Mar 08

Microsoft releases Visual Studio 2017

Microsoft has announced the General Availability of Visual Studio 2017. Key features include streamlined cloud development, built-in tools providing integration with .NET Core, Azure applications, microservices and Docker containers. The inclusion of Xamarin facilitates the creation of mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows using improved debugging and profiling tools

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Dec 15

Microsoft releases Azure Active Directory certificate-based authentication

Microsoft has announced the General Availability of Azure Active Directory certificate-based authentication, which enables these scenarios…

Federated Azure AD customers can sign in using certificate-based authentication (performed against the federation server) with Office applications on iOS and Android.

Azure AD customers can sign in using certificate-based authentication with Exchange ActiveSync mobile apps in iOS and Android when signing in to Exchange Online.

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Jul 04

View on Microsoft’s June activities

The most significant event this month has been Microsoft’s announcement of its planned acquisition of LinkedIn. This will be the largest acquisition in Microsoft’s corporate history. Microsoft’s CEO believes that LinkedIn information can be incorporated into Office 365 and Dynamics and envisages a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on an individual’s current project with Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn. There are also other potential synergies with Office 665, Dynamics CRM & ERP as well as advertising products and services.

Microsoft continues extending its services to non-Microsoft platforms with Translator for Amazon Fire available from the Amazon Underground app store and Outlook watch face for Android Wear.

Microsoft has announced that it will use Apache Spark to power its big data and analytics offerings, which includes Cortana Intelligence Suite, Power BI and Microsoft R Server.

The CRM 2016 spring wave includes Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Update 1, Dynamics CRM 2016 Service Pack 1, Dynamics Marketing 2016 Update 1 and Social Engagement 2016 Update 1.5.

Microsoft has featured in a number of Gartner’s Magic Quadrants. Identity and Access Management as a Service (IDaaS) for 2016 and Azure Active Directory was placed in the “leaders” quadrant with a favourable completeness of vision assignment. A visionary placement for Intune and the Enterprise Mobility Suite in the Enterprise Mobility Management Magic Quadrant as well as a Leader in the Mobile Application Development Platforms Magic Quadrant.

Of interest is the release of Microsoft’s first holographic email and calendaring apps, Outlook Mail and Calendar, to Microsoft HoloLens.

Microsoft has announced Azure Information Protection, which is a new service that builds on Azure Rights Management (Azure RMS) and its Secure Islands acquisition. There are no changes for current Azure RMS customers until the General Availability of Azure Information Protection later this calendar year.

A preview of Azure AD Conditional Access policies for Exchange and SharePoint Online has been made available. These policies can be used to require multi-factor authentication (MFA) or block access based on network location.

Microsoft will release its Windows 10 Anniversary Update on 2 August. There have been quite a few test builds of the Anniversary Update for Fast Ring PC and phone testers. The Start Menu and Action Centre include a range of refinements and changes as well as significant updates to Edge, which starts to support add-ins.

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May 03

View on Microsoft’s April activities

Microsoft has continued to apply its focus on iOS and Android as significant targets for its applications and services. These include Calendar Apps for Outlook on iOS and Android, which connects Wunderlist, Facebook and Evernote; content viewing for Skype for Business on Android and updates to iOS as well as Microsoft Translator capabilities for Android users.

The company also announced the availability of the Linux Data Science Virtual Machine on the Azure marketplace. This is a custom VM image built on the OpenLogic CentOS-based Linux version 7.2 and contains several popular data science tools used by data scientists, developers, educators and researchers.

Office 365 has been enhanced with email safety tips providing an added layer of protection; a new look and feel to the Office 365 welcome page that includes a range of new features for administrators and users. Microsoft has also released updates to Excel 2016’s Power Query technology, which is accessed through the Get & Transform section on the Data ribbon.

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on 12 April and marks the end of security updates or hotfixes. Microsoft released their fourth and final SQL Server 2016 release candidate and announced that SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on 1 June 2016.

Microsoft released a public preview of the Azure Media Face Detector, which contains Face and Emotion Detection services. This Media Processor can be used for people counting, movement tracking and gauging audience participation and reaction via facial expressions.

Microsoft has announced that they will be releasing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update this summer. The update includes Windows Hello Biometric Security for Apps and Microsoft Edge, Window Ink enhancements, increased number of Cortana-enabled apps as well as revisions to the Start Menu.

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May 03

Microsoft integrates Skype for Business with Intune

Microsoft has announced support for mobile application management (MAM) and conditional access capabilities for Skype for Business mobile apps for online customers. These capabilities are delivered through integration with Intune, Microsoft’s cloud-based mobile device and application management solution. Support includes Skype for Business apps on iOS and Android.

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Mar 01

View on Microsoft’s February activities

Gartner has positioned Microsoft as the Completeness of Vision leader in BI and Analytics Platforms, although behind Tableau and Qlik in Ability to Execute.

The Power BI mobile apps have been updated to support viewing reports on iPhones and Windows 10 phones. The Power BI Android app is due to be updated in the near future.

Microsoft has released a range of changes across Office clients on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. These include a number of new capabilities in Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition, the team released the first cumulative feature update since the initial September release of the Office 2016 apps. See February Office 365 updates for more information.

The Office training team has released tutorials to support Office 365 scenarios that include Get it done from anywhere, Content collaboration, and Run more effective meetings. The tutorials cover Android phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads, Macs and PCs.

Microsoft’s February Cloud Platform Release announcements with additional announcements made on 17 February include a range of services that have been released, some that have moved to public preview as well as price increases (Azure IoT Hub) and reductions (Dv2-Series).

The drive towards non-Microsoft platforms and devices continues unabated and includes rolling out group video calling on iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets (interesting that Windows Phone was not mentioned in Microsoft’s announcement).

New Windows 10 devices showcased at the Mobile World Congress included HP’s Elite x3, VAIO’s new Windows 10 phone, ALCATEL’s Fierce XL and Plus 10, Trinity’s NuAns NEO, Microsoft’s Lumia 650, Huawei’s MateBook, Lenovo’s YOGA 510 and 710, Samsung’s Galaxy TabPro S, Panasonic’s Toughpad FZ-F1 and Toughbook CF-20 as well as Getac’s RX10, which is designed for the healthcare industry.

Microsoft has joined other industry participants to create the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), which has been established to define industry standards for the Internet of Things. Founding members include Cisco, Electrolux, General Electric, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung and a number of other organisations.

Microsoft has announced that developers will be able to purchase the HoloLens Development Edition, which will begin shipping on 30 March.

Microsoft conducted an interesting experiment by deploying a datacentre below the ocean’s surface. The company believes that this approach could solve several problems by using new power sources, reducing cooling costs and the distance to connected populations as well as making it easier and faster to set up datacentres.

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Feb 01

View on Microsoft’s January activities

Another month of very few newsworthy announcements by Microsoft, who has been publishing articles on how best to use their latest offerings and promoting a variety of games and apps that run on Windows 10.

Microsoft now claims that more than 200 million devices are running Windows 10 and has started to apply its universal app vision for its own products by releasing the Power BI Windows 10 universal app for desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

The company continues to develop and promote its products on non-Windows platforms. These include Microsoft Selfie, a selfie and portrait enhancement app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch as well as updates to Outlook for iOS and Android. In addition, Outlook for Android was updated with new calendaring features and improved navigation.

Office 365 updates included the new Skype for Business for Android, smart rename for the Power Pivot data model in Excel 2016 and availability of the Access 2016 Runtime.

Microsoft’s consolidated list of Cloud Platform Release Announcements for January is worth reviewing. The company has also reduced it Azure pricing in keeping with the latest compute, storage and bandwidth pricing from Amazon Web Services.

Microsoft has announced that Microsoft Envision will take place in New Orleans on 4-6 April and is a new event targeted at business leaders.

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