I set up my first trial of Office 365 last year during the beta. It was a pretty smooth process for E-Mail, requiring an MX and confirmation. I didn’t really care too much about SharePoint. Lync … well … Lync requires a lot of DNS stuff, none of which was possible to do myself in my registrar’s control panel. For a trial, it wasn’t worth getting them to set up the records for Lync manually.
Before the Christmas holidays, I signed up for another trial, this time choosing the P plan for professionals and small businesses. The 25 GB mailbox was tempting … I’ve a number of email accounts (personal, MVP stuff, Microsoft stuff) and it’s been annoying for me to use, and some folks I know just send 1 email to all of them to get me – my clear delineations weren’t clear to others.
Problem: Partner Selection
This morning I decided to subscribe to the P plan. Payment was easy. The issue I had with the signup process was from the channel point of view (I work for a distributor). Way off to the side, almost invisible, was the option to Add Partner. This was where I could optionally choose to add a qualified Office 365 partner. I thought “I’ll do that and choose one of our customers (a reseller) that has signed up with our O365 distribution channel”. Up popped a screen and it asked me for the partner ID of the reseller. Huh! I’m pretty sure folks in Microsoft think that every MSFT partner lives in the Microsoft Partner Network website and can shout out their numeric partner ID like a soldier does their serial number. Not quite! When faced with this, I did what any customer will do – I clicked cancel and completed the payment without specifying a partner.
First thing was to get my email address configured. The MX was set up last year. But my account (the default administrator) was set up with a damned onmicrosoft.com address. I configured my sign-in to use my domain but the sent email still used the MSFT domain. I edited my account in Admin –> Users –> <Select Account> –> More –> Change Mailbox Settings, and removed the “other address” from Email Options.
I wanted to import a Hotmail and a Gmail account. Hotmail was smooth and easy. I went into Options – See All Options –> Account –> Connected Accounts. Here I added the details of my hotmail account. All the folders and email were imported nice and smooth.
Gmail is a different beast. You have to enable POP access in your Gmail account (Settings –> Forwarding And POP/IMAP). That beast is importing 1.5 GB of email right now, and it appears to have 2 issues:
- My 10 year old folder structure in Gmail is being ignored.
- Read emails are being marked as unread.
Both are very unhelpful. And no, I was not going to set up mail rules – why the frak should I have to do that to recreate a 10 year old folder structure? I’m in the midst of trying to find a realistic alternative. No, I won’t be installing Exchange to do this (COME ON MAN!). This seriously impacts the migration of customers from Google Apps to Office 365. Try tell any user that you’ll only import their Inbox, their folders will be lost, and all their email will be marked as unread. You’ll be lucky if your not flayed alive.
It appears that the only option I have (that doesn’t include paying for a 3rd party tool) is to configure Outlook to connect to both Gmail (to create an IMAP connected PST) and O365. Then I can import the Gmail PST into O365. That will take a wee while (1.5 GB of email). So much for cloud computing easing my bandwidth demands during migration. MSFT has been talking up a “soon to be released” PST Capture tool since October 2011. It is not available yet.
Remember: Office 365 primarily sells to small and startup businesses. They don’t have Exchange. They probably have nothing or are on Google Apps. Office 365 seems to have forgotten that.