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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Jun 24

Microsoft introduces open-source cross-platform OPC UA support for the Internet of Things

Microsoft has announced enhanced OPC UA support for Windows, iOS, Linux and Android. The company plans to contribute a .NET Standard reference stack to the OPC Foundation GitHub open-source. The stack works on most common software platforms and allows the creation of OPC UA clients, servers and as well as “OPC Publishers” (for sending telemetry data to the cloud) on Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, iOS, Linux and Android platforms. In addition, OPC clients and servers can run directly on Azure using this stack.

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Jun 22

Microsoft releases SharePoint mobile app for iOS

Microsoft has announced the release of the new SharePoint mobile app for iOS. It provides access to team sites, organisation portals and resources as well as a view into what your colleagues are working on. The app uses Microsoft Graph to apply machine learning to activity in Office 365 to associate relevant documents and people. It works with SharePoint Online in Office 365, SharePoint Server (2013 and 2016) on-premises and hybrid environments.

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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.

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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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.

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.

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.