Aug 03

Microsoft releases Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Microsoft has started its worldwide roll out of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The release includes Windows Ink, improvements to security with Windows Defender and Windows Hello for apps and websites, extensions for Microsoft Edge, updates to Cortana as well as user interface refinements to the Start Menu and Action Centre.

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Aug 03

Microsoft releases the Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK

Microsoft has announced the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK, along with Visual Studio 2015 Update 3. The new SDK contains enhancements to the Universal Windows Platform and includes updated APIs for Windows Ink, Cortana and Windows Hello as well as improved Tools and Bridges for iOS and Android Developers.

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Jul 25

Microsoft releases a new version of System Center Configuration Manager

Microsoft has announced the release of a new version of System Center Configuration Manager (1606). The update includes new features and enhancements in security and data protection, application management, content distribution, deployment and provisioning, end user experience as well as new functionality for customers using Configuration Manager in hybrid mode with Microsoft Intune. This version also provides support for the Windows 10 Anniversary update.

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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.

Jun 09

Microsoft releases Enterprise State Roaming service for Windows 10

Microsoft has announced the general availability of the Enterprise State Roaming service for Windows 10. The service is part of Azure AD Premium and provides enhanced security and control of the OS and app state data that are roamed between enterprise owned devices. All synced data is encrypted before leaving the device and backed by an enterprise compliant storage service in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

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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.

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.

Apr 01

View on Microsoft’s March activities

Microsoft announced its Dynamics CRM 2016 spring wave that will be available to online customers in Q2 2016. The release focuses on the integration of two recent acquisitions (FieldOne and Adxstudio), which provides capabilities for field service and portal solutions for community engagement.

For Office 365 subscribers, there have been new feature updates to Power Pivot for Excel 2016, which include the ability to save a relationship diagram view as a picture and enhancements to the relationship dialogue experience.

Microsoft announced the availability of SQL Server 2016 Release Candidate 0 and just a few days later, the availability of Release Candidate 1, which included an updated preview portal, custom branding, KPIs and mobile reports as well as paginated reports.

Microsoft plans to release the first version of the Skype Universal Windows Platform Preview app to its Windows Insiders for testing. The version includes a simplified user interface as well as a range of usability features that have been requested.

The first set of extensions for Edge are available to preview via the Windows Insider Program and include the Microsoft Translator, Mouse Gestures and the Reddit Enhancement Suite.

Microsoft has been making a range of announcements at its Build conference for developers. These include the release of HoloLens Development Edition, the introduction of support for Bash with Ubuntu user mode in Windows 10, new Skype for Business App SDK, new Skype Web SDK and a preview of Power BI Embedded.

Support for SQL Server 2005 ends on 12 April 2016. Microsoft plans to end support of the RC4 cipher with April’s cumulative security updates, which will disable the RC4 cipher by default.