To say Microsoft had a big year in 2017 would be an understatement. Impressively, for all the changes that were implemented, Microsoft never lost its sense of focus on delivering innovative products and services. Let’s take a look:
Microsoft 365 completely changed Microsoft’s licensing strategy by reconfiguring Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) into a new bundle with the bonus addition of EMS (Enterprise Mobility + Security). Microsoft 365 brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and EMS, under one singular package for either business or enterprises. Coming in two flavors for enterprises, E3 and E5, the package is tailored to empower small to midsize businesses’ individual needs. Microsoft’s plan with Microsoft 365 is three-part: greater empowerment of workers, increased security, and streamlined management.
Teams > Skype
Now positioned as Microsoft’s premier messenger solution, Microsoft Teams is poised to be the end all communication front for Microsoft users, enabling IMS, group file sharing, etc. It has the basic functionally of Skype IM’s, but seeks to expand on usability potential. In the imminent future, Microsoft plans to incorporate better meeting functionality in Teams through the leveraging of AI, as well as general meeting and calling enhancements, PTSN numbers, voicemail, and audio conferencing. Teams currently comes free with Office.
Three New Applications
The ushering in of Microsoft 365 also brought three new applications for business services: Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, and Microsoft Invoicing. Connections works as an email marketing service, Listings serves as an effective way to publish business info, and Invoicing acts as a professional way to invoice. MileIQ, a mileage tracking app, has also been bundled into the package as an added bonus.
Microsoft has made a big splash this year with its revitalized focus on AI. It was the centerpiece of their annual report, was heavily incorporated into their vision statement, and is poised to be more greatly intertwined with the Cloud moving forward. Microsoft continues to grow their AI and Research team to prioritize this shift in focus. The team, which was created a little over a year ago, now stands at a staggering 8000 or so people, which is approximately a 60% growth for this year alone.
In tandem with LinkedIn, Resume Assistant, a resume builder in Microsoft Word power by LinkedIn data, went live on November 9th. On a related note, Microsoft also renewed the push for LinkedIn and Dynamics coming together for greater data congruence. This merging, titled Microsoft Relationship Sales, brings together LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Microsoft Dynamics for increased solutions in the realms of talent sourcing and identification.
In terms of the Cloud, Azure continues to be a big step ahead of the competition. The focus remains on connecting on premise data centers to the Cloud, and connecting said data centers to AI. Currently, Microsoft stands the clear frontrunner in the race for Cloud dominance, edging out Amazon AWS, IBM, and Salesforce with room to spare. At Microsoft Inspire, ISV Cloud Embed was unveiled, which simplifies creating business applications, and provides building blocks for optimized app development.
Microsoft is redesigning Outlook, as first brought to attention in an Ignite conference session in September. Users can look forward to the layout being more streamlined, and a new customizable ribbon to more greatly tailor the interface.
2017 has been a packed and fruitful year for Microsoft. With the year winding down, and Microsoft showing no signs of slowing down, it is clear that this trend will only continue into 2018.