Jul 14

Microsoft releases Power BI Embedded services

Microsoft has announced the general availability of the Power BI Embedded services in nine different regions around the globe. Power BI Embedded is an Azure service that allows developers to use the core building blocks of Power BI, such as reports and datasets, within applications. The release includes a simplified authentication mechanism, row level security support and an improved billing model.

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Jun 01

View on Microsoft’s May activities

In spite of selling off its entry level feature phones, along with more staff reductions planned, Microsoft has said that it will continue to support and develop the Lumia brand. Given the company’s ever shrinking mobile phone market share coupled with Satya Nadella’s focus, this is not a huge surprise. Will we see the launch of a Surface Phone at some time in the future?

Microsoft is partnering with the Jenkins community to offer both compute resources and technical expertise to build a development and delivery infrastructure on Linux and Java in the Azure cloud.

Cloud services continue to be the company’s focus as it unveils its vision and roadmap for SharePoint, which focuses on providing file sharing and collaboration on any device as well as becoming an open and extensible platform.

May’s updates to Office 365 include real-time chat integration into the web experiences, as well as new capabilities in Outlook and Visio. The Power BI Desktop May Update, features improvements to Report View, the ability to Publish to a Pyramid Server, analytics and data connectivity.

The company has announced the availability of the PowerShell module for Azure Machine Learning in public preview mode. This is a .NET based PowerShell DLL module that allows end users to manage Azure ML workspaces, experiments, datasets, web services and web service endpoints.

The latest volume of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIR) has been published and includes threat data from the second half of 2015 as well as longer term trend data on industry vulnerabilities, exploits, malware and malicious websites.

Microsoft has reported that Windows 10 is now running on 300 million active devices around the world. There have been a number of Insider Build releases that include the revised Start Menu as well as a range of other refinements.

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May 05

Microsoft releases Power BI Embedded SDK for Node JS

Microsoft has announced the availability of the Power BI Embedded SDK for Node JS. The Node JS SDK is open source and targeted at developers that want to use Power BI Embedded in their own products and applications. Developers can access the Power BI Embedded REST APIs, generate app tokens for managing workspace collections and manage workspace content including imports, datasets and workspaces.

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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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Jan 04

View on Microsoft’s December activities

On a personal note, I hope everyone had a wonderful time during the holiday season and wish you the very best of success for 2016.

Like most companies, Microsoft has been promoting its software and hardware offerings during the holiday season with an occasional announcement worth reporting.

Microsoft continues paying attention to non-Windows platforms and has released Cortana on select iPhone, Android and Cyanogen OS powered devices. The company also released a preview of the Power BI app for iOS with support for SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.2, which provides delivery of on-premises data to mobile devices and includes out-of-the-box mobile reports and KPI tracking.

On the Azure front, Microsoft announced that Dynamics CRM Online customers will be able to use Azure ExpressRoute to establish a private, managed connection to CRM Online. Updates to Azure Backup include faster backup times, reduced cache space and an increase in the number of recovery points for cloud backups.

As part of promoting HoloLens, Microsoft has opened the first ongoing HoloLens experience showcase for developers at its store in New York – appointment required.

2015 saw the release of Windows 10 and Office 2016, an extraordinary amount of activity evolving its non-Windows platform offerings, the continued evolution of the Azure platform and the “restructure” of its acquired Nokia phone business.

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Dec 16

Microsoft rebrands Bing Pulse

Microsoft has announced that Microsoft’s Bing Pulse is changing its product name and brand identity to Microsoft Pulse. Microsoft Pulse has also become a multi-platform service, integrating with several products within the Microsoft family, including: Azure Media Services (video), Skype for Business (meetings), OneNote (sharing), Yammer (enterprise communications), and Power BI (analytics). In addition to a new and upgraded producer app, the brand now offers new features to the current services line-up, which include Pulse for Broadcast, Events & Conferences, Market Research and Pulse in the Classroom.

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Nov 02

View on Microsoft’s October activities

Gartner has positioned Microsoft as a leader in the Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems.

Microsoft has started reminding its customers that extended support for SQL Server 2005 ends in April 2016 and uses the opportunity to promote to the latest version of SQL Server.

Updates to Power BI include custom visualisations, group options and mobile notifications, while the Power BI Desktop October update included 23 new or improved features.

During October, Microsoft has been promoting many of its new and updated offerings as well as continuing to push Office 365, which is now available from local datacentres in India. The recently released Office 2016 has features such as Clutter, which only work for Office 365 users and not for the one-time purchase version. Microsoft plans to release updates with new features that will be dependent on an Office 365 subscription.

There has been a flurry of activity around newly announced devices and Windows 10 hardware. As part of this campaign, Microsoft has opened a flagship store in New York City and announced the availability of the new Microsoft Band, Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 for purchase.

Microsoft’s partners have been announcing their Windows 10-based hardware offerings. These include HP, Dell with new XPS Devices, Acer’s new line of Windows 10-optimised Laptops and All-in-ones, Toshiba’s dynaPad Tablet, LG Electronics as well as Lenovo’s new YOGA 900 devices.

Microsoft and Dell have announced hybrid cloud solution and program offerings. The Cloud Platform System Standard (CPS Standard) being the newest addition to the Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS) family.

The Skype division has been active with the release of Skype Translator for Windows desktop app that includes six voice languages (English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish) as well as 50 messaging languages. The Skype for Web feature allows chats using a browser interface. Microsoft has also released Skype for Business iOS app and added new video filters with their updated Skype for Android, iPhone and iPad.

Factoids of the month include Microsoft Azure hiring people around the world with open source skills and Windows 10 running on 110 million devices.

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