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KPMG expects to invest US$5 billion in digital strategy and expand Microsoft alliance to accelerate professional services transformation – Stories

New innovations built on Microsoft cloud and AI technologies help clients achieve greater accuracy and decision-making capabilities, increased productivity, and cost efficiencies.

AMSTELVEEN, Netherlands and REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 5, 2019 — KPMG and Microsoft Corp. are strengthening their global relationship through a five-year agreement to accelerate digital transformation for KPMG member firms and mutual clients. As part of its announcement to significantly invest in technology, people and innovation,, KPMG is modernizing its workplace using the Microsoft 365 suite of cloud-based collaboration and productivity tools, including Microsoft Teams. KPMG is also utilizing Microsoft Azure and its AI capabilities as the backbone for a new common, global cloud-based platform. The platform will strengthen KPMG’s range of digital offerings with new innovations in cloud-based audit capabilities, tax solutions and risk management. Clients in all sectors, including those in highly regulated industries, benefit from globally consistent and continuous service delivery that enables greater speed of deployment while adhering to industry-leading compliance and security standards.

“Together with KPMG, we’re accelerating digital transformation across industries by bringing the latest advances in cloud, AI and security to highly regulated workloads in tax, audit and advisory,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “KPMG’s deep industry and process expertise, combined with the power of our trusted cloud — spanning Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365 — will bring the best of both organizations together to help customers around the world become more agile in an increasingly complex business environment.”

New business-critical solutions

As organizations expand to new geographies, develop new products and recruit new talent, processes can become increasingly complex and harder to scale. Market forces, such as evolving data protection laws, currency fluctuations and geopolitical tensions, increase the complexity and require a greater responsiveness for systems and tools.

The strong portfolio of KPMG and Microsoft alliance offerings can help address these challenges more quickly by building applications on demand, automating manual processes, and continuously analyzing information to minimize the risk of errors and increase the ability to make smart decisions.

“Our alliance with Microsoft has become a critical component in helping us deliver industry-leading solutions and services to clients. Our significant multiyear investment continues to empower our people to work more efficiently and collaboratively while maximizing the power of a workforce that blends people and technology,” said Bill Thomas, Global Chairman, KPMG International. “By harnessing Microsoft’s intelligent and trusted cloud, we aim to help clients be at the forefront of change and better prepared for a digital-first future.”

Combining industry expertise with advanced technology

Through a jointly funded incubator, KPMG and Microsoft are co-developing a robust portfolio of solutions and managed services in the areas of cloud business transformation, intelligent business applications and smart workplace solutions.

For example, KPMG in the U.S. and Microsoft are working together to bring the power of Azure to the healthcare and life sciences industries. This collaboration is enabling organizations within this highly regulated sector to maximize their clinical, operational and financial performance with an easily scalable solution that helps improve deployment speed, accelerate ROI and increase data-driven insights.

In addition, KPMG in the Netherlands has developed risk management, compliance and internal audit solutions that leverage discovery tools to enable the digitization of risk and compliance processes across domains such as finance, legal and IT. Designed by KPMG and built on Microsoft Azure, the solutions provide seamless and cost-efficient policy and controls automation, putting smart analytics directly in the hands of business and IT operators so they can make timely, corrective actions when deviations occur.

Smart audit platform

KPMG, with the launch of its smart audit platform KPMG Clara in 2017, became the first of the Big Four to take its audit workflow to the cloud. Based on Microsoft Azure, KPMG Clara is an automated, agile, intelligent and scalable platform that allows KPMG professionals to work smarter, bringing powerful data and analytics capabilities into one interface, while allowing clients to interact on a real-time basis with the audit process.

By enriching the audit mandate with AI, KPMG enables its professionals to make decisions based on real-time data. This further reinforces KPMG’s commitment to maintaining and enhancing audit quality and building a future where technology continually enriches the audit through the introduction of new digital advancements.

KPMG Clara will integrate with Microsoft Teams, providing a platform for audit professionals to centrally manage and securely share audit files, track audit-related activities, and communicate using chat, voice and video meetings. This helps simplify the auditors’ workflow, enabling them to stay in sync throughout the entire process and drive continuous communication with the client.

Empowering workforce transformation

Through its common, global cloud platform, KPMG will create a set of cloud-based capabilities ranging from hosting infrastructure based on Microsoft Azure to more than 50 advanced solutions, such as AI, cyber and robotic process automation (RPA). KPMG will further empower its global workforce of over 207,000 employees across 153 countries with Microsoft 365, including Teams, to better meet the needs of clients through increased collaboration, improved productivity and data-driven insights. In addition, more than 30,000 KPMG professionals across 17 member firms have been equipped with Dynamics 365, a suite of powerful customer relationship applications.

To read more about the KPMG and Microsoft alliance, visit the Microsoft Transform blog.

About KPMG International 

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 153 countries and territories and have 207,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:
Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777,
[email protected]
Mark Walters, KPMG International, (646) 943-2115, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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From new Microsoft Teams experiences to the all-new Project Cortex—here’s what’s coming soon to Microsoft 365 – Microsoft 365 Blog

Today at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida, we announced new Microsoft 365 innovations in six key investment areas: productivity, knowledge, workflow, security, compliance, and management. Microsoft 365 is the world’s productivity cloud, and the consistent theme across these new features is how we’re using artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver amazing new experiences that push the boundaries of productivity. From new Microsoft Teams enhancements to the first new service we’ve launched since Teams, we have a lot to share with you—so let’s get to the news.

Productivity

Microsoft 365’s productivity tools use AI to help people create, collaborate, analyze, write, present, organize, and manage their work. Our innovations in core productivity are focused on two opportunities: creating entirely new experiences that take advantage of the latest innovations and breathing new life into familiar apps and experiences with powerful cloud services.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork. In response to requests from Teams customers, we’re pleased to announce Private channels, Multiwindow chats, meetings and calls, pinned channels, and task integration with To Do and Planner. We’re improving collaboration capabilities between Outlook and Teams, making it easy to send an email thread to a Teams channel for further discussion.

And we’re bringing the Yammer app into Teams, adding the ability for users to pin the app to the left-hand rail and making Teams the hub for both focused team collaboration and broad, open communities. We are also delivering new industry-tailored innovations and experiences including tools for Healthcare and Firstline workers. Healthcare providers can now schedule and conduct B2C virtual consultations through Teams with new Virtual Consults capabilities, and new features like SMS Sign-In and Global Sign-Out make it quick and easy for Firstline workers to securely access Teams from their mobile devices.

The New Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Bing are the web browser and search engine for business. We are pleased to announce that the general availability of the all-new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser is targeted for January 15, 2020. You can download the release candidate today.

The all-new Microsoft Edge offers the enterprise new tab page, where you’ll have direct access to your Microsoft 365 files, sites, and intranet search, making every tab you open a portal to productivity. And with the new Microsoft Search in Bing integration, searching for information at work is as easy as searching the web. You can now access files, people, office floorplans, acronym definitions, and more company information from across your Microsoft 365 ecosystem right from the search bar.

Finally, Microsoft Edge is now available across all your devices—including Windows 10, Windows 8x, Windows 7, macOS, iOS, and Android. Your passwords and favorites will roam seamlessly across all your devices—and with native Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) sign-in, you can search for work files right from your phone.

GIF showing new Microsoft Edge Search

The Office mobile app

We all want to be able to work on the go from mobile devices and we’re always looking to simplify and improve the experience. Today, we’re announcing a new mobile experience for Office that combines three of the suite’s most popular apps—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—into a single go-to app for mobile productivity. Now you no longer need to download each app separately and will have everything you need to be productive on the go. And with the new Actions pane, you can intuitively complete a variety of common on-the-go tasks, such as creating and signing PDFs and sharing files between devices.

The new Office app uses the unique advantages of mobile devices to make content creation easier. You can snap a picture of a document and turn it into an editable word file, for instance, or transform tables from a printed page into an Excel spreadsheet. Launched today as a public preview, the Office app is available to Android users through the Google Play Store and to iOS users through Apple’s TestFlight program.

Animated image of Office app icons on a desk, coming together in stop motion photography, finally joining together to create a Home screen in the new Office Mobile App.

Fluid Framework

At Build 2019, we announced Fluid Framework, a new technology and set of experiences that will make collaboration seamless by breaking down the barriers between apps. It offers three key capabilities. First, experiences powered by the Fluid Framework will support multi-person coauthoring on web and document content at industry-leading speed and scale. Second, it provides a componentized document model that allows authors to deconstruct content into collaborative building blocks, use them across applications, and combine them in a new, more flexible kind of document. Third, the Fluid Framework makes room for intelligent agents to work alongside humans to translate text, fetch content, suggest edits, perform compliance checks, and more.

Today, we are announcing a public preview of the Fluid Framework end user experience and a private preview for developers. Over time, we expect these capabilities to light up in experiences across Microsoft 365, including within chat in Teams, mail in Outlook, portals in SharePoint, notes in OneNote, and documents in Office.

Animated image of a laptop morphing into a desktop PC, followed by a number of Office app screens appearing, illustrating the power of the Fluid Framework.

Cortana

We’re using AI to bring you personalized experiences in Outlook and making Cortana your personal productivity assistant. Today, we announced Play My Emails in Outlook for iOS to help you catch up and act on emails hands-free. With new natural voice and language recognition, Cortana can intelligently read out your new emails and share changes to your day. A masculine voice option is also now available with Play My Emails, further customizing your personal productivity assistant experience. We’re also announcing that Scheduler in Outlook is shipping in preview; you can use it to hand off scheduling meetings and coordinating participants to Cortana.

Beginning next month, Cortana can also help you prepare for your day by sending you a briefing email that includes a summary of your meetings, relevant documents for your day, and reminders to follow up on commitments you’ve made in email.

Image of four phones side by side illustrating the power of Cortana as a personal assistant. One shows an Outlook inbox, the next two a mobile meeting, and finally an email being flagged by Cortana.

AI in Office

You’re busy and have a lot on your mind—and even more on your to-do list. We get it, and over the past year, we brought the magic of AI to Office to help you get more done. With innovations that include entering data into Excel with a digital pen, audio transcription in Word—which converts a new or existing audio file into a written transcription—and Presenter Coach in PowerPoint (in public preview for the web), which helps business professionals, teachers, and students become more effective presenters, we committed to enlightening Office with AI to help you be more productive.

Today our journey continues. Now Excel supports natural language queries, so users can now ask a question of their data, just like they would if they were talking to a person, and get quick answers—all without having to write a formula. Available to Office Insiders, this new natural language ability is another step towards making data insights and visualization more approachable and accessible to users with various levels of Excel experience.

We’re also making it easier for you to plan time away from work and continue to improve your work best practices. For example, MyAnalytics can help you prepare for time off by automating out of office notification setup, informing collaborators of your time away, resolving meetings you’ll miss, and more. Integrated into the Insights pane in Outlook, MyAnalytics is now able to encourage best practices like booking meetings promptly, adding an agenda, and meeting follow ups, and adding new AI-powered suggestions in Outlook that allow you to delay email delivery when working outside the recipient’s working hours.

Animated image showing Ideas (now in preview) being used in Excel.

Microsoft Project

Last week, we announced a major step toward achieving our new vision for project management with the general availability of the new Microsoft Project. The new Project offers a redesigned user experience that is simple and intuitive. Teams can quickly add new members and set up tasks, and then easily switch between grids, boards, or timeline (Gantt) charts to track progress. And because Project is part of the Microsoft 365 family, project teams can save time and do more with built-in connections to familiar apps like Teams and Office. In addition, the new service provides greater visibility into your projects and powerful tools to help you anticipate future needs. Create stunning interactive reports in Power BI, so you can visualize every aspect of each project at a glance. And get the big picture view of all your projects across your organization with visual, interactive cards.

Over the next year, we’ll release more exciting capabilities in the new Project, including resource management, budget analysis, and time and expense tracking. These powerful features will enable you to streamline more complex initiatives and help your business maximize ROI.

Knowledge

We’re excited to announce a brand-new investment area for Microsoft 365—knowledge. Moving your productivity infrastructure to the cloud has many benefits, including cost savings and streamlined operations. But it also unlocks new scenarios. Using AI, Microsoft 365 will now be able to identify, organize, and deliver knowledge across your organization—providing just the right information at just the right time. Productivity isn’t just about being more efficient. It’s also about aggregating and applying the collective knowledge of your organization so that together you can achieve more.

Project Cortex

Today, we’re announcing Project Cortex, the first new service in Microsoft 365 since the launch of Teams. Project Cortex uses AI to create a knowledge network that reasons over your organization’s data and automatically organizes it into shared topics like projects and customers. It also delivers relevant knowledge to people across your organization through topic cards and topic pages in the apps they use every day.

In addition, Project Cortex enables business process efficiency by turning your content into an interactive knowledge repository—with innovations in smart content ingestion—to analyze documents and extract metadata to create sophisticated content models; machine teaching, to allow subject matter experts to teach the system how to understand semi-structured content; and knowledge retrieval, to make it easy for people to access the valuable knowledge that’s so often locked away in documents, conversations, meetings, and videos. Building on the content you already have in SharePoint, Project Cortex connects content across Microsoft 365 and external systems and enables you to manage information and streamline processes with built-in security, compliance, and workflow.

The new Yammer

Yammer has been completely redesigned, with dozens of new capabilities that empower people to connect, build communities, and share knowledge across the organization. The new Yammer delivers a beautiful, intelligent experience across devices and introduces new integrations with Teams, SharePoint, and Outlook. You can now use Yammer to broadcast live and on-demand events with a streamlined production option that uses webcams and desktop sharing. And you can also share video shorts directly from the Yammer mobile app. In addition, we’ve now centralized e-Discovery, data governance, and Yammer administration in the Microsoft 365 admin center.

Microsoft Search

Today, we announced new innovations for Microsoft Search to enhance productivity; empower greater discovery of information, insights, and people; develop search driven applications; and extend the benefits of Microsoft Search to content outside of Microsoft 365. We recognize search works best when it brings together information from across your organization. Now with over 100 new Microsoft Search connectors from Microsoft and our partners, you can consolidate information from disparate system into a single search experience in Microsoft 365.

In addition, you can use our new Graph APIs to develop custom applications on top of Microsoft Search to tailor search to your organizations’ needs. We’re also bringing more powerful search experiences to Microsoft 365, including advanced people search using attributes and skills, video search, acronym search, and semantic search.

Screenshot showing a user using Search in SharePoint.

Microsoft Stream

Video is an increasingly powerful medium for capturing and sharing knowledge and learning. Microsoft Stream applies AI to unlock the content in video—including meeting recordings—with automatic transcription. AI also powers the new voice enhance feature, allowing you to focus on the spoken word by reducing background noise. And now people can create short videos from mobile devices and share in Yammer, Teams, and PowerApps, mainstreaming video as the new content type for communications and learning.

Workplace Analytics

Workplace Analytics is making it even easier to gain knowledge about the way people work and its impact on business and organizational outcomes. Business leaders will get at-a-glance insights to quickly understand and improve meeting culture, manager practices, organizational networks, and customer relationships. Industry benchmarks help contextualize common patterns that influence productivity, such as focus time and the ability to unplug outside of working hours. We also enriched the analyst toolset. AI-driven process analysis uses key words like “quarterly business review” to shed light on time and resources invested in specific business activities, enabling improvement over time.

Workflow

Workflow innovations empower you to streamline and improve business processes with little or no code. This approach not only saves time and money, it also ensures process automation is done by the people who are closest to the way things actually work.

Power Platform integration with Teams

With Power Platform, users can automate routine tasks, create custom apps, and easily engage with data. Power Platform integration with Teams makes these tools more discoverable and accessible to users and unlocks a conversational approach to streamlining productivity scenarios—from managing approvals directly in chat to pinning a custom app where a team needs it.

Today, we announced new features to enhance these capabilities. Power Apps creators can now publish their apps as Teams apps, and users will be able to pin those apps to their left rail in Teams. We’re also adding new Power Automate triggers and actions, allowing users to streamline the completion of common team and personal tasks, such as setting custom message actions and sending notifications. And coming soon, rich Power BI previews in Teams chat and an enhanced Power BI tab will allow users to see all their data in Teams and effortlessly discuss data, to speed data-driven decision making.

Office Scripts

Office Scripts simplifies clunky processes and automates repetitive tasks so you can work less while doing more. Today, we introduced scripting in Excel, a new process automation feature that allows you to record your actions inside a workbook and save it to a script. The saved script can then be integrated with Power Automate and scheduled to run automatically or integrate with a larger flow. Office Scripts will be available as a public preview by the end of the year.

Animated image of Office Scripting being used in Microsoft Excel. In the right pane, the user opens a script recorder.

Security

New AI-powered features make it easy for you to secure your organization’s valuable assets while empowering employees to collaborate freely.

Microsoft Authenticator

Any customer with any Azure AD plan, including a free plan, can now use the Microsoft Authenticator app for secure, passwordless access to both Microsoft and non-Microsoft apps. Passwords continue to be the weakest link in cybersecurity. With Azure AD and Microsoft Authenticator, enterprises can go passwordless for a great user experience and lower support costs while also implementing two-factor or multi-factor authentication (MFA) for greater security. Deploying MFA reduces the risk of phishing and other identity-based attacks by 99.9 percent and is the best thing you can do to improve your security. Customers with more than 150 seats can also now contact Microsoft to set up the capability via FastTrack.

New value in Azure AD

Azure AD Cloud Provisioning now makes it easier to move identities to the cloud by eliminating the need for an on-premises sync server though a lightweight on-premises agent. This enables provisioning from multiple, disconnected on-premises Active Directory (AD) forests and harnesses the power of the cloud to tackle common directory challenges like sync complexity and data transformation logic. This capability addresses one of the top needs for large enterprise customers that manage complex organizations or mergers and acquisitions and enables greater availability and decreases implementation and operation costs.

Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

Microsoft Defender ATP endpoint detection and response (EDR) capabilities are now available in preview for Mac OS devices. We’ll be adding support for Linux servers next. This is part of our commitment to extending multi-platform coverage in our threat protection solutions. Our customers depend on Microsoft for world-class endpoint protection and EDR capabilities for Windows, and most large organizations manage a complex mix of technology platforms, including several operating systems. They need coverage for the full breadth of their environment. This ongoing investment gives them the breadth of coverage they need, with a single unified view for administrators and security operations professionals, enabling enterprise-wide investigation and response to security incidents.

Application Guard for Office

Now available in private preview, Application Guard for Office provides hardware-level and container-based protection against potentially malicious Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. It utilizes Microsoft Defender ATP to establish whether a document is either malicious or trusted.

Compliance

Simplify and automate risk management with new innovations that use AI as a force multiplier to keep you one step ahead of the increasingly complex compliance requirements and ever-evolving insider threats.

Insider Risk Management

A staggering 53 percent of organizations have experienced an insider attack in the last 12 months. The effort required to identify these risks and violations is not trivial, and it requires effective collaboration across security, human resources (HR), and legal—as well as a balanced approach across privacy and risk management. Today, we announced Insider Risk Management in Microsoft 365 to help organizations quickly identify and remediate insider threats, risks, and code of conduct policy violations across Office, Windows, Azure and third-party apps such as HR systems. Insider Risk Management leverages the Microsoft Graph and other services to intelligently correlate multiple signals to identify hidden patterns and potential risks, and provide real-time insight into file activity, communications sentiment, and abnormal user behaviors. Insider Risk Management includes a set of configurable playbooks tailored specifically for risks—such as digital IP theft and confidentiality breach—to help you effectively identify threats and take action. We also designed for privacy, so display names for risky users can be anonymized by default at early stages of investigation.

Compliance Score

It’s more important than ever to have the knowledge and tools you need to work across compliance and risk management teams to effectively assess and monitor risks. To help you implement more effective data protection controls, we’re announcing the public preview of Microsoft Compliance Score, which enables you to simplify and automate risk assessments. With Microsoft Compliance Score, you can now continuously assess and monitor data protection controls, get clear guidance on how to improve the score, and leverage the built-in control mapping to scale your compliance efforts across regulations and standards.

Even if you’re not an expert in complex regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or ISO 27001, you can still quickly learn the actions needed for compliance and contribute towards progress. We also introduced new assessments for California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and for other GDPR-style regulations. Compliance Score is available now in public preview for all Microsoft 365 enterprise plans in the Microsoft 365 compliance center.

Image showing a Microsoft Compliance Score dasy, now in preview.

Management

With new management innovations, Microsoft 365 puts the cloud and AI to work to help you set-up, secure, monitor, and manage all your devices.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Microsoft Endpoint Manager is an integrated solution to centrally and securely manage all the endpoints in your technology estate. Bringing together Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager functionality and data—plus new intelligent actions and analytics—Endpoint Manager delivers seamless, end-to-end management for Windows, Android and Apple devices, apps, and policies without the complexity of a migration or disruption to productivity. Look for Microsoft Endpoint Manager features and experiences to appear in the product over the coming months. And, to help ensure that all our customers are able to take advantage of Microsoft Endpoint Manager, we’re making Intune available to our existing SCCM customers for Windows PC management. Starting December 1, 2019, you can co-manage these devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and start using cloud-powered features like Autopilot and Desktop Analytics.

Microsoft Productivity Score

Microsoft Productivity Score focuses on two areas: the Employee experience and the Technology experience. Both provide visibility into how your organization works, insights to identify where you can enable improved experiences, and actions you can take to update skills and systems—so everyone can do their best work.

The Employee experience shows you how Microsoft 365 is helping to create a productive and engaged workforce. By quantifying how people are collaborating on content, working from anywhere, developing a meeting culture, and communicating with each other, you can see the different ways that work gets done. Meanwhile, the Technology experience provides insights by assessing policies, device settings, and hardware and application performance within the organizational environment and recommends actions in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Managed Meeting Rooms

Productive meetings are essential to success in the modern workplace. Coupled with the rise in remote collaboration, business leaders increasingly associate more effective meetings with having the right meeting room technology and environment. Today, we’re announcing a private preview of Managed Meeting Rooms from Microsoft, a new offer for managing meeting rooms. This cloud-based IT management and security monitoring service ensures that Teams meeting rooms are secured, up to date, and proactively monitored for a great in-room experience. To date, we’ve been working with more than 100 customers to manage more than 1,500 meeting rooms. Now, a private preview is opening this experience to more of you! If you’re interested in participating, let us know.

Global reader

You told us you want to improve your security posture by scoping admin permissions to only those needed to do their jobs. In fact, this is one of our top customer requests. We’re announcing new admin roles in Azure AD and the Microsoft 365 admin center to help you reduce the number of Global admins in your organization. For example, the Global reader role lets an admin view information across Microsoft 365, but does not allow the admin to change any settings or data. Now you can assign the Global reader role to admins in your organization to support reporting, planning, audits, and investigations, without having to grant a higher level of privileges than is necessary. The Global reader role can also be combined with other administrative roles (for example, Exchange admin) to more granularly control and scope the assignment of admin privileges in your organization.

Onboarding Hub

You also told us that you want guidance from Microsoft for improving security and increasing admin efficiency. The Onboarding Hub, in the Microsoft 365 admin center’s setup area, includes new experiences to help you discover, learn about, and use features across Microsoft 365, including Azure AD and other admin portals such as the Security and Compliance Center. We provide intelligent recommendations—based on your current configuration and admin activities—to help you improve your security posture, maintain compliance with data regulations, keep apps up to date, and reduce costs.

Screenshot of the Onboarding hub in the Microsoft 365 admin center.

New recommendations in the Microsoft 365 admin center (admin.microsoft.com).

Using the Global reader role to access the Onboarding Hub is a powerful and safe way to perform planning and auditing activities for Microsoft 365, as a Global reader can view and assess the recommendations, learn about implementation steps and user impact, and see current administrative assignments without making any tenant or configuration changes.

Office 365 Groups

Office 365 Groups is the membership service that powers collaboration and drives teamwork across Microsoft 365. It’s a core underpinning of more than 20 applications, including Teams, SharePoint, Outlook, Yammer, Microsoft Stream, and more. We’re pleased to announce a number of improvements to the Groups admin experience with new lifecycle management and compliance capabilities, including the ability to quickly create teams for a group, browse and restore deleted groups, edit the group email alias, and use sensitivity labels. You can also enable self-service group creation and management, which empowers users to create teams and Yammer channels that are controlled with guardrails and policies set by IT.

Send us your feedback

Every innovation we make with Microsoft 365, the world’s productivity cloud, is designed to help you and your organization unlock new forms of productivity to achieve more. We’re excited to share these new features with you, and look forward to your feedback and insights.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft announces new capabilities for a seamless, smart and secure IoT world – Stories

New solutions deliver IoT innovations from cloud to edge

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 28, 2019 — Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced new capabilities that further simplify the customer journey and deliver highly secured IoT solutions. These solutions help customers embrace IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, improve safety and address social issues by predicting and preventing equipment failures, optimizing smart buildings for space utilization and energy management, improving patient outcomes and worker safety, tracking assets across a supply chain, and more.

The proliferation of IoT devices is enabling companies to bring cloud intelligence to the edge, to create solutions that are adaptive and responsive to their environments. According to IDC,1 41.6 billion devices — including smartphones, smart home assistants and smart appliances — will be connected to the internet by 2025. Even sooner, by 2021, 94% of businesses surveyed will be using IoT, according to a recent Microsoft IoT Signals research report and, in nearly every case (97%), those companies are concerned about potential security risks.

“At Microsoft, we are committed to building a trusted, easy-to-use platform that allows our customers and partners to build seamless, smart, secure solutions regardless of where they are in the IoT journey,” said Sam George, CVP of Azure IoT at Microsoft. “That’s why we are investing $5B in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity across industries.”

Delivering new IoT innovations from cloud to edge

Our core focus is addressing the challenge of securing connected devices at every layer while advancing IoT to create a seamless experience between the physical and digital worlds. In the past year, we launched more than 100 new services and features that make IoT solutions more secure and scalable, reduce complexity, and create opportunities in new market areas.

Making IoT seamless

IoT Central is a fully managed IoT app platform that provides solution builders with built-in security, scale and extensibility needed to develop enterprise-grade IoT solutions. New features to IoT Central simplify challenges of building and deploying scalable and affordable enterprise applications:

  • 11 new industry-focused application templates to accelerate solution builders across retail, healthcare, government and energy.
  • API support for extending IoT Central or integrating it with other solutions, including API support for device modelling, provisioning, lifecycle management, operations and data querying.
  • IoT Edge support, including management for edge devices and IoT Edge module deployments, which enable customers to deploy cloud workloads, including AI, directly to connected devices.
  • IoT Plug and Play support, for rapid device development and connectivity.
  • The ability to Save & Load applications to enable application reusability.
  • More Data Export options for continually exporting data to other Azure PaaS services, such as storage for rich analytics.
  • Multitenancy support for building and managing a single application with multiple tenants, each with their own isolated data, devices, users and roles. And updates to that single application are visible to all tenants for easy manageability.
  • Custom user roles for fine-grained access control to data, actions and configurations in the system.
  • New pricing model for early 2020, designed to help customers and partners have predictable pricing as usage scales.

Making IoT smarter

Azure IoT Hub helps enterprise developers reduce costs and optimize operations through IoT cloud applications. New capabilities with IoT Hub message enrichment add the ability to stamp messages coming from devices with rich information before they are sent to downstream cloud services, making integration easy. IoT Hub integrates with Azure Event Grid, making it easy to consume IoT Hub device messages from an even broader variety of downstream services.

Azure Maps customers can add geospatial weather intelligence into their applications to enable scenarios like weather-based routing, weather-based targeted marketing and weather-based operations optimization, in partnership with AccuWeather. Azure Maps will now be available on Gov Cloud, simplifying the onboarding process for customers.

Azure Time Series Insights is announcing new preview capabilities including:

  • Multilayered storage provides the best of both worlds: lightning fast access to frequently used data (“warm data”) and fast access to infrequently used historical data (“cold data”).
  • Flexible cold storage: Historical data is stored in a customer’s own Azure Storage account, giving customers complete control of their IoT data. Data is stored in open source Apache Parquet format, enabling predictive analytics, machine learning and other custom computations using familiar technologies including Spark, Databricks and Jupyter.
  • Rich analytics: Rich query APIs and user experience support interpolation, new scalar and aggregate functions, categorical variables, scatter plots, and time shifting between time series signals for in-depth analysis.
  • Enterprise-grade scale: Scale and performance improvements at all layers, including ingestion, storage, query and metadata/model.
  • Extensibility and integration: New Time Series Insights Power BI connector allows customers to take queries from Time Series Insights into Power BI to get a unified view in a single pane of glass.

Through our Express Logic acquisition, Azure RTOS continues to enable new intelligent capabilities. It unlocks access to billions of new connected endpoints and grows the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure. Renesas is a top microcontroller unit (MCU) manufacturer that shares our vision of making IoT development as easy and seamless as possible, and we are excited to announce that Azure RTOS will be broadly available across Renesas’ products, including the Synergy and RA MCU families. It is already integrated into the Renesas Synergy Software Package and will be integrated out of box with the Renesas RA Flexible Software Package.

Making IoT more secure

We have added new features to Azure Security Center for IoT with the announcement of a Security Partner program and support for national clouds, and we are excited to announce the upcoming general availability of Azure Sphere in February 2020.

Enabling a future of intelligent and secure computing at the edge for organizations, enterprises and consumers will require advances in computer architecture all the way down to the chip level, with security built in from the beginning. Microsoft Azure Sphere is taking a holistic approach to securing the intelligent edge and IoT from the silicon to the cloud in a way that gives customers flexibility and control. For example, Qualcomm recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to develop mobile hardware for Microsoft’s Azure Sphere IoT operating system.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

1 IDC, Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast, 2019–2023, Doc # US45066919, May 2019

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Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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AWS Summit widens net with services for containers, devs

NEW YORK — AWS pledges to maintain its torrid pace of product and services innovations and continue to expand the breadth of both to meet customer needs.

“You decide how to build software, not us,” said Werner Vogels, Amazon vice president and CTO, in a keynote at the AWS Summit NYC event. “So, we need to give you a really big toolbox so you can get the tools you need.”

But AWS, which holds a healthy lead over Microsoft and Google in the cloud market, also wants to serve as an automation engine for customers, Vogels added.

“I strongly believe that in the future … you will only write business logic,” he said. “Focus on building your application, drop it somewhere and we will make it secure and highly available for you.”

Parade of new AWS services continues

Vogels sprinkled a series of news announcements throughout his keynote, two of which centered on containers. First, Amazon CloudWatch Container Insights, a service that provides container-level monitoring, is now in preview for monitoring clusters in Amazon Elastic Container Service and Amazon Fargate, in addition to Amazon EKS and Kubernetes. In addition, AWS for Fluent Bit, which serves as a centralized environment for container logging, is now generally available, he said.

Serverless compute also got some attention with the release of Amazon EventBridge, a serverless event bus to take in and process data across AWS’ own services and SaaS applications. AWS customers currently do this with a lot of custom code, so “the goal for us was to provide a much simpler programming model,” Vogels said. Initial SaaS partners for EventBridge include Zendesk, OneLogin and Symantec.

Focus on building your application, drop it somewhere and we will make it secure and highly available for you.
Werner VogelsCTO, AWS

AWS minds the past, with eye on the future

Most customers are moving away from the concept of a monolithic application, “but there are still lots of monoliths out there,” such as SAP ERP implementations that won’t go away anytime soon, Vogels said.

But IT shops with a cloud-first mindset focus on newer architectural patterns, such as microservices. AWS wants to serve both types of applications with a full range of instance types, containers and serverless functionality, Vogels said.

He cited customers such as McDonald’s, which has built a home-delivery system with Amazon Elastic Container Service. It can take up to 20,000 orders per second and is integrated with partners such as Uber Eats, Vogels said.

Vogels ceded the stage for a time to Steve Randich, executive vice president and CIO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a nonprofit group that seeks to keep brokerage firms fair and honest.

FINRA moved wholesale to AWS and its systems now ingest up to 155 billion market events in a single day — double what it was three years ago. “When we hit these peaks, we don’t even know them operationally because the infrastructure is so elastic,” Randich said.

FINRA has designed the AWS-hosted apps to run across multiple availability zones. “Essentially, our disaster recovery is tested daily in this regard,” he said.

AWS’ ode to developers

Developers have long been a crucial component of AWS’ customer base, and the company has built out a string of tool sets aimed to meet a broad set of languages and integrated development environments (IDEs). These include AWS Cloud9, IntelliJ, Python, Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.

VS Code is Microsoft’s lighter-weight, browser-based IDE, which has seen strong initial uptake. All the different languages in VS Code are now generally available, Vogels said to audience applause.

Additionally, AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK) is now generally available with support for TypeScript and Python. AWS CDK makes it easier for developers to use high-level construct to define cloud infrastructure in code, said Martin Beeby, AWS principal developer evangelist, in a demo.

AWS seeks to keep the cloud secure

Vogels also used part of his AWS Summit talk to reiterate AWS’ views on security, as he did at the recent AWS re:Inforce conference dedicated to cloud security.

“There is no line in the sand that says, ‘This is good-enough security,'” he said, citing newer techniques such as automated reasoning as key advancements.

Werner Vogels, AWS CTO
Werner Vogels, CTO of AWS, on stage at the AWS Summit in New York.

Classic security precautions have become practically obsolete, he added. “If firewalls were the way to protect our systems, then we’d still have moats [around buildings],” Vogels said. Most attack patterns AWS sees are not brute-force front-door efforts, but rather spear-phishing and other techniques: “There’s always an idiot that clicks that link,” he said.

The full spectrum of IT, from operations to engineering to compliance, must be mindful of security, Vogels said. This is true within DevOps practices such as CI/CD from both an external and internal level, he said. The first involves matters such as identity access management and hardened servers, while the latter brings in techniques including artifact validation and static code analysis.

AWS Summit draws veteran customers and newcomers

The event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center drew thousands of attendees with a wide range of cloud experience, from FINRA to fledgling startups.

“The analytics are very interesting to me, and how I can translate that into a set of services for the clients I’m starting to work with,” said Donald O’Toole, owner of CeltTools LLC, a two-person startup based in Brooklyn. He retired from IBM in 2018 after 35 years.

AWS customer Timehop offers a mobile application oriented around “digital nostalgia,” which pulls together users’ photographs from various sources such as Facebook and Google Photos, said CTO Dmitry Traytel.

A few years ago, Timehop found itself in a place familiar to many startups: Low on venture capital and with no viable monetization strategy. The company created its own advertising server on top of AWS, dubbed Nimbus, rather than rely on third-party products. Once a user session starts, the system conducts an auction for multiple prominent mobile ad networks, which results in the best possible price for its ad inventory.

“Nimbus let us pivot to a different category,” Traytel said.

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Microsoft Build highlights new opportunity for developers, at the edge and in the cloud

Announcing new innovations that help developers build AI and multidevice, multisense experiences, and new $25M AI for Accessibility program

REDMOND, Wash. — May 7, 2018 — Monday at Microsoft Build 2018, Microsoft Corp.’s annual developer conference, Microsoft leaders showcased new technologies to help every developer be an AI developer, on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and across any platform. Building for AI is more important to developers than ever, as technology continues to change the way people live and work every day, across the cloud and across edge devices.

“The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “These advancements create incredible developer opportunity and also come with a responsibility to ensure the technology we build is trusted and benefits all.”

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to trusted, responsible AI products and practices, the company also today announced AI for Accessibility, a new $25 million, five-year program aimed at harnessing the power of AI to amplify human capabilities for more than 1 billion people around the world with disabilities. The program comprises grants, technology investments and expertise, and will also incorporate AI for Accessibility innovations into Microsoft Cloud services. It builds on the success of the similar AI for Earth initiative.

Advancements in the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud

Smart devices are proliferating in homes and businesses across the globe, with more than 20 billion expected by 2020. These devices are so smart, in fact, they are powering advanced ways to see, listen, reason and predict, without constant connectivity to the cloud. That is the intelligent edge, and it is opening opportunities for consumers, businesses and entire industries, from the operating room to the factory floor. Today Microsoft is announcing new capabilities for developers to extend to the edge:

  • Microsoft is open sourcing the Azure IoT Edge Runtime, allowing customers to modify, debug and have more transparency and control for edge applications.
  • Custom Vision will now run on Azure IoT Edge, enabling devices such as drones and industrial equipment to take critical action quickly without requiring cloud connectivity. This is the first Azure Cognitive Service to support edge deployment, with more coming to Azure IoT Edge over the next several months.
  • DJI, the world’s biggest drone company, is partnering with Microsoft to create a new SDK for Windows 10 PCs, and it has also selected Azure as its preferred cloud provider to further its commercial drone and SaaS solutions. The SDK will bring full flight control and real-time data transfer capabilities to nearly 700M Windows 10 connected devices globally. As part of the commercial partnership, DJI and Microsoft will co-develop solutions leveraging Azure IoT Edge and Microsoft’s AI services to enable new scenarios across agriculture, construction, public safety and more.
  • Microsoft announced a joint effort with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to create a vision AI developer kit running Azure IoT Edge. This solution makes available the key hardware and software required to develop camera-based IoT solutions. Developers can create solutions that use Azure Machine Learning services and take advantage of the hardware acceleration available via the Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform and Qualcomm® AI Engine. The camera can also power advanced Azure services, such as machine learning, stream analytics and cognitive services, that can be downloaded from the cloud to run locally on the edge.

Data and AI development for a new era

Using data, machine learning and cognitive intelligence, developers can build and manage AI-rich solutions that transform the ways people work, collaborate and live:

  • Microsoft announced Project Kinect for Azure, a package of sensors, including our next-generation depth camera, with onboard compute designed for AI on the Edge. Building on Kinect’s legacy that has lived on through HoloLens, Project Kinect for Azure empowers new scenarios for developers working with ambient intelligence. Combining Microsoft’s industry-defining Time of Flight sensor with additional sensors all in a small, power-efficient form factor, Project Kinect for Azure will leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations. It can input fully articulated hand tracking and high-fidelity spatial mapping, enabling a new level of precision solutions.
  • A Speech Devices SDK announced today delivers superior audio processing from multichannel sources for more accurate speech recognition, including noise cancellation, far-field voice and more. With this, developers can build a variety of voice-enabled scenarios like drive-thru ordering systems, in-car or in-home assistants, smart speakers, and other digital assistants.
  • Azure Cosmos DB updates include new and differentiated multimaster at global scale capabilities, designed to support both the cloud and the edge, along with the VNET general availability for increased security. With these new updates, Cosmos DB delivers even greater cost-effectiveness and global scale, further cementing it as the fastest-growing database service in the world.
  • A preview of Project Brainwave, an architecture for deep neural net processing, is now available on Azure and on the edge. Project Brainwave makes Azure the fastest cloud to run real-time AI and is now fully integrated with Azure Machine Learning. It also supports Intel FPGA hardware and ResNet50-based neural networks.
  • New Azure Cognitive Services updates include a unified Speech service with improved speech recognition and text-to-speech, which support customized voice models and translation. Along with Custom Vision, these updates make it easier for any developer to add intelligence to their applications.
  • Microsoft is making Azure the best place to develop conversational AI experiences integrated with any agent. New updates to Bot Framework and Cognitive Services will power the next generation of conversational bots enabling richer dialogs, and full personality and voice customization to match the company’s brand identity.
  • A preview of Azure Search with Cognitive Services integration. This new feature combines AI with indexing technologies so it’s possible to quickly find information and insights, whether via text or images.

Multisense and multidevice experiences

Microsoft also demonstrated mixed-reality capabilities to enable richer experiences that understand the context surrounding people, the things they use, their activities and relationships:

  • A new initiative, Project Kinect for Azure — a package of sensors from Microsoft that contains our unmatched time of flight depth camera, with onboard compute, in a small, power-efficient form factor — designed for AI on the Edge. Project Kinect for Azure brings together this leading hardware technology with Azure AI to empower developers with new scenarios for working with ambient intelligence.
  • With Microsoft Remote Assist, customers can collaborate remotely with heads-up, hands-free video calling, image sharing, and mixed-reality annotations. Firstline Workers can share what they see with any expert on Microsoft Teams, while staying hands on to solve problems and complete tasks together, faster.
  • With Microsoft Layout, customers can design spaces in context with mixed reality. Import 3-D models to create room layouts in real-world scale, experience designs as high-quality holograms in physical space or in virtual reality, and share and edit with stakeholders in real time.

Modern tooling and experiences for any platform in any language

Microsoft is empowering developers to build for the new era of the intelligent edge, across Azure, Microsoft 365 and other platforms, using the languages and frameworks of their choice:

  • With Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), developers can drastically simplify how they build and run container-based solutions without deep Kubernetes experience. Generally available in the coming weeks, AKS integrates with developer tools and workspaces, DevOps capabilities, networking, monitoring tools, and more in the Azure portal, so developers can write code, not stitch services together. In addition, Microsoft is now offering Kubernetes support for Azure IoT Edge devices.
  • Visual Studio IntelliCode is a new capability that enhances everyday software development with the power of AI. IntelliCode provides intelligent suggestions to improve code quality and productivity and is available in preview today in Visual Studio.
  • Visual Studio Live Share, now in preview, lets developers easily and securely collaborate in real time with team members who can edit and debug directly from their existing tools like Visual Studio 2017 and VS Code. Developers can use Live Share with any language for any scenario, including serverless, cloud-native and IoT development.
  • Building on our shared commitment to developers and open source, Microsoft announced a new partnership with GitHub that brings the power of Azure DevOps services to GitHub customers. Today, we released the integration of Visual Studio App Center and GitHub, which provides GitHub developers building apps for iOS and Android devices to seamlessly automate DevOps processes right from within the GitHub experience.
  • Available today, the new Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench makes it easier to develop blockchain applications by stitching together an Azure-supported blockchain network with cloud services like Azure Active Directory, Key Vault and SQL Database, reducing proof-of-concept development time dramatically.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Intelligent Retail: Top Tech Trends for 2018 and Beyond – Microsoft Enterprise

Today’s innovations in technology are opening new doors for retailers. The ability to infuse data and intelligence in all areas of a business has the potential to completely reinvent retail. Here’s a visual look at the top technologies we see enabling this transformation in 2018 and beyond, and where they’ll have the greatest impact.

2018 the year of intelligent retail- infographic

Introducing the Outlook.com beta

Today, we’re launching the Outlook.com beta, an opt-in web experience where you can try out new product innovations and let us know what you think. Recent advances in programming, design, and artificial intelligence have enabled our engineers and designers to improve the Outlook.com web experience in several areas—and we’re eager to get your feedback. If you enjoy being a part of what’s next, just click the Try the beta toggle, rolling out to all users in the next few weeks. You can test drive our new experience and switch back to the regular web experience any time.

Here’s a look at what’s new:

A faster experience

We’re implementing a more responsive web development framework that delivers an upgraded search feature, a fresher look with a modern conversation style and a new design to let you see, read, and attach files and photos faster.

Image showing the Outlook beta inbox, with the search feature displaying suggested contacts.

A new look with upgraded search that previews files and photos right in your conversation list.

A smarter inbox

Your inbox now shows you Quick Suggestions as you type—so you can easily add information about restaurants, flights, or your favorite teams’ schedules to your conversations. An improved photo experience puts all the pictures sent or received in your email in one place and makes it easier to share them with others. The new modern conversation style makes it easier to manage and preview photos and attachments.

Image showing an email, with the Quick Suggestions feature adding the details of a place to meet for coffee to the email.

Get Quick Suggestions for places as you type, so you can easily add details to your emails.

Better personalization

You can personalize your inbox with your favorite people and folders to make it easier to find the friends, files, and conversations that matter to you and give your communications a personal touch with an easier way to access tons of expressions, including popular emojis and GIFs right inside Outlook.

Image showing an email, with the Expressions pane displayed that allows users to add an Emoji or GIF to their email.

A variety of emojis and GIFs are available to add personality to your messages.

Additional enhancements will be rolled out over the next few months, including updates to Calendar and People. Based on your feedback, we’ll iterate, improve, refine, or discard them. At the end of the beta, we’ll bring the best innovations into Outlook.com.

How do I get started?

Today, we started rolling out the Try the beta toggle. You can access the Outlook.com beta as soon as you see the toggle switch appear on the top right corner of your inbox. If you don’t see it now, you’ll see it in the next few weeks. It’s easy to move between the beta and the regular Outlook.com experience by switching the toggle back and forth.

Image of the Try the beta toggle button and a dialog prompting user to try it now.

Find the Try the beta toggle on the top right of your inbox.

If you want to be a part of the evolution of Outlook.com, this is your chance. Just switch the toggle on the top right corner of your inbox and join us. We will be posting updates on new and updated features in our Outlook.com beta support article, so check it regularly to stay up-to-date with the latest changes.

We read every piece of feedback that we receive, so please send us your thoughts through UserVoice.

—The Outlook team

Frequently asked questions

Q. Why don’t I see the beta toggle?

A. We are rolling out the beta and it could take some time to reach all our users. If you are an Outlook.com Premium customer, please read the Learn about the Outlook.com beta support article.

Q. Who can join the beta?

A. Any Outlook.com user who sees the Outlook beta toggle in their inbox can join.

Q. Where can I learn more about the beta and keep up with updates?

A. You can get all the details in the Outlook.com beta support article.

Q. Can I switch back from the beta?

A. Yes. You can always switch back to the regular Outlook.com web experience by switching back the Try the beta toggle.

Q. I don’t see some of my favorite features in the beta. Will you be adding features later?

A. Yes, we’ll continue to add more features in the beta over time—stay tuned.

Q. Why can’t I see add-ins?

A. We are working to bring add-ins to the beta. The Outlook.com beta update history article will keep you up-to-date on what is new.

Q. How long will the beta last?

A. We’re not sure! We’ll try new things, get your feedback, and keep iterating. When the beta has served its purpose, we’ll wind it down.

Q. How do I opt in?

A. Switch the toggle located on the top right corner of your inbox. Read Learn about the Outlook.com beta for details.

Q. Will this impact any of my data or how Outlook.com synchronizes with my phone?

A. No. The Outlook.com beta is focused on new UI and web features; the way your phone syncs up is unchanged.

Q. Will there be new Calendar and People experiences in the beta?

A. Yes. We’ll roll out new experiences to those areas in the coming months.

Q. I have issues with the beta.

A. Please see Get help with the Outlook.com beta, and if your issue isn’t mentioned there, let us know. Remember, you can always switch back to the regular Outlook.com web experience by switching back the Try the beta toggle.

AI innovations are nothing for EUC IT pros to be scared of

IT experts are excited about future AI innovations and aren’t scared of it taking their jobs.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic lately as some of the biggest names in tech debate its future. Tesla CEO Elon Musk worries AI could grow out of control and lead to killer robots. Andrew Ng, former AI lead at Chinese search engine Baidu, thinks it could cause job displacement. And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the negatives of AI are overblown.

In the end-user computing (EUC) market, AI innovations will help IT professionals do their jobs more than it will threaten their livelihoods, experts said.

“It’s not going to take people’s jobs, but it will change the way they do it,” said Jim Davies, director of IT at Ongweoweh Corp., a pallet and packing management company in Ithaca, N.Y. “Organizations can embrace it or not, but I really feel those that don’t will be left behind.”

AI will progress over time and get smarter and have more capabilities.
Jack Goldfounder and principal analyst, J. Gold Associates

Some EUC products already take advantage of AI innovations to enforce policies around users’ access to corporate data, and it will be interesting to see how these evolve. For example, Citrix’s new Analytics Service tracks user activity on a corporate network and recognizes patterns. If the AI technology catches unusual activity, it can block a user from accessing a document or enforce multifactor authentication without the help of an IT person.

If AI evolves a step further and can onboard new users, implement appropriate policies and enforce those policies on its own, it would take some responsibilities off IT pros’ plates. But AI won’t take their jobs; it will simply change the way they work, said Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, an analyst firm in Northborough, Mass.

“AI will progress over time and get smarter and have more capabilities,” Gold said. “IT people will find different things they need to do that AI isn’t good at yet.”

Willem Bagchus, messaging and collaboration specialist at United Bank in Parkersburg, W.Va., agreed.

“People have been terrified of AI forever from all these horrific movies,” Bagchus said. “I don’t quite believe that it will ever become anywhere near a complete replacement for human intelligence. But for monitoring and automating simple tasks, it could do very well.” 

Machine learning capabilities also continue to grow in end-user applications as well, with AI-based features in Box, Microsoft Office 365 and more.

“AI ultimately will be embedded in most aspects of EUC, from security to management to deployments,” Gold said. “It will ultimately make things more efficient and effective for users, and that’s what you want.”

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