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Microsoft Previews Office 365 Groups Expiration Settings

Microsoft is adding a group expiration capability to its Office 365 Groups collaboration service.

The new capability is at the preview stage today, Microsoft announced. It can be accessed via the Azure Portal or Azure Active Directory PowerShell. However, this capability will just be available for Office 365 tenancies with Azure Active Directory Premium subscriptions. A Premium subscription is also needed just to try the preview.

In the Azure Portal, it's possible to specify the number of days a group should last. When that's done, group "owners" will get a notice 30 days before the group is scheduled to expire. This notice lets them renew the group, if that's wanted. If the group doesn't get renewed, it'll be deleted, but the group owners will then have 30 days to restore it. This extra amount of time for restoring a group is enabled by recently added "soft-delete" and "restore" Office 365 Groups features, Microsoft's announcement explained.

Office 365 Groups lets most people create a group via Outlook or Yammer unless they're restricted by IT departments, so having the group expiration capability may be important, even though it requires having a Premium subscription. A group created with the Office 365 Groups service brings a bunch of shared elements, such as a shared mailbox, calendar and file storage, along with a central site, OneNote Notebook and Planner app, according to Microsoft's description.

The group creators are end users. They become "owners" of the group, permitting them to add or remove members. While IT pros have the ability to control which end users can create groups, that control is only carried out using Windows PowerShell, according to this Microsoft support article.

Incidentally, Microsoft plans to address overall questions about Office 365 administration on Aug. 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Pacifc Time in an upcoming "ask Microsoft anything" session.

Enhanced Groups Reports
In related Office 365 news, Microsoft also announced this week that it plans to improve some groups reports. The improvements are getting rolled out gradually to Office 365 tenancies this month.

One improvement will be a new Yammer groups activity report. The report will show the most active groups, the largest groups and activities within groups.

Another improvement concerns the current Office 365 groups report. It will be improved to show more details about SharePoint sites and Yammer groups. For instance, the improved reports will show how many active files are used in SharePoint sites. It'll also show how many messages were "posted, liked or read" by Yammer groups users.

Outlook.com Beta
Microsoft this week also launched a beta test program for Outlook.com users.

All users of Outlook.com will see a beta toggle switch "in the next few weeks," which will be located in the top right corner of the Outlook.com in-box. They can use the beta "and switch back to the regular web experience any time," Microsoft's announcement explained.

The Outlook.com beta is bringing some design changes, upgraded search capability and the ability to attach files faster. It also has a Quick Suggestions feature that inserts things like restaurant information into e-mails. The beta currently doesn't work with add-ins, though.

About the Author

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

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