Posey's Tips & Tricks

First Look: Office 365 Admin App

Brien gives his first impressions of the mobile Office 365 management app.

One of the things that Microsoft has done to make Office 365 management a little bit easier is to create an Office 365 Admin app. The app is available in the Apple app store, in Google Play and, not surprisingly, in the Windows Store.

I was curious to see what this app could do, so I decided to take it for a test drive on my Windows Phone. The first thing that I discovered however, was that the installation process wasn't quite as smooth as I would have expected.

I started out by opening the app store on my Windows Phone and searching for Office 365 Admin. I found a listing for Office 365 Partner Admin, but not for Office 365 Admin. Rather than spending a lot of time trying to find the app I decided to simply click on the Download from Windows Store icon within the Office 365 portal. This caused the Windows Phone app store to open and I was taken directly to the Office 365 Admin app. I clicked the Install button and was prompted for my password.  Just when it seemed that the app was going to be installed, I received an error message stating that the app could not be installed and that instructions had been e-mailed to me. Thankfully, the e-mail message contained a link that when clicked caused the app to be installed on my phone.

Like so many other Windows Phone apps, the Office 365 Admin app is divided into a series of tabs along the top of the screen. Swiping the screen left or right changes tabs. Unfortunately, I can't provide screen captures of the tabs without giving away sensitive information about my own Office 365 subscription, but I can give you an overview of what each of the tabs does.

The first tab is called Home. The Home tab provides a dashboard view of Office 365. It shows the number of unlicensed users, the host health status, the number of unread messages and the number of active support incidents.

The next tab is the Users tab. This tab shows all of the user accounts that exist within your Office 365 subscription. If you tap on a user account you will be taken to a screen that allows you to perform user specific actions such as calling or e-mailing the user, deleting or editing the account, resetting the user's password or assigning a license to the account.

The third tab is the Health tab. As the name implies, this tab reports on the health of Office 365. For example, at the time that I wrote this blog post the Health tab was displaying a message indicating that there was an issue with Lync and that the service would be degraded until the issue could be resolved.

The fourth tab within the Office 365 Admin app is the Messages tab. This tab displays the latest messages from Microsoft.  For example, as I was writing this post the Message tab displayed a message telling me to update IP address lists to avoid Yammer service interruptions.

The fifth tab that the Office 365 Admin app displays is the Support tab. In my case, this tab displays the phone number to call for Office 365 technical support within the United States. There is also an area for this tab to display current technical support incidents. At the moment, I don't have any support incidents open so I can't tell you exactly what information is displayed on this tab, but presumably the tab would show the status of each of your open incidents.

The sixth of the app's tabs is Feedback. This tab lets you rate the Office 365 Admin app and to submit suggestions to Microsoft. There are also checkboxes that you can select to give the app permission to attach logs to your feedback and to give Microsoft permission to contact you.

The last tab is called Settings. I had initially expected for this tab to provide access to some of the same settings that can be configured through the Office 365 portal. Microsoft may eventually add this sort of functionality, but for right now the Settings tab only contains a Passcode setting. This setting lets you assign a PIN to the app. That way, if someone gains access to your phone they shouldn't be able to access the Office 365 Admin app unless they know your PIN.

Overall, I think that the Office 365 Admin app is great. You aren't going to be able to use the app to perform hardcore management and configuration tasks, but if someone calls you and needs you to reset a user's password or check on the service health, then it is probably faster to whip out your phone than to log onto the Office 365 portal.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 16-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.

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