Microsoft Graph: Everything you need to know

We have already seen Microsoft bringing in many services focused on consumers and enterprise in the market that sometimes it becomes difficult for us to keep up with different services on different devices. Microsoft launched Windows Phone way back. People actually expected a better connection and communication between the mobile device and the PC. I am not saying that Microsoft did not do it. They did it perfectly. The PC and the Phone made a great pair. But for a modern smartphone, you need something more. This is when the Apps come into the picture. A smartphone needs to have a great app support. Unlike Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone did not get a great support from the developer community. I know and I appreciate Microsoft’s efforts to get more developers to build apps for their mobile platform but after various Windows Phone platform reboots, it always lacked far behind the competitors. But with the new strategy that comes with new Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, Microsoft is moving in a different direction. They call it Mobility of Experience. 

As far as I understand from Satya’s book, Hit Refresh, the world did not need a third mobile phone ecosystem rather; he wanted Microsoft to work on the path of Mobility. Making things easily accessible, making people more productive, keeping a connection between their devices in such a way that they work together for the person and the company together. He visions the future of computing to be natural and more interactive. Hence, we all are seeing Microsoft moving towards an aim of bringing together and making a Windows 10 powered PC and an Android phone or an iOS device work together. Here is where Microsoft Graph plays an important role as the crux of this vision.

What is Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph works on the principle of the Data Structure named Graph. Now, Microsoft defines it as,

Microsoft Graph is the gateway to data and intelligence in Microsoft 365. Microsoft Graph provides a unified programmability model that you can use to take advantage of the tremendous amount of data in Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows 10.

Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph comes together with the help of various APIs from different product groups inside of Microsoft. The following APIs help the Microsoft Graph API to start working:

  • Azure Active Directory
  • Office 365 Services like SharePoint, OneDrive, Outlook or Exchange, Microsoft Teams, OneNote, Planner, and Excel.
  • Enterprise Mobility and Security Services like Identity Manager, Intune, Advanced Threat Analytics, and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).
  • Windows 10 services like Activities and Devices.
  • Education.

You can read more about how services are used and implemented in Microsoft Graph from the official documentation here.

What Microsoft Graph helps a user to do is to get connected. The user can now be connected to all the resources across the services that support Microsoft Graph. This is done by making the user to a group using the memberOf relationship. This is slightly developer oriented, so if you are interested, you can read more about this memberOf relationship here. And a user can be connected to another user using the manager relationship. Read more about it here.

Using this kind of model, Microsoft is able to sync in your app data like notifications and Continue on PC feature from your Android Phone, iOS device or a Windows 10 Mobile phone to your Windows 10 PC.

Features of Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph helps the app developers make a piece of software that will influence the productivity of their customers very deeply. Some of the major features of Microsoft Graph are listed below:

  • Scans the next engagement in the user’s calendar and helps them to prepare for it by providing various information for the attendees. This set of information includes their job titles, they workgroup, and information about the latest documents and team projects they have been working or collaborating on.
  • Scans the schedule of the user and helps them in scheduling the best time for a meeting.
  • Fetches Office documents and files from a file stored inside of the Cloud Storage (OneDrive) remotely to any device connected in the graph.
  • Studies your workflow and schedule so that it can provide insights to your time spent on meetings or provide recommendations for the ones that are relevant or important to you.
  • Helps the user to differentiate between their work and personal files on the basis of their location in OneDrive for personal files and OneDrive for Business for work files.

Some requests invoked using Microsoft Graph

Operation URL
GET my profile
GET my files
GET my photo$value
GET my mail
GET my high importance email$filter=importance%20eq%20'high'
GET my calendar events
GET my manager
GET last user to modify file foo.txt
GET Office365 groups I’m member of$/$filter=groupTypes/any(a:a%20eq%20'unified')
GET users in my organization
GET groups in my organization
GET people related to me
GET items trending around me
GET my notes

If you are interested to learn more about Microsoft Graph or if you are a developer who wants to build their services with compatibility with Microsoft Graph, head to the official documentation for Microsoft Graph here.

These services can be implemented and used with the Graph Explorer.  You can learn more and get your hands on the Graph Explorer portal here.

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Ayush has been a Windows enthusiast since the day he got his first PC with Windows 98SE. He is an active Windows Insider since Day 1 and is now a Windows Insider MVP. He has been testing pre-release services on his Windows 10 PC, Lumia, and Android devices.

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