Microsoft made the dozens of announcements and new products and features unveiled at Microsoft’s virtual Ignite conference last week, including new features in Azure, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, industry clouds, Outlook, Microsoft Teams, security and training.
The three-day virtual conference included keynotes from executives and experts and a ton of news about how Microsoft’s new products will make life easier for the IT department and end users.
Here are some announcements we wanted to highlight. For the complete list, check out Microsoft’s Book of News from the virtual event.
Much of the news coming out of Ignite centered around Azure, the company’s cloud computing platform. The highlights include:
- Azure Percept, a new secure platform to help customers build, apply and operate artificial intelligence models in lower-power edge cameras and audio devices. It is designed to enable uses like object detection, shelf analytics, anomaly detection and keyword spotting at the edge.
- Azure Synapse Pathway, a new solution designed to help customers simplify and accelerate migrating from a legacy or cloud data warehouse to Azure Synapse Analytics by providing automated translation of existing business logic.
- Updates to Azure Machine Learning, including support for large-scale interactive data preparation backed by Azure Synapse Spark.
- Updates to Azure’s analytics tools.
- A new datacenter region in China to meet growing customer demand in the country.
- Azure Resource Mover, which provides portability between Azure regions.
Microsoft Teams and Outlook
Teams is among the most important Microsoft tools being utilized right now given the resilience of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote work. To that end, the company is releasing several new features for the flagship unified communications and collaboration app, including:
- Microsoft Teams Connect, a new feature designed to help organizations collaborate with customers, partners or suppliers leveraging chat, meetings, app collaboration and real-time document co-authoring.
- PowerPoint Live in Teams, which allows presenters to deliver more inclusive experiences with notes, slides, meeting chat in a single view.
- Presenter mode, which gives presenters the ability to customize how their video feed and content appear to meeting participants.
- Dynamic view, which intelligently arranges meeting elements for optimal presentation.
- Teams Room updates, like new gallery view in Teams Rooms, certified hardware and intelligent speakers.
- New security, privacy and compliance features like invite-only meeting controls, the ability to disable video to limit disruptions, end-to-end encryption for 1:1 calls and multiego support to give multinational organizations greater control over location of specific data centers where Teams data is stored.
Microsoft introduced several updates for Outlook to help users better manage their time via calendar and scheduling features, including:
- Outlook calendar board, an update to the Outlook calendar that adds a free-form view to the traditional grid view.
- Suggested times in Outlook mobile that uses AI to suggest times when participants are available for meetings
Dynamics 365 and Power Platform
Also introduced were new and updated capabilities for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, including:
- New integrations with Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams designed to enhance sales, marketing, customer service, field service, commerce and human resources.
- Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management, a new application to help customer scale their order management process from intake to delivery without replacing legacy enterprise resource planning systems.
- Real-time personalized customer experience capabilities in Dynamics 365.
- Microsoft Power Automate Desktop, offering robotic process automation capabilities, which will be offered to Windows 10 users for free
- Updates to Power BI Premium including flexibility to license per user or per capacity, faster processing, autoscale to automatically add capacity when needed and consistent cost management.
- A new low-code programming language, Microsoft Power Fx, for logic customization across the Power Platform.
- New features to help IT implement enhanced security for low-code tools and automation.
The company announced new features and products to help make the job easier for system administrators and managers, including:
- In cloud configuration, which has now been integrated into Microsoft Endpoint Manager, enabling IT administrators to apply a uniform and secure cloud-based configuration of Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise devices.
- New cloud-based capabilities within Microsoft 354 Apps admin center
- A unified mobile app for iOS and Android that combines Microsoft Tunnel virtual private network capabilities with mobile threat defense from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.
- Universal print, a new cloud-based print solution that eliminates the need for print servers or installing printer drivers.
With new cyber attacks being disclosed almost daily, Microsoft has been at the forefront of IT industry’s response, including to the SolarWinds compromise and now the Exchange Server vulnerabilities. The company also announced several key updates for security, compliance and identity, including:
- Attack Simulation Training to help customers detect, prioritize and remediate phishing risk.
- Updates to Azure confidential computing and Key Vault, including Azure Key Vault Managed HSM, Always Encrypted and Trusted Launch.
- Updates to Azure Security Center and Azure Defender that include improved security alerts, endpoint detection and response support, improved integration of network security and new reporting capabilities.
- Updates for Azure Sentinel to help expand extended detection and response integration.
- Edge Secured-core, a new device label within the Azure Certified Device program to identify edge devices that meet a defined set of security environments
- Updates to Microsoft 365 Defender that enable customers to investigate and remediate threats from the single integrated Microsoft 365 Defender portal, along with unified alerts, extended email alert capabilities and a new Learning Hub.
- AWS Single Sign-On to simplify SSO access across multiple Amazon Web Services Accounts, pre-integrated in the Azure Active Directory app gallery.
- Password-less authentication in Azure Active Directory that enables employees to sign in with a look or tap using Windows Hello for Business, Microsoft Authenticator app or compatible FIDO2 security keys.
- Azure Active Directory Conditional Access authentication, enabling customers to configure and fine-tune access policies based on user, device, location, real-time risk information and more.
- New certifications and training for security, compliance, identity, information protection, security operations and more.