Highlights from Microsoft Ignite 2018

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Microsoft recently hosted its annual Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida, unveiling a long list of key innovations for its products in the coming year to a bevy of eager attendees. Most of the announcements involved improvements to Microsoft’s current offerings, but many of these improvements hold much promise for workplace users in particular. Let’s look at a few of the most important highlights from the five-day event.

AI Integrations for Microsoft Office

Along with the official rollout of Microsoft Office 2019, users of Microsoft Office 365 and related products will soon see a number of “smart” features as Microsoft begins integrating AI and machine learning technology into its highly popular suite of office productivity software. Among the new features will be the implementation of Ideas, which will assist users by offering helpful data and layout suggestions as they create documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Speaking of AI…

Machine learning and artificial intelligence actually took center stage in many of the Ignite events—including one initiative in particular, AI for Humanitarian Action, a program designed to enhance humanitarian response in a number of ways, such as improving response to catastrophic events (including allocating resources in advance of predicted events) and utilizing chatbots to assist displaced refugees with job building skills.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is heavily encouraging business to migrate from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams by rolling out a whole new set of exciting features integrated into Teams—including video conferencing that can blur the background behind users to remove distractions, along with the ability to automatically convert recorded meetings into searchable transcripts.

New Windows Virtual Desktop

Where Windows 10 virtual machines were once related to third-party service providers, enterprise subscribers will now be able to rent a Virtual Desktop directly from Microsoft, running Windows 10 in the Azure Cloud. This feature now makes Windows 10 and virtual machines more accessible to smaller businesses.

Unifying Search Functions with Microsoft Search

During the conference, Microsoft also announced that it is creating a supercharged, unified search experience across Windows, Office 365, Edge and Bing with the new Microsoft Search feature. As part of the new experience, a search box will feature prominently across these apps so relevant search information is always one click away.

Surface Hub 2 Whiteboards—Coming in 2019

Event coordinators announced that a lighter, thinner version of Microsoft’s popular whiteboard, the Surface Hub 2, will be rolled out in the second quarter of 2019. The new iteration will be followed in 2020 by a refreshed 2X version which will offer additional features like tiling and rotation. Demonstrations of the new whiteboard showed off its new features, including the ability to integrate with Teams.

These announcements, rollouts and demonstrations represent just a portion of the many exciting announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2018. Suffice it to say that users of Microsoft products have much to look forward to in the coming year.

We’ll be back in Orlando in November 2019 for the 25th annual Microsoft Ignite conference!

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