip coming up on using themes, however if you use the built in themes and you have any “metro” style graphics, you’ll need to make sure they work with the both built in light and dark color themes. If you create your graphics with a white foreground so that it contrasts the ‘dark’ background on the phone, when the white or ‘light’ background is selected by the user your images will disappear.  One potential solution here is to create two graphics (both white and black ones) and then swap them out based upon the selected background color. I don’t think any of us really likes that idea.

     

    With the help of Bill Reiss I came up with a custom control using an OpacityMask that will allow your metro type icons to work with both the light and dark backgrounds that can be selected by the user on their phone.

    Here’s the source code, simply cut-and-paste it into your project.

    using System;
    using System.Windows.Controls;
    using System.Windows.Media;
    using System.Windows.Shapes;
    using System.Windows;

    namespace WolfBytes
    {
    public class ThemeableImage : Grid
    {
    Rectangle _rectangle;

    public ThemeableImage()
    {
    _rectangle = new Rectangle();

    var bgBrush = Application.Current.Resources["PhoneBackgroundBrush"]
    as SolidColorBrush;

    if (bgBrush.Color == Color.FromArgb(0xFF, 0xFF, 0xFF, 0xFF))
    _rectangle.Fill = new SolidColorBrush(Colors.Black);
    else
    _rectangle.Fill = new SolidColorBrush(Colors.White);

    Children.Add(_rectangle);
    }

    public ImageSource Source
    {
    get
    {
    if (_rectangle.OpacityMask != null)
    return (_rectangle.OpacityMask as ImageBrush).ImageSource;
    else
    return null;
    }
    set
    {
    _rectangle.OpacityMask = new ImageBrush { ImageSource = value };
    }
    }
    }
    }

    Then for usage simply create either a black or white (or I guess for that matter any color image) transparent PNG. That image will then be used to either show or hide the pixels of either the Black or White background (as specified with the “PhoneBackgroundBrush” resource) based upon their opacity of the pixels in the image.

     

    Then in your XAML you can reference the control by adding the namespace with something like:

    xmlns:wb="clr-namespace:WolfBytes"

    With that in place you can add the new control to your page or control with:

    <wb:ThemeableImage Source="/Images/Camera.png" x:Name="CameraButton" />

    -twb

    Windows Phone 7 Quick Tip #17 – Enable/Disable Menu Bar

    Here’s another quick one I ran into while testing my application. I need to submit data to a web service and wait for a response. While they phone is communicating with the web service, I don’t want the user to send the same request twice. Initiating the send takes place on the app bar.


    We need to disable the app bar button. If you attempt to use the control name you assign to the button it will throw a null reference exception. Not a very good UX. My initial solution that I put in place and held my nose was similar to:

    ((ApplicationBarIconButton)ApplicationBar.Buttons[0]).Enabled = false;

    Don’t get me started on what I don’t like about that approach, ok?

     

    I came across an instance where I needed to disable two buttons; I just couldn’t handle the smell of…

    ((ApplicationBarIconButton)ApplicationBar.Buttons[0]).Enabled = false;
    ((ApplicationBarIconButton)ApplicationBar.Buttons[1]).Enabled = false;

    …and decided to do something about it. My solution is a simple extension method that looks like:

    namespace Microsoft.Phone.Shell
    {
    public static class ApplicationBarHelpers
    {
    public static void Enable(this IApplicationBar appBar)
    {
    appBar.IsMenuEnabled = true;

    foreach (var obj in appBar.Buttons)
    {
    var button = obj as ApplicationBarIconButton;
    if (button != null)
    button.IsEnabled = true;
    }
    }

    public static void Disable(this IApplicationBar appBar)
    {
    appBar.IsMenuEnabled = false;

    foreach (var obj in appBar.Buttons)
    {
    var button = obj as ApplicationBarIconButton;
    if (button != null)
    button.IsEnabled = false;
    }
    }
    }
    }

    Just include the using Microsoft.Phone.Shell to pickup the namespace within your .cs file and you can do the following:

    ApplicationBar.Enable();

    and

    ApplicationBar.Disable();

    Which I think is much cleaner.

    Windows Phone 7 Quick Tip #21 – Good Vibrations

    Not an earth shattering tip this time, but I just spent the last 30 minutes “binging” how to make my phone vibrate and didn’t come up with anything.

    As with most stuff in programming, it’s easy once you know how:

    1. Add a reference to Microsoft.Phone (if you are working in XNA and don’t already have one)
    2. Then call Start on Microsoft.Devices.VibrateController.Default with the number of milliseconds you want the phone to vibrate.

     


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    German Client App Dev MVP Gregor Biswanger came back from the 2011 Global Summit with a special souvenir—a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) 4 and Silverlight 4 DVD package signed by the WPF, Silverlight and Expression Blend product teams so that he could put it up for auction on eBay to support the German Cancer Aid. Bidding starts 16th March 2011 at 7 pm CET. To bid, go here now. And you can find out more about the auction and the German Cancer Aid at Gregor’s blog post.



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    By Nestor Portillo, director, Community and Online Support, Microsoft. For the English translation, please scroll to the bottom of this post.

    日本のMVPの皆さんへの連絡

     

    先週日本で発生した地震や津波によってもたらされた深刻な被害に対し、私たちは心から心配をしながら事態を見守ってまいりました。そのような中、日本のMVPチームが多くの日本のMVPの皆さんの安否を確認できたことを皆様にお伝えしたいと思います。多くのMVPの皆さんやそのご家族が無事である聞き、とても嬉しく思っています。私たちは、このめまぐるしく変化する状況を引き続き見守りつつ、日本の皆さんがこれからも安全であることを願っています。

     

    私たちは現在も引き続き宮城県北部や仙台、その周辺にお住まいのMVPの皆さんに連絡を取ろうとしています。これらの地域の通信手段も少しずつ復旧してきている模様です。素晴らしいことに、それらのMVPの数名がTwitterFacebookに若干の書き込みをしているのを見つけました!ご無事の様子が垣間見え、本当に嬉しい限りです。

     

    現在の状況は非常に複雑です。多くの災害救助隊や非政府組織が、日本の専門家と共に地震の被害にあった皆様を支援しています。

     

    コミュニティメンバーとして、MVPプログラムチームはこの状況を憂慮するだけではなく、私たちのMVPやコミュニティに対してどのような支援ができるかを検討しています。マイクロソフト本社や日本マイクロソフト株式会社は既に多くのリソースや人員を、お客様、パートナー企業様、また、エージェンシーの皆様へ提供し、速やかに行う事が必要とされている効果的な対応や、コミュニティの正常化、そして最終的には人命を救う助けになる活動を支援しています。

     

    多くの皆さんが日本のMVPについて心配しています。みなさんの祈りや支援の気持ちは、日本の皆さんに届いています - 皆さんのご支援ありがとうございます!

     

    この大変困難な時期に、日本の皆様へ私たちの思いと祈りが届きますように。多くのコミュニティからの支援によって、日本の皆さんがこの未曾有の災害を乗り越える事ができると確信しています。


     

    Reaching out to our MVPs in Japan

     

    We have been monitoring the situation and are deeply concerned about the devastating impact caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last week. We want to share that as of today, our Japanese MVP team was able to successfully contact many of our Japanese MVPs. They and their families are okay, and we are very grateful. We’re closely watching the situation in Japan as it continues to unfold, and we hope that everyone is and remains safe.

     

    We are still trying to get in touch with some MVPs living close to the city of Sendai and at the northern coastal area of Miyagi prefecture as communications are slowly getting restored. However the good news is that they are okay based on some tweets and Facebook posts coming from those MVPs!

     

    The current situation is very complicated and several disaster relief agencies and nongovernment organizations are now working with Japanese authorities to assist people affected by the earthquake.

     

    As community members, the MVP program team is not only very concerned with the situation but also actively looking to provide support to our MVPs and the community in general. Microsoft Corp and Microsoft Japan already have mobilized resources and people to provide customers, partners and lead response agencies with the capabilities they need to hasten an effective response, reinvigorate the community and ultimately help save lives.  

     

    Many of you have asked about our Japanese MVPs. We know they value your interest, prayers and desire to help—so thank you very much for your support!

     

    Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people living in Japan in these difficult moments. We have confidence that with the help of the wider community, they will overcome the hardships of this terrible disaster. 

     

     


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    During MVP Summit we had the chance to sit down with a few of the Dynamics CRM MVPs. The Microsoft CRM blog has written a nice article about MVPs and how important their powerful and independent feedback is to Microsoft. Check out the video below from a conversation we had with some of these MVPs.


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    Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Windows Phone MVP Trent McMurray as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Windows Phone 7" series. Trent is the owner of LAMARCOMM, LLC, a mobile solutions company that provides everything from Mobile Proximity Application solutions to a National Online Retailer for all the major wireless carriers in the United States. Trent was an early evangelist of the Windows Mobile Platform helping customers and users with solutions and applications for their Windows Mobile devices. Trent contributes to the community through the Windows VIP forum and has recently taken on the project of his newest website http://windowsphoneconcierge.com . Which helps uses with "How To's" and FAQ's dedicated to Windows Phone.

    Being in the mobile retail business for over 10 yrs., helping customers and clients stay connected with their mobile devices became the way I do business to this day. But things are changing swiftly in the smartphone space. And when it comes to syncing with a Windows Phone, it’s a brand new game! And when it comes to syncing Outlook 2010 with Windows Phone it couldn’t get any easier! We all remember the days of active sync. Well when it comes to Window s Phone there is no more active sync when syncing Outlook 2010 with your Windows Phone.

    Syncing your Windows Phone with Outlook 2010 is as easy as creating a Hotmail account and letting the “cloud” deliver your mail, and appointments to your Windows Phone. But before your  up and running you will need to stall Microsoft’s “Outlook Connector” software, available here: 

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca/outlook-help/microsoft-office-outlook-hotmail-connector-overview-HA010222518.aspx .


    After installing the connector for Hotmail/Live, now you simply just need to add the account to Outlook 2010. Basically these are the steps needed to add the account and move on to have your mail and calendar sync to your Windows Phone.

    1. You can add an account in Outlook by clicking “File,” the “Info” tab (if not already selected,) then clicking “+ Add Account”. Enter your information in the box that appears and click finish.
    2. Once the new live account is created its time to move your current contacts and calendar information into the new account. Go into Outlook Contact’s view and select all your contacts (Ctrl + A, will select all of the quick and easy.)
    3. Now select Move > Copy to Folder (you could also select “Other Folder,” but this would move the contacts rather than copy them.  By copying them, we’re leaving a copy in the original folder in case something goes wrong. Which I have done before!)
    4. In the pop-up dialog box, expand your Hotmail/Live then select the Contacts folder under it and click “OK”.
    5. You can view the folder by selecting it in the left hand pane to verify your contacts were copied. Your Contacts will now sync to the Live/Hotmail account you created. And will be available in the Live web interface, the Windows Live Mail clients, or Windows Phones.  Copying your Outlook Calendar data is pretty much the same, but requires an extra step to insure we get all of the Calendar information.
    6. Switch to your Calendar, and then select File > Change View > List View to show all of your Calendar items in a single list.
    7. Now, select all your calendar events.
    8. Remember to Copy them with Move > Copy to Folder.
    9. Select your Calendar folder under the Hotmail/Live Account, then click “Ok.
    10. Just like you checked your contacts after your copied them do the same in step 5 above to see that your calendar events have been copied.

    Now that everything is setup the way you want it to be and it is all syncing correctly and in order you can now make the Live folders the Default Personal folders in Outlook, so that they are pre-selected each time you start Outlook. (Optional – some choose this option some don’t)

    1. Select File > Info > Account Settings,
    2. Then, in the “Account Settings” pop-up box, select the Data Files tab, your Live account, and then “Set as Default”
    3. dialog box will pop-up warning that you are changing the default folders.  Select “OK” and restart Outlook.

    Now created your Windows Live account on your Windows Phone and your email and contacts should begin to show up!

    If you have Outlook installed on other PCs, like your laptop or netbook, install the Outlook Connector and sign in to the Live account with those PCs, and your Outlook data will sync between all of your connected PCs and devices.  If they don’t have Outlook, you can download the free Windows Live Mail software for those PCs instead, and access your Outlook data on them. 

    I would like to thank my fellow Windows Phone MVP Todd A. who addressed this same topic (with graphics and all) on my website http://www.windowsphoneconcierge.com , where you can find many How-To’s and FAQ’s for Windows Phone.



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    Well over 70 MVPs packed Microsoft's newest retail store for the latest MSMVP event. Offering hands-on help, demos, presentations, and great giveaways, MVPs gave the community the chance to get face-to-face, real-time advice, assistance and guidance for the Microsoft technologies they currently use or are interested in using. The store was filled with an exciting buzz throughout the night as MVPs connected with store visitors!

    MSMVP organizer  and Zune MVP, Marques Lyons, talks with one of the stores product advisers about how the event went. 

     

     

     

    The next MSMVP event is scheduled to take place on April 16th at the Mission Viejo Microsoft retail store, when MSMVPs make a return visit. Be sure to check the MSMVP site for upcoming MSMVP events or changes to current event dates.

     

     


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    Boasting more than 35 attendees, the Krasnoyarsk Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) club meeting was a huge success. MCP club leader and Virtual Machine MVP Mikhail Komarov teamed up with the Russian DPE team to gather and organize all the participants and proposed topics for the meeting.

    Russian GM, Nikolay Pryanishnikov, was in attendance and spoke along with other heads of government in Krasnoyarsk.

    Nikolay's report was dedicated to trends in the modern IT market and the development of IT technologies in Russia. He spent time highlighting new ways of developing of IT business in Russia and the spoke about the Moscow School of Management (Skolkovo) which trains business leaders to apply professional skills in dynamically developing markets, and to help lead the development of the Russian economy.  Attendees found this tremendously interesting and fascinating!

    Russian GM, Nikolay, presents a cake with the MCP logo on it to the MCP club. 


    Mikhail spoke about virtualization and Virtual Home Laboratories, and user group lead in Krasnoyarsk, Vadim Kupovyh, gave an engaging report on IE9.

     

    Mikhail recalls the visit of Nikolay:

     

    “It made a great impression on the members of the MCP club and the user group. The attention of Microsoft's leadership towards MCP clubs is highly important for future development of IT specialists!” 

     

    He continued, “They see a real chance to meet in person and ask questions to the chief executive of Microsoft Russia and value it greatly. For them, such meetings demonstrate their significance to the Russian community in general and show each voice of the community can be heard!"

     

    In this region of Russia there are very few MVPs. Such meetings inspire the community members and show them how essential their role in the community is.  Hopefully we will see new MVPs in Russia soon!

     


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    Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Windows Phone MVP Adam Lein as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Windows Phone 7" series. Adam is a Windows Phone MVP from Westchester NY. He has been using Windows CE, Pocket PC, and Windows Mobile devices since the late 90’s and has been writing for Pocketnow.com; one of the top mobile phone news sites; since 2002. He is now a senior editor with expertise in the Windows Phone platform and intimate knowledge of all mobile platforms. During the day, he works as a graphic designer and at a small design firm called Roher/Sprague Partners.

    When you launch OneNote Mobile on Windows Phone 7 for the first time, you might expect it to list all of your OneNote notebooks that are already saved on the SkyDrive storage associated with your primary Windows Live account that's assigned to the phone.  Incidentally, the Apple iOS version of Microsoft OneNote Mobile does automatically list all of your SkyDrive notebooks when you sign in with your Live ID. 

     On Windows Phone 7, you'll only see a default "Personal (Web)" Notebook and two default notebook pages.  If you press the "All" button in OneNote, and then the "Refresh" button, it will ask you if you want to sync with SkyDrive.  This will set up the "Personal (Web)" notebook for syncing with SkyDrive, but that's all.  It still isn't going to show you any of the other notebooks you might already have syncing on SkyDrive with OneNote 2010 on your desktop. 

     Fortunately, there is a way to get other notebooks to sync with OneNote 2010 Mobile on Windows Phone 7.

    1. Launch Internet Explorer and make sure the "Website Preference" settings are set to the "Mobile Version" view.  
    2. Navigate to http://office.live.com and log in with the same Live ID used for your phone's primary Live ID account.
    3. From there you'll be able to browse your SkyDrive folders within the web browser.  After you tap a OneNote notebook stored on SkyDrive, it will load a secondary page with a larger OneNote file icon along with a few details.
    4. Tap the large icon, and all of a sudden, it will switch to OneNote 2010 Mobile and initialize a sync relationship while downloading the notebook.  From that point forward, you'll be able to access all of the OneNote Notebook pages from within OneNote Mobile. 

    If you go to Settings > Applications > Office > OneNote, you'll see an option to turn on Automatic Sync.  This isn't the same as automatic sync in OneNote 2010 on the desktop however.  It will only sync when you "open a page, save a page or open a section."   There's no button for saving OneNote pages, so I'm not sure why it says that.  Even with that turned on, it doesn't always sync, so be sure you hit the "Refresh" button often in order to save your OneNote notebook changes back to SkyDrive. 


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