Microsoft Ignite is one of the biggest and most important tech innovation events every year. This year’s event was a completely online virtual event due to the ongoing pandemic. Still, it packed in some very important announcements of importance to anyone working in technology. Microsoft uses the Ignite platform to update IT pros, developers, data professionals, and organizations worldwide on their latest tech additions and innovations in its various products and services. For Microsoft Ignite 2021, Microsoft was focused on its vision of the post-pandemic hybrid workplaces that will leverage the cloud, AI on edge computing, mixed reality, and expanding security services for organizations.
While Microsoft Ignite 2021 packed in dozens of announcements focused on various platforms such as Azure, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Security, Microsoft 365, and more in its three-day event held between March 2-4, we have compiled a list of all the highlights:
Microsoft Mesh introduced at Microsoft Ignite 2021
As the entire Ignite 2021 event was virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft used this as an opportunity to showcase its newest hologram-based mixed-reality communication platform called Microsoft Mesh. In fact, the whole event was hosted on Microsoft Mesh — several people “teleported” to Microsoft Ignite 2021 using the platform to usher in this new collaborative computing. According to Microsoft, mixed reality has the potential to change the face of current businesses, and it allows people to reference themselves across both space and time in a consistent way.
Mesh allows Microsoft to achieve a complex use-case that the company likes to call “holoportation.” Mesh is capable of allowing people to join a shared environment for conversations or meetings from a different physical location. It uses 3D holograms and shares these holographic experiences on many kinds of devices using the company’s very own Azure cloud platform. Microsoft also made sure to focus on the point that Mesh is not just confined to business meetings or other professional use-cases. The same technology can be used to train students in various streams to attain practical exposure. For instance, medical students can leverage this technology to witness live surgeries.
Microsoft announced that Mesh is not just limited to its proprietary HoloLens, but will work across other devices such as VR headsets, PCs, smartphones, and tablets. Microsoft also launched its Mesh app for HoloLens, which is currently available for download. The company also launched a business-focused version of the app called AltspaceVR, which is still accompanied by enterprise-grade Microsoft’s security and scheduling features to support enterprise users.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took to the center stage to emphasize the importance of cloud computing in the coming years. He also added that the next decade would rely heavily on decentralized computing power to drive innovation. Nadella mentioned that Microsoft was going through a radical change in computing architecture to exponentially increase its compute capacity from the cloud to the edge. He talked about five key attributes that he and Microsoft believe will drive the next to generate cloud computing.
- Ubiquitous and decentralized cloud computing.
- Sovereign data and ambient intelligence.
- Empowered creators and communities everywhere.
- Expanded economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
- Trust by design.
All of these aspects are something Microsoft is working on to power up its cloud computing platform to provide reliable, powerful, and efficient means of cloud computing. Moreover, Microsoft has been busy unveiling new cloud environments for several industries in Dynamics 365 Commerce. It announced the latest updates it made to Cloud for Healthcare, which primarily focuses on virtual health optimizations and patient self-services.
Microsoft Teams has been a prominent platform for worker collaboration during the pandemic, and Microsoft and been consistently adding new features and support. Microsoft announced several new additions along with the support of their several business solutions to their Teams platform at Microsoft Ignite 2021. Teams will soon support several new webinar capabilities that will give better control to meeting organizers, allowing them to add a restriction page and to better process meetings. They will also be able to ask attendees to go through the signup process for any webinar hosted on the Teams platforms. Several new features, such as GoLocal support, queuing sent messages when offline, native notifications on Windows and macOS, out-of-office updates, and several other additions are being integrated into Teams in the coming months. We will soon be covering a story dedicated to highlighting all the new scheduled updates and announcements regarding Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure already powers almost all of the company’s major services and applications. Microsoft unveiled a bunch of interesting announcements and features of Azure AI and Azure Data platforms that enable developers, data engineers, and all other IT pros to leverage the platform.
Microsoft announced an all-new semantic search capability in Azure Cognitive Search, an AI-powered cloud search service. This new feature is available for mobile and web app development in preview. This new feature enables developers to use the platform to deliver results based on user intent instead of a simple keyword-based searching approach. Microsoft also announced that its Azure Cognitive Service Form Recognizer is going to start support for prebuilt identification documents and invoice extraction along with support for 64 additional languages.
The company also announced Azure Arc now supports Azure Machine Learning and introduced several new add-ons.
Microsoft announced several updates to its analytics platform and tools that enable data developers to extract more insights from all forms of data. The company listed the availability and general updates relating to Azure Synapse Pathway, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Purview, and Azure Cosmos DB at Ignite 2021.
More information about the Azure platform and related updates from Microsoft Ignite 2021 can be found here.
Apart from these major updates, Microsoft rolled a slew of information and announcements on its Power platform, OneDrive, Azure Developer ecosystem, Azure datacenters, infrastructure, and more. Microsoft is continuing to work on improving its cloud ecosystem and has been focusing on adding progressive new features to the existing set of services and technology platforms to serve different industries.