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Microsoft Nov 18, 2019

Microsoft Ignite I – Focus on productivity.

At Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, the company’s best and brightest met with partners and other interested parties to discuss everything from cloud infrastructure, management and Big Data to the Internet of Things and the Modern Workplace. I’ll be presenting the new developments over four blogs and will explain what they mean for our customers. I’ll kick things off with a huge topic—productivity.

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This was by far the most-used word this year in Orlando. Everything is better, faster, more intuitive, more integrated and more precise—a mantra that was followed during the most exciting development in the Microsoft 365 world...

 

Microsoft Teams—an indispensable platform.

As a future “one client wonder”, Microsoft Teams is increasingly becoming the place for collaboration and sharing for many companies, which explains why the list of updates is quite long:

  • Private and pinable channels in teams and groups.
  • Multi-window chats, meetings and calls
  • Tasks integration with to-do lists and a planner
  • Fundamental improvements to the integration with Outlook to simplify the forwarding of e-mails in channels and existing chats
  • Yammer as an independent, pinable dashboard application on user level

These updates make Microsoft Teams a much more indispensable platform for focussed collaboration in teams and groups no matter where they are.

 

On top of these changes, there are some other industry-specific enhancements for healthcare and first line workers. Using the new Virtual Consults feature, it’s possible to quickly and easily plan and carry out B2C consultations within teams. This goes hand in hand with the new features such as SMS Sign-In, the global sign-out option and much simpler access for teams via mobile end devices.

 

 

The new Microsoft Edge – Revolutionising searches.

Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Bing have been declared as the browser and search engine solutions for enterprises. That’s why Edge Chromium will be made available from 15 January 2020, replacing Internet Explorer and the classic version of Edge as a new central platform. The new browser works extremely well and has been available for some time as a beta version. In the long-term, this will solve the multi-browser issue in companies.

 

The revamped Edge comes with a user-related “New Tab” page integrated into Microsoft 365 that enables access to own files and product-related recommendations, combined with intranet and internet searches powered by Microsoft Search and Bing. In this way, Bing will provide access to all kinds of internal and external information directly from the search bar.

 

And last but not least: Microsoft Edge is now available on all operating systems no matter if that’s Windows 10, Windows 8x, Windows 7, macOS, IOS or Android. With integrated Sync and Azure Active Directory features, passwords, logins, files and favourites can by encrypted and easily saved on all end devices.  

 

The All-in-One Office App.

Working with Office apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint on end devices should be as easy as pie in the future. Whereas in the past, each program needed its own app to be installed, there is now an All-in-One Office Mobile App that includes full (mobile) versions of the three Office classics. The app has a range of other features, including:

  • On the Fly PDF Creation
  • File sharing between devices
  • Access to Microsoft 365 resources and information after login

The app will be available in the Google Play Store for Android and App Store for iOS. If you can’t wait, you can download the beta version for both operating systems and help with their development.  

 

The Fluid Framework.

At the Microsoft developer conference, Build 2019, it was announced that a Fluid Framework would be used as a foundation for all Microsoft apps and services. The idea is to erase the boundaries between individual Office applications and to ensure a uniform and modern look and feel within them all.

 

First and foremost, the Fluid Framework is a basis for developers, but will come with three key features for normal end users:

  • Multi-person co-authoring on web—enables joint editing of documents and content via Microsoft web interfaces with industry-leading speed and scalability.   
  • Component-based document model that makes it possible to create, edit and break down content into components that can be used across applications, and saved, linked or combined in new and more flexible documents and files.
  • With the Framework, add-ins and tools that simplify working on documents can be included meaning that texts can, for example, be automatically and directly translated in document, content retrieved and modification suggestions integrated. Don’t put a limit on flexibility.

The Fluid Framework has been available on Ignite as a Public Preview Version since the announcement, giving users and employees the opportunity to experience it for themselves. The platform and Framework are available as a private preview for developers. Fluid Framework opens the door to connections and optimisations within chats in Teams, e-mails in Outlook, portals in SharePoint, notes in OneNote and documents in Office.

 

Cortana – Assistant uses AI.

Microsoft’s own assistant, Cortana, is back! Although she never actually went anywhere. With Microsoft’s announcement that there will be more focus on Cortana within business applications, a whole new world of opportunities is opening up to end users.

  • Play My Emails in Outlook for iOS is the first big feature enabling e-mails to be read out when using the Outlook app on iOS. However, that doesn’t mean that the e-mail is read from start to finish. Cortana uses AI to summarise the most important content and information for you.
  • Scheduler in Outlook extends on Play My Emails in Outlook and makes voice-controlled planning, adjusting and sending of meetings and appointments possible without having to look at other calendars. The first demos of these features were a real eye-opener for me. The challenge of planning a meeting with several people has been made quick and easy with clever use of AI—it’s never been easier as with Cortana in Outlook for iOS.
  • From next month, Cortana in Outlook will be able to help you prepare for the upcoming day: Meetings and calendar entries will be summarised and read out, important e-mails highlighted and documents flagged.  

Microsoft Project – simple, comprehensive.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced a redesign of the outdated Project interface and user experience. The new, modern Microsoft Project is already available worldwide and means a simpler and yet equally extensive and in-depth interface and experience. Updates and new features were also introduced:

  • New members can now be quickly and easily added to teams and groups, tasks can be created and assigned in an instant and switching between plans, boards and timelines is much faster.
  • With the continued integration of MS Project into the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, it is now even easier and less time-consuming to display and export tasks in Microsoft Teams and Office.
  • Access to and compatibility with other tools and connectors have been enhanced. Generate and share detailed reports with PowerBI to visualise complex work streams.

We can look forward to even more integrations and connections next year, including resource management, budget analysis plus time and cost tracking.       

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Florian Vees
Junior Consultant Microsoft