Another year gone by, and the monolith that is Microsoft keeps developing and growing stronger. And impressively, for all the changes that have been implemented, Microsoft never lost its sense of focus in delivering innovative products and services. Let’s take a look...

Sophie Learman
Marketing and Internal Communications Executive

Microsoft 365: the modern workplace gets bigger and better

Microsoft 365 brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and EMS into a singular 'complete, intelligent and secure solution', with an edition for Business, and another for Enterprise. With the Enterprise edition coming in two 'flavours'  E3 and E5  the solution is tailored to empower an organisation's individual needs.

Microsoft’s plan with Microsoft 365 is three-fold: greater empowerment of workers, increased security, and streamlined management.

Teams > Skype. The future is integrated.

Now positioned as Microsoft’s premier communication solution, Microsoft Teams is poised to the be the be-all and end-all of collaborative working for Microsoft users, enabling instant messaging (IM), file sharing, and more.

It has the basic functionally of Skype IMs, but seeks to expand on usability potential. In the imminent future, Microsoft plans to incorporate better meeting functionality in Teams through the leveraging of AI, as well as general meeting and calling enhancements, PTSN numbers, voicemail, and audio conferencing. Teams currently comes free with Office.

Three new applications to make small business bigger

The ushering in of Microsoft 365 also brought three new applications for small business services: Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, and Microsoft Invoicing.

'Connections' is an email marketing service designed to attract and retain customers; 'Listings' serves as an effective way to publish business information and monitor your company in the marketplace; 'Invoicing' enables the easy creation of professional-looking invoices.

MileIQ, a mileage-tracking app, has also been bundled into the Office 365 Business center services.

AI: made from intelligence IRL

Microsoft has made a big splash this year with its renewed focus on AI. It was the centrepiece of their annual report, has been heavily incorporated into their vision statement, and is poised to be more greatly intertwined with the cloud moving forward.

Microsoft continues to grow their AI and Research teams to prioritise this shift in focus that is reorienting the entire tech space. The team, which was created a little over a year ago, now stands approximately at a staggering 8000 a 60% in growth for this year alone.

LinkedIn: let the rollouts begin...

Following Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016, it has this year begun rolling-out its unified solution developments. In April, the integration of Dynamics 365 and LinkedIn Sales Navigator was announced. Named 'Microsoft Relationship Sales', it entered general availability in July, aiming to 'dramatically increase the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships'.

September brought the integration of LinkedIn into the Office Profile Card, enabling personalised LinkedIn insights directly into your Microsoft Office 365 experience.

And more recently in November, Resume Assistant has launched in Microsoft Word to help Office 365 subscribers create compelling CVs with inspiration and insights powered by LinkedIn.

Azure still reigns as Cloud King

In terms of cloud, Azure continues to be a big step ahead of the competition. The focus remains on connecting on-premise data centres to the cloud, and thereafter to AI. Currently, Microsoft stands as the clear frontrunner in the race for cloud dominance, still edging out in front of AWS, IBM and Salesforce, leaving plenty of room to spare.

At Microsoft Inspire, ISV Cloud Embed was unveiled, which simplifies creating business applications and provides building blocks for optimised app development.

Outlook: a faster and fresher email experience

Microsoft has redesigned Outlook, as first brought to attention in Microsoft Ignite in September. Users can look forward to the layout being more streamlined, featuring a new customisable ribbon to further personalise the interface.

    And in conclusion? Well, not quite yet...

With the past year full and fruitful for Microsoft, they still show no signs of slowing down in the year to come.
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