A Man with his dog reading a paper at a cafe

With the ongoing global health crisis, it is surprising to see so much happening in the digital workplace. However, over the past couple of weeks – possibly because vendors are using the time to catch up on projects that have been in work for some time – a number of interesting announcements have been made that will have quite an impact on the digital workplace once everyone gets back to normal.

Among those is the announcement by Microsoft that as of April 21st Office 365 and Microsoft 365 will become the same thing. In a blog post about the change, Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of modern life, search and devices wrote, "An evolution of Office 365, Microsoft 365 builds on the foundation of Office infusing new artificial intelligence (AI), rich content and templates, and cloud-powered experiences to empower you to become a better writer, presenter, designer, manager of your finances, and deepen your connection to the people in your life."

The new experiences have already started rolling out, according to the blog and will change the way 38 million people use both products.

Keep in mind that one of the big differences between Office 365 and Microsoft 365 is the security options as well as the fact that up until now Microsoft 365 was strictly for enterprises.

Now, the introduction of Microsoft 365 Personal and Family (up to six people) will give an entirely new audience access to the package from April 21. The new offering will include Office applications like Word and Excel as Office 365 has, but it comes with a promise of new apps and services both today and in the future. Later this year, it will also include Microsoft Teams for personal use.

While the timing of the release is probably coincidental — Microsoft clearly couldn’t have seen the Covid-19 outbreak — with its release and the blurring of lines between work and home life, the market for such a product is potentially huge. There are few further details yet but there will be more about it at the end of the month.

Finally, the new Microsoft Edge browser takes another step forward with new features to protect you on the web with Password Monitor, and to simplify research with Collections.

SharePoint Conferences Cancelled

Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash.-based company has announced that most of its SharePoint conferences have been cancelled. With SharePoint at the heart of the digital workplace, cancelling these events could delay the release, or unveiling, of new on-premises and online functionality.

All of the Microsoft Ignite Tour events have been cancelled, but Kashman promised that "a lot of that content will be coming on demand. In a statement, Microsoft wrote, "The safety of our community is a top priority. Considering health safety recommendations from public health authorities, we will not be holding Microsoft Inspire 2020 as an in-person event. We are exploring alternative ways to bring our partner community together to connect and learn. Stay tuned for more details to come."

Elsewhere, the Microsoft Business Applications Summit of May 6 to 7 is going virtual, while the SharePoint Conference 2020 event, originally scheduled for May 19, has been pushed out to March 2021.

This follows the announcement that Google’s I/O developer event this year, is also being cancelled. Google I/O was due to take place between May 12th to 14th.

Google Holds Off on Blocking ‘Less Secure Apps’

Google is making some changes to its G Suite platform, suspending its earlier move to cut off the access of what it considers "Less Secure Apps."

Google, you may recall, announced in February that it would be turning off less secure app (LSA) access to G Suite accounts, and that you should migrate to OAuth authentication instead.

The first phase of the LSA turn-down was scheduled for June 15, 2020. However, Google has announced that as many organizations deal with the impact of COVID-19 and are now focused on supporting a remote workforce, Google says it wants to minimize potential disruptions for customers unable to complete migrations in this timeframe. “As a result, we are suspending the LSA turn-off until further notice. All previously announced timeframes no longer apply,” the Mountain View, Calif.-based company wrote in a statement.

This will come as a relief, no doubt to companies that are not ready for Junes 15. However, it is not clear how long a reprieve these businesses are going to get. Google has not said when, or even if, it is going to go back on it. Instead, it recommends that enterprises switch to using OAuth authentication whenever possible for your organization.

OAuth helps enterprises protect their accounts by helping us identify and prevent suspicious login attempts and allows us to enforce G Suite admin-defined login policies, such as the use of security keys.

Xerox Abondons HP Bid

Meanwhile, Norwalk, Conn. based Xerox has walked away from its $35 billion bid for HP after the coronavirus outbreak weighed on its campaign to take over the PC and printing equipment manufacturer. Xerox’s decision came after it said earlier this month it would postpone meetings with HP shareholders to focus on coping with the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement John Visentin, Xerox vice chairman and chief executive officer, said, “In light of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, Xerox needs to prioritize the health and safety of its employees, customers, partners and affiliates over and above all other considerations, including its proposal to acquire ...We believe it is prudent to postpone releases of additional presentations, interviews with media and meetings with HP shareholders so we can focus our time and resources on protecting Xerox’s various stakeholders from the pandemic.”

There is not a lot more to be said in respect of this and it remains to be seen whether Xerox will try to relaunch the bid once the crisis is over. However, it is increasingly like that the outbreak will have a devastating impact on the economy and all enterprises will be looking for ways to preserve its capital.

In these circumstances and the the price Xerox had already offered for HP, it seems unlikely that there will by any more to be said on this in the immediate future. Xerox was set to challenge HP’s board at the latter’s annual meeting of shareholders in May but will now abandon this effort as well as its tender offer for HP’s shares, the company said in a statement.

Zoom Partners For Video Content Management

While San Jose, Calif.-based Zoom is still trying to sort out its privacy problems and the ongoing issues around security, its screensharing feature, its claims of end-to-end-encryption claims and an incomplete privacy policy, it has, on a more positive note, announced a partnership with VIDIZMO, which develops an enterprise video platform. The integration brings together the Zoom platform and VIDIZMO’s video content management system allowing users to turn recorded Zoom meetings and other communication use-cases into rich, manageable, searchable, and shareable on-demand videos.

As the market size of video conferencing grows, so does the need to manage, store, and share those recorded meetings. Each organization and individual participate in thousands of video meetings a year. In 2019 alone, Zoom claims to have exceeded 5 billion meeting minutes every month. Apart from the challenges of storing and securely sharing the recorded meetings with internal and external audiences, cataloging and making these videos easily searchable for the selected audience is also a challenge for users of video conferencing.

Through VIDIZMO, Zoom recordings are automatically uploaded to VIDIZMO’s enterprise video platform. Once uploaded, metadata from recordings are generated for a comprehensive library and inside-video search, enabling viewers to find any word spoken.

In recent years, online meetings have transformed the world into a single room office. Years back, one would need sophisticated hardware and proprietary software to have a video conference. According to a report by Grand View Research, Inc., the global video conferencing market will grow to an estimated $6.7 billion by 2025. That said, Zoom has a lot on its plate now and has suspended feature developments until the privacy issues are sorted. Whether it can do that or not remains to be seen.

SnapChat in the Digital Workplace

Finally, this week, is it possible that Santa Monica, Calif.-based Snapchat could become a common feature in the digital workplace? That certainly seems to be the case if a recent release from the Snapchat App Stories, which enables users to show off their ephemeral content in other apps too.

App Stories will allow users to export their Snapchat photos and videos to other apps, expanding the number of people who can see content from the popular social app.

The new feature could help introduce Snap to more people, helping them company maintain the user growth. One to watch