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Microsoft News & Analysis

Corralling Non-Microsoft Content in the Cloud

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Ten years ago, Yahoo and Google offered rapid creation of free file sharing and collaboration spaces -- perfect for group papers, sports teams, families -- in short, any group of people who needed to see a common, centralized set of files.

There's no shortage of Web hosted business-oriented file services in today's cloud era: OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, Box, Google, Dropbox, Salesforce Chatter, among others.

Most recently, Amazon announced its new enterprise cloud file sharing service, Zocalo. Zocalo will offer simple document feedback, centralized repositories, offline sync to laptops, phones and tablets, security and directory integration. As with many of these services, the costs are minimal to none, allowing users to stand up a new repository in minutes for a project with a credit card.

These services pose a real challenges for the Microsoft enterprise.

Forget Community - 'Social' is Now a Commodity

Social Business, 2014-18-August-For-Sale.jpgRemember the glory days of Enterprise Social software? When startups were acquired and innovations were exciting? When we all believed that social technology could help us change the way we worked for good? Death to email!

The ESN crickets have been chirping for some time, because corporate social networking software is now a commodity, not a community. Disappearing are the days of hoping for ideation, serendipitous discovery, executive dialogue with worker-bees, and earning millions of dollars from new product ideas gleaned from conversations. The enterprise is tired of the hype; companies who have not seen success are ready to give up. With myriad ESN vendors, the proliferation of social features across productivity, storage and project management products, and an inability to prove that standalone enterprise social software has ROI, the commoditization will continue and eventually bury the industry as we know it. Think it’s not possible? I beg to differ for two reasons.

Fast, Flexible, Innovative: Why Networks Thrive

Social Business, 2014-15-August-Networks.jpgVienna, September 1901. A man you’ve probably never heard of, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, was born. A man whose theories are helping to shape the future of how you do work. Ludwig von Bertalanffy, let’s just call him LvB, is the forefather of evolutionary systems thinking -- something you’d usually find described in dry university textbooks -- but he has had a radical effect on how we depict and predict interactions in systems in biology, physics, anthropology and social sciences.

Why does this man born more than a hundred years ago make a difference to you now, sitting in your cubicle or reading on your tablet? Because LvB originated general systems theory that demonstrates why thinking holistically is critical to surviving and thriving and why reductionist perspectives lead to extinction.

Google Kicks the Productivity Stool From Under Microsoft

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It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the document management space, made all the more interesting by the ongoing competition between Microsoft and Google around their productivity suites.

We also saw recently that most enterprises are still struggling with document management while both Metalogix and Accellion have released new products to help overcome this.

Google Classroom Fishes For Microsoft Users In Schools

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Cheeky Google is stomping all over what has until recently been an exclusive Microsoft stomping ground. Well, nearly exclusive. Google has just announced the release of Google Classroom for anyone that is currently using Google Apps for Education.

Classroom is a collaboration tool that enables students keep track of what assignments are due, enable teachers to track what is happening in the physical classroom and provide direct, real-time feedback to students on their progress.

Microsoft Secures Azure Data with Enhanced Encryption

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Microsoft — like Google — is beating the drum on security. It is enhancing the encryption of data transfers between users and the Azure cloud guest operating systems. 

The encryption improvements, which apply to Microsoft Azure cipher solution for hosted guest virtual machines, gives users better and more secure connections during the transmission of data.

According to a Microsoft blog post the new enhancements apply to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which makes it harder to decrypt connections and information going across such connections.

This follows  recent moves by Google to secure and encrypt emails. In the coming weeks, it announced that it will publishing a list of best practices in the coming weeks to make Transport Layer Security (TLS) adoption easier and to avoid common mistakes.

Microsoft Plans to Axe IE 8 Support

It’s been in the air for some time now, but it’s finally happened.

Microsoft has announced it will stop supporting old versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) in January 2016, including IE 8 Users who want security fixes and updates after that will have to use the most current version for their particular system.

What this means is that those using IE 8 will be completely out of the loop in terms of support, while the number of people that will be able to use IE 9 and IE 10 will be drastically reduced.

The Enterprise of the Future: Not as Cloudy as You Think?

The enterprise is “all in” on the (public) cloud, right? That’s certainly what all the hype leads us to believe.

After all, hardly a week goes by without Amazon, Google or Microsoft dropping their prices as they race to the bottom in the cloud wars. Not only that but there are also a host of celebrity-like CEO’s such as Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Amazon’s Werner Vogels and Box’s Aaron Levie. They’re constantly in front of crowds preaching cloud-only gospels.

And there are the more recently converted to consider as well, such as IBM’s Ginni Rometty, who bought Cloudant, Silverpop and SoftLayer over the past 18 months and launched the IBM’s cloud Marketplace in April. Never mind SAP’s Bill McDermott, who started to refer the company he now single-handedly reins as “the cloud company”.

But all of that being said, there’s a newer trend in the enterprise now taking hold that indicates that the future may actually be hybrid. It seems that some managers don’t want or can’t have their data floating around “in the heavens” for reasons of security and compliance reasons, despite the cost savings.

Google and Yahoo Ally to Keep Email Snoopers Out

Thumbnail image for Google Secures Gmail  June 6 2014.jpgGoogle and Yahoo are unlikely bedfellows. But yesterday at the annual Black Hat security conference the two announced they were teaming up to keep government and commercial snoopers out of users’ emails.

By 2015, the two promise that not only will it be near impossible to hack or view either Yahoo mail or Gmail, it will also be possible to encrypt emails between Yahoo and Gmail, accounting for a huge amount of email traffic across the Web.

This follows yesterday’s announcement from Google that it will be giving secure websites higher search rankings

Where User Experience Should Fit in SharePoint's Roadmap

SharePoint, 2014-08-August-Jigsaw-Puzzle.jpgMany people have singled out SharePoint's user experience (UX) as one of the main culprits in lagging adoption and engagement numbers since the launch of the platform. Arguably it wasn't until the 2010 version that Microsoft took targeted steps to remedy this, adding important usability improvements and social capabilities. It was also during the SharePoint 2010 release timeframe that the partner ecosystem grew to support design and UX. This expansion introduced new options for customers, as well as provided feedback and direction for Microsoft, leading to further enhancements in the SharePoint 2013 release, including mobile enhancements and the support of device channels.

But even with SharePoint 2013's focus on the presentation layer and ongoing UX developments inside of Office 365 -- such as deeper integration with Yammer, PowerBI and the Delve (formerly Codename Oslo) interface -- has it been enough to improve adoption and engagement?

Google Will Reward Secure Websites with Better Rankings

Google has confirmed plans to give higher search rankings to sites that are deemed more secure. In a blog post on Google’s Online Security blog, it announced it will favor websites that are using HTTPS encryption by default and that it will be rolling this out across all its algorithms.

Microsoft Releases (Almost) Last Windows Updates

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Question: When is an update not an update? Answer: When Microsoft says so.

If that seems a bit cryptic, consider this. Microsoft is releasing a number of updates to its Windows 8.1 operating system and Windows Server 2012 R2, but you’re not supposed to call them updates.

The thinking is simple. From here on, Microsoft will no longer be holding onto improvements and waiting for a major upgrade to release those updates, as it did in April with Windows 8.1. Instead, improvements will be released as they become available.

Microsoft Matches Google By Upgrading Office for iPad

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Microsoft Office is part of the iPad arsenal and 35 million users have downloaded since it was launched in March. Now Microsoft has issued several updates, which it describes as the features users request most often.

The upgrades — improvements for the Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications — are designed to enhance the user experience.

Mac News: OneNote Upgraded, But What About Office?

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Microsoft has just announced major upgrades for OneNote for Mac and iOS. They're interesting upgrades and point to a future where Microsoft works on cross-platform development, offering everyone access to everything.

It’s a great vision. And while Microsoft is making progress, it is still far from reality. While upgrades and access to OneNote will be a major plus for users, there’s still nothing for Office for Mac.

Google Smacks MS Office With Better Docs Collaboration

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Google is making it even easier to move from Microsoft Office to Google Docs.

At last month’s Google I/O conference, Google gave Office users the ability to edit documents in Docs, which was one of the sticking points for those considering a jump to Google.

We didn’t think it could do much more to make Docs attractive, but it has. Like last month’s QuickOffice integration, this enhancement is small but significant. The upgrade comes in the shape of tracking changes.

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