Microsoft has announced that it has started rolling out group video calling on iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets in Western Europe and North America. Microsoft plan to make this feature fully available worldwide in March.
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.
Microsoft has released Skype 6.6 for iPhone and iPad. The release includes improvements to phone number, date and address detection, which makes performing associated actions simpler. In addition, there have been ease-of-use improvements to multi-tasking.
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.
Microsoft is rolling out Skype 6.0 for Android, iPhone and iPad, which has been redesigned for each of the devices. Skype 6.0 for Android includes a floating action button, an enhanced search and improved messaging. Skype 6.0 for iPhone and iPad has an enhanced search and implements all the Skype for iPhone features on the iPad.
Microsoft has announced that Azure Rights Management now supports Office for iPad and on iPhone devices. The release allows rights protected documents on iPad and iPhone to be viewed natively within the Office application (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). The ability to create, edit and publish rights protected documents is not supported at this time.
Microsoft has released a single universal iOS app that works on both iPad and iPhone. With the universal iOS OneNote app, iPad users will have some of the recent updates made to the iPhone app as well as enabling the introduction of new features at a faster pace.
Microsoft has announced the availability of Sway for iPad as well as an updated version of Sway for iPhone. Sway for iPad has been optimised for the larger screen and allows you to create, view and share Sways in landscape and portrait mode and includes a few additional capabilities, such as the Remix! button for trying out different layouts and styles.
Microsoft held its first Ignite conference in May and announced a range of new products and services for enterprise computing, including the next generation of Windows management, Microsoft Office, hybrid cloud infrastructure and SQL Server. Microsoft also announced that Windows Update for Business will be a free service for Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise devices and has been designed to keep Windows devices in organisations up to date with security defences and Windows features.
NetSuite, a provider of cloud-based financials, ERP and omnichannel commerce software suites, announced a strategic cloud alliance with Microsoft to create solutions connecting NetSuite’s cloud ERP to Microsoft Office 365, Windows and Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft has started the global transition of Nokia-branded stores and Care centres around the world. Nokia retail stores will be called Microsoft Authorised Resellers and will showcase a range of Microsoft experiences and products including Lumia, Surface, Xbox and various accessories and services such as Office 365. In addition, general trade or multi-branded stores will be known as Microsoft Mobile Resellers.
Microsoft has continued its initiative to support non-Windows platforms. Support includes the release of OneNote for the Apple Watch, OneNote for Mac’s audio recording, support for Windows phone, Android phone and iPhone in the new Windows 10 Phone Companion app, the availability of Office Lens Android on Google Play Store as well as the expansion of cross-platform services through agreements with additional non-Microsoft device partners.
The company has produced a nine minute video that provides an early look at Office 2016 Public Preview for Windows desktop and phone.
For gamers Microsoft has released the Xbox One May System Update and includes voice messages and improvements to party chat.
Windows 10 will be released on 29 July. Microsoft has started rolling out an icon to “reserve” your free upgrade, which is the start of a campaign to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within 3 years of its initial release. Microsoft has said that Azure AD support will be included in Windows 10 and that Microsoft Edge (the new browser) will support Dolby Audio.
Of interest, is the progress Microsoft Research has made in automatically creating captions for photographs using neural network technology.
Microsoft has announced the general availability of the Spring 2015 Release of Dynamics CRM Online and Dynamics Marketing. The release includes a CRM App for Outlook, OneNote embedded inside Dynamics CRM, Excel analysis within Dynamics CRM, Dynamics CRM for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone as well as enhancements to email marketing, campaign management, lead management, lead nurturing and analytics.