Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella addresses attendees virtually at Microsoft Ignite 2022.
Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella addresses attendees virtually at Microsoft Ignite 2022.Source Microsoft
Last week, Microsoft held its annual developer event, Microsoft Ignite, where it announced many new features, services, and tools for its ecosystem of developers and IT professionals. Every year Microsoft has so many new announcements that it would be practically impossible for me to cover all the announcements. I virtually attended Microsoft Ignite alongside the Surface Event, which you can read here. I want to discuss the announcements that have stuck with me the most. Let’s dive in.
Power Automate is Microsoft’s automation platform that allows a company to automate and create business apps without any technical or programming experience. Power integrates with Microsoft 365 and third-party applications, and each year Microsoft builds on the Power Automate platform.
At Microsoft Build in 2021, Microsoft added Process Advisor for automation recommendations and GPT-3 with Microsoft Power Fx for building low-code apps. Microsoft has implemented new artificial intelligence (AI) features in Power Automate, allowing users to create apps without code. Microsoft says users can describe in text what they want to automate in a sentence, and an AI-based copilot will build the flow.
It runs on OpenAI Codex, which translates natural language into code. I believe we are seeing significant progress with AI and its ability to create productive content, in this case, automate workflows with data fed to it. This powerful tool allows people with little to no programming experience to create flows. I imagine this integration of OpenAI Codex would be helpful with Microsoft’s Process Advisor where Process Advisor tells you what would be efficient to automate. Then Power Automate will automate it for you. I think the goal would be to support all Microsoft 365 and third-party apps for creating a flow and, ultimately, creating full business applications by simply describing the app.
Power Automate: Describe your flow in everyday words.
Microsoft has also updated its Power BI with new connectivity to OneDrive, Sharepoint and self-service data analytics. Power BI is Microsoft’s tool that allows companies to analyze and visualize data using AI. Microsoft installs it for Office users and users can view and edit Power BI reports from OneDrive and SharePoint. These updates come in tandem with what Microsoft announced in May to integrate Power BI into PowerPoint, Outlook, and Office. I believe it should be a strong tool within Office with the ability to have data analysis on Office datasets available to work together.
Microsoft is introducing its Teams Premium service with more customization, intelligent integrations and security over the classic Teams.
Teams Premium has meeting guides similar to meeting templates and the ability to place custom logos and backgrounds for the Teams lobby. Teams Premium provides users with personalized highlights, AI-generating tasks, automated playback chapters, in-meeting insights, and intelligent transcript search. For security, Teams Premium has a new watermarking feature, limits on who can record, and extra protections for private discussions. It also has advanced webinars, a registration waiting list, automated reminder emails, and a virtual green space for presenters.
I believe these new features and services are enough to warrant a premium experience. Microsoft has matured in recent years to become a collaboration hub for businesses, and I’m glad Microsoft hasn’t put what it’s built behind a premium paywall. These premium features are quality of life improvements for Teams, and I believe Microsoft has largely kept the classic Teams collaboration hub intact.
Intelligent summary showing how a user accesses meeting information, including files, recordings, … [+] and transcripts.
Microsoft has improved the Teams collaboration experience within some of the Microsoft Office apps. Cameo integrates the Teams camera feed into PowerPoint Live presentations, allowing for more customization within live presentations. Likewise, Excel brings Live Excel to Teams, calls for real-time collaboration from Excel within Teams.
Another collaboration feature I’m not too fond of is the Together mode, where meeting participants can be assigned a seat by presenters or meeting organizers. I think Microsoft is going for the ability to sit next to a peer as a virtual expression of affection. The downside would be an appeal to favoritism and a lack of inclusiveness for the “black sheep” of the meeting.
Microsoft has also added some welcome features to Teams chats. Teams chat now includes short video clips, more emojis, suggested replies, scheduled sending, delete chat, and the ability to list everyone in a group chat. I’m interested to see how well the function of short video clips catches on. If Microsoft integrates it properly, it can be used as a better way to communicate important content that is not easily communicated in text and is not large enough for a video call.
I recently had problems using Microsoft Edge with hotel Wifi and had to use an alternative browser, Chrome for a short period of time. In the past, before using Microsoft’s updated Edge browser, which is now built on Google’s Chromium, I used Chrome. I realized that Edge is such an essential part of my daily workflow that switching back to Chrome slowed down my productivity. Many features in Edge are not native to Chrome, such as vertical tabs, collections, and the ability to group vertical tabs.
Anyone with access to the shared Edge Workspace can update the tabs in real time and see where… [+] their teammates must stay on the same line.
Anyone with access to the shared Edge Workspace can update the tabs in real time and see where their teammates are staying on the same page. Source Microsoft
Microsoft is turning the Edge browser experience into a multiplayer experience where I can share and collaborate with others on what I research and watch in my browser. I believe this powerful feature built into Edge puts collaboration at the forefront of a project. Most collaboration tools like note taking and whiteboards bring content to the collaboration app while Edge Workspaces bring collaboration to the content. I’m excited to try this out and see how well it works in my daily workflow.
While many AI and ML applications today are for data analytics and bringing insights to a business, Microsoft focuses on productivity and simplifying workflows for businesses through automation. The ability to create flows without code using natural language is a powerful tool and I don’t see Microsoft stopping at flows, but moving to business apps and building apps with Process Advisor.
The addition of Teams Premium brings many quality-of-life features without setting up a paywall between the classic Teams and Teams Premium. Edge Workspaces also brings collaboration to web browsing for more productive and efficient workflows. I’m excited to try Edge Workspaces within my own workflow. Between Edge Collections, Vertical Tabs, and Edge Workspaces, the Edge browser has become the ultimate companion to my OneNote notebooks.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.
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Moor Insights & Strategy founder, CEO and principal analyst Patrick Moorhead is an investor in dMY Technology Group Inc. VI, Dreamium Labs, Groq, Luminar Technologies, MemryX and Movand