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Microsoft Ignite 2017 - What you need to know

Microsoft Ignite 2017 - What you need to know

A wrap-up of all the new announcements made by Microsoft on the first day of its annual Ignite event

Satya Nadella - CEO, Microsoft

Satya Nadella - CEO, Microsoft

Microsoft has revealed details about its efforts to infuse cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and mixed reality across it products in a bid to help customers visualise and create the future of business.

The new cloud, AI and mixed reality push was revealed at the vendor’s annual Microsoft Ignite event in Orlando, Florida, on 25 September, where it welcomed over 25,000 of its business customers.

In addition, the tech giant shed some light on how quantum computers could help solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Specifically, the new announcements spanned the vendor's commercial businesses, including Office 365, Windows 10, Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AI, with a focus on harnessing data, AI, hybrid and cloud technologies to evolve business process and innovate for the future.

"I’m optimistic and inspired by the ingenuity of customers, partners and developers everywhere that are pushing the frontiers of what’s possible with mixed reality and artificial intelligence infused across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure, to transform and have impact in the world,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.

Among the announcements made by Microsoft on the first day of the event was an expansion of Microsoft 365, with two new solutions aimed at empowering firstline workers and education customers.

The vendor also introduced new intelligent search capabilities, a vision for intelligent communications centering on Microsoft Teams, and security and IT management enhancements to help customers stay secure and compliant, including meeting the General Data Protection Regulation.

Furthermore, day one witnessed the creation of a new programming language optimised for exploiting scalable quantum computers and deep integration of the programming language into Visual Studio.

The new language is aimed at providing developers debugging and other support and state-of-the-art simulators that can run locally or on Microsoft Azure. The tools will be available for free by year’s end, Microsoft said.

From a Microsoft 365 standpoint, F1 brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security to target more than two billion first-line workers worldwide who serve as the first point of contact between a company and its customers or who are directly involved in making products.

Specific to Microsoft 365 Education, this includes Office 365 for Education, Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Minecraft: Education Edition, aimed at students, faculty and staff.

Furthermore, fresh offerings include new commercial Windows 10 S devices from HP, Lenovo, Acer and Fujitsu, alongside the new “vision for intelligent communications”, including plans to bring Skype for Business Online capabilities into Microsoft Teams, along with cognitive and data services, making Teams a hub for teamwork in Office 365, including persistent chat, voice and video.

Intelligent search experiences will use AI and machine learning to deliver more relevant search results across Microsoft 365, while LinkedIn in Microsoft profile cards now provide the ability to see information from LinkedIn profiles in Microsoft apps and services.

This new experience is rolling out now for first release customers in Outlook Web Access, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

Delving deeper into Dynamics 365, new AI solutions are designed to tackle high-value, complex enterprise scenarios and tailored to existing processes, systems and data.

The first solution includes an intelligent virtual agent for customer care, an intelligent assistant for customer service staff and conversation management tools, all powered by Microsoft AI. Indeed, this offering is already being used by the Australian Government Department of Human Services.

On the topic of Modular apps for Dynamics 365, Attract and Onboard are aimed at helping companies recruit the most qualified candidates and ensure their success with personalised on-boarding - both will be available as part of Dynamics 365 for Talent later this year.

Due to increased integration between PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Office 365 and Dynamics 365, any business user familiar with InfoPath forms, Access databases or SharePoint can now also build apps that extend and automate business processes with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.

From an Azure perspective, Azure Stack is now shipping through Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo, with Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server allowing customers to maximise existing license investments with discounted rates, further extending the promise of hybrid across our customers’ data investments.

Meanwhile, Azure Cost Management services by Cloudyn is aimed at helping to manage and optimise cloud spend via a single, unified view across multicloud environments - customers and partners will be able to use the service to manage their Azure spend for free.

Also, new integrated security capabilities for Azure Security Centre are focused on reducing vulnerability and increasing threat protection, as well as extending to secure hybrid workloads, with the preview of new updates to Azure Machine Learning providing AI developers and data scientists with a new set of tools to develop and manage machine learning and AI models anywhere—in the cloud, on-premises or on the edge.


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