METHOD IT was in attendance at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2014, held in Washington DC from July 13-17. Get up to speed on all the key announcements from this important event in just a few minutes.
- While Windows still has a 90% share of the PC market, add all smartphones, tablets, hybrid devices and mobile phones into the mix and this drops to just 14%. The focus must shift from just Windows to Windows+iOS+Android in a ‘mobile first, cloud first’ world. How this challenge can be met was covered in COO Kevin Turner’s keynote.
- Both Windows and Office now boast over one billion users each, with the exact figure for Windows being 1.5 billion according to the Microsoft By The Numbers website.
- Office 365 is a major success – a $1 billion business in 2013 and now up to $2.5 billion halfway through this year. 60% of Fortune 500 companies have signed up for Office 365 in the past year alone.
Office 365 Takes Center Stage
- CEO Satya Nadella, reiterating points made in his recent 3,000 word email to employees, shared a vision of Microsoft as a mobile and cloud services company with Office as the cornerstone.
- Office 365 is fully mobile and cross-platform – it will work on your Windows PC, Mac, iPhone, Windows Phone or Android phone, Chromebook and iPad, with versions on the way for Windows Touch and Android tablets. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft claims the ‘best Office experience’ is still to be found on Windows 8.1.
- Microsoft partners will soon become a single point-of-contact for Office 365 clients, instead of handing them over to Microsoft once setup has been completed.
- Office 365 packages for small to mid-sized business have been overhauled with possible savings of up to 31% over the previous subscription model.
- Want to know what else is in store? Microsoft recently made public its roadmap for Office 365.
With BYOD becoming the norm and increasingly fuzzy definitions of device ownership, CEO Satya Nadella was keen to point out how Microsoft services like Outlook, Exchange, Skype, Lync, and OneDrive cloud storage can work in harmony on the same device for both personal and professional use.
Microsoft outlined how it was able to lure 785 defecting companies back to Office 365 from Google Apps in the past 18 months due to shortcomings in Google’s offering for the enterprise.
New in the Cloud
- Microsoft Azure StorSimple is the company’s hybrid cloud storage solution which helps businesses manage their expanding data needs in a cost-effective way. StorSimple is built around the premise that frequently accessed files can be stored locally while cold storage can be left in the cloud.
- The new Azure Machine Learning service helps partners build predictive analytics solutions for their customers.
- Microsoft Azure and Office 365 will be joined by Dynamics CRM Online to make up a cloud package designed specifically for government.
- Azure Event Hubs is a new service that can handle millions of events per second, allowing organizations to collect and analyze data from an almost infinite number of cloud-connected devices.
More Love for Windows Phone
- The Nokia Lumia 520 smartphone has sold 12 million units.
- Windows Phone is now the number two mobile OS after Android in 14 markets, outselling Apple’s iOS in India, Mexico, Italy, Chile, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Ukraine, Hungary, Finland, Czech Republic and Greece.
- Many new hardware partners around the world are showing an interest in Windows phones since the introduction this April of ‘$0 Windows’ – a free version of Windows for devices with a screen size under nine inches. Some 31 new devices were slated in the week prior to WPC2014.
Internet of Things
A new device-embedded version of Windows for net-connected appliances is in development. Windows IoT will display a ‘unique approach’ to data and device management for manufacturers with strong security and analytics.
One App to Rule Them All
Having a unified App Store and developer API is now a key mission for Microsoft. Starting from Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Phone 8.1, developers are able to code a single ‘universal app’ which will run on Windows phones, tablets, tablet-laptop hybrids, laptops and desktop PCs. In the future universal apps will expand to cover Xbox One and giant touchscreen Perceptive Pixel devices.
Windows into the Future
A few hints were made at features to look forward to in upcoming releases of Windows, including the return of a souped-up Start menu with mini tiles, and the ability to run the Windows 8 trademark ‘Metro’ apps on the desktop.
A live demo of the new Skype Translator app, due later this year, translated a voice chat on-the-fly with one person speaking English while the other spoke German.
New Low-Budget Devices
In an effort to counter the rise of the Chromebook, Microsoft promised to ‘participate at the low-end’, showing off $249 Windows laptops from Toshiba and Acer and hinting at a $199 Windows laptop from HP due out in time for the end-of-year holiday season.
METHOD IT is a certified Microsoft partner, servicing international businesses in the Asia-Pacific region with the latest and best technology. We specialize in the setup and administration of Microsoft infrastructure and provide support in English, Chinese, and Japanese. We offer a wide range of tailor-made Private Cloud, Datacenter Hosting, Office 365 Migration, IT Management, IT Admin and Support, and Back Office Systems solutions for everyone from small start-ups to large multinational corporations.