The biggest Microsoft event for IT professionals ended just over two weeks ago now and it couldn’t have been more exciting! Microsoft Ignite was held in Atlanta this year and the company announced a number of new services designed to help organizations become more secure, more "digital" and more cloud-driven.
If you couldn’t make it to the Microsoft flagship event, don’t worry! You can find on-demand sessions online, where you can watch all the main announcements at your own pace. However, if you are pressed for time, we have summed up the tech giant’s main product releases and updates in this blog post for you:
- Microsoft first spoke about Project Server 2016 in May and then gave more information on the release of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 in Atlanta. Server 2016 and System Center 2016 are available for download now and have been on sale since Sept 26th 2016. Importantly, the commercially supported edition of the Docker engine is included at no extra cost. For those of you who are wondering what is so special about Server 2016, a key feature is its support for Windows containers, a lightweight virtual machine designed for the deployment of microservices. This has enabled the open source Docker engine, already widely used on Linux, to be ported to Windows.
- On the first day of Ignite, Microsoft also revealed the rollout of innovative people experiences: a new Delve app for Windows 10 desktop and mobile, people cards that surface profile information and content throughout Office 365 and updates to the Office 365 profile. These new features in Office 365 help employees stay in the know. No matter what app they are using, they can discover content through people, share expertise more easily, and connect with each other right from where they are already working.
- Microsoft unveiled a new partnership with Adobe as well, which will see the two companies offering more integrated solutions. The plan for the partnership is to support digital business transformations based on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform, Adobe Marketing Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 enterprise applications. As part of the alliance, Adobe will also make Azure its preferred cloud platform for its Marketing Cloud, Creative Cloud, and Document Cloud.
- On the second day, there were a few Office 365 administration announcements, including general availability for the new admin center and the new Service health dashboard. The new admin center makes it easier and faster to manage Office 365, it is now possible to quickly access relevant information and functionality from the new home page, users can customize admin experience and easily find what they are looking for with improved navigation and search. The new Office 365 also makes it easier to manage licenses and more user details in fewer steps. One of the most exciting updates is the newly designed usage reporting dashboarding together with the health service dashboard of the new Office 365 App Launcher, which will provide improved discoverability to latest and recently used apps, additional customization options and search across all the services and applications in use in the Microsoft Cloud.
- The big Skype for Business news at Ignite is that Microsoft is planning a "general availability" product release of its Skype for Business Mac client in October. With three billion minutes of calls per day and three trillion minutes of video calls, Skype for Business is the platform many companies rely on for enterprise communication. The October update will include the following features: recent chats shown and newly arriving chats get indicated, meeting scheduling not requiring jumps to Outlook and taking just "one click" to join, showing in high-definition video (including PowerPoint) and controls being out of the way (but accessible by a mouse move).
- Major updates to OneDrive for Office 365 customers were released too. The cloud storage service will be more integrated with Sharepoint Online as well as several new capabilities when used on a web browser or a mobile device. Additionally, IT Pros will be pleased to learn that Microsoft has built in more features to secure and manage OneDrive content, including new sync capabilities, new browser and mobile capabilities, along with new IT and office 2016 capabilties.
- Microsoft has announced that the next major update to Windows 10 will run its Edge browser in a lightweight virtual machine. Running the update in a virtual machine will make exploiting the browser and attacking the operating system or compromising user data more challenging. Called Windows Defender Application Guard for Microsoft Edge, the new capability builds on the virtual machine-based security that was first introduced last summer in Windows 10.
- Microsoft also unveiled Azure Stack private cloud hardware stacks from HPE, Lenovo and Dell alongside a software partnership with Docker.