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Microsoft Updating Office 365 Admin Center Preview

Microsoft is adding improvements to its Office 365 Admin Center, which is currently available at the preview stage.

The management portal is getting a few usability improvements, as outlined in this video published today. The process of adding users and buying licenses has been simplified in the portal. It now happens within the same view instead of taking two separate steps to get it done.

Passwords resets also are simplified. They can be done within the same home page view.

The dashboard of the Office 365 Admin Center has been improved, making it easier to see monthly billing activity. The payment method can be changed within the portal.

Other Office 365 Admin Center capabilities are yet to come. IT pros will be able to check trend information and drill down into the data with a forthcoming "usage dashboard." For instance, the portal can show how many e-mails have been sent by all Office 365 subscribers in a graphic. IT pros can then click on that graphic and see details down to the individual user level.

The trends data can be exported for further analysis using Excel. Microsoft also plans to bring its Power BI solution to the Office 365 Admin Center at some point for more advanced analytics. This capability will let IT pros see how Office 365 services are used at the departmental level within their organizations, for instance. It's not clear when this advanced analytics capability will arrive, though, or if it'll be an extra cost.

Another new capability to come will be an enhancement to push notifications on the Office 365 Admin App. The Office 365 Admin App runs on mobile devices and lets IT pros check for service incidents. Microsoft today indicated that it will be possible to customize push notifications so that they arrive from specific Office 365 services, such as Exchange Online, Skype Online and SharePoint Online, among others. This specific push notifications capability also will be coming to Message Center as well, Microsoft promised, although that's a reference to the current management portal.

Microsoft also pointed to added tools help. It recently launched PowerShell for Office 365, which is a starter page for IT pros new to using PowerShell to manage Office 365 services. It also maintains a GitHub repository of PowerShell scripts for more sophisticated users.

The Office 365 Admin Center preview can be accessed within the current Admin Center portal by clicking a link at the top. The new pared-down user interface in the preview just shows four menu options, including "Users," "Billing," "Health" and "Admin Centers." Microsoft claims no functionality is lost with the new structure.

Microsoft's first released this preview back in September, aiming to deliver a more simplified navigation for IT pros.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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