Day 1 at Microsoft Ignite 2020

Day one at Microsoft Ignite 2020 is complete, or still going depending upon where you are in the world, and we’ve been lucky enough to hear tons of new announcements. Paul Robichaux and I have been keeping on top of these throughout the day, tuning into key sessions – which of course you can watch on-demand too. As our first virtual Ignite it’s a different experience and is working pretty well – but being virtual won’t stop our yearly end-of-day Ignite roundups.

Tune in to the above video for the latest announcements and both Paul and my takes on these, or scroll down a little further for useful links to the topics we’ve talked about and more:

The Practical 365 @ Microsoft Ignite 2020:  Day One – Roundup

If you want to get access to all of the Ignite announcements in one place, then check out the Ignite Book of News. This regular digest gives the high level useful information about what’s been announced this year, and summarised a lot of the IT press announcements you’ll find elsewhere.

For a vast library of content, then check out the Video Hub. These provide access to the on-demand library of content you would typically find in Microsoft Ignite breakout sessions

In today’s roundup, we first chat about Azure in Space, with Azure Orbital. It turns out Paul knows far more about satellites and space than I’d imagined but what we heard from Satya in the keynote explained how by commoditising some key components required for technology used in base stations and satellites, and providing the processing power required for real-time data analysis it can have a real human impact, for example, when natural disasters are about to occur.

We also talked about Dev velocity – not just a fancy buzzword but something Paul and his team at Quadrotech know a lot about. In the keynote, Satya gave examples of how developers have been able to, during the pandemic, respond to immediate business needs literally overnight. A good example of this was given in retail when shops needed to move fast to click-and-collect experiences and plug in their existing systems.

The Dynamics cloud and its various integrations also got a high profile at this year’s Ignite. Microsoft is keen to show how this can be used to understand a customer’s journey and the problems they face – not just when using something like a website, but by responding to IOT and real-time signals and real-life interactions, providing the data to better drive how businesses respond to customer issues and provide better service. Rather than automating existing jobs, the aim appears to be to give business capabilities to improve their operations that simply didn’t exist several years ago.

The Practical 365 @ Microsoft Ignite 2020:  Day One – Roundup

Teams, naturally received many of the big ticket new features and functionality. One interesting aspect is Microsoft have shifted towards marketing Teams as unique in the market, being the only one-stop product that provides meeting, chat, calling, collaboration and automation features. Some of the big-hitting new features announced include:

  • New Together mode views
  • New dynamic view in meetings
  • Customisable meetings experiences (watch the video to see this in action and get Paul’s take)
  • A new Teams learning app for businesses
  • A virtual commute feature, to help make sure there is time allocated in the day for starting work; settling in, built-in checks for employee wellbeing, reducing work-related stress and finishing up daily tasks. A partnership with Headspace was touted as being key here:
  • Cortana for Teams Rooms with a new meeting device that offers intelligent speakers with transcription and the ability to identify particular people in the room
  • The ability to joining Surface Hub to meeting at the same time
  • Improvements using AI to help make meeting audio better including the ability to clean-up audio lost due to packet loss

Microsoft’s key message around meetings seems to be re-imagining meeting experiences, especially in the “new normal”. You can read all the Teams announcements here.

The Practical 365 @ Microsoft Ignite 2020:  Day One – Roundup

As expected, Microsoft launched “Project Cortex” – or rather the first product born out of it, Microsoft SharePoint Syntex. In the roundup, Paul and I talk about how useful this will be to businesses who need to intelligently identify their content based on what it is, and add metadata automatically. You can read more about Syntex here.

The Practical 365 @ Microsoft Ignite 2020:  Day One – Roundup

Microsoft Exchange received big announcements from the one and only Greg Taylor. In Greg’s session, we learned about the future of Exchange on-premises – and that the last, long-term subscription-based version of Exchange will be released in 2021. This will support in-place upgrades from Exchange 2019, and as a first, support n-3 upgrades, including direct upgrades from Exchange 2013, 2016, and 2019.

The same versioning and subscription model doesn’t just apply to Exchange though. Both Skype for Business Server and SharePoint Server will move to the same model.

In addition to this, there was more good news – the Hybrid Configuration Wizard now supports multiple tenants from one Exchange environment – though certain restrictions do apply. This would be particularly suitable for hosted environments where there’s a 1-1 mapping between destination tenant and an OU containing users with unique SMTP domains.

The new Exchange Admin Center will become opt-in soon as a new experience, and is expected to GA in the first quarter of 2021.

The new functionality for certificate-based authentication to Exchange Online PowerShell v2 reached GA, making it easier to write automated scripts the use Remote Powershell, even when MFA and modern authentication are (wisely) enforced.

Learn more: Introducing Certificate-Based Authentication for Exchange Online Remote PowerShell with MVP Vasil Michev

Small news but good news, the Exchange Role Requirements calculator becomes a standalone tool again, rather than being shipped in the Exchange 2019 ISO file – and another announcement from last year reaches GA (in October) – Plus addressing. Check out our roundup video above to find out more.

In the not-so-great but not unexpected news, removing the last Exchange Server isn’t something you’ll be doing this weekend. No news this time around, but Greg suggests we might hear more at Spring 2021 Ignite.

And, finally – Exchange tenant to tenant moves launch into public preview; although there are several caveats.

Read more about the Exchange announcements here

We’ll be back tomorrow covering the many Security and Compliance announcements and if we have time, deep-diving into some of the more interesting things we’ve learnt from sessions during the day.

Don’t forget you can join me at 11AM on Wednesday morning for the session I’m co-hosting – Wanted: A Career Jumpstart, alongside Roma Gupta, Rik Hepworth, Carole Rennie Logan and Alex Mang.

In the meantime, here’s a couple more announcements that we didn’t have enough time to cover in today’s roundup but are especially interesting:

Finally, if you are looking for our fancy Teams backgrounds, head over to the Ignite Swag and Exchange Swag pages.

Also, don’t forget to enter Quadrotech’s Microsoft Ignite tech giveaway where they’re generously offering a Microsoft Surface Go 2, JBL Waterproof Portable Speakers, Amazon Echo Dot’s and gift cards as prizes!

About the Author

Steve Goodman

Technology Writer and Chief Editor for AV Content at Practical 365, focused on Microsoft 365. A 12-time Microsoft MVP, author of several technology books and regular Microsoft conference speaker. Steve works at Advania in the UK as Field Chief Technology Officer, advising business and IT on the best way to get the most from Microsoft Cloud technology.

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