The SADA team is so excited to be in Orlando this week for Microsoft Ignite 2018, Microsoft’s largest conference for IT professionals and technology enthusiasts. Over the course of 6 days, attendees are given endless opportunities for learning, networking and testing out cutting-edge products and tools. The first couple of days have already been full of exciting announcements about new products and updates. Several new features and capabilities are being introduced in Microsoft 365, making it even easier to achieve more in the modern workplace.
Here are 7 highlights and announcements revealed at Ignite yesterday:
1. Businesses and Organizations are Flocking to Microsoft Teams
Microsoft announced that Teams, its hub for teamwork and communication in Microsoft 365, is being used by 329,000 organizations worldwide in less than two years on the market. Eighty-seven of the Fortune 100 companies are using Teams, quickly establishing Teams as a leading Slack competitor. Businesses are drawn to Teams for its many productivity-boosting and communication-enhancing features. Microsoft continues to add new and exciting features and integrations to the collaborative tool. Some of the most exciting news and features discussed at Ignite include:
- Background blur– a new feature within Teams that gives users the ability to blur video backgrounds during video calls in order to focus attention solely on the speaker.
- Cloud meeting recording– an innovative feature that makes it easy to capture meetings with one-click meeting recording capabilities and searchable timecoded transcripts. The meeting videos are stored in the cloud and can be played back. Facial recognition, which will match a speaker’s statements with the corresponding speaker, will also be added eventually.
- General availability of new live event capabilities will start to roll out in Microsoft 365 later this year. Live event features give users the ability to create and stream live on-demand events in Teams, Yammer, and Microsoft Stream.
- Microsoft is working with its device partners to create new devices optimized for Teams meetings and callings. The Surface Hub 2, a high-resolution digital whiteboard with a 50.5-inch display, brings Teams to the big screen. The new device will begin shipping during the second quarter of 2019.
2. Microsoft Search: Supercharged and Personalized Search Capabilities
Microsoft is making it easier and faster to find what you need with Microsoft Search, a cohesive search capability that allows users to perform searches without interfering with their workflow. The new search box will be located in a consistent, easily accessible place across Edge, Bing, Windows and Office apps. This isn’t just your average search box– Microsoft Search combines traditional search results with commands, app features, and personalized results. Microsoft has significantly enhanced search capabilities by incorporating Microsoft Graph and AI technology from Bing. This boost extends Microsoft Search to connect across an organization’s data, inside and outside of Microsoft 365. Microsoft Search takes note of your typical, daily work patterns and uses machine reading comprehension to personalize your experience so it’s more relevant to your specific needs.
3. Work Smarter with AI-Powered Content Creation
Microsoft announced 3 new AI-powered features that enhance content creation in Office 365: “Ideas”, image recognition capabilities, and stock and geography data types in Excel. Ideas uses AI to make intelligent suggestions when you create a document. For example, in PowerPoint, new Ideas tool will suggest layouts, designs and images to pair with your written text. Ideas also enhances Excel by suggesting charts, recognizing trends, and identifying outliers in your data. Excel is also getting a boost with a new image recognition feature that allows users to create spreadsheets from pictures. With this feature, you can simply take a picture of a hand-drawn or printed data table and turn it into an Excel spreadsheet. Microsoft also announced the addition of new data types in Excel that help users turn references to stocks and geographies into rich data that can be used to create interactive spreadsheets.
4. OneDrive Files On-Demand for Mac
Microsoft continues its commitment to be more Mac-friendly with the addition of OneDrive Files-On-Demand for Mac. This new feature gives Mac users the ability to access files from the cloud in Finder without using storage space. By using placeholders for files instead of having to sync entire folders, Mac users will be able to see all their OneDrive files in finder, but they are only downloaded when needed.
5. LinkedIn Integration for Outlook and Office Apps
Microsoft continues to leverage the power of LinkedIn by integrating it with Outlook and other Office applications. Soon, when users connect their LinkedIn account to Office 365, they’ll be able to coauthor documents with contacts in their LinkedIn network. The feature allows users to collaborate in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The integration also makes it possible to send emails to LinkedIn contacts directly from Outlook, and it can help you prepare for meetings by giving you insights about attendees. These features are coming soon in a staged rollout.
6. Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure
Microsoft also announced Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), an Azure-based service that allows users to run a Windows desktop in the cloud. WVD can be used for remote desktop sessions with multiple users who are remotely logged in to the same Windows 10 (or Window 7) virtual machine. The service is expected to be available in preview form by the end of the year. Access to WVD is free for Microsoft 365, E3, E5 or F1 customers or Windows E3 or E5 customers, and it will also include free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. This is especially exciting news for heavily regulated industries like healthcare and financial services because a virtualized desktop experience ensures compliance regulations are met and access to sensitive data is securely managed.
7. Security & Compliance Updates
Microsoft announced several exciting updates and features designed to advance security for IT professionals, and to help organizations easily meet compliance for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Announcements related to security and compliance include:
- Support for passwordless sign-in via the Microsoft Authenticator app for hundreds of thousands of Azure Active Directory-connected apps
- Expansion of Secure Score, the only enterprise-class dynamic report card for cybersecurity. Secure Score will cover all of Microsoft 365, and can be used for hybrid cloud workloads in the Azure Security Center
- Introduction of Microsoft Threat Protection, “an integrated experience for detection, investigation, and remediation across endpoints, email, documents, identity, and infrastructure in the Microsoft 365 admin console.”
- Expansion of Compliance Manager to now include 12 assessments across different industries
- Unified labeling is now available in the Security & Compliance Center “as a single destination where you can create, configure, and automatically apply policies to ensure protection and governance of sensitive data.”