Today, we are announcing Project: Mara, our new in-development experimental title that explores new ways of storytelling, and we’re excited to share the first details with you.
Project: Mara will be a real-world and grounded representation of mental terror. Based on real lived experience accounts and in-depth research, our aim is to recreate the horrors of the mind as accurately and realistically as possible. Project: Mara will be an experimental title and a showcase of what could become a new storytelling medium.
Since joining Xbox Game Studios in 2018, we’ve been hard at work on our upcoming multiplayer brawler Bleeding Edge, our new recently-announced innovative R&D project, The Insight Project, and of course Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. These projects will continue to drive our development goals for the next few years and will help shape Ninja Theory’s vision for our future.
You can follow the development journey of all of our new projects – Senua’s Saga, The Insight Project and Project: Mara on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Startups played a pivotal role in disrupting the business of network switching. Today, they’re on track to do the same to routing.
Software under development by upstarts Arrcus, DriveNets and Volta Networks represents a new routing architecture, industry analysts agreed. Cloud service providers, SaaS providers, telcos and the largest financial institutions are the most likely candidates for deploying the networking startups’ technology in the data center and at the edge.
The vendors’ software could also be useful for peering among internet service providers and for data center interconnects (DCIs). Colocation companies like Equinix, Digital Realty Trust and Global Switch use DCIs to connect their facilities to customer data centers.
Market research firm IDC recently named the three companies 2019 innovators for their work in decoupling routing software from its underlying hardware. Separating management, control and data planes from the device make it possible to run the software on commodity products powered by merchant silicon from companies like Broadcom and Intel.
Severing software from hardware and running it on commodity gear — a process called disaggregation — reduces operational expenses. Companies can lower labor costs by managing multiple routers at once, instead of each one separately. The architecture also adds flexibility by making it possible to distribute and manage physical and virtual routers across data centers or at the network edge.
“Effectively, you’ve got a Lego that you can mix and match based on your requirements,” said Brad Casemore, an analyst at IDC. “It leads to a standardized environment where you can run the same software across all of it.”
Disaggregation from switching to routing
Disaggregation in network switching, a nearly 10-year trend, forced incumbents Cisco and Juniper Networks to acquire startups that had developed software capable of providing centralized network management. The transition led to an overhaul in the way the companies’ products manage switching fabrics.
New technologies developed by Arrcus, DriveNets and Volta show that there’s “an evolution in disaggregation to the routing layer,” Casemore said. Each of the vendors is initially targeting their products at communication and cloud service providers.
Here is a brief description of each of the networking startups, including the key differentiators and market challenges listed in the 2019 IDC Innovators report on disaggregated routing platforms:
— Arrcus built a network operating system, called ArcOS, with extensive routing protocol support. This year, for example, the vendor incorporated the Link State Vector Routing (LSVR) protocol into ArcOS for organizations running hyperscale data centers and large cloud environments.
Arrcus has built its data plane adaptation layer to separate ArcOS from the underlying hardware. ArcOS is also the first independent NOS to support devices powered by Broadcom’s Trident 3, Tomahawk 3, Jericho+ or Jericho2 network silicon. The Jericho2 platform is for 100 Gb and 400 Gb routing.
Despite its innovative technology, Arrcus still has to prove it can deliver significant cost savings and ROI. The company also has to show a simple process for buying and supporting the underlying hardware.
Arrcus, based in San Jose, Calif., has more than 60 employees and has raised $45 million in funding.
— DriveNets developed a container-based router control plane for merchant silicon-based white boxes. Hardware manufacturers bundle the software with their products and sell it under a license that is free from capacity constraints.
The architecture provides carriers with a routing model that uses a cluster of low-cost white boxes capable of scaling to any size. DriveNets based the model on the one used in hyperscale data centers.
DriveNets’ hurdles include convincing communication service providers to change how they procure, deploy and manage router infrastructure. “The adoption of the DriveNets architecture might be slowed by the need for communication service providers to redesign internal processes and management systems,” IDC said.
DriveNets, based in Ra’anana, Israel, has more than 200 employees and has raised $117 million in funding.
— Volta built a cloud-native, cloud-hosted control plane that can spin up and manage as many as 255 instances of virtual routers on a single, on-premises commodity switch. The use of switching gear provides a “significant cost advantage,” while also making Volta technology useful for provider edge routing. Volta’s technology could be helpful to carriers overhauling cell sites to support next-generation 5G wireless technology.
Volta’s technology and its subscription model that covers support, maintenance and hardware warranty could provide significantly lower capital and operational expenses. However, as a startup, in a competitive industry, it faces a “significant challenge” in winning deals over better-known competitors with more money.
Volta, based in Cambridge, Mass., has 51 employees and has raised $3.3 million in funding.
Moving toward software-based routing
Companies with hyperscale data centers, like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, have favored disaggregated networking software on standardized hardware for years. Today, major service providers and financial institutions use the same white box switches. Users include AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase and Fidelity Investments.
As a result, in 2018, the share of the global Ethernet data center switching market held by Cisco and Juniper fell, while that of bare-metal switching manufacturers increased, according to IDC.
Analysts believe the same dynamics will likely play out in routing. “People are now noticing and realizing that white box approaches can work. They’re mature,” said Roy Chua, a principal analyst at AvidThink.
Brad CasemoreAnalyst, IDC
Analysts expect carriers to seriously consider white box routers as they build out their network edge to deliver 5G services.
“They’re actually trying to move away from [physical] routers and toward software-based routing,” said Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research. “None of this has been hugely deployed yet. But I think we’re going to see significant deployments in 2020 and 2021 in the 5G market.”
Routing sales for Cisco and Juniper have been declining. However, the decrease is primarily due to carriers cutting back on spending after they found they couldn’t wring any more revenue from consumers, Casemore said.
But with 5G deployments on the horizon, incumbents like Cisco and Juniper are probably watching networking startups closely to see which ones are winning deals for routing technology.
“Potentially, these companies become M&A targets if they have traction in some high-value accounts,” Casemore said.
LAS VEGAS — AWS controls nearly half of the public IaaS market today, and based on the company’s rules against use of the term ‘multi-cloud,’ would be happy to have it all, even as rivals Microsoft and Google make incremental gains and more customers adopt multi-cloud strategies.
That’s the key takeaway from the start of this year’s massive re:Invent conference here this week, which was marked by the release of AWS Outposts for hybrid clouds and a lengthy keynote from AWS CEO Andy Jassy that began with a tongue-in-cheek invite to AWS’ big tent in the cloud.
“You have to decide what you’re going to bring,” Jassy said of customers who want to move workloads into the public cloud. “It’s a little bit like moving from a home,” he added, as a projected slide comically depicted moving boxes affixed with logos for rival vendors such as Oracle and IBM sitting on a driveway.
“It turns out when companies are making this big transformation, what we see is that all bets are off,” Jassy said. “They reconsider everything.”
For several years now, AWS has used re:Invent as a showcase for large customers in highly regulated industries that have made substantial, if not complete, migrations to its platform. One such company is Goldman Sachs, which has worked with AWS on several projects, including Marcus, a digital banking service for consumers. A transaction banking service that helps companies manage their cash in a cloud-native stack on AWS is coming next year, said Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, who appeared during Jassy’s talk. Goldman is also moving its Marquee market intelligence platform into production on AWS.
Along with showcasing enthusiastic customers like Goldman Sachs, Jassy took a series of shots at the competition, some veiled and others overt.
“Every industry has lots of companies with mainframes, but everyone wants to move off of them,” he claimed. The same goes for databases, he added. Customers are trying to move away from Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server due to factors such as expense and lock-in, he said. Jassy didn’t mention that similar accusations have been lodged at AWS’ native database services.
Jassy repeatedly took aim at Microsoft, which has the second most popular cloud platform after AWS, albeit with a significant lag. “People don’t want to pay the tax anymore for Windows,” he said.
But it isn’t as if AWS would actually shun Microsoft technology, since it has long been a host for many Windows Server workloads. In fact, it wants as much as it can get. This week, AWS introduced a new bring-your-own-license program for Windows Server and SQL Server designed to make it easier for customers to run those licenses on AWS, versus Azure.
AWS pushes hybrid cloud, but rejects multi-cloud
One of the more prominent, although long-expected, updates this week is the general availability of AWS Outposts. These specialized server racks provided by AWS reside in customers’ own data centers, in order to comply with regulations or meet low-latency needs. They are loaded with a range of AWS software, are fully managed by AWS and maintain continuous connections to local AWS regions.
The company is taking the AWS Outposts idea a bit further with the release of new AWS Local Zones. These will consist of Outpost machines placed in facilities very close to large cities, giving customers who don’t want or have their own data centers, but still have low-latency requirements, another option. Local Zones, the first of which is in the Los Angeles area, provide this capability and tie back to AWS’ larger regional zones, the company said.
Outposts, AWS Local Zones and the previously launched VMware Cloud on AWS constitute a hybrid cloud computing portfolio for AWS — but you won’t hear Jassy or other executives say the phrase multi-cloud, at least not in public.
In fact, partners who want to co-brand with AWS are forbidden from using that phrase and similar verbiage in marketing materials, according to an AWS co-branding document provided to SearchAWS.com.
“AWS does not allow or approve use of the terms ‘multi-cloud,’ ‘cross cloud,’ ‘any cloud, ‘every cloud,’ or any other language that implies designing or supporting more than one cloud provider,” the co-branding guidelines, released in August, state. “In this same vein, AWS will also not approve references to multiple cloud providers (by name, logo, or generically).”
An AWS spokesperson didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
The statement may not be surprising in context of AWS’s market lead, but does stand in contrast to recent approaches by Google, with the Anthos multi-cloud container management platform, and Microsoft’s Azure Arc, which uses native Azure tools, but has multi-cloud management aspects.
AWS customers may certainly want multi-cloud capabilities, but can protect themselves by using portable products and technologies, such as Kubernetes at the lowest level with a tradeoff being the manual labor involved, said Holger Mueller, an analyst with Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.
“To be fair, Azure and Google are only at the beginning of [multi-cloud],” he said.
Meanwhile, many AWS customers have apparently grown quite comfortable moving their IT estates onto the platform. One example is Cox Automotive, known for its digital properties such as Autotrader.com and Kelley Blue Book.
In total, Cox has more than 200 software applications, many of which it accrued through a series of acquisitions, and the company expects to move it all onto AWS, said Chris Dillon, VP of architecture, during a re:Invent presentation.
Cox is using AWS Well-Architected Framework, a best practices tool for deployments on AWS, to manage the transition.
“When you start something new and do it quickly you always run the risk of not doing it well,” said Gene Mahon, director of engineering operations. “We made a decision early on that everything would go through a Well-Architected review.”
Black Friday deals from Microsoft Store kick off today in the U.S. Save big on Surface, Xbox, Windows 10 PCs and more this holiday!
Whether you shop online from the comfort of home, line up before dawn with the holiday crowds, or like most people, mix it up and shop online and in stores – our Microsoft Store Black Friday deals* are here to solve all your shopping needs. The first Black Friday deals are available starting today in the U.S., and we’ll continue to introduce even more great holiday gift deals through Cyber Monday.
This holiday season Microsoft Store is offering shoppers our best guarantee ever. With our new Give Wonder Guarantee, you are promised our best price of the season no matter when you shop.** If something you purchased at Microsoft Store is offered at a better price later in the season, you can receive savings back for the difference. Plus, with free 2-3-day shipping, free extended holiday returns through Jan. 31, 2020, options to buy online and pick up in stores, we’re making it easier than ever to shop at Microsoft Store. And our Store associates are ready to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
No matter how you shop this holiday, Microsoft Store has great deals for every type of holiday shopper – read on for our top deals starting today! Visit microsoft.com or your local Microsoft Store to purchase.
The “Early” Buyer
Eager to get a jump start on your shopping list even before Thanksgiving? Start crossing off your list today with great deals including:
The “Treat Yourself” Gift Giver
What better way to “treat yourself” than to get a gift that keeps on giving – sleek new technology. Starting Nov. 24, save hundreds on the best deals of the season and find a little something for yourself like the Surface Pro 7 or the Surface Laptop 3. Other offerings include:
The “Game On” Gift Giver
Whether you’re stocking up your game library or buying gifts for the gamer in your life, incredible deals on Xbox consoles, games and accessories also start on Nov. 24.
The “First One in Line” Shopper
Set your alarm clock, grab your coffee and get ready to shop the best deals of the holiday season. Starting Nov. 28, you can shop all our Black Friday deals, from Surface Pro 7 to HP Laptop 15, with offers including:
The “Bargain” Shopper
In addition to the great deals above, Microsoft Store offers a collection of gifts under $100, so you can stock those stockings or find gifts for less than $20. Here are bargain ideas for anyone on your list:
* Black Friday offers shown are available online and in Microsoft Stores while supplies last. U.S. prices are shown. Offers and content varies by market and may change at any time. Not valid on prior purchases. May not be combinable with other offers. Other exclusions may apply.
**Offer valid from 12 a.m. PT Nov. 1, 2019 to 11:59 p.m. PT Jan. 3, 2020 (“Offer Period”) on qualifying purchases of select physical goods made at Microsoft retail and online stores in the United States (including Puerto Rico) and Canada during the Offer Period. Excludes certified refurbished devices, Surface for Business devices, and all digital services and products. Offer not valid on purchases made at third-party retailers. Customer eligible for price adjustment only if 1) Customer purchases eligible item during the Offer Period, (2) the price of the item is reduced during the Offer Period, and 3) Customer requests a price adjustment while the item’s price is currently reduced and in-stock for purchase. For purchases made at a physical store and online, Customer can go to any physical store and present receipt to get a qualifying price adjustment. For purchases made online, Customer must contact Microsoft Store Sales and Support at 1-877-696-7786 with order number and any other information requested by the Store Sales representative. Refunds will be provided to Customer in same manner as item was purchased (credit card use will be credited to original card). Maximum of one price adjustment per item will be granted during Offer Period. Bulk buys of more than two of the same device, per customer’s Microsoft Account, will not qualify for price adjustments. Price adjustments do not include taxes, or shipping or other fees. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time. Other exclusions and limitations may apply.
*** Not valid for existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members, other exclusions apply. Credit card required. After promotional period, subscription continues to be charged at the then-current regular price (subject to change), unless cancelled. Plus applicable taxes. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Limit 1 offer per account. Game catalog varies over time and by country.
There are close to 7,000 languages spoken around the world today. Yet, sadly, every two weeks a language dies with its last speaker, and it is predicted that between 50% and 90% of endangered languages will disappear by next century. When a community loses a language, it loses its connection to the past – and part of its present. It loses a piece of its identity. As we think about protecting this heritage and the importance of preserving language, we believe that new technology can help.
More than many nations, the people of New Zealand are acutely aware of this phenomenon. Centuries ago, the Māori people arrived on the islands to settle in and create a new civilization. Through the centuries and in the isolation of the South Pacific, the Māori developed their own unique culture and language. Today, in New Zealand, 15% of the population is Māori yet only a quarter of the Māori people speak their native language, and only 3% of all people living in New Zealand speak te reo Maori. Statistically, fluency in the language is extremely low.
New Zealand and its institutions have taken notice and are actively taking steps to promote the use of te reo Māori in meaningful ways. More and more schools are teaching te reo Māori, and city councils are revitalizing the country’s indigenous culture by giving new, non-colonial names to sites around their cities. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promoted the learning of te reo Māori, calling for 1 million new speakers by 2040. In a simple, yet profound, statement Ardern said, “Māori language is a part of who we are.” Despite all these efforts, today the fluency in te reo Māori is low.
For the past 14 years, Microsoft has been collaborating with te reo Māori experts and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission) to weave te reo Māori into the technology that thousands of Kiwis use every day with the goal of ensuring it remains a living language with a strong future. Our collaboration has already resulted in translations of Minecraft educational resources and we recently commissioned a game immersed entirely in the traditional Māori world, Ngā Motu (The Islands).
To focus only on shaping the future ignores the value of the past, as well as our responsibility to preserve and celebrate te reo Māori heritage. This is why we are proud to announce the inclusion of te reo Māori as a language officially recognized in our free Microsoft Translator app. Microsoft Translator supports more than 60 languages, and this means that the free application can translate te reo Māori text into English text and vice versa. It will also support Māori into and from all other languages supported by Microsoft Translator. This is really all about breaking the language barrier at home, at work, anywhere you need it.
Dr. Te Taka Keegan, senior lecturer of computer science at the University of Waikato and one of the many local experts who have helped guide the project from its inception, says: “The language we speak is the heart of our culture. The development of this Māori language tool would not have been possible without many people working towards a common goal over many years. We hope our work doesn’t simply help revitalize and normalize te reo Māori for future generations of New Zealanders, but enables it to be shared, learned and valued around the world. It’s very important for me that the technology we use reflects and reinforces our cultural heritage, and language is the heart of that.”
Te reo Māori will employ Microsoft’s Neural Machine Translation (NMT) techniques, which can be more accurate than statistical translation models. We recently achieved human parity in translating news from Chinese to English, and the advanced machine learning used for te reo Māori will continue to become better and better as even more documents are used to “teach” it every nuance of the language. This technology will be leveraged across all our M365 products and services.
But while the technology is exciting, it’s not the heart of this story. This is about collaborating to develop the tools that boost our collective well-being. New Zealand’s government is also spearheading a “well-being” framework for measuring a nation’s progress in ways that don’t solely reflect economic growth. We need to look at cultural heritage the same way. Preserving our cultural heritage isn’t just a “nice thing to do” – according to the U.N., it’s vital to our resilience, social cohesion and sense of belonging, celebrating the values and stories we have in common.
I was fortunate to visit New Zealand this year, and it is a country that is genuinely working to achieve a delicate cultural balance, one that keeps in mind growth as well as guardianship, which maintains innovation and a future focus whilst preserving a deep reverence for its past. This kind of balance is something all nations should be striving for.
Globally, as part of our AI for Cultural Heritage program, Microsoft has committed $10 million over five years to support projects dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage that leverage the power of artificial intelligence. The ultimate role of technology is to serve humankind, not to replace it. We can harness the latest tools in ways that support an environment rich in diversity, perspectives and learnings from the past. And when we enable that knowledge and experience to be shared with the rest of the world, every society benefits.
SAN FRANCISCO — Salesforce debuted new iOS apps today, including a long-overdue Salesforce mobile app makeover and the first mobile Trailhead learning app, Trailhead Go. Salesforce also updated its iOS mobile SDK for third-party app developers to take advantage of Swift, an Apple coding language.
The Apple focus continues from Dreamforce 2018. Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to join Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on stage for a fireside chat Tuesday at Dreamforce. The fresh iOS apps push is Salesforce’s response to more and more customers doing work on iPhones and iPads, said Constellation Research analyst Nicole France. Making better iOS apps is no longer a nice-to-have, but a got-to-have.
Previously, the Salesforce Mobile app could be described essentially as a click-intensive, sometimes slower desktop version of Salesforce shoehorned into a phone-app interface, analysts and users said. The new version will offer iOS-specific features and changes to the user interface.
Front-line salespeople can add more CRM data
Salesforce’s new focus is on making its interface friendlier to the front-line salespeople who use it all day, France said. Previous versions looked more manager-centric, with more focus on dashboarding sales-team data at a glance.
Nicole FranceAnalyst, Constellation Research
She added that, like many SaaS vendors currently re-evaluating the look and feel of their platforms, Salesforce’s new interface philosophy shows that it had focused too much on making the app attractive to buyers, not users. Reducing clicks for front-line salespeople will make them more inclined to enter the data that their managers need into the app.
“It’s what we’ve all come to expect in our lives as consumers, and frankly if Salesforce Mobile isn’t as easy and simple to use as other iPhone apps, people are disinclined to use it effectively — or at all,” France said. “Even in a business context.”
Trailhead Go embraces a new generation
Making the first Salesforce Trailhead mobile app, Trailhead Go, usable on phones and tablets can only enhance its function as a recruiting tool for Salesforce admins and developers, France said. While Generation Xers and older Salesforce users might not see the value of consuming sometimes-technical Salesforce learning content ported to phone and tablet interfaces, younger audiences will.
The free Trailhead app works well to develop needed experts for Salesforce customers like Workfront, a SaaS project management and employee collaboration platform. Heidi Melin, chief marketing officer at Workfront, said she sees the mobile version as a way to keep that pipeline of new experts flowing.
“They’re training a future generation how to leverage Salesforce,” Melin said. “That’s how you know when an application platform has scale, when you start to see the need for [the Salesforce] skill set in the marketplace. That’s huge.”
Melin said she is also looking forward to seeing more Salesforce mobile app integrations with partners like Totango, which retrieves CRM data for a particular Workfront customer and summarizes it in Slack. Melin uses those tools to get a quick snapshot of an account’s health and renewal date, and to do it without logging into Salesforce’s desktop or mobile apps, she said.
Also announced with the made-over Salesforce Mobile and new Trailhead Go are updates to the iOS mobile app-development SDK introduced earlier this year. Optimized for Swift, an Apple coding language growing in popularity with iOS app builders, the SDK will help developers create apps that better take advantage of iOS features and its interface.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
New AI-powered features make it easy for you to secure your organization’s valuable assets while empowering employees to collaborate freely.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, France’s Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, announced remarkable progress toward securing cyberspace. The community of Paris Call signatories is growing and taking new initiative to thwart attacks that threaten our democracies, economies and public services. The number of signatories of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, announced a year ago, has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.
The principles in the Paris Call address real-world challenges we’re facing today, like preventing foreign interference in elections, protecting availability of the internet, and curbing attacks on critical infrastructure. Importantly, supporters are committed to working together in a multi-stakeholder model, with governments, industry, academia and civil society collaborating to protect our cyberspace from nation-state threats, including attacks on our democratic processes.
Nations now supporting the Paris Call reflect the broadening mandate for international action to address cyberthreats with 10 Latin American nations, 13 Asian and Pacific signatories and eight African nations joining with 42 European states and Canada. In total, Paris Call signatories represent almost 40 percent of United Nations member states.
Enterprises in more than 60 countries and civil society groups in more than 65 countries have now joined, with respected retailers like Migros of Switzerland and Rakuten of Japan; financial services and insurance companies like CIMB Group in Malaysia and AXA Group in France; the global logistics leader Deutsche Post DHL Group; media and telecommunications providers like Sky and Telefonica; as well as civil society organizations like the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life. More than 60 enterprises and civil society groups in India have joined, although the Indian Government has not yet made its commitment.
One interesting trend, following a series of ransomware attacks targeting municipalities in the U.S., is that local and state governments in the U.S. have signed onto the Paris Call. New joiners include the cities of San Jose and Louisville and the states of Colorado, Virginia and Washington, bringing the number of U.S. signatories to more than 130. We believe this strengthens the case for the U.S. government to sign onto the Paris Call. The Paris Call builds on international norms that the U.S. has endorsed previously, with the addition of one new commitment that the U.S. should find easy to support: the protection of elections.
The tech sector has the primary responsibility to protect the internet and the people who rely upon it, but ultimately security and stability in cyberspace will require that governments, companies and civil society come together to find joint solutions to the challenges we are facing. With nation-state cyberattacks on the rise, the growing consensus emerging from all these groups makes it clear that cyberspace should not be exploited to inflict harm on the citizens of this world.
The promise of the Paris Call is the commitment of signatories to collaborate and build solutions across the full range of cyber challenges. In recent months, we have participated in roundtable discussions in cities around the world on how we engage in even more concrete follow-up action not just to abide by the principles in the Paris Call but to proactively advance them around the world. We at Microsoft strongly support the concept of a “Paris Call Community,” also announced today, centered around the nine principles of the Call. For example, Microsoft and the Alliance for Securing Democracy have created the “Paris Call Community on Countering Election Interference” – a multi-stakeholder project focused on implementing principle no. 3, working to identify best practices and build capacity to defend against foreign interference in democratic processes. We are also partnering with the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, the Internet Society, Global Cyber Alliance and CyberGreen to strengthen solutions that improve cyber hygiene, or basic security practices, among signatories in accordance with principle no. 7. We are committed to expanding these projects and encouraging contributions of talent and energy from everyone who wants to help realize the potential of the Paris Call Community.
If you are a government, a business in any industry, or a non-governmental organization, adding your voice to the Paris Call is a powerful way to advocate for principles and engage to help build solutions that will make your organization and ultimately the world a safer place. Head to this website to learn more and add your name and your efforts to the growing community of Paris Call participants.
Dell EMC today added predictive analytics and network management to its VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure family while expanding NVMe support for SAP HANA and AI workloads.
Dell EMC VxRail appliances combine Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell-owned VMware’s vSAN hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) software. The launch of Dell’s flagship HCI platform includes two new all-NVMe appliance configurations, plus VxRail Analytic Consulting Engine (ACE) and support for SmartFabric Services (SFS) across multi-rack configurations.
The new Dell EMC VxRail appliance models are the P580N and the E560N. The P580N is a four-socket system designed for SAP HANA in-memory database workloads. It is the first appliance in the VxRail P Series performance line to support NVMe. The 1u E560N is aimed at high performance computing and compute-heavy workloads such as AI and machine learning, along with virtual desktop infrastructure.
The new 1U E Series systems support Nvidia T4 GPUs for extra processing power. The E Series also supports 8 TB solid-state drives, doubling the total capacity of previous models. The VxRail storage-heavy S570 nodes also now support the 8 TB SSDs.
ACE is generally available following a six-month early access program. ACE, developed on Dell’s Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform, performs monitoring and performance analytics across VxRail clusters. ACE provides alerts for possible system problems, capacity analysis and can help orchestrate upgrades.
The addition of ACE to VxRail comes a week after Dell EMC rival Hewlett Packard Enterprise made its InfoSight predictive analytics available on its SimpliVity HCI platform.
Wikibon senior analyst Stuart Miniman said the analytics, SFS and new VxRail appliances make it easier to manage HCI while expanding its use cases.
“Hyperconverged infrastructure is supposed to be simple,” he said. “When you add in AI and automated operations, that will make it simpler. We’ve been talking about intelligence and automation of storage our whole careers, but there has been a Cambrian explosion in that over the last year. Now they’re building analytics and automation into this platform.”
Bringing network management into HCI
Part of that simplicity includes making it easier to manage networking in HCI. Expanded capabilities for SFS on VxRail include the ability for HCI admins to manage networking switches across VxRail clusters without requiring dedicated networking expertise. SFS now applies across multi-rack VxRail clusters, automating switch configuration for up to six racks in one site. SFS supports from six switches in a two-rack configuration to 14 switches in a six-rack deployment.
Support for Mellanox 100 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe cards help accelerate streaming media and live broadcast functions.
“We believe that automation across the data center is key to fostering operational freedom,” Gil Shneorson, Dell EMC vice president and general manager for VxRail, wrote in a blog with details of today’s upgrades. “As customers expand VxRail clusters across multiple racks, their networking needs expand as well.”
Dell EMC VxRail vs. Nutanix: All about the hypervisor?
IDC lists Dell as the leader in the hyperconverged appliance market, which IDC said hit $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2019. Dell had 29.2% of the market, well ahead of second-place Nutanix with 14.2%. Cisco was a distant third with 6.2.%
According to Miniman, the difference between Dell EMC and Nutanix often comes down to the hypervisor deployed by the user. VxRail closely supports market leader VMware, but VxRail appliances do not support other hypervisors. Nutanix supports VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and the Nutanix AHV hypervisors. The Nutanix software stack competes with vSAN.
“Dell and Nutanix are close on feature parity,” Miniman said. “If you’re using VMware, then VxRail is the leading choice because it’s 100% VMware. VxRail is in lockstep with VMware, while Nutanix is obviously not in lockstep with VMware.”