Today was the kick off for Microsoft's annual Ignite Conference for IT Pros which is being held in Atlanta, Georgia this week.
The day began with a corporate keynote that focused on three key areas - Security, Cloud and Intelligence - with new services and products announced in each area.
Microsoft has made very significant investments in machine learning, big data and their intelligence platforms over many years and it seems that every product is now looked at with an eye towards including an intelligence element/feature.
All of these newly announced features and services bring that corporate experience to the forefront in providing users abilities that make them more productive and, based on demos we saw last night of several of these, it is almost magical!
Of course, there will be much more to follow this week on these and other announcements as in-depth sessions are held and we get to peek even further behind the curtain to understand how they all work and integrate with other products.
Here is a quick run down of the new intelligence related services announced today:
- Cortana, Microsoft's well known personal digital assistant, gains more capabilities for reminders and providing insight to your health data from multiple sources. With all the changes relating to Microsoft Band and the companies Health platform this may provide some insight on the future of Microsoft Health.
- Tap in Word and Outlook will use the Microsoft Graph (via Office 365 E3/E5 subscriptions) to easily let users bring content from co-workers in their company into their own presentations. This content will be much more discoverable and searchable based on what is being shared by team members and co-workers. Tap in Word and Outlook is available beginning today for Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 subscribers in the First Release program.
- Quickstarter for PowerPoint and Sway will help users overcome the blank canvas blocks that hit all of us. By building an outline based on a certain topic, which can be searched for from within the tool in PowerPoint and Sway, the user gets a framework including recommended content ideas and images. Quickstarter will be available starting today for everyone using Sway on the web and will come to PowerPoint on the desktop later this year.
- Delve Analytics gets renamed to MyAnalytics in Office 365 and is a tool that allows users to take a closer look at how they spend their time in work related tasks such as email and meetings. Users can share this data with a mentor if they choose but it is not shared with supervisors and managers. It is intended as a personal improvement/growth tool and not a work accountability tool.
- PowerPoint Designer already provides users ideas ideas on how to create a professional layout on their slides and choose themed colors based on images but now bulleted process lists are now being added to the feature. In the future this text recognition will be expanded to include timelines in the future. The new bulleted process list feature is available starting today for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider Program. It is coming soon for PowerPoint on Mac and other Office 365 subscribers.
- Excel is getting a new geography capability for displaying data with the new Maps chart type. This feature lets you create high quality map based displays of your geographically related data directly in Excel and it can then be exported to other Office products such as Outlook,PowerPoint and Word. The demo we saw of this feature was impressive and easy to to on several scales of map based regions. This will roll out by the end of 2016 for Excel on the desktop, Windows Mobile and Android for Office 365 subscribers.
- Relationship Assistant is not a new dating tool but it is part of the upcoming Dynamics 365 for Sales to assist with customer interactions and engagements.
Stay tuned to all of our Microsoft Ignite coverage this week to learn more about these and other new tools as the week progresses.
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