#10 Sensitivity labels in Office apps – natively

By Neil Hobson on

Hello everyone! I’m back again with another bite-sized piece of Microsoft 365 information. I don’t want to dominate this blog column with any one particular topic, but there was recently an interesting update on information protection that I wanted to cover. Last week I was reviewing the topics I’ve currently written about and saw that earlier this month I’d already written about Azure Information Protection client updates. Oh well, here’s another update on information protection – which indicates this is a fast moving area at the moment!

A recent announcement from Microsoft advised that Office apps would natively support sensitivity labels as part of Office 365 Monthly Channel and Targeted update. Currently, the AIP Client (Classic or Unified Labelling) is required to see the sensitivity labels in the Office apps. If you’re not familiar with these clients, see my previous blog linked above. The Microsoft information also advises that the AIP client add-in will still run instead of the native sensitivty labelling if it is installed.

I wanted to test this out to see what the user experience is like, and here’s what I found. I made sure Office was using the latest update, installed the AIP Unified Labelling client and published a few test sensitivity labels to a user account.

With the AIP Unified Labelling client deployed, a bar is displayed that presents to the user the sensitivity labels that have been published for consumption by that user. This sensitivity label publishing is achieved by a policy that the administrator creates in the Microsoft Office 365 Compliance Center. This bar makes it easy for the user to select the required sensitivity label. The AIP Unified Labelling client provides the Sensitivity button on the ribbon, which also provides access to the sensitivity labels.

Here’s an example of what a user sees in one of the Office apps – Word in this case – when the AIP Unified Labelling client is used. Notice where the Sensitivity button is located on the ribbon – this appears to change location when the native integration is used as we shall see in a moment.

Image: Sensitivity labels - AIP Unified Labelling client is deployed

Now, let’s close Word and uninstall the AIP Unified Labelling client. After doing this and relaunching Word, the bar is no longer displayed and the Sensitivity button has moved. You can see an example of this below. Notice also that after the user selects one of the sensitivity labels on offer, the document reflects this in the status bar at the bottom of the document.

Image: Sensitivity labels - uninstalled AIP Unified Labelling client

There’s a lot going on in the information protection area at the moment. With that in mind, here’s another Microsoft 365 Roadmap item to keep an eye on – the equivalent functionality for Office Online:

Office Online: Manual sensitivity labelling in Word, PowerPoint, Excel

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