March 2013 - Posts

I’ve always founds IRM quite fascinating and the nice thing about Office 365 is that it is really easy to configure and use.  There are a few steps involved, but I managed to figure them out without having to go read a heap of documentation.  I thought I would share my experience here today so you know what’s possible.  This assumes you are on a new Office 365 tenant or one that has been upgraded already (not that any of mine have been. :) ).  I know this is only available in certain plans and I need to double-check which ones, but I haven’t had a chance yet.  If you set up a trial from, you can definitely try it with that account.

To configure IRM, it requires you turn it on in two places: in the Office 365 Portal and in SharePoint Online tenant administration.  Let’s start by going to the Office 365 Portal.  You can get there by clicking on Admin –> Office 365 at the top.  Then click on Service Settings –> Rights Management.  Rights Management is disabled by default, so you need to activate it.


On this screen simply click Manage and you will be taken to the Windows Azure Directory Rights Management site (notice the URL changes).  From here, you can start the activation process.


Click the Activate button and you’ll be taken to a screen to confirm.


Click the Activate button again and the process gets started.


Now, you need to go your SharePoint tenant administration to activate it there.  Click on Admin –> SharePoint and then Settings.  In the middle of the page, look for the Information Rights Management (IRM) section and check Use the IRM service specified in your configuration.  Then click Refresh IRM Settings.  Now, it takes a few minutes for your activation to take effect in the Office 365 Portal so if you click on this too early, you are likely to see the following error.

Error: RMS Online is configured for this tenant but is turned off, please turn on in Office 365 to enable.


Keep trying and after a few minutes, it should activate.  Be sure and click Save when you are done.


At this point, you can actually try things out inside office.  I’m working off of the demo sites that I mentioned earlier.  Now, one thing to point out is that Office uses whatever account you are signed in with to determine which Rights Management Server to connect to.  Therefore, if you are using a test Office 365 account, you need to actually, log into Office with that account.  Simply click on your name in the top right and click Switch Account.  If you don’t do this, it may time out or try to connect to another RMS server like the one at your company.

To try things out, open up a document on your SharePoint server, click File and then click Protect Document and then Restrict Access.  The first time you choose this, there is an option to connect to rights management services.  Once it connects, you’ll see options on protecting the document.  We’re going to go with Restricted Access.


On the next screen, you will be prompted to assign who can view the document or edit the document.  In my example, I am going to grant read permission to Sara Davis.  I simply typed in her full Office 365 Id.  This means she will be able to open the document and view it, but cannot save or print it.


If you click on More Options, you’ll get a window where you can set even more granular permissions such as expiring the document, allowing printing, as well as an E-mail address that gets used to request additional permissions.


Once we are finished, save the document back to SharePoint.  Now, when Sara opens the document, she is going to get a different experience.  To test using the document with Sara, I have to sign in to SharePoint with her account.  I also have to open Office and sign out with Garth and sign in with Sara’s account.  Here’s what it looks like.


Office informs me that access is restricted and if I click View Permission, it will show me what I am allowed to do.  Notice I can only view the document.  If I try to access the document with a user who does not have access granted through IRM, Office tells me I can’t open the document like this.


When a document is protected with IRM, Office Web Apps will be unable to show a preview of the document’s contents.  Here’s what it looks like when that happens.


I really like how easy it is to get started with IRM in Office 365.  If you have an interest in this feature, check it out today.  It’s definitely much easier to get started with it here than it is on-premises.

With the combination of analytics and search in SharePoint 2013, there is a heap of new features to help determine which content is actually being used.  No longer is this information buried in reports for administrators, but it in fact is available right from the ribbon in a document library.  Maybe you have even noticed the Most Popular Items button in the ribbon already.  You can find it on the library tab in the middle.


Click on it and you will be taken to a custom search results screen that shows you recent views and total views.


What’s nice is that you can even search and refine within the report if you are looking for something specific.  You can also click on the Popularity Trends link to get a nice graph of the usage of the file over time.


Behind the scenes, this report is powered by the Popular result source.  You can also use this source to look for popular items across your entire index.  As a developer, the possibilities are quite interesting.

My particular tenant doesn’t have a ton of usage, but if you’re already running SharePoint 2013 you might be able to extract some valuable insights from this report.  Try it out today.

If you haven’t heard, Microsoft released a new site recently that allows you to create a new Office 365 tenant that is pre-populated with users, content, and social data.  It even comes with demo scripts that you can use to walk users through the new features of SharePoint Online.  What’s the catch?  Your Windows Live ID must be affiliated with a Microsoft Partner and you need to have plenty of time to wait for it to provision.  It typically takes between 8 and 36 hours for the provisioning process to complete.  Tenants are created in trial mode and you have 30 days that you can use it for free.  After that, you can either pay for licenses or simply request a new tenant.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the sample social data expires after 14 days.  If you want to demonstrate social, it’s really just easier to get a new tenant.

Even if you work for a partner and a lot of you out there do, I found that a lot of people aren’t affiliated with their company’s partner Id.  So if you click on the Microsoft Partner link and it gives you an error, you need to affiliate yourself with your company’s partnership.  I’ve given a few colleagues this link to associate themselves and it appears to have worked for them.  Let me know if you have an issue with it.

When you are ready to create a new tenant, go to the Create Demo page.  This page is a bit confusing because all of the options are disabled. Just click Create Your Demo to proceed.


On this page, you specify your region, tenant name, and E-mail address.  You’ll get an E-mail when the process completes with the URL and login information.


After you fill in your information, click Create My Account and start waiting.  This is an excellent time to review some of the demo scripts out there.  Click the Resources link at the top and you’ll see demo scripts broken up by product.  This is also an excellent time to go ahead and stop reading this article and get your tenant provisioning.  You can come back and read more once you get it started. :)


When the process completes, you will receive an e-mail with the login and password.  Click on that link to begin exploring.  However, for most of the demos they recommend a demo user, Garth Fort.  The login for this user will be  The password should be the same for all accounts pass@word1.  Keep that in mind.  You may want to change the default passwords of your accounts.  If you look at the users section, you will see a number of user accounts have been created for you.  It even includes things like conference rooms.  These users have pictures and completed user profiles and even social data which we’ll see later.


I’m going to focus on SharePoint content, so click on the Admin link at the top and choose SharePoint.  When you go to the SharePoint Online administration tenant, you’ll see that it creates a number of site collections.


Although it’s fairly obvious.  Here’s a quick summary of what’s in the site collections.

  • Root (/) – Demo landing page.  Links to the various site assets and demo scripts for SharePoint
  • /Search – Search Center
  • /sites/BICenter – Demos using Power View and Visio Services
  • /sites/Communities – fully populated community sites with discussion boards
  • /sites/Contoso – main Intranet site
  • /sites/ContosoBeta – no content
  • /sites/eDiscovery – discovery center
  • /sites/KnowledgeCenter – knowledge center with custom branding

What I like about these demos is that there is a lot of examples of what SharePoint can do and a lot of the features are really highlighted.  I’ll take you through some of the pages so you have an idea of what you can expect.  When you go to the root of your tenant, you’ll see a landing page with links to the demo home page, assets, and scripts.


A good starting place is the Demo Home Page.


Now is a great time to start exploring the site.  What I like is a lot of the sites demonstrate out-of-the-box features.  Take a look at the Engineering Department site.  They have an example of showing reports with Power View using Excel Services.


If we look at the Sales and Marketing site, it has some nice examples of KPIs, the PowerPoint viewer as well as documents that have been rated.


If you’re looking to tell a story about BI, click on the Report Dashboard link on the left.  There is a good example of a Power View sheet with filters and maps.


One of my favorite sections of the demo is the Communities section.  It’s a great example of using social and shows off the gamification concepts quite well.


Going to one of the communities, you’ll see active discussion boards with top contributors.


You can view individual discussions to show how users interact with each other.


I think the social aspects are some of the best things to demo.  If you click on the Newsfeed link, you’ll find quite a bit of activity.  Just keep in mind this information will expire after two weeks so it’s good to keep a fresh tenant when you’re doing a demo.


In the screenshot above, you’ll see posts from users that Garth is following as well as various things the user has posted or followed.  That video can be watched directly from the newsfeed too.


Clicking on one of the tags such as #CSAT will show you all of the posts that have used that particular hash tag.


There are good examples of the user being mentioned by other people as well.


Search demos extremely well with SharePoint Online because Office Web Apps is included and running. 


When doing a demonstration, you can show the hover panel on search results with the preview of the document.  I especially like showing users how you can jump directly to a specific section of a document.  You’ll also notice how you can filter by Tags or Content Type.

The MOD demos also provide a working eDiscovery center, but I don’t think there is a link to it so you’ll have to type the URL in yourself.  This is a great way to show examples of how SharePoint can place holds on SharePoint and Exchange content.  If you look at one of the open cases (i.e.: CT77A11), you can define a discovery set.  You’ll need to login as the admin account to do this.


If you look at the sources, you can see I have added a few Exchange mailboxes as well as a SharePoint site.  Clicking on the Preview Results button will show you content from both Exchange and SharePoint based on the filters you provided.


Everything comes back in these results, so remember your mailbox can always be seen by someone. :)

The BI Center is pretty slick as well.  Take a look at the Custom Satisfaction Dashboard.  This is a great example of combining graphs with Power View and adding a social aspect that people can comment on.


The last thing I will point out is the Knowledge Center.  Here is a great example of how they really changed the way content looks in SharePoint.


Of course, there is plenty of content out there for you to explore.  If you can’t sell someone on the value of SharePoint with these demos, you’re doing something wrong. :)  Get out there and try it out today (or tomorrow when it finishes provisioning).  Here’s the link again for you to get started.