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Microsoft News & Analysis

CMSWire's Top 20 Hits of 2014: SharePoint

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You've all heard of Ground Hog Day, right? Well, how about Ground Hog Year? Looking back at the SharePoint landscape over the past 12 months, that’s certainly what it looks like.

In 2013, the conversation was dominated by 1) SharePoint Online 2) SharePoint and Yammer and 3) SharePoint in Office 365. In 2014, the conversation was dominated by … well, you guessed it: 1) SharePoint Online 2) SharePoint and Yammer and 3) SharePoint in Office 365.

A Look Back: The Continuing Evolution of SharePoint

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If we could really say what the future holds for SharePoint, we could probably sell the information back to Microsoft. All the signs point to major changes — but they also point to the fact that Microsoft is still dithering. While the company has committed to another on-premises version, after that all bets are off.

But let's speculate. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made no bones about where he is talking Microsoft: “Mobile First, Cloud Frist.” There is no reason to think that he won’t do the same with SharePoint and certainly over the past months the developments around SharePoint Online have been mouthwatering.

A Look Back: Battling Information Management Chaos

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If ‘X’ represents the mass of information in your enterprise, it also represents the size of the problem that you currently have with information management. In other words, the more information you have in your enterprise, the bigger your problem. And odds are it has gotten worse in the past 12 months.

That's not to say that there hasn't been a flurry of new technologies available to help you deal with this information overload. In the big data space alone, the explosion in the number of solutions available is staggering. It's even more mind blowing if you add in all those that have emerged in content management, analytics, business intelligence, cloud storage, mobile and so forth.

Microsoft Shutters SharePoint Online Public Website

Microsoft is dropping its Public Website feature from SharePoint Online as of January, although it will continue maintenance for existing sites for two more years.

The service enables Office 365 users to build websites and customize them with in-browser tools. Using templates,companies can build public-facing websites with custom domain names, search engine optimization tools, social media integration and search-friendly URLs.

Digital River and Microsoft's Bumpy E-Commerce Road

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It's been an interesting couple of weeks for Digital River. Its deadline to re-sign Microsoft to an extension of the Microsoft Operations Digital Distribution Agreement, which would continue Digital River provision of Microsoft Store’s e-commerce platform beyond March, 2015 came and went on Dec. 1. While only a handful of people might have noticed, the company made a bigger splash on Dec. 8 when it announced an extension of the negotiation timeframe until Dec. 19.

Digital River's stocks rose and fell with the ups and downs of the announcements, dropping almost 25 percent from its close of $25.51 on Friday, Dec. 5, to $19.71 on Monday, Dec. 8. The stock eventually bottomed at $16.58 on Dec. 11, a drop of 35 percent in less than a week. On the power of yesterday's news the stock closed at $24.08, a 45 percent jump from last week’s low.

Microsoft Pushes Yammer Deeper Into Enterprises

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Microsoft is pushing Yammer deeper into the enterprise with the addition of Yammer to the Office 365 K1 plan. It’s a small step forward, but gives users who don’t have desks access to it where they didn’t have access before.

Microsoft doesn’t say whether it has changed its mind and decided to offer Yammer to users who previously lacked access, except to say that it wants to give it to workers that have no fixed abode.

Harmon.ie Makes It Easier to Track Activity in the Cloud

Harmon.ie today addressed one of the biggest issues in cloud computing: how to track everything that happens in the services you are using. It's solution, Collage, pulls together enterprise cloud services onto a single screen and lets users know what’s happening across the cloud ecosystem in which they operate.

The result is a 360-degree view across enterprise cloud services providing workers with a contextual, single-screen activity stream or what Harmon.ie calls a work stream.

Get Your Hands Dirty with Microsoft's New Office App

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Microsoft Office is about as sexy as _____. You fill in the blank. And you’ll probably have to strain your brain to think of something that’s dull enough. “Cardboard” comes to mind.

If there’s any good news around that, it’s that Microsoft gets it, and they seem to be thinking rather carefully about what to do about it.

Making big changes to Word or Excel could be disruptive, and in a bad way, because if we were asked to work with something radically different, we’d be likely to check-out non-Microsoft options too.

But what about PowerPoint? Do our presentations provide the same exceptional, modern experiences as tools like Prezi do? Are they as easy and enjoyable to use? Can we create and consume them equally as effectively on PC’s, tablets, phones?

Dropbox + Office = Sticky

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Hey CIO -- you know your employees are using Dropbox at work. And, yes, they know you don’t want them to, and that there are other tools available and all of that … but here’s the deal: they just want Dropbox. Anything else is like getting hot fudge covered chix stix when you want chicken fingers …interesting, maybe, but every day, no thanks.

Hortonworks IPO: Why It Has to Happen Tomorrow

2014-11-December-Wall-Street.jpgYou can bet that the folks at Hortonworks’ won’t sleep much tonight, instead they’ll likely be replaying and rethinking every move they’ve made as a private company and every aspect of their strategy. As the youngest of the three primary, independent, commercial Hadoop distribution providers, they’ve gone from saying that they wouldn’t be talking about an IPO anytime soon, to suggesting that it might happen in 2015, to secretly filing in August, to unveiling the filing last month, to setting the date for the actual offering -- it’s tomorrow.

What’s the sudden hurry?

As Gartner analyst Merv Adrian puts it, “There might not be a better time.”

And, at least in the near term, he may have a point. Unless it’s possible to go back in time, that is.

Microsoft Soups Up Office Online with Contextual Search

2014-11-December-Tall-Bicycle.jpgNo one likes dumb anything, least of all technology companies. In a move to smarten-up Hangouts, Google added "smart" suggestions yesterday. Microsoft is on the case as well, making its Office Online app a lot smarter with the addition of contextualized Bing search into documents.

If that sounds complicated, it’s not. The new feature, called Insights for Office, lets users search for information from an inline search box inside a document. The answers include information scraped from Bing Snapshot, Bing Image Search and Wikipedia, among others.

Will Microsoft Land the Federal Market with Azure Government?

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Remember when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced his Cloud First Mobile First strategy? He really wasn’t joking.

On Monday, he announced a new hybrid cloud initiative with Accenture. Last night, he announced that Microsoft’s Azure Government cloud is now generally available, and that Dynamics CRM Online for government will be available next month.

This follows hot on the heels of the recent announcement that Office 365 for Government has been awarded some major security certifications and that the Feds are now happy to work with it.  

Box Has a Problem and a New Trust Initiative

First off, let’s get one thing straight: Box is not in the Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) business.

“We certainly do that,” says Box executive Whitney Bouck, every time I ask her if Box is an EFSS provider. “But that’s not where the value is,” she always adds “that’s table stakes.”

So what does Box do? According to its SEC S-1 registration it is “a cloud-based, mobile-optimized Enterprise Content Collaboration platform that enables organizations of all sizes to easily and securely manage their content and collaborate internally and externally.”

How’s that for an elevator pitch?

Not too good. But, to be fair, it probably wasn’t crafted to be one.
 

Accenture, Microsoft Team Up to Take Enterprises to the Hybrid Cloud

Enterprises are increasingly willing to weigh the commercial advantages of cloud computing against potential security issues, yet many are still uncomfortable with making the leap.

To help them get over any lingering reluctance, Accenture and Microsoft have extended their existing partnership with the introduction of Accenture Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure. The hybrid cloud solution enables enterprises to manage applications between private and public clouds.

Skype-Lync Video Calling Available (For Some)

2014-09-December-Chatting.jpgMicrosoft announced it's rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business to much fanfare last month. This went beyond a rebranding exercise, and involved joining the Lync infrastructure with Skype. The timing of when this would be completed was unclear, aside from a vague promise of sometime in 2015. 

At the end of last week, Microsoft took a major step forward in this project. Users of both platforms can now hold video calls with each other -- provided they have the latest version of Skype for Windows and Lync 2013. But not everyone is happy.

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