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Microsoft News & Analysis

MegaChat Is No Skype Killer, But It's Not MegaUpload Either

Controversial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, the guy behind the now-shuttered MegaUpload, is at it again. He's got a new product, MegaChat, and a new boast: he claims MegaChat, an end-to-end encrypted voice and video chat service his company launched in beta yesterday, is a “Skype killer."

It’s unlikely Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will see it that way — and frankly we don't either. But MegaChat is targeted at people who are wary of Skype’s security, so it may have a future.

Dotcom claims MegaChat offer users completely private video and voice calling with text and video conferencing slated to follow. And it proves something else, Dotcom tweeted:

Office 365 Extends Email Security to Address Spammers, Phishers

Microsoft is tightening up the security of its email offerings on Office 365 through the extension of features.

The goal here is to provide a “safer client experience” that will authenticate senders and help identify untrusted senders, helping to protect your system from spam and phishing campaigns, the tech giant explained.

While Office 365 is already pretty secure, Microsoft maintains the only way to beat hackers and other Internet nuisances is to keep one step ahead.

Office 365 Gains Text Analytics With Equivio Buy

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Microsoft has bought text analytics provider Equivio — an acquisition that should both add another piece to the Office 365 puzzle and give Microsoft considerable traction in document-heavy enterprises like legal or financial firms.

While neither company would confirm the sales price, there is speculation the deal closed for about $200 million. If that's correct, Microsoft snapped up some pretty impressive text analytics for a relatively reasonable sum. In fact, the technology could end as a premium layer to Office 365 once Microsoft starts pulling it into its wider portfolio.

M-Files Eases Hybrid Cloud Computing With Metadata

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The only things everyone seems to agree about when it comes to hybrid cloud computing is that it’s going to be around for a long time to come — and many vendors have many ways of approaching it. For M-Files, the unique selling point is a system that can manage all your content without repositories.

That sounds like a big claim … and maybe it is. However, M-Files has been developing this for years, first in Europe and now in the US, and the proof of its claims are clear in its continued and staggering growth rates.

Microsoft's Tangled E-Commerce Future #nrf15

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Sitecore's announcement on Tuesday of its new e-commerce offering, Sitecore Commerce 8 powered by Microsoft Dynamics, at the NRF Big Show made waves in the e-commerce world for a number of reasons. The launch integrates the Sitecore Experience Platform, its highly regarded content management system, with Microsoft Dynamics to more effectively merge content management with commerce systems.

A little background is in order: Sitecore took over Microsoft’s Commerce Server in Q4 of 2013. Now called Sitecore Commerce, the initial integration with the Sitecore Experience Platform was announced in fall of 2014. Let's try to shed some light on what this release signifies for the future direction of both companies.

Office 365: 2014 Highlights, Preparing for 2015

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We've heard a lot about the "new" Microsoft over the last few years, complete with promises of fast innovation and the impact this would have on existing products. Microsoft delivered on these promises in 2014, with the addition of many new features and products within Office 365. It was a year of open communication filled with Roadmaps, Yam Jams and User Voice sites. In many ways, 2014 was a fulfillment of the promises made by Microsoft at the last SharePoint Conference.

Microsoft Ends Windows 7 Support: Are You Scared?

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If you're a PC user and you woke up this morning with an undefined fear, maybe you're subconsciously recalling that today is the day Microsoft stops offering free support for Windows 7.

It’s not quite the same as the panic attacks many people experienced last April when Microsoft announced the XP show was finally over. But today is still likely to create some discomfort for Windows 7 users who refuse to move forward. In fact, this is the beginning of the end.

Sitecore, Microsoft Partner to Bridge Physical-Digital Divide #nrf15

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Omnichannel is the new black. That’s the buzz we’re hearing from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show in the BIG Apple this week.

But the chatter is not just about omnichannel. It’s also about the wins that integrating brick and mortar and digital can create, like guiding a customer to the store that has — in stock — the exact product (even the right size) he has been checking out online. In other words, it’s getting the right products and the right offers to the right people before they abandon their virtual and/or physical shopping carts, change their minds or look for something else to buy someplace else.

To do this you need to know what a customer is doing on each channel. And not just that: You also need to know what’s happening with your goods and services. This kind of data is best gleaned from customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Without the latter, you may not be able to deliver what the customer wants to buy and is willing to pay for. And when that happens, you not only miss a sale, but risk losing a customer as well.

It’s to avoid these kinds of problems and to create experiences that engage customers that Sitecore introduced Sitecore Commerce 8 powered by Microsoft Dynamics yesterday. The new solution bridges the gap between in-store and digital experiences.

Don't Be Afraid of SharePoint Customization

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When SharePoint first came on the scene many years ago, Microsoft embraced a broad and deep partner ecosystem, supported all sorts of educational events to train people and placed millions if not billions on marketing events, all focused on showing us how to customize SharePoint.

With the release of SharePoint 2013, we suddenly had Redmond telling everyone to stop customizing SharePoint. A lot of companies are now embarrassed and ashamed to admit that they have customized their SharePoint sites. In less than three years it went from de rigeur to risky and questionable.

Microsoft Explains How It Will Fix OneDrive

If you’re using Microsoft OneDrive and thinking about moving to Dropbox so you can sync shared folders or sync selected files across your platforms, then you might want to hang on for a while. Microsoft announced in its roadmap for OneDrive that all users will have this functionality by the end of the year.

It has also promised both OneDrive, its consumer file sharing application, and OneDrive for Business will work off a single sync engine in an attempt to dispel the confusion over two products with the same name but different back ends and audiences.

Reading the Office 365 Tea Leaves

Every year around this time “experts” sit around and make predictions about all sorts of things. In some spaces like world politics, this is truly a guessing game. When it comes to Microsoft, it involves more of trying “to read the tea leaves.” Even with the breathtaking pace of change, there are still pretty good signs of where the technology is going.

Microsoft Ups Its Customer Experience Play

Microsoft is flexing its customer experience muscles. Last night it announced the spring release of Parature will come with more than 30 new “high priority” customer capabilities. They're designed to help businesses streamline and improve their customer experience strategies.

The release follows the acquisition of Parature by Microsoft last February for a reported $100 million. The purchase price is a relative pittance in comparison to many current tech deals — especially since the value it will bring to Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) portfolio is incalculable.

Build Better Knowledge Management

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Long before Google Glass wearers made the news (and became pariahs within San Francisco-area coffee houses and restaurants), research projects at huge companies like IBM and Microsoft sought to bridge the gap between the capture and storage of corporate knowledge and intellectual property, and the difficult-to-archive individual narrative that attempted to make sense of this important, yet mostly disconnected content.

The effort of transcribing a personal experience or individual learning in context to our projects, business initiatives and other corporate artifacts (e.g., presentations, documents, spreadsheets) is incredibly difficult to accomplish in a way that can then be utilized by our knowledge management systems.

The problem with knowledge management (KM) is not a matter of data infrastructure -- whether your data resides on premises, in servers that you manage versus out in the cloud is irrelevant (to some degree) to the argument -- but with a user experience that fails to align the needs of the complex, non-linear playback mechanisms of the human brain with our systems of record.

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.

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