Microsoft has launched a new round of Wearable Productivity apps. These include Outlook for Apple Watch, Wunderlist for Apple Watch, Yammer for Apple Watch (announced, but not yet released), Microsoft Translator for Apple Watch and Android Wear, OneDrive for Android Wear (updated) as well as OneNote for Android Wear (updated).
Microsoft has continued to expand and improve its offerings across non-Windows platforms. It has expanded its Office for Android tablet preview; opened new cross-platform advertising opportunities on MSN Apps, which is available on Windows, Android, iOS and Amazon; released an improved version of Skype for iPhone; and launched Outlook for IoS and Android.
OneDrive is a focus area for Microsoft to help drive usage of other Microsoft services. It now includes the Save to OneDrive feature to make it easy to deal with email attachments when using Outlook.com.
Microsoft has revealed much more information about Windows 10 and, in particular, shown its desire to encourage Windows users to migrate to Windows 10 by offering the new operating system for free to Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users. The offer will be available for 1 year after the commercial release of Windows 10 – so really designed to create a migration impetus.
From a daily usage perspective, Windows 10 has made significant improvements over Window 8.1 – essentially bringing the best of Window 7 and 8 together and, at the same time, introducing a range of interface rationalisations, such as an integrated Settings interface to make customisations and preferences much easier to do and, more importantly, find.
The intention is to bring a Windows 10 to the phone and Xbox, albeit that only the core is common across platforms. This is fundamental for the Universal App, which allows developers to target their apps across all Microsoft platforms via a unified Microsoft Store.
Windows 10 will include a new browser, code named Spartan, which is designed to make web pages much easier to read via a new “reading mode”. Spartan will be made available on Windows Phones, tablets and PCs.
Cortana is imbedded in Windows 10, with changes applied to take advantage of running on a desktop device. It becomes the built in search mechanism for finding information and files.
Microsoft has said that holographic capabilities will be enabled inside Windows 10 devices with APIs and that all universal apps can be made to work with Windows Holographic. Depending on developer interest, there could be some very interesting apps published to capitalise on this new capability.
Salesforce.com has announced that its Salesforce Files Connect, a centralised universal file-sharing solution, includes integration with OneDrive for Business and SharePoint.
Microsoft’s TechExpo show included a Linux booth to expound the company’s Linux strategy – how times have changed. Talking of shows, registration is now open for Microsoft’s Convergence event to be held in Atlanta during March 2015. Keynote speakers will include Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Group.
Retailers can no longer order Windows 8, Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate. Windows 7 mainstream supports ends in January, although Windows 7 Professional can still be purchased and Microsoft has committed to providing a year’s notice of the end of sale date. Even as Microsoft focuses on Windows 10, we may yet see an extension of Windows 7 support.
Amazon WorkSpaces, the virtual desktop computing environment, now offers an Office 2013 option.
Microsoft has announced that OneDrive for Business will begin rolling out to existing Office 365 ProPlus users before the end of 2014, with all Office 365 ProPlus customers having access to OneDrive for Business by the end of January 2015. ProPlus subscribers will initially get 1 TB of storage per user on OneDrive for Business, and will be updated to unlimited storage as it rolls out to Office 365 commercial subscribers.
Microsoft plans to integrate Skype and Lync with a rebranded Skype for Business seeing the end of the Lync name. This signals the potential for an improved and extended non-Microsoft platform support as well as incorporating many of Skype’s consumer features and capabilities.
Updates to the Windows 10 preview have continued and, as at the last build, seems to have reached the “feature complete” stage. Microsoft appears to be on target for a mid-2015 release.
Microsoft has announced that it has rolled out encryption at rest for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business called per-file encryption. Per-file encryption technology encrypts individual files stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business with its own unique key, and also encrypts each subsequent file updates with an additional unique key.
Microsoft has announced that all Office 365 customers will get unlimited OneDrive storage at no additional cost. Microsoft has started rolling out this benefit to Office 365 Home, Personal, and University customers. OneDrive for Business customers will receive unlimited storage in 2015.
Microsoft has continued with more Azure releases, previews and price cuts. These included General Availability (GA) of Azure SQL Database Service Tiers, API Management Service GA, updated Media Services (live streaming, content protection, encoding performance and Media Indexer), Virtual Network integration, new CMS with WordPress and updates to Web Site Backup in the Preview Portal, role-based access control for Azure Management operations and GA for Azure Alerting.
The OneDrive capacity has been increased to 10GB for OneDrive Mobile apps, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Support for Windows 8.1 and Mac to follow.
The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) has implemented a series of changes across Microsoft Competencies and Action Pack subscription offerings, including changes to the Intelligent Systems competency.
On the Office 365 front, Microsoft announced a “Bug Bounty Programme”, which will reward and recognise security researchers by offering a bounty for reporting qualified security vulnerabilities.
Microsoft is offering Office 365 ProPlus for free to eligible students in the U.S. and has updated the Student Advantage programme so that the Office ProPlus benefit includes Word, PowerPoint and OneNote and comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage. No doubt that this is an investment to create the Office 365 enthusiasts of the future.
Microsoft has been positioned as a Leader in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace. Associated with this news, Microsoft launched an Enterprise Social Resource Centre, which is a library of resources designed to help business leaders and decision makers better understand the value of enterprise social.
September saw limited supplies of Surface Pro 3 in some markets such as Australia China, Germany, New Zealand and Korea as well as one of the largest retailers in the United Kingdom. Microsoft has said that this will be rectified within two to three weeks.
With the new release of MSN, Microsoft plans to rebrand Bing apps as MSN Apps to reflect their alignment with MSN as a provider of content and personal productivity features. Initially all the apps will retain their existing names with the exception of Bing Finance, which will now become MSN Money.
Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise team have started disclosing information on the direction of Windows in the enterprise with specific attention to the direction for Windows Server and System Center. In addition the team announced that a “Technical Preview” will be available on 1 October.
The official name for Windows Threshold (the next version of Windows) has been announced as Windows 10. The much expected Windows 9 was waived in favour of highlighting the end of big releases every two to three years. The changes are focused on winning enterprise organisations and include the return of the Start Menu, running Apps in a Window on the desktop as well a range of security management enhancements.
The Windows 10 technical preview will be available in October and release is planned for 2015. The technical preview will feature the much vaunted approach of releasing features via the Windows Update mechanism and seems to be a test bed for establishing the Windows operating system as a service. The real question is: “are people and organisations willing to subscribe to a feature service instead of laying out cash for a boxed product?”
Microsoft’s latest OneDrive SDK includes the OneDrive picker for Android. The picker provides access to the UI components required to get links to download file content directly or view links for sharing, as well as a set of thumbnails for image files.
Microsoft is rolling out OneDrive updates for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8.1. The Android updates supports access to work and personal accounts as well as the option to use a PIN code to improve content security. The OneDrive app for iOS update includes a native search experience on the iPhone and iPad. On Windows Phone, users can access their OneDrive recycle bin, to restore deleted files and folders.
As Microsoft celebrates Bing’s fifth anniversary with a blog entry highlighting milestones over the last five years, Adobe Digital Report (ADI) shows that Google Chrome has surpassed Microsoft in terms of browser popularity for overall mobile and desktop software by a small margin.
Microsoft announced that developers can pre-order the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor, which will be shipped in July along with a public beta of the software development kit (SDK). This will happen a few months ahead of general availability of sensors and the SDK. The v2 sensor’s features include increased depth-sensing capabilities, full 1080p video, improved skeletal tracking and enhanced infrared technology.
Microsoft Interoperability teams hosted a five-day Interoperability Plugfest at the company’s Redmond campus. The event covered topics such as Windows file sharing, SharePoint, Exchange and SQL protocols. It was intended to provide hands-on help to developers and quality assurance engineers from a range of companies including Apple, Oracle and Google.
June saw Microsoft match Google’s offering with an increase in OneDrive’s free storage as well as price reductions for additional storage. Office 365 users also benefit from the changes with 1 TB of bundled storage.
Skype has had a busy month with releases and updates for the Mac and Linux as well as two releases for the iPhone during June.
Yammer on the Web now supports 28 languages and Yammer mobile apps support 12 languages. Microsoft also released document conversations by embedding Yammer into Office apps.
On the devices front, more than 40 new Windows and Windows Phone devices were unveiled at Computex 2014; Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 went on sale in retail stores (US and Canada, UK in August) and the Nokia X2 (an Android phone) was unveiled, which will go on sale during July. The latter highlights Microsoft commitment to services regardless of the platform – a new era has dawned.
Microsoft has published a web page showing its Office 365 roadmap. The page categorises what has been launched, what is being rolled out, what is in Development and what has been cancelled.
Using inductive charging, a British designer has created the first-ever pair of wireless charging trousers for Lumia smartphones. The designer used technology from the new Nokia DC-50 wireless charging plate, in collaboration with Microsoft Mobile in the U.K. and Ireland.