Microsoft News Q4 2014

This post is an edited version of one that originally appeared on my internal blog at Fujitsu.

Fujitsu UK’s resident Exchange Master (and Distinguished Engineer), Nick Parlow (@Hagbard) does a great job of running an [internal] email list with links of things going on around Exchange. Indeed, there’s so much there I don’t manage to keep up with it but I do know where to look to see what’s happening… and I’d like to be able to do something similar about broader developments in the Microsoft Community.

I’ll use my blog for the time being… this post is my first attempt at a Microsoft News round-up.

Directions on Microsoft Enterprise Software Roadmap

Directions on Microsoft is an independent analysis service focused on Microsoft technologies, roadmaps and licensing policies and their latest quarterly roadmap calls attention to recent roadmap shifts for Microsoft enterprise technologies, including:

  • “Windows 10. The next version of the Windows client operating system is scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2015 and will improve security and management as well as address the user interface problems that limited adoption of Windows 8 and 8.1 by enterprise customers. The new operating system will likely ship for phones as well as tablets and PCs, which will simplify development of applications that run on all three devices types. Organizations should evaluate Windows 10 previews scheduled for early 2015 to see if the new OS will be a viable replacement for Windows 7, which leaves Mainstream support on Jan. 13, 2015.
  • Office 365. Customers of the Office 365 cloud services and software will continue to get new capabilities in areas such as e-mail filtering, collaboration, and search that are not available to customers running the corresponding on-premises software. Organizations planning future investments in Exchange, SharePoint, and Office should review the capabilities of Office 365 and its roadmap, even if they are not ready for an immediate move to the cloud.
  • Office 16. The next version of the Microsoft desktop productivity suite has an estimated release date in the third quarter of 2015. A touch-oriented Modern Office suite for mobile Windows devices such as tablets is likely to appear at the same time. Organizations can expect previews of these Office suites in early 2015.
  • Skype for Business. New versions of Lync products and services will launch in the first half of 2015 instead of late 2014 as originally planned. The versions will ship under a new name, Skype for Business, but current Lync technology and licenses should transition without major disruption.”

[the bullets above are a direct quote from the email I received from Directions on Microsoft]

Access to the report requires a subscription (which I don’t have) but even the snippets above provide a useful overview.

Future Decoded

Microsoft’s flagship marketing event for the UK took place last month over three days at the ExCel Conference Centre in London’s Docklands. Each of the days focused on a different audience with business leaders on Monday, partners on Tuesday and a technical audience on the Wednesday, with different Microsoft teams leading the day. I attended the business and technical events.

Clearly, lots of money was spent on keynotes speakers – of varying quality – but the real gems on the business day were the afternoon sessions with real world customer stories of how they were implementing Microsoft technologies (not just product pitches). I heard from Marstons on how they’re using Dynamics CRM (just enough for me to get a feel of what the product can do), JustGiving on their GiveGraph big data solution that aims to make giving social by picking up on how emotion and sentiment flows between people, Schroders on the lessons learned from their Lync deployment, ThyssenKrupp on how they’re using data to change the way they maintain lifts [and hijacking the Internet of Things trend to discuss what’s really just “things on the Internet”], from Transport for London explaining the evolution of payment systems (contactless micropayments), and finally from Landmarc on the “private cloud” they built for the MoD (I mis-read the session title because I was interested to hear how MoD might embrace cloud services).

The technical day was a bit harder to jump tracks in the afternoon – I’ve fed back to Microsoft that many of us (particularly in the enterprise space) will have multiple streams to follow and not just one topic of interest – but I did manage to attend sessions on outsmarting the digital deluge, hyperscale solutions for the Internet of things, hybrid identity management, and Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (MAML).

All three days also featured an Expo with about 3000 attendees on each of the days I visited and delegates on the third day could also visit AppsWorld in the next hall (passes were valid for both conferences)…

In other news, one of the Platinum sponsors was Risual (the others were Dell and HP).  I didn’t tweet about this too much because I didn’t want to be seen to support one of our competitors but it seems they got plenty of PR when their promotional video went viral.

Re-imagining the Enterprise

Tony Muraki-Hart, CTO for the Microsoft-Fujitsu Alliance spoke at a recent Distinguished Engineers’ event about Microsoft’s forward-looking vision – how Microsoft is re-imagining the enterprise. Key themes included digital transformation, becoming a customer-obsessed enterprise, and the re-imagination of Microsoft as a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world.

Unfortunately the slide deck is not one I can share publicly but, in essence, the Microsoft that Steve Ballmer led with a focus on Windows and Office is a different organisation to the one Satya Nadella is leading – more open, and cross-platform.

Wrap up

That’s it for now. I’ll aim to come back with another Microsoft News update in the new year. Until then, I’ll sign off with a link to a Redmond Magazine article from Mary Jo Foley on the five changes at Microsoft in 2014 that mattered the most.

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