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Microsoft News & Analysis

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.

Reimagine Retail Inventory to Remove Customer Hurdles

2014-28-July-Vintage-Sneakers.jpgThe retail industry is at a crossroad. We've discussed omnichannel behavior for some time now -- both from a consumer and organizational perspective -- but we need to turn that discussion into strategy and action. Retailers are now challenged to use insight from data created across these channels to drive better business performance and meet customer expectations. Technology is they key to enabling this.

Nowhere has the explosion of omnichannel been felt more deeply than retail inventory. Monitoring, moving and replenishing stock was relatively simple when the only end point was the physical store network. But consumers now discover, browse and buy from retailers through a variety of channels -- physical, mobile, online -- through marketplaces and from Drop Ship Vendors (DSVs), which is creating more range, storage and fulfillment options than ever before.

Microsoft Tightens the Reins on Office 365

Companies are still signing up for Yammer — despite the fact that user adoption remains a problem. 

In fact, according to Yammer co-founder David Sacks, the British grocery retailing giant Tesco has just inked a 250, 000 seat deal with Yammer. The information was contained in a memo from Sacks to Microsoft employees.

Sacks announced on Twitter late last week that he is leaving Microsoft, but did not specify why.

Startup Offers Free Collaboration Option for Any Web Page

Just as Microsoft blends Yammer into Office365, a startup is offering a free service to add a Facebook-like collaboration tool to any web page.

Lifestreams Technologies, a 2-year-old company based in New Haven, Conn., said the widget can be used on any intranet or public-facing website by adding a snippet of code to the html.

"Most websites today are relatively static," said Peter Prosol, business development director for the 10-person SaaS firm. "You'll find pictures and images and text, but it's more or less as it is. It doesn't change much. But adding a timeline to your site ... it lets you be more dynamic, add new content, refresh and be a little more interactive and engaging to the user."

Microsoft Kicks Oracle's Big Data Butt

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison must be feeling the heat, Forbes reports that the world’s highest paid CEO lost $1.9 billion of his wealth last year.

There, there Larry, no need for crocodile tears, you’ve got your very own Hawaiian island, an America’s Cup winning yacht, a 23 acre estate that is worth $200 million, as well as a dozen other homes in places like Malibu, Calif., Lake Tahoe, Newport, R.I. and Kyoto, Japan. Never mind the fleet of exotic cars and the golf tournament you own.

It’s no wonder that your company isn’t the market-maker it once was. With all those toys and an estimated $49 billion of wealth, who wouldn’t be just a little bit distracted?

SAP Jam's Approach to Social: It's All in the Work Patterns

2014-25-July-Loom.jpgThe social adoption and ROI discussions are getting louder as more and more enterprises implement social collaboration solutions and struggle to find success. Adoption and ROI are difficult areas to define, measure and implement. The Altimeter Group released a report on The Evolution of Social Business detailing how organizations that have implemented social have created technology silos and lack clear focus or strategy in how it should be deployed across the enterprise.

As social has become mainstream over the past few years, we have seen major software vendors across vertical markets and solution types integrate social into the fabric of their core products. Dion Hinchcliffe highlighted this trend in 2011 in his blog post “Putting Social to Work,” where he described the integration of social with ERP suites like Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, Microsoft and SAP.

I recently spoke with SAP's Social Software Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sameer Patel about social adoption and ROI. We discussed how SAP views these issues and how it developed the SAP Jam platform to address them. Its an interesting approach that's worth exploring in more depth.

The Problem With Yammer? People Don't Use It

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Yammer is being promoted as the new social layer of SharePoint. But Microsoft is also tying it tightly into Office 365. In the past two weeks, this has resulted in the packaging of Yammer with Office 365 small business plans, while the price of Office 365 is also about to be slashed.

There are problems with Yammer. But the problem lies not the product itself.

According to David Lavenda, vice president of product strategy at Harmon.ie, the real problem is that many people who have access to it just won’t use it — or any other social network for that matter.

AvePoint Bridges Box and SharePoint

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You have SharePoint. You have Box. Theoretically, you have all your enterprise information management, governance and collaboration bases covered. Right?

Well, yes … if all your content silos are connected and operating seamlessly. Unfortunately, that's rarely the case.

While there is a lot of patching and connecting to be done to pull all your silos together, it’s a job that’s rarely finished. To help enterprises with two of the most important silos, AvePoint has just announced the release of DocAve Cloud Connect, which bridges Box and SharePoint.

Apple's IBM Play Isn't Only About Selling More iDevices

Apple wants a seat at the enterprise table and IBM will soon be rolling out the red carpet that leads to the boardroom. Sure, Big Blue’s CEO Ginni Rommety might have to help Apple Chief Tim Cook tie his tie and polish his shoes first, but it’s a fair trade.  He might have to tell her the difference between an application and an app. Other than a few small hurdles like those, the earliest days of the IBM and Apple relationship should run smooth.

After all, without needing to sacrifice turf, Rommety’s 103-year-old monolith could be perceived to be cool and forward thinking again. Not only to the old guard that holds IBM Research, with its track record of pushing the boundaries of science, technology and business to make the world work better place, in high regard, but also to the fast tracked execs of the digital generation who have tremendous respect for old guys who get it.

Yes, for IBM the Apple partnership has the potential of doing what Watson hasn’t been able to do —namely making it relevant to Gen Y and the millennials.

Not only that, but Rommety’s slowly sinking ship will be buoyed by consulting fees earned through helping enterprises roll out Mobile in a safe and compliant way.

Could Russia Be Starting a Software/Hardware Cold War?

Russia is considering giving preference to its own hardware and software organizations in a current legislative bill, reducing its reliance on foreign suppliers, Bloomberg reported today

Does this mean a major hit for companies that do business in the country -- such as IBM, Microsoft, HP, Cisco and Oracle? 

Not really.

"In this day and age, every customer is valuable," said Alan Tonelson, an independent policy analyst who blogs at RealityChek. "But total Russia losses seem easily absorbable."

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