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2019 Microsoft Year in Review: A Glimpse of Life After Windows

In a year in which the keynote at Microsoft’s flagship event didn’t mention Windows once – and more productivity tools moved to the cloud – these are the developments that stood out.

Every one of these highlighted stories from our 2019 Microsoft coverage impact the enterprise’s productivity, and they all contribute to a larger theme: The enterprise is moving to a post-operating system world, one in which the options for managing all this infrastructure are outside of the organization. Giving up that control is a challenge for most enterprises – and one of the big stories of the year was how to retain much of that control even when using infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Take a look back at the five biggest stories of 2019 in our Microsoft year in review.

1) Windows 7 Is Finally Heading Out the Door

Although the discussion around the end of lifecycle support for Windows 7 has been happening since the first version of Windows 10 was released in July 2015, it really picked up in 2019. The official end-of-service date of January 14, 2020 looms large. Enterprises that have not yet made a full migration to Windows 7, you need to have a plan in place to get Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for your remaining devices or shift that workload to something like Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop service on Azure. There are no last-minute reprieves coming down from Microsoft for Windows 7.

2) Microsoft’s Chromium Based Browser is Arriving Soon

Next, our Microsoft year in review takes us to the browser space. As Windows 7 is leaving official support in January 2020, the new Microsoft Edge browser, based on the open-source Chromium rending engine, is expected to reach general availability around January 15, 2020.

Testing has been happening for enterprise customers for several months and the new browser is going to deliver maximum compatibility with the modern web. In addition, enterprises will have a full array of management and support tools to deploy and migrate users to the new browser. Enterprise users dependent upon Internet Explorer 11 for compatibility can use IE Mode in the new Edge and migrate away from IE11 completely.

3) Microsoft 365 Supersedes Office 365 Subscription

As we were preparing coverage for the 2019 Microsoft Ignite conference, we noticed the term Office 365 was being replaced by Microsoft 365. This is not a complete surprise because the software and services you received through an Office 365 subscription are part of Microsoft 365 as well. In addition, Microsoft 365 subscribers also get licensing for Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) as part of the subscription package. The shift in language from the Redmond company was confirmed by third-party sources: Moving from “Office 365” to “Microsoft 365” is intended to shift the focus to a one-stop shop style solution for enterprise customers, one that allows management across all end points without any additional software or services.

4) More Tools for Cloud Migrations

Another area Microsoft focused on in 2019 was providing services that make cloud migrations more reliable and easier to manage for enterprise customers. The company’s acquisition of meant the addition of a self-service migration option with built-in support for other cloud storage service providers like Box, Dropbox and Google Drive. The big three cloud service providers – Microsoft, Amazon, and Google – all want you on their cloud but that move must be manageable and minimize disruption to end users. The cloud provider that gets the process right will benefit in the long run.

5) Data Security and Privacy – The Spread of the GDPR

A Microsoft year in review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the company's announcement around data privacy this year. During 2019, the General Data and Privacy Regulations (GDPR) law was enacted in the European Union. Since then there have been a handful of high-profile fines related to user data privacy and security breaches, plus the tools for users to ask for their data’s removal from systems have been steadily being made available even after the deadline. During the run up to GDPR being enacted, many discussions surrounded whether this policy should be adopted globally.

While the majority of users want to see this implemented, until new laws are put on the books, it is very unlikely to gain any traction. Microsoft, however, stated it would handle user data in accordance with GDPR even outside of the EU. Recently, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect and the discussions have renewed around establishing similar user protections across the United States.

That concludes our Microsoft year in review. What will next year bring?

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