Blog

Microsoft WPC 2016 – Live from Toronto – Part 2

Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2016

Author: Guy Hocking

As this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference draws to a close in Toronto, partners begin to make their way home, contemplating the various technology innovations revealed over the past few days.

#INNOVATION

Following on from CEO Satya Nadella’s opening keynote, the theme of digital transformation continued – offering partners and customers an insight into Microsoft’s thoughts about a world that is experiencing unprecedented digital changes. This transformation has been likened to the way the birth of the car replaced the horse and cart!

WINDOWS 10 – THE MOST SECURE WINDOWS OPERATING SYSTEM

More than 350 million devices are now running Windows 10, which Microsoft attributes to the fact it is the most secure Windows offering ever, providing easier IT management and productivity enhancements.

In the second keynote of the conference held on Tuesday, Microsoft announced the launch of Windows 10 Enterprise E3, which allows businesses to purchase Windows 10 accompanied with enterprise grade security features through the Cloud Solution Provider channel, enhancing this product still further. It also served as a reminder that the free upgrade will soon be coming to an end after a very long promotional period.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, said that an upcoming “anniversary update” (known previously as a service pack), due for release on the 2nd August, brings new security features, as well as enhancements to Cortana and Surface Pen. In terms of security, Windows Hello will allow users to log in to websites using their fingerprints – or even their faces. In an example of this technology, we were treated to a colourful demo that involved sawing and drilling into a brand new tyre. Microsoft Demo Lead Bryan Roper showed how facial recognition would work for a Bridgestone mechanic who may need to log in to their workstation when they have their hands full. Impressive stuff indeed.

Microsoft also revealed that Windows Server 2016 and System Centre 2016 will launch at Microsoft Ignite later this year, which our Technology Director Richard Burton and Business Technology Director Robert Ward will be attending.

FACEBOOK “LIKES” OFFICE 365

According to Facebook CIO Tim Campos, Microsoft is now cool again. He made a guest appearance on Tuesday to talk about how Facebook’s 13,000 employees around the world are now using Office 365 to communicate and collaborate.

Microsoft further flexed its enterprise muscles, highlighting the security and compliance of its cloud services including Azure and Office 365. “For us, enterprises are not an afterthought,” said Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group Scott Guthrie. “It’s not just the technology; we have decades of experience; we really understand the enterprise cloud.”

In a Kevin Turner style attack on Amazon and Google, Guthrie commented that Azure’s 34 unique regions give it a larger footprint than AWS and Google combined; “no other cloud out there offers the breadth and depth of what Microsoft cloud delivers,” he said. According to Guthrie, 85 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies run their business with Microsoft cloud services, including Walmart, Samsung, BMW, and GE, which announced a partnership with Microsoft on Monday.

While Microsoft is relying on its enterprise artillery to lead it to cloud dominance, they also acknowledged how quickly demands for productivity solutions are changing, pointing to a number of factors, including remote workers and millennials in the workforce demanding solutions that work anywhere and are device agnostic.

Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President, Office Marketing commented: “One key trend we’re seeing is teams who want to work together more effectively. We see Office 365 as core to reinventing productivity for the digital transformation.”

In addition to showcasing how Facebook uses Office 365, Koenigsbauer said that, in the five years since its launch, Office 365 now has 70 million monthly active users. That represents a growth on last year of nearly 57 per cent.

BUSINESS PRODUCTIVITY SOLUTIONS TO THE SMB

Perhaps the most interesting development in Microsoft’s cloud portfolio is the upcoming launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365. The release of the new cloud service combines CRM and ERP platforms under one common data model, as well as seamless integration with Office 365.

It also allows customers to purchase products based on their roles, rather than using product suites. With roles such as Sales, Marketing and Project Management, along with the Dynamics 365 for Financials (previously code named Project Madeira), Microsoft aims to bring enterprise grade business productivity solutions to the SMB. Certainly with the financials element, already advertised as a comprehensive accounting and business management solution for SMBs, it utilises large chunks of code from its Dynamics NAV product and will aim to give the likes of Sage and Xero a run for their money.

That is all from me in what has been a relatively understated conference (by Microsoft’s standards) and one which sorely missed the day 3 war cry of Kevin Turner. Keep an eye on our social feeds as well as this blog for more updates over the coming months. If you want to check out the videos of all of the WPC16 keynotes and announcements from this week’s event you can do so here: http://news.microsoft.com/wpc2016/

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