Microsoft Ignite 2021: Key Announcements You Need To Know

This year’s Ignite conference was once again a virtual-only event featuring free and continuous digital content for 48 hours between March 2nd and March 4th. The event was packed with a series of announcements aimed at developers, IT Pros, enterprise business users, and data professionals.

Keeping in mind the challenges the world faces due to the pandemic, Microsoft’s announcements are a vision for a recovering post-pandemic world. A world a hybrid workplace model in place, and an expansion of security offerings for tech advancements, ensuring greater privacy and security.

You can get all the news and updates in the Microsoft Ignite 2021: Book of News. The three major announcements from the opening sessions were centered around Microsoft Mesh, Microsoft Teams, and AI at the Edge.

Let’s dig deeper into everything unveiled at Microsoft Ignite 2021:

Microsoft Mesh

Here can be anywhere – a new reality introduced through Microsoft Mesh. Powered by Microsoft Azure, Mesh will be bringing mixed reality to the enterprise, enabling presence and shared experiences from anywhere – on any device – through mixed reality applications.

microsoft mesh announcement by satya nadella

One of the end-goals with this powerful innovation is to support holoportation, meaning that people will be able to appear as themselves in the virtual world. Eventually, Microsoft will be integrating Mesh with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Dynamics 365. You can learn more about this mixed-reality platform at the Microsoft Mesh website.

Microsoft Teams

Many announcements this week at Ignite were centered around Microsoft Teams. Microsoft believes that 2020 was the year that work moved to the cloud. There is a need now more than ever to come up with a sustainable hybrid model that ensures collaboration and learning while strengthening security and privacy to a granular level.

Microsoft is positioning Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams as the platform for the hybrid workforce:

  • PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams: As a presenter, you can now lead meetings with a single view of your notes, slides, meeting chat, and participants. Attendees can also personalize their experience by navigating the content at their own pace or by using the screen reader.
    powerpoint live feature
  • Microsoft Teams Connect: Teams Connect makes it easy to share channels with anyone, internal or external to your organization. In this shared workspace, you can leverage Teams’ rich collaboration capabilities: chat, meet, call, share, and co-author documents in real-time. Admins have access to granular controls, allowing their organization to control how external users access data and information.
    Teams connect
  • Intelligent speakers for Microsoft Teams Rooms: In hardware news, Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Teams Intelligent speaker that can identify and differentiate the voices of up to 10 people talking in a Microsoft Teams Room. These speakers were created in partnership with EPOS and Yealink and allow attendees to use the transcript to follow along or capture actions, by knowing who in the room said what.
  • App risk evaluation: Coming soon, Teams admins will be able to view the security, compliance, and data privacy details for apps coming from Microsoft Cloud App Security.
    apps risk evaluation
  • Microsoft Viva: This is an employee experience platform which was launched back in February, bringing together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights seamlessly into the Microsoft 365 apps that you use every day, empowering people and teams to be their best from wherever they work. Learn more about these updates and more on the Microsoft Viva blog.
    microsoft viva

Read more on all the exciting new feature announcements from Microsoft teams in their blog post.

Azure Percept

Azure Percept, now in public preview, is a platform of hardware and services that aims to simplify the ways in which customers can use Azure AI technologies on the edge – including taking advantage of Azure cloud offerings such as device management, AI model development and analytics. The platform includes a development kit along with an intelligent camera, Azure Percept Vision, and audio hardware, Azure Percept Audio – both of which are shipped separately from the development kit. These can connect to various azure services in the cloud and come with embedded hardware-accelerated AI modules that enable speech and vision AI at the edge, or during times when the device isn’t connected to the internet.

azure percept

Azure Percept works seamlessly with Azure AI, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Cognitive Services, and Azure Live Video Analytics, and it’s also integrated with Azure internet of things (IoT) services. The goal of this platform is to simplify the process of developing, training and deploying edge AI solution.

Security, Compliance & Identity

According to stats revealed through a recent security survey by Microsoft, 93% of businesses are concerned with insider risks, with nearly 66% reporting their organization is “very concerned.” How can decision-makers effectively identify insider risks? Insider Risk Management in Microsoft 365 – which helps you and your organization leverage machine learning for the identification and action on insider risks. It is now generally available.

insider risk management

Olive + Goose helped the Microsoft 365 teams build out a new interactive guide to help customers familiarize with the capabilities and features included in this release. There are a set of other interactive guides as well under Microsoft 365 which the Olive + Goose team helped build and can be found on the Microsoft Security and Compliance blog.

Other key announcements for availability of new Security, Compliance and Identity features include:

  • Threat analytics in M365 Defender in Public Preview
  • Microsoft 365 data loss prevention now in preview for chrome and on-premises
  • Microsoft 365 insider risk management analytics available in public preview
  • Azure active directory password-less authentication now generally available

There were a host of other cool announcements from the event which included new trainings and certifications, new previews, general availability of a whole load of new features as well as three new industry-specific clouds for financial services, manufacturing and nonprofit sectors. Read more on these and other announcements in Microsoft’s Ignite 2021 Book of News.