Can I use Office 365 on a Mac?

I’ve been watching a little revolution taking place over the past few months. I’ve noticed a few people in my wider circle (human, not Google+) becoming a little bit “Mac-curious”. They’re starting to ask questions like, should I buy a Mac or a PC?

The answer is of course depends on what you want to use the computer for…A few years ago, if the answer was “work” then for 95% of people a PC was the right choice. My own recent experiences seem to make that line a blurry.

Word Online with Safari

In my day to day job, I am a company Director and an IT Consultant working largely with Microsoft Technologies with a major focus on SharePoint and Office 365. Here’s a few things I’d like to share about my experience of working with Office 365 from a Mac.

Using nothing more than a Mac Book Pro (13 inch retina display) and an internet connection at the office, paired to my phone and a variety of Wifi locations including home, airports and cafes, I can get my work done. No hassles, it just works!

I have Office 2011 for Mac installed locally, but actually I hardly need it. The Office Web Apps are great, far better than Google Apps (yep I’ve use them daily too). I love the Excel and Word Web Apps. Pair these two work horses with Outlook Web App and SharePoint and I can do almost everything I need for my day to day work. The experience is the same as if I was on a PC.

I can drag files from my local machine to a SharePoint document library. I can sync files locally using the Mac One Drive client. I can edit without compatibility issues. I can print without wonky formatting. It just works.

Office for Mac includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Lync. It has some limitations so do your homework, particularly if you need VBA or third-party add-on support.

I still have a few little things that work better on a PC, particularly connectivity into a few of my clients, however the Microsoft now providing a great RDS Client for Mac, I hardly ever need to boot into Windows.

I would like to congratulate the folks at Redmond for providing great Mac OSX support. I see this as a real positive for Microsoft as many of their services are now accessible to people using other platforms including iOS and soon Android support for Office. Nice one!

 

SharePoint Initialize-SPResourceSecurity Attempted to perform an unauthorized operation

Here’s a tricky little issue I struck, so I thought I’d share the solution. In my situation I was installing SharePoint 2013 Server on Windows Server 2012.

I built a new SharePoint environment using AutoSPInstaller. The installer PowerShell script threw an error but continued running until it got to the provisioning Enterprise Search step. At that point I get an endless number of blue dots appeared in the script and it never ends………………………………………

Initialize-SPResourceSecurity : Attempted to perform an unauthorized operation.

I tried running Initialize-SPResourceSecurity from the SharePoint Admin PowerShell (run as Administrator). I received the same error as above.

I thought the issue was with AutoSPInstaller, so I tried running PSConfig only to have it fail with a similar error. The PSConfig log file contained an error with the same description as the one above. It included an additional line indicating the issue was a file system permission problem. This lead me to the solution below.

Solutions:

The solution was to change the “Local Administrators” group permission on the C:\Windows\Tasks folder from Modify to Full Control.

Rerun the AutoSPInstaller or PSConfig and the error should no longer occur.

I hope this helps the next person who strikes this problem!

SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 Fixed and Re-released! #KB2880552

Microsoft have fixed Service Pack 1, resolving the issues with Search described here.

The Knowledge Base article includes the following:

The Search box is missing after installing the public update such as MS13-100 (KB 2850058). You may receive the “Sorry something went wrong” error message when you try to access the Search Center.

Service Pack 1 features bug fixes and introduces the ability to replace the SharePoint Newsfeed with Yammer.

Download Service Pack 1 from here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2880552

SharePoint Foundation Search Broken after installing Service Pack 1 (Update with fix)

Service Pack 1 for SharePoint was released a couple of weeks. Unfortunately it appears to break Search in SharePoint Foundation and it doesn’t look like we will see a fix until the April 2014 Cumulative Update is released at the earliest.

More Details can be found in this article “SharePoint Foundation 2013 broken search experience

I have seen this problem first hand on two SharePoint Foundation sites. Others are reporting that the problem occurs after installing KB2850058.

The bad news is that this update cannot be rolled back. Once installed your choices are put up with broken search or install a new SharePoint Foundation farm.

——————

UPDATE: 24 March 2014

Microsoft have released a fix to resolve the issue: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2760625

My kids want to code and it makes me nervous!

This morning I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about “why we should learn to code”. I shared it on Facebook and it generated an interesting response from a friend I went to primary school with who is now faced with raising kids who are really into technology and want to learn to code!

I think it is fantastic that her kids want to learn this stuff. What I didn’t think about was how scary this might be for a parent who doesn’t know much about this stuff. I am sure my parents had a similar fear when I was that age, 30 years ago, but about mathematics!

Keep Calm

Here are my opinions on some of the questions raised:

Question.1: Is the education system letting them down?

I don’t think the education system is letting us down but I do think it could do better. We need to think about technology in a holistic way and recognise that we won’t all be Software Developers, but chances are we will all engage with technology throughout our lives and careers. Teachers can provide the tools, but reality is you’re better learning some things yourself and Coding falls into that category.

Question.2: Should we be teaching them ourselves?

Definitely! I see it kind of like reading. A child reads at school only, they won’t develop the skill as fast as someone who reads at home and has parents who read to them. Coding is kind of like reading, combined with a bit of math and critical thinking.

The good news is there are a lot of free resources online that make it easy to start learning, all that is needed is time and a little motivation. I’ve included some links below.

Questions.3: I am nervous…is this OK?

YES! You can expect to be asked complicated questions that might as well be in a foreign language. Think back to the days when you had quadratic equations in your homework. How do you think that made your parents feel?

It is OK to be nervous, the trick is to have a strategy. Now with math my Dad would say “ask your mother”. In today’s world you might say “take a look on Google” or “have you tried breaking the problem down into smaller parts?”

How hard can it be?

Learning to code takes time but can also be a lot of fun. Why not learn with your kids at home. Here are a few tips for parents with wannabe geeks!

  • Sign your kids up to Code Academy – everything they need is online.
  • A beginners HTML and (basic) CSS course is a good place to start (age 10+)
  • Take baby steps and repeat. Coding is like learning a language, so repeating the lessons will reinforce the concepts and make it easier to remember the core concepts and syntax.
  • If you have older children then languages like JavaScript and Python are popular in schools and Universities.

Expectations:

Now just because your child genius is learning to code doesn’t mean they will become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Chances are they won’t become a Billionaire but they will never the less have many other fabulous opportunities. Learning to code will give them a skill they can use for the rest of their lives in many careers, not just IT – think engineers, accountants, managers, sales, marketing, education to name a few.

Of course there is always the odd exception to that rule. If you do happen to have a genius then don’t worry about learning to code yourself, teach them business skills!

What are you thoughts on this?

SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1

Microsoft have released Service Pack 1 for SharePoint 2013 Foundation and Server. Here is a quick round up of what’s new.

*** Update: Service Pack 1 re-released fixes Search issue.

WARNING: Search issue with SharePoint Foundation after installing Service Pack 1

Compatibility with new stuff:

  • Support for Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Fixes for users with Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11

Rollup:

  • Service Pack 1 rolls up previous cumulative updates and hot fixes. No need to install the March 2013 CU for SharePoint before installing later updates.

New Features:

  • Support for OData JSON light – allows developers to select the level of metadata returned by requests.
  • Ability to turn off the SharePoint News Feed and replace it with a Yammer feed.

One Drive:

  • SkyDrive Pro has been renamed to One Drive for Business

SharePoint Service Pack 1 can be downloaded from TechNet.

Related to this is Service Pack 1 for Office 2013 (including Office RT for Surface users) which was released at the same time.

The future of IT – an interesting discussion indeed!

Yesterday I attended a meeting of “Microsoft Infrastructure Influencers” where the discussion revolved around the future of IT and what that means for all of us. The discussion was lead by Norm Judah, Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft Services on a fleeting visit to New Zealand.

Three take-aways from the discussion:

  1. Microsoft’s focus is cloud first, on-premise second.
  2. On-premise infrastructure isn’t going away anytime soon, but it will become a legacy as new systems are built for the cloud only.
  3. Everyone is learning, adapting and improving. The cloud has problems now but these problems will decrease over time.

There are many issues with the cloud from latency and bandwidth to constantly updating API’s. The reality is the it is like any IT system that is being developed and the only constant is change. The problem is often this isn’t visible to the people building solutions on top of the core platform whether it is CRM, SharePoint online or Azure. The same issues are true for non-Microsoft clouds too.

A good tip for the IT Pro, keep an eye on what is happening in developer land. Those guys and girls are building with new tools, targeting mobile, deploying to the cloud and provisioning infrastructure with a mouse click, no 6 month delay, op-ex budget and they are by-passing the server jockey! Time to update your skill set on the new tools.

In the classic on-premise model the IT Pro typically had 3 years to learn a new product or solution before the next version was released. This is no-longer the case with cloud. We need to become agile in our approach to learning and supporting the business and users when it comes to the cloud.

In summary, if you are an IT Pro, panic when Microsoft announces the last version of on-premise Exchange. That will be a pretty good indicator of start of the end-game for on-premise.