Earlier this month, Microsoft held its annual Ignite conference for tech leaders and practitioners in Orlando, FL. This year’s vision keynote by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, came loaded with some of the biggest software and services announcements, touching on Azure, Office, Cortana, and Microsoft Edge, among others. In this recap, I will cover some relatively significant announcements made during the event and why they matter.
Microsoft Teams: New features and capabilities
Microsoft announced a ton of new features for Teams at Ignite. Outlook integration allows users to move and share emails in Teams chat. With “Private Channels,” users can create channels within existing teams that can be accessed only by select members of that team. Multiwindow provides users with the option to pop out chat windows, meetings, calls and documents into separate windows to help streamline the workflows. The company also announced plans to integrate Yammer and surveys into Teams, among other roadmap items. Some features will be made available for public preview next year. For more on these Teams announcements, read the official blog.
Why is it significant: These feature announcements reinforce Microsoft’s emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. Their innovations on Teams will enhance collaboration and business processes for customers across all industries and help them work in new ways that better correspond to the evolving needs of businesses and the IT ecosystem.
Azure Arc: Extending Azure services and management to any infrastructure
Another major announcement at Ignite was Azure Arc, which unlocks new hybrid scenarios for customers through Azure services and management on any infrastructure, providing a consistent and unified management approach for different environments. Azure Arc also allows developers to build containerized applications with their choice of tools and manage them via GitOps-based configuration management. This set of technologies will also ensure easier implementation of cloud security across environments with centralized RBAC and security policies.
Why is it significant: With Azure Arc, enterprises can manage all their resources across cloud services and data centers on a single platform through the Azure ecosystem. Azure Arc will allow enterprises to manage resources across different cloud vendors, including Google Cloud and Amazon AWS, and it’ll work with Linux, Windows, and Kubernetes clusters.
Security and Compliance: Microsoft announces new innovations
Microsoft announced several innovations in security, identity, and compliance technologies at Ignite. Some of the highlights include:
Insider Risk Management and Communication Compliance in Microsoft 365 – These solutions help organizations leverage intelligence to identify and remediate insider risks and code of conduct policy violations while meeting regulatory requirements.
Microsoft Information Protection and Governance – Microsoft 365 Compliance Center now allows admins to view data classifications categorized by sensitive information types or associated with industry regulations. Machine learning has also been incorporated into the service through new trainable classifiers which intelligently classify unique data sets such as customer records, contracts, and HR data.
Microsoft Compliance Score – Currently in public preview, Microsoft Compliance Score helps compliance and risk management teams effectively assess and monitor risks. It also provides recommended actions to improve your compliance posture. Even if you’re not an expert in complex regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), you can still take action and move your organization toward compliance using this tool.
Microsoft Authenticator – Authenticator is now available to customers as part of the Azure Active Directory (AAD) free plan. This will help ease organizations’ path to deploying multi-factor authentication, which has been shown to reduce identity-based attacks and phishing by 99.9 percent.
Why is it significant: Security and compliance is a top priority for both organizations and end-users, and with the GDPR in effect and CCPA to be implemented in January 2020, it is becoming even more important to provide customers and organizations with a barrier against threats and attacks, both internal and external. Microsoft’s innovations in this area signal that it is a strong priority for the company, and will improve organizations’ ability to manage and protect their data, safeguard privacy, and maintain security for their customers and employees.
Learn more about all security and compliance announcements from Ignite here.
Microsoft Edge: the new Chromium-based version of the web browser has a release date
Elsewhere at Ignite, Microsoft announced the new Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge, which will become generally available on January 15, 2020. A release candidate for the new Edge is available for download now (at the link above), although Microsoft has yet to bring Fluent Design and inking to it. A number of new privacy features have been added to Edge, including improved InPrivate browsing mode, new privacy settings, and the collections feature letting users collect, organize and share content from across the web. Users will also be able to enjoy the new capabilities of Bing search which can now show search results from your local system also – be it documents, images etc. Alongside these announcements, Microsoft also officially unveiled the new Edge logo.
Why is it significant: Privacy has been a major focus across the industry in recent years, especially since the GDPR came into effect in 2018. Microsoft’s promise of privacy via improvements in InPrivate browsing along with three new settings – unrestricted, balanced, strict – aligns with that focus. The search capabilities in the new Edge via Bing, which can also pop up documents from your local system during a search is offering customers capabilities that rivals can’t yet match.
Microsoft Endpoint Manager: bringing together SCCM and Microsoft Intune
Another solution announced at Ignite 2019, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, combines the functionality of ConfigMgr and Intune. Endpoint Manager offers a seamless end-to-end management solution, allowing organizations to manage different types of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones, using a single service. ConfigMgr users will receive Intune licenses also. Learn more
Why is it significant: With the announcement of Endpoint Manager, Microsoft aims to streamline its device-management strategy. Organizations can now more easily manage and control the device(s) being issued to employees and will be able to remediate security vulnerabilities and attacks more effectively. Also, through the Intune license, migrating to cloud-based device management will become more seamless for IT Teams.
Cortana: bringing AI to Outlook
Microsoft has revealed that it is bringing new AI integration and capabilities to Outlook to help users be more productive. Cortana will now have the ability to read your emails aloud for you through the “Play my Emails” feature. This comes in especially handy while you’re on the move, allowing Cortana to become your personal executive assistant for you. Cortana can also automatically manage your calendar and give a daily briefing at the beginning of each day of your schedule via “Briefing” feature, and your contacts can now also email or “@” mention Cortana directly to set up meetings through the “Scheduler” feature. Microsoft is also working on natural conversation enhancements to Cortana, as well as bringing Cortana to Teams.
Why is it significant: The virtual assistant market has become very competitive with the introduction of smart assistants and devices for both personal and professional use. Microsoft’s focus is always on increasing productivity and with an assistant that helps you get your work done, this seems like the right move at the right time. Having your schedule briefed to you, emails read to you while on the go and meetings being scheduled automatically – who wouldn’t want an assistant that efficient?
Visual Studio Online: Microsoft’s web-based version of Visual Studio
Earlier this year at Build 2019, Microsoft announced that it is working on developing a web version of Visual Studio with deep integration with GitHub. At ignite, CEO Satya Nadella announced that Visual Studio Online is now available in private preview, which users can sign up to access.
Why is it significant: With Visual Studio Online, the developer community will be able to make quick changes to their code in GitHub without needing a local IDE setup. Developers can now work anywhere, as long as they have access to the Internet and a browser.
To learn more about Visual Studio Online, see What is Visual Studio Online? on Microsoft Docs.
Migration, security, compliance, and risk management can be major pain points for organizations. At Olive + Goose, we are committed to helping you in every step of your IT journey – whether you’re migrating to the cloud, reviewing your organization’s compliance or looking to enhance your security. Talk to us! [email protected]