Insights from Ignite 2015: Microsoft product updates for Small Businesses

By Thomas Neergaard Hansen, vice president of Worldwide SMB, Microsoft

There are a couple of concerns that rise to the top for just about anyone running a company: how technology can make you and your employees more productive, how you can manage technology with limited resources, and how new technology can keep you and your company safe. At last week’s Ignite Conference in Chicago, Microsoft announced a host of new products and services that will help users stay ahead of the curve.

Office 2016 makes collaboration a breeze wherever you work

During Ignite, Microsoft released the public preview of the next version of Microsoft Office. We’re bringing real-time coauthoring—which is already available in the Office Online apps—to the Windows desktop applications, starting with Word. For example, when you and your team are working in a Word 2016 document, you’ll be able to see where other people are working inside the file and what they are writing—all in real time.

Collaboration is easy and effective, so your entire team will always be up to speed.

One new feature—Office 365 Groups—allows members to email, meet, take notes, create content, video, send instant messages, tweet, and more, and it captures all the interactions in a centralized hub. Collaboration is easy and effective, so your entire team will always be up to speed.

Skype for Business connects you with your coworkers and customers

Available for general preview in early summer, the new Skype for Business will be built right into Microsoft Office, with features like presence indicators, IM, voice and video call capability, and an online meeting option. The integration with Microsoft Office will make rollout a snap, and Skype for Business also allows people to search for and connect with anyone in the Skype network, so it’s easy to communicate in real time with people both inside and outside your organization, all over the world.

We also introduced Skype for Business broadcasting, which provides an easy, inexpensive way to broadcast meetings to up to 10,000 people. It’s a great way to run a virtual summit or webcast, and the service even features functionality like Q&As and audience polls.

Windows 10 keeps your business current and secure

One of the most important considerations for keeping a business safe is ensuring that employee devices are up-to-date. We’re close to the launch of Windows 10, and the operating system boasts a variety of features that could change the way you work.

The Windows Update for Business is free for Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise devices and will help companies update their Windows devices on an ongoing basis with the latest security defenses and features. This will help reduce costs, enable greater control over deployment, and provide quicker access to security updates and new features.

These and other cutting-edge features don’t have to come at a steep price. As we announced earlier this year, for the first time ever, we are offering the full versions of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Pro as a free and easy upgrade for qualifying Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year after launch.** Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.”

** More information about the free upgrade offer can be found at

Stay ahead of the curve

With today’s increasingly mobile workforce and the spread of global commerce, it’s more important than ever for workers to be able to talk, share, and collaborate on any device, from anywhere, at any time. Microsoft is focused on making it easier for you and your employees to connect and collaborate.