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Microsoft News & Analysis

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.

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?

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