No More SharePoint Designer & No More SharePoint Foundation in SharePoint 2016

SharePoint Designer

In SharePoint 2016, there will be No More SharePoint Designer, means no new version of SharePoint designer is coming to for new version of SharePoint but we can still use SharePoint Designer 2013 with SharePoint Server 2016.

Microsoft SharePoint Designer (SPD), formerly known as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer, is a specialized HTML editor and web design freeware for creating or modifying Microsoft SharePoint sites, workflows and web pages. It is a part of Microsoft SharePoint family of products. It was formerly a part of Microsoft Office 2007 family, but has never been included in any of the Microsoft Office suites. (Ref: Wikipedia)

SharePoint Desinger

SharePoint Designer is free tool which have multiple version and use to do the customizations, workflow development and branding of SharePoint Applications. SharePoint Designer 2007, SharePoint Designer 2010 and SharePoint Designer 2013 work with MOSS 2007, SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 respectively. SharePoint Designer 2013 also used for SharePoint Online to do customizations, branding, workflow development and many other tasks.

Things are still unclear what will be substitute of SharePoint Designer in SharePoint 2016, OR Microsoft going to introduce a new tool for as a substitute of SharePoint Designer OR all the customization will be performed using web browser as Microsoft already introduced Design Manager in SharePoint Server 2013 for branding so it is possibility that all customizations will be performed using browser interface.

This can be a good option as a new Browser Edge is also coming new windows version Windows 10, but anyways SharePoint Designer lovers including me will miss this product who use it for doing most of the customizations and haters who always raise issues on SharePoint Designer will also gonna miss this product.

SharePoint Foundation

As we already got the news that there will be no SharePoint Foundation in SharePoint 2016 means no more free SharePoint version after the current one.

SharePoint Foundation 2013 is the essential solution for organizations that need a secure, manageable, web-based collaboration platform. SharePoint helps teams stay connected and productive by providing easy access to the people, documents, and information that they need to make well-informed decisions and get work done. Use SharePoint Foundation to coordinate schedules, organize documents, and participate in discussions through team workspaces, blogs, wikis, and document libraries on the platform that is the underlying infrastructure for SharePoint Server. (Ref: Microsoft Download Center)

No SharePoint Foundation 2016

No SharePoint Foundation 2016



Office 365 Sign in and Access Panel Page Branding

Office 365 Sign in and Access Panel Page Branding

Office 365 sign in and access panel page branding is a premium feature which gives the ability to apply consistent look and feel across all the websites. With Azure Active Directory, you can now customize the Office 365 sign in and access panel page branding across the organization. Office 365 Sign in and Access Panel Page branding requires Azure AD Basic license. Apart from company branding we do have many other features that are available with Azure Active Directory but the focus of this post will be around company branding. Below table shows different editions of Azure Active Directory and the features available in each edition. You can review all the features available with each edition of Azure Active Directory in more detail on TechNet.


Office 365 Sign in and Access Panel Page Branding

 Company branding is a feature that is available only if you upgraded to the Premium or Basic edition of Azure Active Directory. Azure AD Premium is not currently supported in China.

Following attributes can be customized for your company branding purpose.

  • Banner logo
  • Tile Logo
  • Sign in page text
  • Sign in page username label
  • Background color
  • Page Illustration

More details on customizable attributes can be found on TechNet. User will see a branded sign in page when they visit a tenant-specific URL such as, or assuming that you’ve created a CNAME record for pointing to your tenant.

If a user visit a service with non-tenant specific URLs (such as or he/she will see a non-branded sign in page. The sign in page will refresh to show your branding once users have entered their user ID or selected a user tile.

Access and Login Page Customization

The Access Panel is a web-based portal that allows an end user with account in an Azure AD directory to view and launch cloud-based applications to which he/she has been granted access by the Azure AD administrator. The Access Panel is accessible to all users in your organization at

Sign in or Login page is where users are redirected when they are signing in to Office 365 or other web-based and modern applications that use Azure AD as your identity provider.  To customize access and login page, follow the steps mentioned below.

  • Go to Azure Active Directory –> Configure and Click on Customize Branding

Customizing Access Panel

  • Select branding for specific language and choose the language and click next. In my case, I’ve selected English language.

Access Panel Customization

  • Edit the fields for which you want to configure language-specific overrides. Please note that all fields are optional. If a field is left blank, then the custom default value will be displayed instead.

Company Branding

  • Click finish to save the configuration.

To verify the customized Sign in and access panel page, please go to, or


Restoring a SharePoint Server Site

If your team uses SharePoint to collaborate, you should be familiar with SharePoint sites and their importance. Since they often contain crucial data such as reports, agreements and the like, backing up SharePoint sites becomes vital. The need to backup a SharePoint site also arises in situations where you need to move the site to a different server. As such, teams that use them should be aware of the procedure to backup and restore SharePoint sites and also how to perform SharePoint site recovery in cases of unexpected disasters.

This article will serve as a guide for the procedure to backup and restore SharePoint sites. Let us begin with a brief introduction.

SharePoint & SharePoint Sites

For those who are unfamiliar with it, SharePoint is a web application platform in the Microsoft Office server suite that combines various functions that are traditionally separate applications. These include intranet, extranet, content management, document management and more. A SharePoint Site is a collection of pages, lists, and libraries. It may contain sub-sites, and those sites may contain further sub-sites. Sites can be created according to pre-packaged functionality. Examples of Site templates in SharePoint include: collaboration (team) sites, wiki sites, blank sites, and publishing sites.

Restore and backup

Backing Up and Restoring a SharePoint Site

For creating a backup copy of a site or sub-site, Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 can be used. Then that site can be recreated on the same server or on another server.Backing up and restoring a site, actually involves three separate operations: First, backing up of the site to a single file, then creationof a new empty site as a destination and finally,restoring the backup site to that destination.

You can choose to backup either only the top-level site or the top-level site along with any sub-sites. Backing up a site creates a content migration package or a .cmp file.

Important Note: You must have administrative rights for the SharePoint site to back it up. Admin rights to the server running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 are not mandatory.

Backing up a SharePoint site

  1. Go to File -> Open Site
  2. In the dialog box that opens, select the website to be backed up and then click “OK”.
  3. Hover on “Administration” on the Site menu and then click on “Backup Web Site”.
  4. To include all sub-sites of the main site in the backup, check the “Include sub-sites in archive” option in the “Backup Web Site” dialog box.
  5. Backing up a website requires a location to store temporary backup files. By default, Office SharePoint Designer 2007 uses the current website’s space for this. However, you can use another site on the same server or a location on another server on the same network — for example, \\Server name\Share name. To select a new location, click on “Advanced”, enter a new location and then click OK.
  6. When prompted, click OK in the “Backup Web Site” dialog box.
  7. Enter the location of the .cmp file in the “File Save” dialog box.
  8. Type a name for the file in the “File Name” box and then click Save.

Note: This process might take some time depending upon the volume of data on the site. To know if there were any errors in the process, you can check the .log file after it completes.

Restoring a SharePoint site

As mentioned earlier, this step involved two phases – creating a new empty destination site and then restoring to that site.

Step A – Creating an empty destination site

  1. Go to File -> New.
  2. In the New dialog box select the Web Site tab and then go to General -> Empty Web Site.
  3. Enter the target location for restoring the backup site in the Specify the location of the new Website box.
  4. Click OK.

Note: The site can be restored to a different server either as a new top-level site or a sub-site under an existing top-level site.

Step B – Restoring the backup file to the destination empty site

  1. Open the destination site and on the Site menu go to Administration -> Restore Web Site.
  2. Browse and select the .cmp file to be restored in the File Open dialog box that appears. Then click Open.
  3. If the destination site is running low on space, click on Advanced and then do one of the following:
          a. Enter a new location in the “Temporary location for archive files” box to store the archive files in another temporary location.


        b. Enter a new location in the “Location for import log file” box to store the .log file in another location.
  4. When prompted, click OK in the “Restore Web Site” dialog box to confirm the process.

Concluding Lines

So there you have it, backing up and restoring a SharePoint site explained step-wise and simply. This backup and restore strategy will also work wonders if SharePoint site recovery is needed in times of disasters. So follow this procedure to safeguard your team’s work today!

Moving to Exchange Online Session — Microsoft Innovation Center Lahore

Join me for detailed session about planning your migration to Exchange Online in Office 365. This session will cover planning your migration to office 365, how to decide what type of migration best fits to your requirements, best practices for during and after your migration, and some of the common mistakes organizations make on their road to Office 365.

Event Details


  • Why Exchange Online
  • Exchange Online Migration Options
  • IMAP Migration
  • Cutover Migration
  • Stagged Migration
  • Remote Migration
  • Pros & Cons of Migration options
  • Choose Best Migration Option


9th June, 2015 (Tuesday)


MIC Lahore, Office: 1, Level: 5, Arfa Software Technology Park Ferozepur Road Lahore.


11:30 AM to 2:00 PM


For Registration: kindly register here

P.S. We have got limited seats so the registration would be on first come first serve basis.

Kindly bring your original CNIC with you for ASTP security clearance.

For Queries – Please Contact

MIC Lahore: 042-35972044-6


Microsoft Learning Download Center moved to Cloud!

Microsoft moved the Microsoft Learning Download Center to Cloud. The previous URL of download center was

Currently Microsoft Learning is not showing link to Download on MCT Dashboard but you can still access with above URL or with the new one. When you access above URL it will automatically redirect you to the new path

Microsoft Download Center

Microsoft Download Center

MCT Luc Dorpmans has shared this on update on MCT Facebook group ( Evil MCT Clique ). Site is working fast at this but it has still has some issues which may be due to the migration.

Known Issue

You can view the courses from left panel but when you try to select a course you will get below message

“The requested service is unavailable, please refresh the page or try after some time or contact Customer Service and provide them with error code XN001 to identify this error.
For Learning downloading issues, contact the Microsoft Fulfillment Support Team. You can find your local Microsoft Courseware Fulfillment Center contact information at:”

If you click the above link for reporting issues then it will take to you on the Microsoft Learning Dashboard page.

Once the issue is resolved on the Download Center then I will also update it here.


Single Sign on with Office 365

Single Sign on with Office 365

Single Sign on with office 365 is mostly used by organization to provide seamless experience to their end users. This article will help you setting up Single Sign on with office 365 using ADFS 3.0. Before we start setting up Single Sign on with office 365 using ADFS 3.0, let’s review few important per-requisites for SSO.

You can also download the complete guide on Setting up Single Sign on with office 365 from Technet

  1. You need internet route-able domain name to setup SSO. e.g., etc
  2. SSL Certificate from public certificate authorities like GoDaddy
  3. Office 365 global admin permission
  4. Service account for ADFS 3.0
  5. Web Application Proxy
  6. AAD Sync tool to synchronize identities with Office 365

If you have a internal domain name which is not routeable to the internet then you will have to add a custom UPN suffix that matches external name space. You can add UPN Suffix to your forest by following the instructions provided on Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Lab Details

Currently i’ve the following infrastructure in my lab for setting up Single Sign on with Office 365.

  • 2 x Windows Server 2012 R2 Domain controller (Domain Name:
  • 1 x Azure AD Sync tool
  • 1 x Windows 2012 R2 servers for ADFS 3.0 in production zone
  • 1 x windows 2012 R2 servers in DMZ for Web Application Proxy

Let’s get started with the lab and setup Single Sign on with office 365.

Activate Single Sign on

Before we start installing ADFS 3.0, we need to first enable Single Sign on in office 365. To activate single sign on in office 365 follow the steps as shown below.

****Before we start this step i assume you’ve already setup your office 365 tenant and configured your custom domain in office 365******

To activate Single Sign on, Go to Office 365 portal –> Active Users –> Click on Set Up as shown below

Single Sign on with office 365 Single Sign on with Office 365

Once you’re done with your planning & preparation for single sign on, move on to 2nd Step and deploy your ADFS servers.

Create SSL Certificate Request for AD FS 3.0

Before we start installing and configuring AD FS 3.0 for Single Sign on, Let’s first create the SSL certificate request to procure a SSL certificate from public authority like GoDaddy.

****I’ve procured my SSL certificate from GoDaddy for this lab****

To create a SSL certificate request, Go to MMC Console


Click on Add/Remove Snap-in and Select Certificate and click on Add button



Select Computer Account and click next


Right click on Personal –> All Tasks –> Advanced Options –> Create Custom Request


Certificate enrollment wizard will start, click on Next


Click Next


Click Next


Click Next8

Click on Details9

Click on Properties10

Enter friendly name of your certificate.  Click Subject Tab


From the drop down menu, select Common name and provide the value and click on Add button


Click on Private key tab14

Select Key Size and checkbox for “Make Private Key exportable” and click on Apply and hit OK.


Click Next


Click Finish. Copy the request file and provide to your SSL certificate provider and procure the certificate. Once procured, complete the certificate request.

Import SSL Certificate

Once you got the certificate from public DNS provider. Go to mmc –> Add/Remove Snap-in –> Certificate –> Computer Certificate –>

Personal –> Right click –> All Tasks –> Import







Installing AD FS 3.0

To install AD FS 3.0, Go to Server Manager –> Add roles and Features











We’re done with the installation of our first ADFS 3.0 server.

Configure AD FS 3.0

As we’re done with the installation of AD FS 3.0 on first server, lets follow the steps to configure AD FS 3.0

Go to server Manager –> Click Configure the Federation Service on this Server







We’re using Windows Internal Database for AD FS deployment, WID can support up to 5 AD FS servers in AD FS server farm and use SQL Express 2012 with a limitation of 10 GB database size.





Your ADFS 3.0 server is installed and configured now. To test your ADFS deployment, please go to I’ve created “A” record in my DNS for “FS” pointing to ADFS server. After installing the 2nd ADFS server, I’ll add that server to my load balancer as well.

1 Continue reading ‘Single Sign on with Office 365’ »

New Office 365 Import Service

Office 365 Import Service

Office 365 Import Service !!

Manual migration of PST file to Exchange Online mailbox has always been a challenging task. Couple of years ago Microsoft released the PST Capture Tool which makes process bit easier and allowed you to organize all of your PST files to one location and then upload the content directly to exchange online. No matter how you cut it, moving dozens or hundreds of GB across your Internet connection is always a costly and lengthy process and you always have user concerns when their data will be available to them in Exchange online mailbox. Many of the customers and partners approached Microsoft asking for help with migrations that could easily take multiple years to complete, because of the time required to move data across the wire. But finally ! Microsoft announce the public preview of the new Office 365 Import Service, which provides two new options for speeding up the process of importing PST files into Exchange Online mailboxes.

  • Option 1: For smaller sets of data, we are enabling network uploads of PST files to Microsoft servers, which we then import into Exchange Online mailboxes.
  • Option 2: For larger datasets, you can copy PST archive files onto hard drives and mail them directly to Microsoft data centers. Once we receive the drives, we copy the PST files to internal servers and then import the mail into Exchange Online mailboxes.

Both of these options will use Microsoft data center network which is obviously much much faster and reliable then our data center network to dump the data to user exchange online mailbox.

Currently 3.5 inch SATA II/III hard drives are supported by the PST Import service. Hard drives larger than 4 TB are not supported.

Requirements for Office 365 Import Service

To use Office 365 import services, we need to fulfill the following requirements.

  • User performing the job in Office 365 Portal must have “Mailbox Import Export” Role assigned in Exchange Admin Center.
  • All data stored on HDD must be encrypted using BitLocker encryption.
  • A carrier account with FedEx or DHL.
  • PST to user mapping file
  • NTFS formatted data volumes

Office 365 Email Archive migration


More details of Office 365 Import tool can be found on TechNet.

Lync to Skype for Business (Step By Step)


Lync 2013 to Skype for Business 2015 In-place Upgrade

In this post, I will walk you through step by step in-place upgrade from Lync 2013 to Skype for Business server 2015. Microsoft released RTM version of Skype for Business server 2015 this month. New Skype for Business server 2015 offers all features including presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online meetings with a new Skype for Business client experience. You can download Skype for Business server 2015 from MSDN.

In-place Upgrade Benefits

  • Preserve existing Hardware/Server investments
  • Smoother upgrade process without extensive planning
  • Reducing the overall cost for deployment
  • The goal of heading towards Smart Setup

Upgrade Order

Here is the recommended upgrade path for Skype for Business,

  • Front End Server
  • Mediation server
  • Director
  • Edge server
  • Persistent Chat
  • Survivable Branch Server (SBS)

Upgrade Process

  1. Verify and Install Prerequisites
  2. Update Topology and Upgrade database (Skype for Business Admin tools)
  3. Stop the services on servers
  4. Run Skye for Business setup
  5. Start the Skype for Business services

1. Verify and Install Prerequisites

  • Operating System
    • Windows server 2008  (windows Fabric V2 )
    • Windows server 2012 (windows Fabric V3)
    • Windows server 2012 R2 (windows Fabric V3)
  • Minimum CU5 is required for In-place upgrade [August 2014, cumulative update (5.0.8308.738)]
  • At least SQL Express 2012 SP1 installed
  • Windows update

In My Lab, i am upgrading from Lync 2013 standard edition (OS 2012) to Skye for Business 2015 . we can check installed Lync services version (CU update) using following cmdlet,

Get-ItemProperty HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\* | where {$_.DisplayName -like “*Lync Server*”} | Select-Object DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher | FT -AutoSize


SQL Express SP1 installation

By default Lync 2013 setup installed SQL express 2012 RTM (11.00.2100.60).

You can download SQL Express 2012 SP1 (SQLEXPR_x64_ENU) from here. To install SQL sp1 first stop all Lync server services using Stop-CSWindowsService,


Run following command to update all Lync server databases to SQL SP1,

<em><strong>SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe /ACTION=Patch /allinstance

SQL setup will update following Lync database to SP1 (11.00.3000.00)

  • RTC
  • RTCLocal
  • LyncLocal






After successful upgrade of SQL Express SP1, start Lync services using Start-CSWindowsService and verify Lync clients are working,


You can verify the database version using following powershell script,


$sql=(Get-WmiObject win32_service -ComputerName (hostname) | where {$ -like “SQLAgent*”}).name

foreach ($i in $sql)

{$pos = $i.IndexOf(“$”)

$instance = $i.Substring($pos+1)

Write-Host $server\$instance : -ForegroundColor green

sqlcmd -S $server\$instance -Q “select @@version”}

Here is the output of this script after database upgrade to SQL 2012 SP1,


2. Update Topology for Upgrade

After completing prerequisites  :)
Next step is to connect a computer/Server that does not have Lync OCSCore or any other Lync components installed.

From Skype for Business Server 2015 installation media, run Setup.exe from DVD_Volume\Setup\AMD64 and click to Install,





On the Deployment Wizard, click Install Administrative tools,

tool1 tool2 tool3 tool4

Next open Skype for Business Server Topology Builder,


Click Download topology from existing deployment, and click Next, Enter a name for the topology, and click Save.



In  Topology Builder, right-click a Lync Server 2013 pool, select Upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015 and click YES,




After that click Action > Topology > Publish,




3. Stop All Lync services

In this step, stop all Lync services using following cmdlet to start the upgrade on Lync server,

Disable-CsComputer -Scorch


4. Run Skype for Business Setup

Now run Setup.exe from Skype for Business Server 2015 installation media,


No update is available at this time therefore i selected Don’t check for updates right now,

setup3 setup4

After accepting license agreement, Skype fro Business In-Place upgrade setup started automatically,


setup6 setup7

In my LAB setup prompted to reboot the server during the uninstall of Lync components, after the restart in-Place upgrade started automatically from step-3 to verify uninstall step,

setup8 setup9 setup10 setup11 setup12 setup13 setup14complete

Finally Skype for Business installation completed successfully :)

In My Lab, setup took around 35 to 40 minutes to complete in-place upgrade process.

5. Start the Skype for Business Services

After installation, start the Skype fro Business server 2015 services using following command,

Start-CsPool -PoolFqdn <Pool Name>

Here new Skype for Business services are running,


Here is a new Skype for Business server 2015 Control Panel,


Now Skype for Business server is using SQL Express 2014 RTM (12.0.2000.80), installed with in-place upgrade setup.



First look at new Exchange Server 2016 !!!

Exchange Server 2016

Let’s Meet Exchange Server 2016

Ignite 2015, Microsoft has announced the new version of on prem Exchange server i.e. Exchange 2016. It’s time to have a first look at new Exchange Server 2016 and few enhancement in upcoming Exchange 2016.

  1. Server Role Consolidation
  2. Office Web App Server
  3. DAG without administrative access point
  4. ReFS file system for Exchange 2016. ReFS was first introduced with Windows Server 2012

Details on Resilient File System can be found on Technet.

Exchange Server 2016 Ignite Video

More information on Exchange 2016 is in below video.

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Video: Latest updates on SharePoint 2016

The video contain details on what are the news features and updates of next on-premises versions of SharePoint also known as “SharePoint Server 2016“.

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