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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Jun 01

Microsoft sells feature phone business

Microsoft has announced that it reached an agreement to sell the company’s entry-level feature phone assets to FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group, and HMD Global, Oy for $350 million. As part of the deal, FIH Mobile Ltd. will also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnam — the company’s Hanoi, Vietnam, manufacturing facility. Upon close of this deal, approximately 4,500 employees will transfer to, or have the opportunity to join, FIH Mobile Ltd. or HMD Global, Oy, subject to compliance with local law.

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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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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 08

Microsoft releases Lumia 550

The new Microsoft Lumia 550 4G LTE smartphone running Windows 10 has been launched in Europe with other regions around the globe to follow. The Lumia 550 has a 4.7-inch HD display (16:9, 1280×720, 315 ppi), a 1.1 GHz quad core processor, a front and rear facing cameras (2 and 5 MP respectively) and 1GB RAM.

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Oct 01

View on Microsoft’s September activities

Microsoft has announced that, in early 2016, it will no longer support RC4 cipher in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11. Google and Mozilla have also announced that they are ending support for RC4 in Chrome and Firefox.

This month saw a range of updates to Microsoft’s Cloud Platform product portfolio that included releases and previews covering the GS-Series virtual machines, Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA, Revolution R Enterprise in Azure Marketplace, SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3, new JDBC 4.2 for SQL Server Driver, Visual Studio 2012 Update 5, Power BI content packs for Adobe Analytics and Azure Mobile Engagement, Azure SQL Database as well as previews of Azure SQL Database Elastic Database Basic and Premium tiers.

Microsoft has announced upcoming previews of its Azure Data Lake offerings, which will include Azure Data Lake Store (a single repository to capture data of any size, type and speed), Azure Data Lake Analytics (a service built on Apache YARN that dynamically scales and introduces U-SQL) as well as Azure HDInsight (a fully managed Apache Hadoop cluster service). Azure Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio will support development projects for Azure Data Lake.

While we are on topics of interest to developers, Microsoft has issued an updated Developer’s Guide to Windows 10 video series with a focus on building Universal Windows apps. The Virtual Academy training courses also allow downloading of source code from GitHub.

Under the auspices of focusing on core Windows 10 Camera and Photo apps, Microsoft has announced the end of support for some of the Lumia apps, which have been removed from the Windows Phone Store.

The apps include Lumia Storyteller, Lumia Beamer, Photobeamer, and Lumia Refocus (which will no longer work due to the termination of the online services) as well as Lumia Panorama and Video Uploader (which will continue to work).

The company continues its strategy of embracing non-Microsoft platforms and has even developed its own Linux distribution for Azure networking, which will be made available as the Azure Cloud Switch (ACS). OneNote now provides support for multitasking, Spotlight search and Apple Pencil on iOS 9 and iPad Pro. There were also demonstrations of a number of enhancements for Office running on the iPad Pro. In addition, Microsoft released HDInsight on Linux.

On the hardware front, Dell is to sell Surface Pro and Surface accessories in the United States and Canada followed by expansion into other worldwide markets. Acer has unveiled PCs and phones designed for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile respectively. Lenovo and Toshiba have also announced their hardware line-up for Windows 10.

For residents in the UK, Microsoft has introduced the display of UK Ordnance Survey Maps to Bing Maps.

Microsoft Office 2016 has been released and focuses on productivity and integration rather new product specific feature additions. The installation has been simplified to the point of creating great frustration (for me), in that you are not even able to specify where it should be installed. So be careful if you have a multiple drive system and your C drive is a small SSD with limited space.

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Sep 01

Microsoft updates Power BI Mobile apps

Microsoft has released updates to Power BI Mobile apps, including iOS, Android and Windows apps. The updates include improved navigation on Android; customised colours for charts and tiles; view and explore native Excel reports directly from the iPad or Windows App; touch-optimised navigation between tiles in the Windows app; as well as an improved login and authentication experience.

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