At Microsoft, our goal is to provide a built-in, intelligent, unified and extensible solution to protect sensitive data across your digital estate – in Microsoft 365 cloud services, on-premises, third-party SaaS applications, and more. With Microsoft Information Protection (MIP), we are building a unified set of capabilities for classification, labeling and protection not only in Office apps, but also in other popular productivity services where information resides (e.g., SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Power BI).
Over the past year, we consistently delivered built-in capabilities in MIP. You can now use built-in labels to protect documents and emails in the latest Office apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook) on all platforms including the web, iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. Built-in labeling experiences with MIP provide a variety of benefits over a client plug-in including:
Greater protection coverage: Available for Office apps on Windows, web, Mac, Android and iOS
Lower maintenance costs: No need to deploy/update additional software
Better performance: Office apps launch faster as there is no need to load add-ins
A single portal – the Microsoft 365 compliance center – unifies labeling and protection policy management across Azure Information Protection (AIP), Office 365 and Windows.
In this blog, we will cover (1) The new unified labeling client (2) Timelines to sunset label management in the Azure portal and AIP client (classic) and (3) A step-by-step guide to help you transition to MIP.
New features in the unified labeling client (now available)
Since the release of the unified labeling client version in October 2019, we have seen strong customer adoption. Customer feedback also indicated strong interest in features such as on-premises scanner, dynamic and per app content marking, etc. The new unified labeling client version now addresses these requests to further enable you to transition to the unified labeling platform.
New features in the unified labeling client include support for dynamic content marking and pre-app content marking, support for customizable policy tips for automatic and recommended labels, support for offline labeling, and improvement for migration from third-party solutions to sensitivity labeling. More detailed information on these new features can be found in the client release version history.
In addition, this unified labeling client includes the unified labeling scanner for on-premises data discovery that provides more accurate and flexible data classification by extending support to custom information types, complex conditions, and dictionaries. Scanner deployments can now easily scale out by creating scanner pools. For more information about these features, read this blog. Refer to this webinar to learn more about moving to unified labeling.
Timelines to sunset label management in the Azure portal and AIP client (classic)
With label management in the Microsoft 365 compliance center now at parity with the AIP portal experience, we are announcing that we will sunset label management in the Azure portal as of March 31, 2021. This extended timeframe will give customers currently using the Azure portal more than twelve months to transition to MIP’s unified labeling platform where the existing AIP value will continue to be fully supported. We are also announcing that the AIP client (classic) will be sunsetting on March 31, 2021. Again, this extended timeframe allows customers currently using the classic client more than a year to transition to either built-in labeling on Office ProPlus or the new unified labeling client.
Step by step guide to transition to MIP
If you are an existing AIP customer, we recommend the following steps to transition to MIP:
Activate unified labeling from the Azure portal and migrate labels to the Microsoft 365 compliance center to apply policies uniformly across on-premises, Microsoft 365 cloud services and more. This transition has no impact on existing AIP clients, and administrators can perform this step right away. The process takes only a few minutes, depending on the number of labels and complexity
Copy your policies to the Microsoft 365 compliance center or create new policies there
Download the latest unified labeling client for Windows if you are not yet fully on Office 365 ProPlus
Train end users to apply labels and protection in Office applications across web, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows. Read this article to know which labeling capabilities are available across platforms
Learn more about transitioning from Azure Information Protection to the unified labeling platform in this blog post, and get detailed instructions on how to migrate here.
Once you transition from the Azure portal to the Microsoft 365 compliance center, we recommend that you take advantage of the built-in labeling in the latest Office apps in web, Mac, iOS and Android. On the Windows platform, we suggest you use our built-in labeling capabilities in Office ProPlus apps as well. However, if you are not on Office 365 ProPlus fully yet, or need certain advanced capabilities listed here, we recommend using the latest unified labeling client for Windows.
Extended support for the AIP classic client
Some customers may need features (e.g. ability for admins to track and revoke protected documents, logging events to Windows event log on set/remove label, holding your own key for content decryption) that are not yet in the latest release of the unified client. Users of the classic client who feel blocked from transitioning to the unified labeling platform can ask for extended support for the classic client. To be eligible, customers must have actively used one or more blocking feature in the past 90 days and must have completed migration of labels from the Azure portal to the Microsoft 365 compliance center. File for extended support before September 30, 2020 to be eligible for extension consideration.
Important notice for GCC customers
We expect unified labeling will be available to Office 365 U.S. Government Community (GCC) services in the second half of 2020. Meanwhile GCC customers who own licenses for AIP will receive continued support for the classic client for 12 months after the general availability of unified labeling for GCC cloud. Extended support requests for GCC customers are not required.
We are excited about our own journey with Microsoft Information Protection and look forward to continuing to deliver this industry-leading solution to our customers.