We’ve talked about the changes that Microsoft has brought to Windows, Office and Office 365. That’s a fair amount of new and update features for any technology company, across their major platforms. But the changes don’t stop there. Let’s take a look at some of the other innovations that have been announced:
Office Lens: Though not a new product, Office Lens was born on the Windows Phone platform but has now been released for iOS and Android. It’s used for snapping a photo of a business card, whiteboard scribble or printed document, cleans it up and saves to Word, PDF and/or OneDrive and handles OCR to text. In my opinion, this is ‘the best Microsoft product that nobody knows about’.
Azure AD Domain Services: While we’re used to hearing that Azure runs Active Directory, in reality it’s a special edition of AD that doesn’t have the full feature set. This has restricted the use of Microsoft’s Cloud platform, as the authentication mechanism used by many applications just weren’t supported. Enter Azure AD Domain Services, with support now for LSAP, NTLM, Kerberos and AD domain join. Group Policy is now also available for managing Azure virtual machines. Does this mean you can turn off your on-premises domain controllers? Not just yet, sorry. Application authentication has priority as this product is still in preview, but watch this space.
Universal Apps: This is arguably Microsoft’s boldest move, but the jury’s still out on whether it will pay off. Universal Windows Platform Apps are based on one API set so developers can code for Windows 10 across multiple devices. The app store is the same whether you’re viewing it for the PC, Windows Phone or your Xbox. The goal is to make it easier for apps to go to market and to roll out updates without having to create device-specific versions. Big goal, but the app developers will need to get on board before it’s a success.
Continuum: When your phone needs to be a full computer, it can be if it’s a compatible Windows 10 Mobile device. We’re not talking just full-screening here. Continuum optimises the enlarged display device, supports mouse & keyboard actions and still lets you pick up your phone to answer calls and send texts. It’s a little mind blowing. But if you’re struggling to find a real-world use for it, presenters may never need to carry a laptop again. In fact, we’re seeing an increasing number of Microsoft staff run presentations this way. Note: Requires a wired or wireless dongle or dock accessory. Watch Bryan Roper demo Continuum at the Microsoft Windows 10 Devices event - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f34PJhto92Q
Surface Book: The tablet that replaces your laptop is a laptop that’s a tablet. Yes, for the first time in history, Microsoft have released their own laptop. The amount of innovation in this product is staggering, from the processor chip to the dynamic fulcrum hinge. It’s light and fast and beautiful. The screen comes off to be a tablet and the pen has four interchangeable tips. Now I just have to wait for my existing laptop to die. Oops, was that a glass of water?
Hololens: The demos are amazing. Hololens is a high definition holographic computer in a fully contained headset. It’s not meant to be worn walking down the street, but opens up a huge range of applications from gaming to design to medical imaging. Oh and the holograms are environment-aware, so the bad guys will crawl over your furniture. The developer kit is now available for purchase but my kids just want to play holographic Minecraft. See the gaming demos here:Microsoft Hololens Minecraft E3 2015 - Minecraft Holographic (Demo) - YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3rNIxMlKmI
Some of these seem a little more far-fetched than others, especially in terms of Enterprise adoption. They are strong markers of a new Microsoft though, one that’s not happy just pushing out new versions of its existing platforms.
What do you think? Is there anything in this list on your radar to look at? Is Microsoft focussing on the wrong things or are you pleasantly surprised at how the future might look for the company with Satya Nadella in charge now?
P.S. Please don’t tell me you are rolling out Surface Books ... unless you have a vacancy on your team.