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Microsoft News & Analysis

Keys to Ignite 2015: What's Ahead from Microsoft

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We're only one-third of the way through Microsoft’s 10-day tour (appropriately numbered) promoting the future value of Windows 10 and the new model of deploying server-side applications (new for Microsoft, at least). 

Next Monday begins a second round of keynotes and demonstration sessions, this time from Chicago at the company’s Ignite 2015 conference.

Act II will focus more on infrastructure and the cloud, and CMSWire will be on hand with daily reports and updates for the entire week.

Todd Klindt: Ripples of Sadness Over SharePoint

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I can’t always be trusted to take things as seriously as I probably should. It just depends on what’s going through my head at the time, and how much coffee I have had or have not had before I'm asked a question.

But all I can tell you is that when I was asked to share my thoughts about Microsoft's decision to delay the release of SharePoint Server 2016, jackass mode was enabled.

We were all expecting SharePoint 2016 to come out this year, and then Seth Patton, senior director of product management for the SharePoint team, writes this blog post that says SharePoint 2016 will become generally available in the second quarter of 2016, with a public beta plan for the fourth quarter of this year.

I said the news triggered a "ripple of sadness" across the Internet. Looking back, I wish I’d have taken the question more seriously. “Ripple of sadness across the internet” might be a little bit of hyperbole. But there were a lot of disappointed people.

3 Features Office 365 Needs to Launch in 2016

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Once upon a time we all worked in cubicles, separated from colleagues and very much siloed. These days many of us are lucky enough to work in more funky, open plan spaces. Some of us even have bean bags. Barriers have been broken down, collaboration and communication is more important, and physical silos have been reduced.

This parallels -- in much the same way -- how enterprise IT has changed from individual, isolated, desktops to the connected and collaborative cloud. Devices are linked, more and more applications talk to each other, and we are encouraged to use digital tools to work more closely together.

When Microsoft released Office 365 in 2011, it had many of the above stated goals. Not only did it want to foster better digital working, but it wanted to pull teams and workers closer together. 

Much of this has come to pass. You can now write documents online in Word, churn data through PowerBI, and share information with colleagues via Office 365 Groups. The purchase of Yammer put a social twist on everything, and tools like Delve are now trying to guess what we want to do before we do it.

In short, Office 365 wanted to make work ever more collaborative, social and interactive.

Here's Your First Glimpse of Office 16 on Windows 10

It was one of the more dramatic U-turns that Microsoft had ever made: undoing the error that was Office Web Apps and providing well-provisioned, fully functional and free versions of the major Office suite applications, first on iPad and later on Android

In fact, Microsoft rolled out the new Office look and feel first on those foreign platforms before dealing with the domestic issue of making Office at home on Windows once again.

Microsoft took the hit for it, waiting until just last February to produce the touchscreen version of Office for tablets that the company had promised back in 2011 for Windows 8. Now that these preview apps are freely downloadable from the Windows Store, desktop PC users everywhere have been wondering how long they have to be stuck driving, if you will, an outdated vehicle.

There is still no final release date, but during the Build 2015 keynote in San Francisco yesterday, developers got their first glimpses of Office 16 (version No. 16 and also, quite likely, 2016) for the classic Win32 desktop platform.

AvePoint Lets You Share With SharePoint

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AvePoint just released a new service pack that lets you share and sync files in and out of SharePoint, through the company firewall. More accurately, AvePoint has upgraded its Perimeter Service Pack 4 that allows file syncing and sharing in both directions.

Daniel Wilkens, product manager at AvePoint, called it a substantial upgrade that extends Perimeter's functionality from one-way sharing of information to two-way collaboration.

It allows people outside of the organization to use Office Web Apps "to securely edit content shared with them or upload new content to shared folders or libraries within the Perimeter Portal," he said.

Is Salesforce For Sale?

Did you hear the one about Salesforce.com selling itself to a competitor? It's not a joke, at least according to news reports that sent shock waves through the technology world Wednesday.

The company that transformed CRM from an acronym to a ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange is toying with the idea of an acquisition Bloomberg reported. Specifically, reporters Alex Sherman and Cory Johnson noted Salesforce is apparently "working with financial advisers to help it field takeover offers after being approached by a potential acquirer."

While the potential suitor was not named, one thing is clear: the buyer would need extraordinarily deep pockets since Salesforce has a $49 billion market cap. That puts the spotlight on several companies, including Microsoft, SAP, IBM — and one especially close to the heart of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Oracle.

And here's something else. Benioff has been steadily selling stock. In the past month, he's reduced his outstanding common shares from more than 37.937 million to 37.675 million yesterday, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission

Shares surged 13.5 percent in late trade yesterday on news of the rumored takeover.

'Spartan' Win10 Browser Morphs to 'Edge' #Build2015

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Microsoft confirmed what developers who had peeked into some of Windows 10’s “Project Spartan” files had speculated: The new Windows 10 browser has a new name.

At its Build developers conference in San Francisco today, Microsoft announced it will rename the new browser engine “Microsoft Edge.”

The new name has the virtue of beginning with “E,” so long-time Windows desktop PC users will recognize the logo: a lower-case “e” with a little wavelet-shape cut in it. It’s different enough to be new, but similar enough to be associated as Microsoft’s native web browser.

Is Microsoft Office Fundamentally Changing? #Build2015

This morning at Microsoft’s annual Build developers conference in San Francisco, CEO Satya Nadella announced what he calls a “fundamental change” to the forthcoming Microsoft Office 16. That includes add-ins for Excel and Outlook that developers can craft to run on any platform — including online, in Windows and on the iPad.

An early demonstration of the company’s forthcoming Office add-ins enable an Uber customer to book a ride through what used to be known as an appointment screen.

Microsoft Aims for Amazon with Elastic SQL #Build2015

Hey Amazon, can Redshift do this?

We know the kinder, gentler, “we play nice with everyone” Microsoft would never egg AWS boss Andy Jassy on like this, but here's the deal: Today at Build 2015, Microsoft executive vice president for cloud and enterprise Scott Guthrie made a whole slew of “elastic” announcements — some involving technologies that will make data scientists pretty happy.

Most notable, from our point of view, is the Azure SQL Data Warehouse, an elastic Data Warehouse-as-a-Service with enterprise class-features.

"Unlike Redshift, you can independently adjust the amount of compute and storage you use in a SQL data warehouse. This allows you to... adjust your data warehouse in seconds... allowing you to increase and decrease pretty much at will," said Guthrie.

You're Crazy to Move to Office 365 - Without Thinking

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Joe Shepley has called Office 365 a disaster waiting to happen. His logic is that Microsoft and its partners are encouraging firms to migrate their networks to Office 365 without organizing, classifying, purging or adding any information governance.

Shepley contends this puts organizations at greater risk from a compliance standpoint.

Any experienced practitioner in the enterprise content management (ECM) space will tell you that a straight move into any system is a huge mistake. But contrary to what Shepley maintains, it's not a disaster.

Migrating Jive to Yammer? Dell Can Do That

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Dell just announced the release of Migration Manager for Enterprise Social (MMES), which it describes as the market’s first enterprise social migration solution. It's designed to help organizations move content from Jive to Yammer.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Jive, Randy Rempel, senior product manager at Dell told us. "No one I have ever spoken to has said anything negative about Jive," he added.

But Microsoft is trying to get all its client enterprises moved into Yammer and Dell saw a business opportunity.

Windows 10's New Mail: Is It Outlook or Isn't It?

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It claims to be an app called “Mail for Windows 10.” Microsoft promises it to be the touch-sensitive, yet feature-packed, mail functionality that it failed to provide in Windows 8.

Yet when the new Mail app pops on-screen for the first time, it shows a familiar looking portfolio logo with an “O” on it. Its default email account, even if it’s hosted on a non-Microsoft server, is called “Outlook.” And its background picture, when the preview pane is empty, is an Outlook icon over a clear, blue sky.

Just what is it that we’re looking at: a part of the free upgrade that Microsoft promises Windows 10 will be? Or a peek into a more full-featured package that users may yet be prompted to purchase?

Kofax Digitizes Transaction Management

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Kofax, recently acquired by Lexmark, is back again — and this time, it's offering end-to-end digital transaction management.

Not the hottest end of the document management space, you might think.

However, with the new capabilities added to the Kofax TotalAgilty platform, you get some serious functionality that can securely automate both your financial transactions and the paper-based transactions around it.

Now that’s pretty hot.

Office 365 is a Disaster Waiting to Happen

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I'm hesitant to add another blog to the pile about Office 365, because there are more than enough talking heads out there prognosticating.

But I spent the last week at the Houston ARMA Spring Conference talking to clients, vendors and other service providers. And I realized that -- unless something changes -- Office 365 is an information management disaster in the making for organizations.

Here’s the gist of why I think so.

Office 365 Gets Customer Lockbox & More

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Cloud weary managers might have reason to reconsider using Office 365.

In an opening keynote at the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, Scott Charney, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Trustworthy Computing, announced Customer Lockbox for Office 365.

It may be the most important security announcement around Office 365 that Microsoft makes this year, according to Julia White, Microsoft’s general manager for Office Product Management.

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