This year's Microsoft Ignite event conference for IT developers and professionals covered a lot of ground. The company made many announcements concerning significant technological advancements in new and upcoming products.
These include new features for the Azure cloud platform, machine learning, the Microsoft 365 bundle and new cybersecurity for Office 365, Azure and Windows 10.
The event was about new options to users, new operating systems, on-premises capabilities, data integration, machine learning and AI frameworks.
Here, we will give you a detailed rundown of the six most significant announcements, and what they mean for the future of business.
6 Big Announcements from Microsoft Ignite 2017
1. Redefining the Workplace
With the announcement of Microsoft 365, the software giant revealed the combination of three new productivity packages; Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility and Security. This set the stage for Microsoft 365 Education, which caters to students and faculty, and Microsoft 365 F1, an OS designed especially for first-line service personnel each with a slew of new capabilities.
Partner Group Program Manager, Li-Chen Miller, introduced Bing for Business which uses machine reading and deep learning models. "Bing for Business," she explained, "It didn't just do a keyword match. It actually understood the meaning of what I was asking and it actually found the right answer, the pertinent information for a specific paragraph in a specific document, and answered my question right there," Miller said. "The good news is Bing for Business is built on Bing and with logic-matching. It could actually tell the intent of what I was trying to do."
Miller went on to demonstrate profile integration for LinkedIn which gives users of the social network access to additional apps and services. Users can now view information about team members in Office 365 with one click of the connect button.
2. Mixed Reality and AI Are Driving Innovation
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, started the opening keynote at Microsoft Ignite with this, "It's not about our technology. It's about what you can do with technology." Nadella leads into how AI, MR, and cloud computing will be changing the way people work today.
One outstanding customer example was Ford. The automobile manufacturer is using Microsoft's HoloLens to transform the design process for new vehicles. Ford is streamlining R&D by creating virtual environments that whole teams of engineers can interact within a fully immersible way - simultaneously.
The technology enables customers to interact with vehicles that don't exist yet for an entirely new customer feedback experience. The automaker believes production times will be reduced by twenty to thirty months.
Nadella continued to talk about the impact of technology not just in the automotive industry, but all industries. He stated, "There isn't a single industry that isn't being transformed. We collectively have the opportunity to lead in this transformation."
3. The Introduction of Azure Reserved Instances
Azure is Microsoft's hybrid cloud solution. Currently, it is being extended to regions with Availability Zones, and Microsoft is finally bringing Azure Reserved VM Instances to market. Azure Reserved Instances exploit Availability Zones and global regions to provide added resiliency options to customers. Azure has moved into the reservations, joining Amazon Web Services, Google Committed Use Discounts, and Reserved Instances by offering Reserved VM Instances.
Azure Reserved Instances will be on offer on a subscription basis for commitments of one to three years. Azure Reserved Instances will only be available to reserve virtual machine capacity for a limited time, but the company indicated that they intend to offer up even more Azure services shortly.
4. The Development Of Microsoft Teams
The software giant announced its new vision for workplace collaboration using the new Microsoft Teams collaboration app. This new application will replace Office 365's Skype for Business component over a period, though they did not say how long the changeover would take.
Microsoft Teams is currently being outfitted with new calling features like voicemail, call transfer and calling compatibility with external phones. In the meantime, Skype is being refitted with an upgraded infrastructure for better voice and video quality.
5. Quantum Computing Is the Future
To conclude the session, Microsoft announced that they have been developing quantum computing for over a decade. During this time, they have developed a new programming language, which is integrated into Visual Studio designed especially for scalable quantum computers.
Quantum computers rely on virtual instances of possibility related to the position of particles to deliver information from virtual parallel universes. That is to say; it derives computations based not only on instances of true and false but from a range of possibilities of true and false along with the wave function of a particle.
A quantum computer can solve problems that are so complex they cannot be solved in a lifetime using the standard model of computing. Therefore, the technology will contribute to breakthroughs that would otherwise be out of reach for decades - centuries, even.
It's clear after Microsoft Ignite that quantum computing is the future of Microsoft.
6. BI Intelligence and Power BI
SKUs based on Power BI Embedded capacity were announced and became available on October 2, 2017.
SQL Server 2017, we were told, is now generally available, at the same time for Windows, Linux, and Docker containers. The new SQL Server still meets multiple demands, adding new features from data science and NoSQL.
It delivers cross-platform capabilities and compatibility but also doubles down on its commitment to high-performance core database engines, easy index maintenance, availability and data storage functionality.
This comes on top of an enormous list of updates, features, and other changes and for Power BI. Plus, Azure SQL Database is now 100 % compatible with SQL Server.
What Does This Mean For Businesses?
The keywords this year are collaboration and integration. This year's Microsoft Ignite announcements herald the beginning of a new normal when it comes to interoffice communications. Multiple new levels of compatibility and the ability for teams to communicate across aggregate platforms is expected to put collaboration on overdrive.
When it comes to what will be possible with the addition of quantum computing to these innovations, we believe Freddie Mercury said it best when he coined the phrase, "dynamite, on a laser beam."