New Office 365 Admin UI Preview

3 minute read

On the November edition of CollabTalk, I did a short demo of the new Office 365 Admin Center. This new UI is available as a functional preview to folks who have opted into First Release in their tenant as well as some of the small business licenses.

If you’d like to take a look at the new UI and you’ve got First Release enabled, you should see a couple of links at the top of the screen when you visit the main page of your tenant Admin link from the App Launcher, a.k.a. “the waffle”. From these links, you can either take a sneak peek at the new UI or watch a video.


All of this is changing swiftly, so think of these screenshots as indicators of where the admin UI is going – it’s not final. The great thing about it, though, is that what is there actually works. You can use it to get some of the more common activities done.

Here’s a view of the new page as it stands. You can see that it isn’t – by any means – everything you can do in the current Admin Center. To me, that’s a great thing. The full UI can be overwhelming, anyway.


If you start taking the tour, it will highlight the important parts othe new UI in an order that makes a lot of sense to me. I love the fact that Microsoft is starting to build these in-application tours into the newer UIs. We shouldn’t need to read the manual before we know what to do anymore!


What are the most important things we do in the Admin Center? Well, I’d argue it’s managing users, billing, and checking system heath. The next three steps in the tour show us exactly where we’d do each of those important activities, as well as showing us how we can navigate to each activity. Plus – a ninja cat riding a fire-breathing unicorn!


Managing users is front and foremost. Users are at the core of Office 365 – of course, right?


Taking care of licensing and billing is a central activity on Office 365, because there’s no concept of server licenses here. In the new Admin Center, it’s easy to buy additional licenses and assign them.


We all care about service heath, and the new Office 365 Admin Center gives us a one-glance view of what is having problems, rather than a long list of things that are fine, as in the current Admin Center, but with the option to drill into the details.


If you try out the new Admin Center and can’t accomplish something, it’s easy to switch back to the old UI.


What do you think is missing? Well, there’s a feedback link built right into all of the pages so that you can send feedback to the team behind it. And because this is the new Microsoft, they are really listening.


Finally, there are links to helpful videos and articles that can help you get up to speed if all this is new to us – and we’re all new to this at some point.


So what’s not so great yet? Well, the UI isn’t fully responsive. It’s housed inside the newer semi-responsive Suite Bar but the Admin Center itself isn’t responsive enough to work on a phone. (For that form factor, we have the Office 365 Admin app at the links below.)

The functional map between the old Admin Center and the new one is pretty sparse. But like I pointed out already, managing users, billing, and service health are some of the most important aspects of admin, especially for smaller organizations. More will come, and I expect we’ll see it come quickly.

Right now it’s a little stormy in the cloud. But Microsoft is clearly “Working on it…”


This article was also published on IT Unity on 11/19/2015. Visit the post there to read additional comments.


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