Automatic signatures in Exchange Online

One of the things we get asked from time to time is how to set up automated signatures in Exchange Online.
While with an on-premise Exchange solution you can utilise 3rd party solutions such as Exclaimer – this isn’t possible in Exchange Online due to the shared environment.
However – you can still utilise the Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) to automatically append either a text or HTML footer to the bottom of each message.
If you don’t already have access FOPE – put a service request to be granted access.
Once in, head to your domain service settings and add what you like – as shown below.
Bear in mind that embedded images aren’t possible as you would normally have with Outlook – however you can link to the image.

Office 365 for education vs Live@Edu

A few months ago Microsoft revealed a pricing model for BPOS that allowed NFP (not for profit) institutions such as charities and schools get access to the BPOS suite – without having to pay full price.
This was fantastic for those of us who sell it, as those organisations who purchased discounted Microsoft software often found it was significantly cheaper to continue with their on-premise solutions vs moving to the cloud.
The exception to this is Live@Edu which is free for academic institutions. It is effectively the Hotmail service but with a lot of deployment, branding, identity management, and reporting functionality built in. (It also runs on Exchange 2010 and integrates presence into Outlook.com!)

So with the NFP pricing released for BPOS academic institutions were finally able to use the ‘corporate’ suite of products for faculty & administration, and have the student body utilise the Live@Edu service (or however you want to mix it up).

However with the announcement that Live@Edu will be blended into Office 365 – this made it a little confusing because Live@Edu = free whereas BPOS / Office 365 = paid (albeit discounted).

So some clarification around the differences between the paid vs the free? Well unfortunately there won’t be any official information available until February 2011. However at this point it is expected that Office 365 for Education will include:
– Exchange Online 2010 = free
– SharePoint Online 2010 (MySites) = free
– Existing Live@Edu functionality (ie. SkyDrive, Messenger, Photos, etc.) = free
– Lync Online 2010 = paid (maybe, or replace Messenger)
– Archiving = paid
– Office subscription = paid

So, hard to say for sure at this point. However this does answer the simple question of whether schools will need to start to pay for their Live@Edu service when it rolls into Office 365: no.
They will continue to get the free ‘core’ set of products/solutions, and can pay for optional extras.