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Key Announcements at Microsoft Ignite Fall Edition 2021: Day 1

Microsoft announces new tools, software and upgrades for its existing products to boost Business Productivity, at its annual Ignite Event.

This week, Microsoft hosts its second Ignite conference of the year. It’s an annual opportunity to showcase what the company is emphasizing and how it plans to revolutionize the way businesses work. At this event, customers get to meet with experts to obtain answers to questions about implementing and managing Microsoft technologies at the conference. This year’s user and partner event is no exception. 

Microsoft introduced a slew of new capabilities for Microsoft Teams, reiterating the company’s commitment to Teams as the hub for collaboration. It also recognizes the need of improving security and collaboration capabilities, as well as explore new ways to use the metaverse in the workplace. At Microsoft Ignite 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted that 90 new services and updates will be unveiled at the Ignite conference for Fall 2021, as well as other steps Microsoft is doing to better equip customers in an age of fast digital change and broad hybrid work. Here are some of the key Microsoft Ignite announcements from the Fall Edition event: 

Microsoft and Metaverse

“As the digital and physical worlds come together, we are creating an entirely new platform layer, which is the metaverse,” Nadella said during the Ignite 2021 conference.

“We’re bringing people, places and things together with the digital world, in both the consumer space as well as in the enterprise,” he added.

Just days after Facebook was renamed as Meta in an effort to establish virtual places for both consumers and companies, Microsoft is joining the battle to build a metaverse inside Teams. Next year, Microsoft will integrate Mesh, a collaboration platform for virtual experiences, into Microsoft Teams. Mesh expands on prevailing Teams features like Together mode and Presenter view, and it’s intended to make remote and hybrid meetings more collaborative and immersive by communicating to participants that they’re in the same virtual area.

Mesh will employ HoloLens headsets and Microsoft’s mixed reality technology for virtual meetings, conferences, and video conversations that Teams members may participate in as avatars. Microsoft’s Mesh technology will also let users participate in normal web- or app-based Teams meetings as both their VR versions and themselves. For Teams video conversations, there will be a 3D avatar that you can customize for yourself, and it will be available even if you don’t have a headset. Customers who do not have a device that can show 3D images will be able to view the content and avatars in 2D.

Azure OpenAI Service

One of the expected Microsoft Ignite announcements was Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform collaborating with OpenAI. The new Azure OpenAI Service will provide Azure users access to OpenAI’s GPT-3 API. GPT-3 is an autoregressive language model capable of turning natural language into direct software code, as well as summarising big text blocks with questions.

For the time being, Microsoft says Azure OpenAI Service will remain an invite-only platform. The Azure OpenAI Service will give Microsoft’s cloud clients additional options to get the best results for their businesses. It will supplement the conventional GPT-3 API in terms of security, management, and networking.

Microsoft Loop

Microsoft Loop, a new Microsoft 365 tool that pushes collaboration beyond the typical document, is based on the Fluid Framework.  

Loop components, Loop pages, and Loop workspaces are the three major features of Microsoft Loop. Loop components are information pieces that you may iterate on and that function across the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. A Loop component can be a table, a to-do list, or anything else, and it’s updated in real-time with the most up-to-date information wherever it’s accessible. As explained during the Microsoft Ignite announcements, if you share a Loop table on Microsoft Teams, you can make changes right there, and they’ll appear on any website or place where the table is referenced. Loop components are described by Microsoft as “atomic units of productivity that help you collaborate and complete work right within chats and meetings, emails, documents, and more.”

Loop pages allow you to pull together all of the material connected to a project in a way that is always up-to-date since all of the components are updated in real-time wherever you share them. Loop workspaces are more akin to notebooks, in which you may organize pages into groups and sections to make things easy to discover, which is very beneficial for huge projects. Both pages and workspaces can be collaborated on by multiple users at the same time.

Azure Cosmos DB

Microsoft has also delivered on its commitment to push boundaries of data analytics capabilities of the Azure database. According to the company, one upgrade offers new functionality for Azure Cosmos DB with the purpose of making Apache Cassandra data transfer easier. As per Microsoft, Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra is now broadly accessible, with an automated synchronization functionality that enables hybrid data to run in the cloud and on-premises. 

Similar to Apache HBase and Google Cloud Bigtable, Cassandra is an open-source column family store NoSQL database. The Azure Cassandra service features an automated synchronization capability that allows users to sync data across their own Cassandra servers, both on-premises and in the cloud.

Microsoft adds that all Azure Advisor users may now configure alerts for throughput spending restrictions to help them keep track of their spending.

SQL Server 2022

During Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie’s keynote at Microsoft Ignite 2021  announcements: Day 1, on Tuesday morning, Microsoft announced SQL Server 2022. Because the product is still in private preview, the complete details of the release aren’t available yet. Microsoft, on the other hand, revealed some fascinating insights about the forthcoming update.

For example, SQL Server 2022 will support migrations to Managed Instance via distributed availability groups, allowing for database migrations with near-zero downtime.

Managed Instance is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) product designed to make moving from on-premises or cloud-based virtual machines to PaaS as simple as possible. However, there were a few major difficulties that users had to deal with, e.g., performing migrations with minimal downtime necessitated a complicated database migration services solution.

From readable secondaries, SQL Server 2022 will also provide write access to the Query Store. This will provide you with more visibility into what’s going on with those secondary replicas and give you more adjusting options.

Microsoft Viva

Microsoft Viva is a Microsoft 365-based workforce platform that offers learning, resources, insights, knowledge, and communications. Until recently, the platform consisted of individual modules such as Connections, Insights, Learning, and Topics. Microsoft announced at Ignite 2021 that Microsoft Viva is now available as a full package.

Topics, Insights, Learning, and Connections are all part of the package. Microsoft Viva Insights is receiving additional capabilities to improve collaboration and productivity throughout the fully integrated platform.

Headspace’s guided meditations and mindfulness exercises in the Viva Insights app for Teams will be accessible in more languages later this month — French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish — to promote mindfulness and wellbeing throughout the workday.

Microsoft Excel API

Microsoft unveiled an upgrade to Excel that adds a new JavaScript API to the classic spreadsheet software at the Ignite conference. Developers will be able to construct custom data types and methods using this new API.

Over the last several years, Excel has begun to introduce a variety of new data kinds, first allowing users to draw in stock and geographic data from the cloud, then Power BI and Power Query data types, which allow users to deal with their own data. Customers will now be able to design their own add-ins and enhance already existing ones to leverage on data types, resulting in a more integrated, next-generation experience within Excel, according to Mircosoft.   Developers can also define unique data types that are relevant to their businesses.

Azure Container Apps

Azure Container Apps is a new fully managed serverless container service from Microsoft that complements the company’s current container infrastructure offerings such as Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Azure Container Apps, according to Microsoft, was designed primarily for microservices, with the potential to expand fast based on HTTP traffic, events, or long-running background operations.

As per Microsoft, with Azure Container Apps, developers will be able to design their apps in the language and framework of their choice and then deploy them using this new service.

Azure Stack HCI

Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI hyper-converged infrastructure solution has been enhanced to include GPU for AI and machine learning, soft kernel reboot, thin provisioning, and other infrastructure-level features. Virtual machine creation and administration through the Azure portal are among the management-level changes. All Azure Stack HCI integrated systems now include server core security.

A new Azure Stack HCI partner program allows users with additional certified solutions and services from independent software providers.

Microsoft has released a preview of Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI, as well as new autoscale functionality for AVD that allows users to plan the start and stop of session hosts.

Context IQ

Context IQ is another new Microsoft Office experience unveiled at Ignite Fall Edition. This is an artificial intelligence service that may provide you with relevant ideas and information at any moment. Microsoft Editor, the company’s spellchecking and proofreading product, will be the first platform to benefit from Context IQ. Context IQ allows Editor to not only fix what you’ve typed but also forecast what information you’ll want to write. It can, for instance, recommend files to share with a coworker based on projects you’re working on when you try to schedule a meeting through email, and it can do much more.

Read More: Introducing MT-NLG: The World’s Largest Language Model by NVIDIA and Microsoft

Context IQ may recommend related Dynamics 365 sales records plugins as well as third-party plugins like Jira, Zoho, and SAP. Users will be able to enter information without having to switch between email or other apps. In Teams, pressing Tab will prompt the Editor to finish a statement, such as when booking a trip online and entering a frequent flier number.

Azure Chaos Studio

Microsoft has released a preview of Azure Chaos Studio, a tool for experimenting with application resilience. The platform includes a library of errors caused by agents or services, as well as continuous validation to ensure that product quality is maintained.

Users of Chaos Studio may deliberately interrupt programs with network delay, unexpected storage failures, secret expiration, a full data center outage, and other real-world events to uncover weaknesses and create mitigations before users are affected.

Microsoft Edge on Linux

Microsoft Edge has been out of beta for almost a year on Windows and macOS desktops, and the browser is finally ready for a new platform. Microsoft revealed during the Microsoft Ignite 2021 event announcements that Edge is now fully accessible on Linux in the stable channel.

This implies Edge has finally caught up to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, both of which have long been available for Linux distribution. You may get Microsoft Edge for Linux by visiting the Edge download website and downloading the .deb or .rpm package. Microsoft is commemorating the release of Edge Stable on Linux with a bonus of the Edge Surf game.

Dynamics 365

Microsoft unveiled three new Dynamics 365 capabilities, each with varying levels of availability, to help businesses better their connections with customers, workers, and suppliers. These new tools are Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights, Dynamics 365 Customer Service voice channel, and Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights assists organizations in avoiding possible supply interruptions by providing data “in near real-time” from multiple partners, such as logistics partners, data providers, and suppliers. The technology, which is now in preview, allows businesses to establish a digital version of their physical supply chain and improve end-to-end visibility throughout their whole value chain.

It also integrates data on global events that might have an influence on supply chains, such as political upheaval, natural catastrophes, or pandemic resurgences.

Dynamics 365 Customer Service voice channel is a voice-enabled, SaaS-based customer service application that is now generally accessible. According to Microsoft, it’s built on Microsoft Teams technology and combines the capabilities of conventional Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), and Customer Engagement Center (CEC) into a single solution.

Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces, which will be available as a preview in early December, allows businesses to harness observational data with ease, leverage AI-powered models to discover insights about your surroundings, and respond in real-time to trends and patterns.

 Microsoft Defender for Business

Microsoft has unveiled a brand-new security suite tailored to the dangers that small and medium-sized organizations face at the Microsoft Ignite fall edition. Called Microsoft Defender for Business, which was launched today at Microsoft Ignite 2021, will try to offer what Microsoft calls “enterprise-grade endpoint protection” from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to businesses with 300 or fewer employees.

Defender for Business, which is specifically built to defend organizations from malware and ransomware on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices, will enable clients to construct a secure foundation by finding and correcting software vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. Its Endpoint detection and response (EDR) feature will assist SMBs in identifying persistent threats and removing them from their environments using behavioral-based detection and response alerts. It can also minimize alert volume and remediates threats.

You can watch the Microsoft Ignite Fall Edition 2021:Day 1 here:

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Preetipadma K
Preetipadma K
Preeti is an Artificial Intelligence aficionado and a geek at heart. When she is not busy reading about the latest tech stories, she will be binge-watching Netflix or F1 races!


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