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Reactions and impressions from Microsoft Ignite

Jonathan Hassell | May 8, 2015
Microsoft kicked off the Ignite conference yesterday. The event is the combination of its IT pro-oriented TechEd conference along with the smaller Exchange, SharePoint and Lync conferences it had run at various points over the past decade. Here some initial thoughts and impressions of the keynotes and product announcements.

A bit on Continuum for phones

Continuum is the Windows 10 feature that handles the responsiveness of changing form factors while continuing with a session — if a tablet user attaches a keyboard, the UI adjusts to the traditional Windows interface, and when the keyboard is detached, the interface readjusts. But extend Continuum to phones and it really gets interesting. Continuum for Phones lets a phone drive an HDMI compliant monitor and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard seats while still operating the phone screen.

Since Windows Phone runs Universal apps, you are running the same code everywhere so your experience is basically a PC. We are finally at a point where phones can be that powerful, and road warriors could just bring a phone along and use any monitor they choose along the way, no laptop required. Much more to come on this, but it is fascinating to see this develop.

Collaboration and productivity

On the SharePoint/Lync/Skype for Business front, we have the Office 365 Workmap, a new feature that lets you view how your team is working — how many e-mails, how many meetings, when they are working and answering emails, and so on, so you can easily swap priorities, bring new people into a project, and shuffle around to make sure all of your human resources are used efficiently. I am not sure how useful this will be in practice, but it is an interesting dynamic.

OneDrive for Business integrates tightly with Office 2016 so that we are not sending attachments back and forth. It also intelligently adjusts permissions — if I own a file and "attach" the pointer to that file to a message destined for someone who does not already have access, Office 365 (and perhaps SharePoint on premises) will figure out the permissions and automatically add what's necessary. No more screwing around trying to get rights to view a document even though someone sent it directly to you.

All meetings scheduled in Office 365 will automatically become Skype for Business meetings that support video collaboration and co-creation and editing using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Online. The full fat desktop clients in the Office 2016 suite will also support real time coauthoring, pixel by pixel exactly what is happening within the document and who is performing what elements.

Surface Hub

I could write this section solely with these words: "I want one." 84-inch 4K display, a full PC, touch sensitive, designed for collaboration. As Microsoft's Julia White put it, "this is a conference room device that will actually get used." It's a whiteboard, a video conferencing solution, a full computer with Office and all sorts of connectivity, and the ability to work with Skype for Business nee Lync to ad-hoc add and remove participants and in general collaborate more effectively. Heck, even the "I'm Done" feature which takes everything that is happened, saves it to OneDrive for Business, clears the whiteboard, and gets the device ready for the next meeting to happen in that very conference room could save five minutes per meeting and ensures no data is lost and no idea or action point that was captured during the meeting does not get sent out to everyone.


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