Above: Motif image of Microsoft Ignite.
BitDepth #1376 for October 17, 2022
Microsoft’s Ignite event, a three-day event for developers that started on Wednesday last week, isn’t really focused on consumers, at least not directly.
More than 400 sessions, of which at least 150 are dedicated to developers in specific sectors of the global market, revealed the company’s continued focus on cloud solutions and cybersecurity.
The torrent of information is indexed innews book website.
Here are some of the highlights that individual users and small businesses will find promising.
Microsoft Edge, the company’s Chromium-based browser, will get improvements for workgroups, allowing the creation of groups of tabs and workspaces for collaborators focused on shared web pages.
Typos protection intensifies a browser’s efforts to reduce exposure to phishing by drawing attention to misspelled website addresses by suggesting which website the user may have intended to visit.
The new application toolbar that appears by default on the right edge of the new browser is useful. Outlook is one option, but being able to put certain apps in there, like the Microsoft To-Do app, would be even better.
Office productivity suite is condensed into an administrative app called Microsoft 365, where you’ll find the usual suspects, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and their friends. This probably makes more sense on tablets and smartphones, but it’s now the default option everywhere.
Microsoft DALL-E has got a remake, but the artificial intelligence (AI) alternative to online programs like MidJourney and Stable Diffusion that turns text messages into a surreal and disturbing photo mix is still in preview with limited access.
The Seattle company believes there is commercial use of this Azure OpenAI service and notes Mattel’s use of technology to create images of unusual Hot Wheels cars to inspire its designers.
It’s not entirely clear what Microsoft Places is. “We want to transform your space into a place,” CEO Satya Nadella said of the new product.
Spaces are supposed to help meetings by organizing the place, just as efficiently as Outlook scheduler for time.
“You don’t just come to the meeting, you come for the purpose of communication,” Nadella insisted.
Which seems somewhat hopeful, given how most meetings go.
Of immediate interest is Microsoft Syntex, an AI-powered tool that targets unstructured data in documents such as PDFs and other information repositories by providing high-volume AI-powered reading, tagging, translation and indexing of this type of data.
According to Microsoft, there will be 130 billion terabytes of unstructured content stored globally by 2025, information primarily frozen in formats that Syntex is designed to unlock.
There is a new version of Windows for the government.
Windows 365 Government is currently available to the US government and allows government contractors to “securely stream Windows applications, data, content, and settings from the Microsoft Cloud to any device, at any time.”
The company’s plans to make this product more widely available have not been announced.
Microsoft Teams is taking a huge leap forward in confidence with a new premium add-on coming in December.
Teams, which has largely been a lukewarm default meeting app bolstered by its pervasive presence in the Office 365 lineup and strong Microsoft presence in the workplace, can only benefit from the renewal. Because everyone who didn’t have to use it launched Zoom.
New features make Teams Premium a competitive upgrade.
Meeting guides take the guesswork out of configuring all meeting environment modules and branded meeting experiences are more likely to make Teams meetings at least look like they’re taking place in a unique space.
Smart Summary, AI-powered topic highlighting to guide the review of the recorded meeting while smart playback takes chapters out of the recording, breaking it down into easily accessible parts.
Other features like smart search, which calls topics or points for review in texts, and live translations, which offers real-time AI translations for 40 spoken languages, are still being field-tested.
There are a few other features that clearly focus on enterprise-wide appointment booking and audience management for webinars, but overall, Teams has been in the gym and wants to be competitive.
Microsoft can do more to make Teams a serious option for casual users or virtual meetings on a budget, and it remains to be seen how many of these features flow into Teams for the rest of us.
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