In a year full of lockdowns and quarantines, taking Microsoft Ignite virtual rather than cancelling altogether made for a refreshing change. The conference opened with a keynote from CEO Satya Nadella about “Building Digital Resiliency.” Throughout the keynote, in between the announcements, Nadella focused on consumer trust and finding ways to enhance business resilience in a challenging time.
He closed the keynote with a call for greater social and environmental responsibility in IT:
“We have an enormous responsibility to ensure that the technology we build benefits everyone on the planet, including the planet itself. Our purpose and actions must always be aligned to help solve the world’s challenges, not create new ones.”
Here is a recap of key announcements and takeaways from the keynote:
One of the more explosive announcements in Nadella’s keynote was about Microsoft taking infrastructure to space! Azure Orbital (preview) will act as a fully-managed ground-station-as-a-service to provide communication and control for satellites, enabling easy and integrated data processing and scale for their operations directly from Azure.
Azure Communication Services
The pandemic has transformed how we communicate with each other, and adaption to these changes has challenged small and large businesses alike. Azure Communication Services helps address these challenges by allowing communication via traditional means more easily from Azure. It is the first fully managed communication platform offering from a major cloud provider, and is built natively on top of the global, reliable Azure cloud.
Azure Communication Services makes it easy to add voice and video calling, chat, and SMS text message capabilities to mobile apps, desktop applications, and websites with just a few lines of code. And developer friendly APIs and SDKs make it easy to create personalized communication experiences quickly, without having to worry about complex integrations. These capabilities can be used on virtually any platform and device.
Microsoft Edge is coming to Linux
In keeping with a strong focus on cross-platform applications at this year’s conference, Microsoft’s chromium-powered Edge browser will debut on Linux in October, as a developer preview. Microsoft has also added new security and privacy features to Edge, including giving users direct control over tracking and the ability to designate particular information as sensitive.
Power Platform together with GitHub
Nadella also announced that Microsoft is uniting Power Platform with GitHub. As competition grows in the low-code business solutions space, the tech giant is sprinting ahead. For the first time, professional and amateur developers will be able to contribute to the same repo so that they can build apps in sync instead of stitching them together at the end.
Security, Compliance, and Identity
Security is critically important to customers and Microsoft has made that a core focus since the last several months especially now that working from home is the new normal. At Ignite, Microsoft announced the following set of new security and compliance controls in SharePoint and OneDrive:
- Secure external collaboration in SharePoint and OneDrive
- Preventing data loss through end points and user sessions
- Comprehensive compliance and best performance
To know more on the topic, go through the guide to security, compliance and identity from Microsoft Ignite 2020 to find interesting sessions to add to your digital learning list.
Microsoft 365 announcements
Nadella also announced several improvements to Microsoft 365, including some exciting new features in Microsoft SharePoint. Noting that more than 1 billion people are now using Windows 10, and that Office 365 usage is higher than ever, he announced a wave of enhancements to bolster employee engagement and communications, including:
- New boosts in SharePoint
- Share news to email, Microsoft Teams and Yammer
- Priority announcements
- Featured conversations
- Insights for communicators
For a more seamless integrated experience, there is a continuous effort invested in SharePoint as a foundation of many Microsoft 365 experiences. Microsoft announced that Microsoft Teams Meetings recordings and Microsoft Stream will be built on new storage innovations in SharePoint.
Project Cortex, announced in 2019, is now coming to customers as a set of innovations. The latest innovation branched out from Project Cortex is SharePoint Syntex, coming to customers in October 2020. SharePoint Syntex uses advanced AI and machine learning capabilities to amplify human expertise, automate content processing and transform content into knowledge.
New features and improvement to Microsoft Teams
During the pandemic, Microsoft Teams has received a massive influx of new users – and it has also seen a huge amount of feature innovation. At Ignite, Teams added to its already-long list of improvements by announcing several new features, including:
- Automatic Live Captioning
- Together Mode
- Breakout Rooms
- Automatic Live Transcript
- Virtual Commute
Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare
Announcing the general availability of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare on October 30th, Microsoft is helping empower the healthcare sector to set a course for recovery and resiliency in this ever-changing and challenging healthcare environment. In his blog later, the Corporate Vice President Tom McGuinness stated, “Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare is how Microsoft, and our partner ecosystem, helps healthcare organizations re-imagine tomorrow: by empowering everyone to deliver value faster, to make more impactful decisions to set a clear course for the future, and to adapt and transform with boundless agility. “
Taking its biggest event of the year to a virtual platform was of course an enormous undertaking for Microsoft – and given that, it’s appropriate that the conference opened on the theme of digital resiliency. Microsoft’s core announcements focused on taking COVID seriously and strengthening its commitment to the cloud.