Microsoft’s annual gathering of technology leaders, Microsoft Ignite, kicked off this morning in Orlando. At the conference, the company unveiled a number of new features to its offerings, as well as entirely new offerings designed to better suit the needs of its customers.
Microsoft is making a number of improvements to its online productivity suite Microsoft 365. These enhancements are broken down into six main investment areas: productivity, knowledge, workflow, security, compliance, and management.
As part of the updates, Microsoft introduced a number of new capabilities to the communication and collaboration platform Microsoft Teams, such as secure private channels, multiwindow chats and meetings, pinned channels, and task integration with To Do and Planner. It is also continuing to bridge the gap between Outlook and Teams, the company explained. In addition, it is integrating Yammer into Teams and introducing industry-specific capabilities, such as tools for healthcare and Firstline Workers.
Microsoft also introduced a new mobile app for Office that combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into a single app.
After announcing the Fluid Framework at Build 2019, the company is releasing a public preview of the framework for end users and a private preview for developers.
The new Microsoft Project is also now generally available. The Microsoft Project is a tool for product management that allows teams to quickly add new members and set up task, as well as switch between grids, boards, and timeline charts to track progress. It will continue to add features such as resource management, budget analysis, and time and expense tracking over the next year.
Other additions to Microsoft 365 include AI-enabled Cortana capabilities, AI capabilities in Office, a new knowledge network in Microsoft 365 called Project Cortex, a redesigned version of Yammer, new features in Microsoft Search, and Workplace Analytics.
The new Microsoft Edge and Bing
Microsoft is also updating its web browser and search engine to make it better for people in workplace environments. It will link a company’s Intranet with the Internet so that people can access important data in a single browsing and search experience.
Now employees will be able to search in Bing for company information, such as titles, team names, office locations, or definitions for company acronyms.
Other new features include the ability to access Microsoft Search in Bing on mobile devices, a new tracking prevention default in Microsoft Edge, and Collections to allow users to easily collect web content, organize research, and export that content into Word and Excel.
It also announced three new features for IT: an expansion of the Microsoft FastTrack deployment program, an expansion of the App Assure program to cover Microsoft Edge, and a new security baseline for Microsoft Edge.
Azure Synapse Analytics
Also at Microsoft Ignite, the company announced Azure Synapse Analytics, which is a limitless analytics tool. This solution brings together both data warehousing and Big Data analytics. According to Microsoft, users will be able to query data the way they want, using either serverless on-demand or provisioned resources.
Azure Synapse Analytics is the next evolution of the Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Microsoft explained.
It announced Azure Arc, which will help customers unlock new hybrid scenarios by bringing Azure services and management to any infrastructure.
Developers can use Azure Arc to build containerized apps using their preferred tools. IT teams can then ensure that those apps are deployed, configured, and managed uniformly. Azure Arc also makes it easy to implement cloud security across environments using centralized role-based access control and security policies.
Azure Arc is now available in preview.
Updates to the Power Platform include the renaming of Microsoft Flow to Power Automate, UI Flows, Power virtual agents, new security enhancements for Power BI, tighter integration between the Power Platform and Microsoft Teams, and a new set of prebuilt models for AI Builder.
UI Flows is a new robotic process automation (RPA) capability that lets users turn manual tasks into automated workflows by recording and playing back human-led actions in software that doesn’t support API automation. This update makes Power Automate a comprehensive, end-to-end automation platform.
According to Microsoft, these enhancements will enhance the company’s vision for the Power Platform, which is to provide an “unmatched set of capabilities that enable everyone to analyze, act, and automate across their organization to transform businesses from the ground up.”
Microsoft also introduced a number of security updates at Microsoft Ignite. There are several, but here are the top 10, according to Microsoft:
- Azure Sentinel: Microsoft is introducing new connectors that will help security analysts collect data from more sources, including Zscaler, Barracuda, and Citrix. It also released new hunting queries and machine-learning-based detection.
- Insider Risk Management in Microsoft 365: Leverages Microsoft Graph to help identify and remediate threats that come from within an organization. This is now available in private preview.
- Microsoft Authenticator: Now available to customers as part of the Azure AD free plan.
- New value in Azure AD: It is introducing a preview at the end of the month for Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning. This is a new agent that migrates identities from disconnected Active Directory forests to the cloud.
- Microsoft Defender ATP: There is now a preview that covers MacOS, and soon there will be coverage for Linux as well.
- Azure Security Center: Microsoft is introducing new capabilities to help find misconfigurations and threats to containers and SQL in infrastructure as a service environments.
- Microsoft information protection and governance: The compliance center will now offer the ability to data classifications of sensitive information types or those associated with industry regulations.
- Microsoft Compliance Score: Maps Microsoft 365 configuration settings to common regulations and standards to help organizations improve their compliance posture. It is also introducing a new assessment for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This is now in public preview.
- Application Guard for Office: Provides hardware-level and container-based protection against malicious Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. This is now available in preview.
- Azure Firewall Manager: Will allow customers to manage multiple firewall instances from a single locations in Azure Firewall Manager. This is now available in public preview, and the company also plans on adding support for new firewall deployment topologies.