Microsoft Ignite lights up the modern workforce with new products and services – Weekend Reading: May 8 Edition

Ignite 2015
Craighton Berman’s sketch of Satya Nadella’s keynote at Ignite 2015.

Ready to take a breath? Do it now before we dive into the news from this week, dominated by the announcements from Microsoft’s first Ignite conference. More than 23,000 attended in Chicago and thousands more watched online, learning how IT now means “innovation” and “transformation” – for all of us in the modern workforce.

The modern workforce is a more apt description than the modern workplace – a misnomer, said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Skype engineering. “Work is what you do; it’s not where you go,” he said. “People will work from wherever they are, with whatever devices they have, and they’ll work on their own time.” Creating services for, and protecting, that modern workforce was front and center at Ignite.

Office 2016 Public Preview, now available, shows how Office has “shifted from ‘me-centric’ to ‘we-centric’ work,” says Julia White, general manager for the Office marketing team. In Office 2016, all Office content is saved to and shared from OneDrive by default; and content can be created and edited using real-time co-authoring, which is coming to Word 2016 desktop. Office 2016 will offer new security, compliance and deployment features that give organizations more control over sensitive data, and IT more flexibility in deployment and management. SharePoint Server 2016 and Exchange Server 2016, also showcased at Ignite, deliver new capabilities across areas including user experiences, compliance and reporting.

Office 2016, Ignite 2015
Real-time co-authoring for Word will be available soon in the Office 2016 Public Preview.

Windows Update for Business, introduced at Ignite, will empower IT pros to keep the Windows devices in their organization “always up to date with the latest security defenses and Windows features,” says Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Operating Systems Group. Windows Update for Business will include features such as “distribution rings,” where an IT pro can specify which devices go first in an update wave, and which ones come later; and “maintenance windows,” to specify the critical timeframes when updates should and should not happen. Windows Update for Business will be free for Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise devices.

Need to have a meeting with a lot – and we mean a lot – of workers in lots of different places? Skype for Business broadcasting, introduced at Ignite and coming later this year, enables customers to broadcast meetings to up to 10,000 people.

At Ignite, we also said hello to the next-generation hybrid cloud, Microsoft Azure Stack, in preview this summer. It brings the Azure user experience and both infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service capabilities into customers’ datacenters. We also learned that SQL Server 2016 preview is coming this summer, with Always Encrypted, Stretch Database and more. Always Encrypted protects data at rest and in motion, and Stretch Database allows you to “dynamically stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure, so your operational data is always at hand, no matter the size,” says T.K. Ranga Rengarajan, Data Platform, Cloud & Enterprise corporate vice president.

There was other big news this week: Surface 3 became available in the U.S. and many countries around the world. This sharp-looking sibling to the Surface Pro 3 has a 10.8-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, includes front- (3.5MP) and rear-facing (8MP) cameras which both capture 1080p video; and runs full Windows, including desktop applications. It includes a one-year subscription to Office 365.

The ‘next wave’ of empowerment everywhere. Writer Tracy Ith took us behind the scenes of the fifth annual Microsoft Ability Summit this week, where Microsoft engineers, designers and other tech pros worked with people with disabilities from inside and outside the company, as well as parents and other accessibility advocates to “create that next wave of great products and services” to empower people, says Jenny Lay-Flurrie, senior director of the Trusted Experience Team and leader of the summit.

Microsoft Ability Summit
Jay Beavers’ face is reflected in a device that can drive a wheelchair using eye gaze technology. Credit: Scott Eklund

Safety tested – and relies on Microsoft’s cloud. Writer Jennifer Warnick brought us into the heart of the Illinois headquarters of the 120-year-old UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories), where 22 billion products, systems and materials are stamped with the UL sign of approval for safety each year. It’s populated by lab spaces “full of circuits and light bulbs, slot machines and hospital beds, ovens and clothes dryers, wires and building materials, bank machines and bulletproof glass.”

Bob Jamieson in UL's “rain room,” where waterproof products are tested.
Bob Jamieson in UL’s “rain room,” where waterproof products are tested. Photo by Brian Smale / © Microsoft

This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Jessi Combs. She is the world’s fastest woman – on four wheels. In 2013, she set the record with a heart-pumping speed of 406 miles per hour.

#DoMore, Instagram,

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Time to breathe now, and enjoy your 48 hours off before you rejoin the modern workforce – wherever that it is for you.

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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