Microsoft Ignite 2018 – Microsoft’s annual conference for developers and IT professionals – kicked off yesterday (Sep. 24) at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida,
In attendance were 30,000 technologists, developers and business leaders representing as many as 5,000 organizations, or so, from across the globe.
The five-day event, scheduled to last until Sep. 28, opened with a welcome address by Corporate Vice President and event host Julia White, followed by a keynote address by CEO Satya Nadella.
SAP CEO Bill McDermott and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen joined Nadella onstage to announce a new industry partnership between the three tech behemoths on the Open Data initiative “to enable data to be exchanged—and enriched—across systems, making it a renewable resource that flows into intelligent applications.”
Here are some of the key takeaways from the opening day announcements.
1. Microsoft is partnering with Adobe and SAP on Open Data Initiative
As mentioned, the three giants are teaming up to bring together customer data into a single package running on Azure, thereby empowering their mutual customers with a common platform that allows them to exchange data between their products, including Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Experience Platform, SAP C/4HANA and S/4HANA and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
“Together with Adobe and SAP we are taking a first, critical step to helping companies achieve a level of customer and business understanding that has never before been possible,” said Nadella.
“Organizations everywhere have a massive opportunity to build AI-powered digital feedback loops for predictive power, automated workflows and, ultimately, improved business outcomes,” the Microsoft CEO added.
“Adobe, Microsoft and SAP are partnering to reimagine the customer experience management category,” said Narayen.
“Together we will give enterprises the ability to harness and action massive volumes of customer data to deliver personalized, real-time customer experiences at scale,” added the Adobe CEO.
“Microsoft, Adobe and SAP understand the customer experience is no longer a sales management conversation,” said McDermott.
“CEOs are breaking down the silos of the status quo so they can get all people inside their companies focused on serving people outside their companies. With the Open Data Initiative, we will help businesses run with a true single view of the customer,” added the SAP CEO.
2. Microsoft Office to get smarter with new AI tools
Microsoft Office, one of the most extensively used office suites, is getting several new artificial intelligence (AI) tools, including an all-new feature called “Ideas.”
“Ideas” uses AI to make life easier for users trying to create documents in Office applications by suggesting ideas, design changes, and other useful tips, which will not only help in creating the perfect document but will speed up the work, as well, thereby increasing employee productivity.
For example, when you’re trying to create a PowerPoint presentation, “Ideas,” which can be accessed with a single click of the mouse, can suggest layouts, images you can insert, and other useful tips that are sure to improve the quality of your slideshow.
Excel is also getting an AI boost that will recommend charts and identify data outliers, helping you with your tasks like a virtual assistant.
3. Surface Hub 2, Microsoft’s gigantic whiteboard, goes on sale in Q2 2019
Built for the workspace of the future, Microsoft’s second-generation Surface Hub 2 grabs your attention straight away with its gigantic touch-screen, as well as the bezels around the edges, looking like pencil lines on those gargantuan dimensions.
However, it has to be said that the previous generation Surface Hub was even bigger; as a matter of fact, it came with two screen-size options, both bigger than the Hub 2, one with a 1080p 55-inch display while the other boasted a 4K 84-inch screen.
Needless to say, the product is designed for a niche audience like business houses, organizations, and the likes, that have “team-based, collaborative culture and place an emphasis on enabling creativity and productivity,”
Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay wrote in an article, earlier this year.
The Hub 2 will be introduced in two phases, says Microsoft, with Surface Hub 2S shipping in Q2 next year, while an updated version of this second-gen Hub called Surface Hub 2X will launch in 2020.
4. Microsoft announces Azure Digital Twins
Azure Digital Twins, Microsoft’s new feature in the IoT (Internet of Things), will allow business enterprises to create comprehensive digital replicas of the physical environment, including places, infrastructure, and even people using Cloud, IoT and AI.
“This cloud, IoT and AI platform significantly reduces the complexity of creating digital twin solutions by enabling functions that trigger automatic endpoint actions based on incoming telemetry, and by providing predefined Twin Object Models, or data schema templates that are uniquely attuned to specific industries,” says Microsoft.
“Azure Digital Twins enables organizations to build solutions that help analyze how space is used and optimize it to better serve people’s needs at every level.”
5. With Microsoft’s new Windows Virtual Desktop you can now run Windows 10 in the Cloud
Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop is a cloud-based subscription service that will allow users to remotely access virtual versions of Windows 7, Windows 10, and Office 365 ProPlus on Azure virtual machines.
“With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale Windows and Office on Azure in minutes, with built-in security and compliance,” says Microsoft.
WVD is the only service that offers a multi-user experience for Windows 10 users, and supports Microsoft Store and existing Windows line-of-business apps, as well.
WVD is the best option for virtualizing Office 365 ProPlus “running in multi-user virtual scenarios,” claims Microsoft.
Furthermore, with WVD, you can also access Windows 7 virtual desktop and you don’t even need to pay for the Extended Security Updates, “giving you more options to support legacy apps while you transition to Windows 10,” says Microsoft.