As I mentioned in my brief summary of the Microsoft Exchange Conference, you can sign up for an early look at the Office 365 preview.  By going to you have access to the various Office product preview, but also the ability to sign up for Office 365 Preview.  On the main page, click “Try” in the bottom right corner.


The next page is a bit tricky if you don’t read carefully.  Although they are labeled Office 365 the top options are only for the Office suite Preview.  If you’re interested in trying the new Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and Office apps, then look toward the bottom of the page and find Office 365 Enterprise Preview.  Click on Try again.


The next page allows you to create a Preview account.  Be sure NOT to use your actual domain name for this preview account, otherwise you might have some trouble rolling the service out when it releases.  On the right-hand side they have highlighted some of the services available in the new Preview.


  • Familiar Microsoft Office applications for your Windows PC.
  • Email and Documents
  • IT Admin tools and policies for user management
  • Data Leakage Protection
  • Mail archiving and compliance
  • Team sites for project management

Once you’ve signed up you will immediately be taken to the new Exchange admin console and your dashboard.  The Exchange admin console is not only new for Office 365, but also replaces the Exchange Management Console for Exchange 2013 on-premise deployments. 


As you are logged in as an Admin, you might notice a few things:

  • Interface: The interface is Fresh, Clean and Modern.  It is Built for Touch.  It works like Outlook on any screen.  These were design goals to allow the interface to be utilized across platforms without performance impact!  I think it gives the console a very clean and sleek look. This design is carried through all of the 2013 products I’ve seen so far.
  • Service Overview: This is an exciting improvement! The dashboard shows you overall service health of your Office 365 services. You can drill down into each for more details. When your account is first being provisioned, you will also see those services marked as “provisioning…”
  • Navigation: Let’s do a little bit of a deep-dive on moving around the console.
    • End-User Services:  At the top, you will find an expanded selection of options, compared to the current Office 365, that end-users will also see.  This includes: Outlook, Calendar, People, Newsfeed, SkyDrive, Sites.  Each of these has it’s own deep-dive and explanation for a later date, but I will highlight a couple that I think are cool.  SkyDrive is integrated and accessible directly from Office 365, which means your documents can also be edited in Office 365 with the Office Web Apps.  Some SharePoint features are also surfaced like Newsfeed and your Team Sites.
    • Admin centers: At the top, admins will also have quick access to the Office 365 admin center, Exchange admin center, Lync admin center, and SharePoint admin center.
    • Office 365 admin center: Brings you to the dashboard again where, you will find access to your administrative tasks related to setting up your Office 365 service and managing users/licenses.
    • Exchange admin center: This is where you perform all of your email related tasks: managing mailboxes, groups, contacts, permissions, compliance management, public folders…(record scratch).  Yes I said, Public Folders.  Office 365 and Exchange 2013 will include Public Folders, but things have changed and I’ll discuss that in another post.  Exchange 2013 on-premise utilizes this EAC for administration as well, but it includes Server Administration tasks.
    • Lync admin center: This is where you perform all of your Lync related tasks: user account customizations, manage organization setting (i.e. external access, set up lync to phone through a voice partner, dial-in conferencing through a voice provider, and customize meeting invite content to meet your companies needs.
    • SharePoint Administration Center: This is where you perform all of your SharePoint related tasks: manage site collections, infopath, user profiles, bcs, term store, records management, search, secure store, apps, and settings.


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