What is on the Horizon from Microsoft

 Jul 16, 2018

Update: Microsoft Inspire has come to an end. There have been some exciting announcements and important focuses to take note of. Scroll down to read more.

Today marks the start of the week-long Microsoft Inspire event. For those unfamiliar, Microsoft Inspire is an annual conference for its partner community to share knowledge, best practices and to announce upcoming technologies. This year is especially exciting with so much changing in the tech world with revolutions like AI and Cloud computing gaining momentum.

We are looking forward to hearing what’s coming up from Microsoft 365, an evolution of the Office 365 space, along with important insights into Cloud storage and security using technologies such as Azure, Data Box Disk, Azure Virtual WAN and Azure Firewall.

In addition we're excited to hear more about their perspectives on the AI boom. Day 4 alone will include topics such as Conversational AI, AI early access programs and resources, Machine learning and Bots and AI in Dynamics 365. This amount of attention to AI gives an exciting look into the future of Microsoft programs and the possibilities that will be coming with them.

Outside of the AI and Cloud scope, announcements surrounding Windows 7 end of support, digital transformation and the aforementioned Microsoft 365 gives plenty to look forward to.

Update Day 1 

The first day on Microsoft Inspire revealed a lot of great intentions for the rest of the week.

MS Teams for free!

Microsoft announced one of their Office 365 apps, Teams, will be soon be free to use. Although this will not be the full version, the app is still an excellent resource for any business and might help give you an idea of how the rest of Office 365 works to connect staff.

Want to get your team all over the Office 365 experience? Find out more here.

Linux opportunity on Azure

Mandar Naik, Azure Director with Microsoft, spoke about accelerating your business with the Linux opportunity on Azure. Mandar states that Azure is a critical asset to a business’s success, offering unprecedented opportunities to help data centre transformation efforts. We absolutely agree that Azure can be an amazing resource for any business and it’s great to hear that the service is become more available to business on different platforms.

Find out more about Azure here.

Windows 7 end of support

This is a big one. Microsoft announcing the end of Windows 7 support means a few things to a lot of business out there. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to use windows 7 but it does mean that there will be no more system updates or fixes. Depending on your subscription you may be entitled to extended technical support. Overall this means it might be time for your business to jump to the next level. If you are looking to upgrade windows 8 and 10 continue to be updated and improved every day.

Why not get a head start into Windows 10 with some quick training?

Update Day 2 

Day 2 of Microsoft Inspire wraps up with sessions on cyber security, Artificial Intelligence(AI), Azure and Microsoft 365.

The Adoption of Office 365

A big session for the day was about the adoption of Office 365. Jason Zander, Executive Vice President for Microsoft Azure, stated

“over 90 percent of the Fortune 500 use the Microsoft cloud.”

however, many smaller businesses are not convinced it’s right for them. According to Microsoft own research, most businesses that are hesitant to implement Office 365 don’t even fully understand what it is. The solution to helping people understand the potential of cloud computing? As we have seen yesterday, Teams in Office 365 will be release as a free application, so businesses can trial the basics of cloud computing to get a better understanding of the bigger picture. If you’re considering Office 365 for your business, visit www.nhaustralia.com.au and get your team ready for the transition.

Microsoft Azure

There were many sessions on Microsoft Azure Sphere yesterday. As IoT (Internet of Things) becomes a bigger reality, the opportunities for interconnected everyday electronics are increasingly exciting. A recent tweet revealed that

“Microsoft is investing $5 billion in Internet of Things over the next four years. “That’s not just for R&D, it’s for new services and programs”

But increased opportunity brings increased risks. The basic and extremely common Microcontrollers (MCUs), that run almost every electronic device, have no security built into them. Hackers have already begun to exploit these flaws. Take for example, a recent attack on a Casino. Hackers got into the digital thermometer in the Casinos fish tank, that was connected to the casinos IT systems and gained access to the high-roller data base…

Azure sphere creates some great solutions to these problems. Microsoft is developing certified MCUs with Azure Sphere OS and a full security service that focuses on Hardware Root of Trust, Dynamic Compartments and Renewable Security. With these security developments Microsoft will certainly be pushing for IoT to become a bigger part of our daily lives. Want to learn how Azure handles advanced security? Visit our website for more information.

Update Day 3 

Day 3 of Microsoft Inspire centred around some very inspiring Artificial Intelligence and Cloud topics.

Artificial Intelligence
Microsoft has had some exciting breakthroughs in AI the last few years. Bringing Machine reading to great comprehension rates and creating opportunities for AI in almost every faucet of business.

Microsoft tweeted some of those important milestones.

Microsoft Artificial Intelligence

Currently, one of the biggest applications of bots is in the customer service industry. BOTs and AI are revolutionising the customer service experience by creating deeper levels of personalisation and value adding experiences, particularly in the Dynamics 365 scope. 

UpdateFind yourself interested in the incredible world of AI? Find out what’s possible

The Cloud
The cloud was another very common topic. Seth Malcom, Business Program Manager at Microsoft, shared a best practice guide on adopting cloud to an enterprise. The main features involved prioritizing key applications, starting with basic web apps and portals then moving onto the high business impact, finishing with the public key infrastructure and high value asset systems. Seth also pointed out that cloud entrepreneurs should be prepared to learn from mistakes.

Azure was featured as a solution to address the challenge of moving big workloads to the cloud. The presentation looked at Azure Batch, Azure CycleCloud and HPC Pack to allow customers to find the workflow to suit their needs. 

Learn more about the possibilities of the cloud here.

Update Day 4 

Day 4 of Microsoft Inspire brought us insights in conversational AI, platforms for machine learning with Azure and more news on the upcoming features of Teams for Office 365.

Microsoft Teams

An exciting announcement included newson future integration with Cortana, which is the Microsoft on board AI.This would allow Cortana to suggest meetings, meeting topics but also to transcribe calls, translate and much more.

Taimoor Husain, Global Business Lead at Microsoft said that 70% of Skype for Business customers are using teams. This shows a great interest from current users in the application even before these revolutionary updates.

Planner

Alongside Teams, some attention was given to Planner and its role in Modern Workplace Management. Bernardo Errecalde Carrera, Project Marketing Manager at Microsoft shared some interesting statistics and trends:Modern Work Management

Source: Microsoft.

With these statistics in mind it is obvious that Microsoft, along with any other business, should be considering what the future of the workplace looks like. The key points that Bernardo touched on for securing your companies in coming years were to invest intelligently, manage flexibility, work intuitively, collaborate globally and innovate confidently.

Talk the talk, walk the walk

After all the talk of AI, Microsoft presented ways for businesses to gain early access to AI programs and resources. By using a new initiative, AI Accelerate, businesses can explore AI solutions and AI practices before they invest in a full AI ecosystem.

Interested in what AI can mean for your business? Check out New Horizons AI training portfolio here!

Update Day 5 & recap on Microsoft Inspire 

Microsoft Inspire has come to an end. There have been some exciting announcements and important focuses to take note of. 

The keynote lectures with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, gave listeners insights into the future of Microsoft and the future of technology. 
Takeaways from Nadella’s key notes were around AI, Cloud, Azure, and Microsoft 365. 

Nadella spoke about a “profound shift to a new way of doing things.” This new way of doing things refers to the shift from localised data towards cloud-based data and programming. Nadella’s focus on Digital transformation is an important look into the future of Microsoft products. As Nadella said, “the paradigm shift” that’s coming is “probably bigger than anything that’s come before.” Nadella continued to explain that "there are three things that are happening simultaneously. At the experience layer, we are moving to this people-centred experience. That means we're going to, in some sense, de-couple the experience from the devices" In addition, "we're going to infuse everything with AI. It's going to have perception capability, language capability, and autonomy that's going to be built into the applications going forward," Nadella said. "And to power all of this, the one thing that's needed is a ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric."

To support all things cloud, Microsoft is obviously putting a lot of attention towards the power of Azure. Previously in the week we saw a lot of attention to Azure and its new capabilities for helping IoT devices, digital transformation and migration of data. Nadella announced that since its debut in 2017, Azure sphere has had “incredible customer demand”, reflecting the enormous array of functionality that Azure provides. Pushing into the future Microsoft will be “questioning the conventional wisdom of what a data centre is.”

Nadella placed a special focus on AI and the recent advances we have seen. Although the advances Microsoft has seen in recent years have been spectacular, Nadella noted that "it's not about celebrating these breakthroughs for Microsoft Research. Our collective objective is to take these breakthroughs and democratize them, with the tooling we create, and with the expertise and the skill set and the services that you provide.” Providing services like AI Accelerate, announced a few days ago, is evidence that Microsoft aims to "turn every industry into an AI-first industry -- whether it's retail or health care or agriculture. We want to be able to make sure that they can take their data, in a secure, privacy-preserving way, [and] can work that into AI capabilities that they get the return on."

Obviously, Microsoft 365 has been an exciting development this Inspire and Nadella gave some of his own insights on the evolution of the 365 suite. Mentioning the free version of Teams, Nadella talked about how Microsoft 365 has helped build his everyday productivity. He also tied back to the developments in AI talking about Cortana and its increasing usefulness in the Microsoft 365 world. An important note to mention is that Nadella believes an aim for Microsoft 365 is to transition work from a device centred experience to a people centred experience. The explanation behind this is that Nadella hopes with that all businesses, large and small, can have access to the same important resources and software to build the work environments that they need.  
 

As a proud Microsoft Partner, New Horizons has stayed up to date with everything Inspire. Follow New Horizons on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and stay tuned for more IT and tech updates.

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About the Author:

New Horizons  

New Horizons is Australia's leading corporate training provider, and has been educating business professionals for over 15 years in the areas of Professional Development, Microsoft Office & Adobe Applications, and IT Technical. Our aim through this blog is to bring you relevant stories, articles, and tips & tricks that can help you to improve your skills and productivity in the workplace. Our expert trainers will also be posting their own articles from time to time, so be sure to keep an eye out.

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