#8 Azure Information Protection Client Updates

By Neil Hobson on

Over the last year or so, keeping up to date with the changes in the Azure Information Protection client has become a little more challenging. I saw that Microsoft had recently released version of the AIP unified labelling client, so I thought it was a good time to write about it.

You may be wondering why I put unified labelling in italics above. Well, first a little history. AIP has been around a while. AIP itself is a cloud service from Microsoft that allows documents and emails to be classified by assigning those documents or emails a sensitivity label. Optionally, labels can be configured to apply protection to the documents or emails if required. The labels and policy settings have historically been configured using the Azure Information Protection blade in the Azure portal.

While AIP is a cloud service, there is a corresponding client too. This client has historically been known as the  Azure Information protection client. This client downloads the labels and policy settings from the Azure portal. It also gives users key functionality such as:

  • An add-in so that they can use the labels in Office apps
  • Right-click menu additions to Explorer so that the other files types can be labelled and optionally protected

If this client is being used, the button icon displayed via the Office add-in contains a padlock icon with the ‘Protect’ text below it. An example from the ribbon is shown below:

Image: Azure Information Protection protect

But as is the case with the cloud, things change. During Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced the ‘unified labelling’ platform. This platform gives administrators the ability to administer labels and policy settings from the Office 365 Security ad Compliance Center. If this is a new area to you, you can read the Microsoft blog announcement here. 

With this platform came a new AIP client known as the Azure Information Protection unified labelling client. Microsoft informs that this client downloads the labels and policy settings from the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center, Microsoft 365 Security Center and Microsoft 365 Compliance Center. The AIP unified labelling client became generally available in April 2019. You can read more about this via the Microsoft blog announcement. 

If the new AIP unified labelling client is being used, the button icon displayed via the Office add-in contains a stamp icon with the ‘Sensitivity’ text below it. An example from the Word ribbon is below:

Image: Azure Information Protection sensitivity

However, something that could be confusing at first is that the unified labelling client still displays the padlock icon in the right-click menu addition to Explorer:

Image: Azure Information Protection classify and protect

With the release of the new unified labelling platform and associated client, things became more complicated in areas such as:

  • Understanding the fact that there are now two AIP clients. With the new AIP unified labelling released, Microsoft now refers to the previous client as the classic client, hence why I used italics at the start of this post, to refer to the unified labelling client
  • Understanding the feature differences between two clients. Initially the new unified labelling client did not have feature parity with the classic client but this has improved with subsequent unified labelling client releases
  • Knowing which client to use

Microsoft documentation can assist here. The Microsoft documentation topic titled The client side of Azure Information Protection has some very useful sub-sections:

Choose which Azure Information Protection client to use

Compare the clients

To keep an eye on the version history of the new AIP unified labelling client, see the Microsoft documentation topic titled Azure Information Protection unified labelling client – Version release history and support policy

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