Microsoft Ignite 2018: AI, IT, and 365, Oh My

Posted on September 24, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Linux, Microsoft, Microsoft 365, Office, Office 365, Windows 10 with 5 Comments

Microsoft is kicking off Ignite 2018 in Orlando, Florida this week. Here are some early highlights from this week’s announcements.

“In this era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, businesses in every industry are looking for a trusted partner to help them transform,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says. “We are pushing the bounds in AI, edge computing, and IoT, while providing end-to-end security to empower every organization to build its own digital capability and thrive in this new era.”

Some highlights, with more to follow.

Microsoft Search. Arguably the biggest news of the week, Microsoft is finally consolidating all of its search efforts across Bing, Edge, Office, Windows 10, and more into a single Microsoft Graph-based back-end with a consistent user experience.

Cortana Skills for Enterprise. In what I think is a shift for the Cortana brand, Microsoft is using its Microsoft Bot Framework and Azure Cognitive Services Language Understanding service to help enterprises build and deploy custom skills and agents within their environments.

Surface Hub 2S and 2X. As I wrote elsewhere, Microsoft will stage the rollout of Surface Hub 2 with a 2S model in 2019 that runs the original Surface Hub experience. Then, customers can perform a hardware upgrade to get the new Surface Hub 2X experience, which the software giant first showed off last May, in 2020. It’s going to be amazing.

Azure Sphere Public Preview. Microsoft’s new intelligent cloud/intelligent edge solution is “universally available” so that customers can link up Azure services, including security, with tiny MCU-based embedded modules.

Password-less sign-ins. Among the many security-related announcements that Microsoft will make this week is support for password-less sign-in for Azure Active Directory (AAD) in the Microsoft Authenticator app. Microsoft says that the app eliminates the need for passwords – the number one security liability for enterprises – by combining your phone and fingerprint, face or PIN for a more secure, multi-factor sign-in.

SQL Server 2019 Preview. Microsoft’s traditional database is picking up Big Data capabilities—OLTP, Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence (BI), AI, and advanced analytics—enabling data scientists to ingest, store and analyze vast amounts of data.

Office Ideas. Among the many interesting Office announcements this week, Microsoft is previewing a new technology called Ideas in both PowerPoint and Excel that provides “actionable, app-specific suggestions for designs, layouts and images customized to what the user is working on.”

Deeper Office 365/LinkedIn integration. Users can now connect their Office 365 and LinkedIn accounts so that they can send emails and share documents with directly from Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Later this year, LinkedIn information will appear in meeting invites as well.

More soon. A lot more.

 

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