With the year drawing to a close, Microsoft will look back on 2015 as a year of innovation, enhancement and enabling productivity.
Though it feels like he’s been at the helm for a lot longer, 2015 was in fact Satya Nadella’s first full year as CEO of Microsoft, and he oversaw the release of some exciting new products, platforms and services.
Big steps have been made towards delivering on Microsoft’s ‘mobile first, cloud first’ vision, and we take a look back on the innovations and new releases the company has made available this year.
Windows 10 launch
Windows 10 was made available in July 2015, with Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, heralding the launch as the start of a new era for the company’s operating system.
Built to run on almost every device, Windows 10 saw the introduction of Cortana, the Microsoft Edge browser, and the Windows Hello sign in system, as well as the return of the start menu.
Microsoft outlined its aim to have a billion active Windows 10 devices within the next two to three years, and September saw the unveiling of new Surface, Lumia and Band devices designed to run on the operating system.
“In just a few short months, it’s been incredible to see more than 110 million devices already running Windows 10,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group. “I’m personally humbled and excited to see people around the world loving Windows 10. We’re seeing a great response from IT professionals, with over 8 million business PCs already running Windows 10.”
September saw the worldwide release of Office 2016, the latest version of Microsoft’s productivity suite.
Office 2016 delivers new versions of the Office desktop apps for Windows, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Project, Visio and Access.
Highlights of the release include Skype in-app and Office 365 Groups integration, a new Tell Me search tool for Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and Clutter, a tool that analyses e-mail patterns to prioritise inbox items.
Multiple people will be able to co-author Word, PowerPoint and OneNote documents in real time within the desktop version of Office 2016, a feature previously reserved for Office web apps.
At the time of release, Satya Nadella spoke about the potential of Office 2016. “How people work has changed dramatically,” he said. “But one constant is that everyone wants to get more out of every moment of their life – after all, our time is the scarcest commodity. That’s why Microsoft has set a bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business process in this mobile-first, cloud-first world. Today’s release of Office 2016 is a big step forward. We designed it to help change the nature of work within organisations of all sizes across three key dimensions.”
In the Dynamics space, a new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM was launched in December, while an updated version of Dynamics NAV was unveiled in September.
Dynamics CRM 2016 delivers significant productivity, mobility and customer service enhancements, while Dynamics NAV 2016 provides small and midsize businesses greater control over their finances, supply chain, manufacturing, and operations.
“As we look to the future, we will continue to combine the strength of the intelligent cloud platform to our business application service where organisations will be empowered and proactive – saving costs, increasing customer loyalty and even saving patient lives,” said Jujhar Singh, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
There’s no denying that tablet devices now have a major presence, and Microsoft’s Surface range is delivering a world of opportunity and productivity to users in both the business and social spaces.
2015 saw big steps taken for Surface, with the company unveiling the Surface Pro 4 and a new Surface Book laptop this October.
Microsoft also unveiled the Surface Hub, a new large-screen collaboration device designed to help teams interact and collaborate in the workplace, in July. Powered by Windows 10, the Surface Hub features built-in wifi, Bluetooth 4.0, near-field communications and a variety of ports for wired and wireless connectivity options, enabling users to connect their personal devices.
August saw Microsoft announce the general availability of the Azure Data Factory cloud-based data integration service. Azure Data Factory orchestrates existing services that collect raw data and transforms it into ready-to-use information for users.
Sreedhar Pelluru, senior programmer writer at Microsoft, said of the release: “Go beyond just a tabular monitoring view, and use the rich visualisations of Data Factory to quickly display the lineage and dependencies between your data pipelines. Monitor all of your data flow pipelines from a single unified view to easily pinpoint issues and setup monitoring alerts.”
The year ahead...
2016 promises to be another exciting year for Microsoft, with a new version of Windows Server among the anticipated release highlights. Be sure to visit OnWindows to keep up to date with the latest innovations and releases.