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Enterprise Tech Microsoft News

Microsoft Azure services now available via India Datacenters

Microsoft today announced the availability of Microsoft Azure services via local datacenter regions in India. As the first public cloud provider from India, Microsoft has opened three new regions – Central India in Pune, South India in Chennai, and West India in Mumbai.

Few months ago, in July 2015, Customers were able to participate in a private preview of Microsoft Azure from India datacenter. This has seen significant interest from BFSI, government departments and organisations, ISVs, ecommerce organizations and startups with participation from over 125 customers. Organizations such as Mahindra, Aditya Birla group, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Bank, BPCL, AIIMS, Fortis Healthcare, Narayana Healthcare, Apollo Hospitals, Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation, MIDC, TN ePDS, UP Power Corporation, Wipro, Infosys, Rediff, BookMyShow, Sony Corporation, NanoBi Data and Analytics, etc. have been using Microsoft local cloud services under this private preview program.

In addition to the Microsoft Azure services launching today, Office 365 services are slated for availability in October 2015, with Dynamics CRM Online services to follow in the first half of 2016.

With the local cloud services, regulated industries such as BFSI, government departments and state-owned enterprises will now be able to leverage public cloud services and be able to take advantage of local data residency. In addition, businesses that deal with large amounts of data e.g. media companies, will benefit from data replication in multiple regions within India for backup and recovery, reduced network distance, lower latency, and the option of a private connection to the cloud.

cloud

Microsoft local cloud services are well-suited for governments and businesses that already have significant investments in owned IT infrastructure.  They will now be able to extend their existing IT infrastructure and private clouds to Microsoft local (public) cloud, thereby creating compelling hybrid cloud scenarios and reducing their cost of IT operations significantly.  The impact on citizens is expected to be all the more significant as it will accelerate e-governance and roll-out of citizen services at unprecedented scale and speed by governments, thereby accelerating the governments’ Digital India and Smart Cities programs.

“The Microsoft cloud in India will transform the way computing is done in the country.  The hyper-scale cloud will empower governments, businesses and users and offer enough computing power that will support all their existing workloads. We are happy to partner with Government and businesses to make the Microsoft cloud work for India and for Indians.” – Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India. 

Microsoft local cloud services are well-suited for governments and businesses that already have significant investments in owned IT infrastructure.  They will now be able to extend their existing IT infrastructure and private clouds to Microsoft local (public) cloud, thereby creating compelling hybrid cloud scenarios and reducing their cost of IT operations significantly.

Here are some best practices and recommendations on when can you move your applications to cloud

The impact on citizens is expected to be all the more significant as it will accelerate e-governance and roll-out of citizen services at unprecedented scale and speed by governments, thereby accelerating the governments’ Digital India and Smart Cities programs.

In order to help organizations evaluate their path to the cloud, Microsoft published a Cloud Decision Framework  for BFSI and Government earlier this year. It is an open framework to help BFSI, government and other regulated industries to choose the right cloud model in a structured and auditable manner. The framework builds on international ISO standards and incorporates India-specific guidelines from IRDA, IDRBT and the IT Act to help organizations arrive at a cloud roadmap specific for their business needs.

Microsoft has also launched Cloud Accelerator Program along with its partners to help businesses create cloud adoption blueprints to identify applications which can move to the cloud.  More than 15 Microsoft partners including HCL, Wipro and Tech Mahindra are a part of the Cloud Accelerator Program in India.

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Microsoft News

Microsoft signs Government Security Program with NATO to address new cybersecurity threats

Few years ago, Microsoft launched the Government Security Program (GSP) – A program designed by Microsoft to help governments evaluate and protect existing systems, and create, deploy, and maintain more secure infrastructure, the GSP fosters partnership and trust. It is open to government agencies regardless of a commercial contract with Microsoft, and is an important part of what we consider to be our duty as global citizens.

The GSP helps governments respond more effectively and efficiently to computer security incidents and emergencies. In addition, the GSP helps decrease the risk of attack by sharing information from Microsoft security intelligence data, which exposes malicious software and similar cyberthreats. Information shared may include known vulnerabilities that Microsoft is investigating; upcoming and released patches and security updates; and incident information. Microsoft also shares information on product security, the company’s approach to security, and its incident response process.

Microsoft has signed its newest Government Security Program (GSP) agreement with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency to strengthen relationships and address new cybersecurity threats; and also include new Microsoft services such as vulnerability and threat intelligence.

Microsoft_and_NATO

Microsoft’s Joe Macri and the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency’s Koen Gijsbers commemorate the signing of the newest GSP agreement.

The GSP provides national governments with access to important Microsoft product and security resources, including:

  • Source code for important Microsoft products, which helps governments evaluate existing systems, assure the integrity of the supply chain, and design, deploy, and maintain secure computing infrastructures.
  • Microsoft Transparency Centers, where governments will be able to inspect the source code from enterprise products available through the program.
  • Vulnerability and threat intelligence from Microsoft to help governments respond more effectively and efficiently to computer security incidents.
  • Technical information about Microsoft products and services to help governments design, develop, and implement more secure computing systems.
  • Information about the core cloud services that demonstrates compliance with cloud controls, including Service Organization Control (SOC) Type II and ISO 27001 Statement of Applicability reports.

GSP participants use the program’s capabilities to meet information assurance needs. For example, participants can gain deeper understanding of Microsoft products and services for evaluation and certification. The program can also help participants with compatibility and deployment planning, particularly for Windows 10 or cloud migration scenarios. Additionally, many GSP participants are interested in the cybersecurity threat and vulnerability services that Microsoft provides through the GSP, which help protect their citizens, economies and infrastructure.

Microsoft currently has GSP agreements with over 40 agencies from more than 25 governments worldwide. In each of these cases, we have found that supporting an open dialogue and collaborative environment is the most effective way to increase transparency, reliability and integrity in our collective desire for improving cybersecurity.

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Enterprise Tech Microsoft News

Microsoft Azure: Private Preview from India Datacenters begins in July 2015

Customers will be able to participate in the private preview of Microsoft Azure from India datacenters in July 2015, which is a key component of our Microsoft Cloud services. This will give them a head-start to run trials of their apps on Microsoft Azure from local infrastructure. With these hyper-scale datacenters, Microsoft will offer enterprise-grade cloud services from local data-centers to customers of all sizes and industries including government departments and banking and financial services. Microsoft will launch the commercial cloud services from local datacenters by the end of this year.

In addition to Microsoft Azure and Office 365, Microsoft also announced that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will also be available from India datacenters in the first half of 2016.

Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group, said“Building an intelligent cloud is a key Microsoft strategy for global markets, including India. We deliver the most open, complete and secure enterprise-grade cloud services.  Services from local datacenters will open infinite computing capacity for Indian government departments, banks, telecom companies and enterprises or all sizes. This will help make Digital India a reality.”

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With the availability of Microsoft’s commercial cloud service from local datacenter, public and hybrid cloud adoption will likely accelerate in India. Organisations in the country will benefit from data sovereignty, lower latency and geo redundancy with the availability of local infrastructure.

Microsoft’s cloud services in India have grown over 100 percent in revenue in the past year, and the commitment to offer locally hosted Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and CRM Online will further accelerate this. Microsoft’s locally available cloud services will open opportunities for customers across many different segments and industries including banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) companies, state-owned enterprises and government departments, to now adopt the public cloud. The services offered via the local datacenter will create new avenues for Microsoft India’s 10,000+ partner ecosystem, comprised of hosters, independent software vendors (ISVs), system integrators (SIs) and others.  It can open new possibilities in e-governance, financial inclusion, healthcare and education, and positively impact the lives of a billion people.

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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft News

Microsoft introduces Surface 3; Thinnest and Lightest Surface

The Surface 3 is the thinnest and lightest Surface Microsoft has made. Surface 3 features the same beautiful design and premium materials as Surface Pro 3 in a more compact and efficient package. The price starts at $499. It is thin (just 8.7 mm) and light (1.37 pounds or 622 grams) and has a 10.8-inch screen. Compared to the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 it is slightly smaller and it feels great when you’re using it as a tablet. The 3:2 aspect ratio which was first introduced on Surface Pro 3 is also used here.

surface

Surface 3 also has front- (3.5MP) and rear-facing (8MP) cameras that both capture 1080p video. The rear-facing camera now features autofocus to take better photos but is also particularly useful for capturing images of documents, barcodes and the like. The battery is expected to last up to 10 hours, so that it will see you through your work day.

Surface 3 has a kickstand that very capably supports the device when you need it and totally disappears when you don’t. This kickstand has three preset positions — a narrow angle that’s great for working at a traditional desk, an intermediate angle that is designed for sitting on the couch or using the device on your lap, and a wide angle that provides a natural writing or drawing canvas.

It also runs full Windows, including desktop applications. Surface 3 runs full 64-bit Windows 8.1 and will be available with Windows Pro for business customers. It will be upgradable to Windows 10 for free when it’s available. With full Windows, it will run the desktop applications you depend on for work or school. This is a big deal when you compare it with competition in this segment. It also includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 to help you really get down to work.

Microsoft has also got the game of ecosystems and accessories right. You have a good range of accessories to pick while you plan to buy a Surface 3. Be it a Docking Station, Type Covers or even a Surface Pen. That makes taking notes real easy.

Read here for more information.

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Microsoft News

Microsoft is going to work with Xiaomi to test Windows 10

Microsoft is taking some fantastic steps to make Windows available to larger markets. While they forecast, they also understand the need to reach out to markets where pirated consumer computing exists. Its not just piracy, but also the brand association. Microsoft announced that, its going to work with Xiaomi to test Windows 10. Its indeed a very smart move that.

During the Windows Hardware Engineering Community conference in China, they announced a new program together with Xiaomi to test out Windows 10 on the Xiaomi Mi 4. This opens up a new mobile platform for Xiaomi and the preview is open to a selected group of Xiaomi Mi 4 power users. Those eligible will be invited to download Windows 10 Technical Preview and are encouraged to pass-on their feedback to Microsoft for improvements.

This is definitely a baby step but a very significant one. If it becomes a success and the ecosystem builds up, we can even see Xiaomi get into the Windows Tablet segment; affordable and quality work PCs.

Through a new program with Xiaomi, one of the top smartphone distributors in the world, a select group of Xiaomi Mi 4 power users will be invited to help test Windows 10 and contribute to its future release later this year. These power users will have the opportunity to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview – installing it and providing their feedback to Microsoft.

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Microsoft News

Microsoft announce Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL at MWC 2015

Today at Mobile World Congress 2015, Microsoft Corp. introduced Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL, two new smartphones that give people greater flexibility and freedom to choose when and where they get things done. Both phones are upgradeable to Windows 10, which offers more personal computing and greater productivity, and will be available later this year.

In a competitive marketplace, Microsoft continues to deliver innovative smartphone experiences at all price points. Both devices offer the seamless integration of hardware essentials — with a choice of screen sizes and camera capabilities — and Microsoft services to offer incredible productivity with affordability. With Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL, people are prepared for anything — for work, at home and on the go:

Lumia 640 XL

  • Smoothly and quickly access important documents or run popular websites, apps and games thanks to the onboard 1 GB of memory and powerful Qualcomm ® Snapdragon ™ processor featuring quad-core CPU running at 1.2GHz.
  • Enjoy photos and videos on a crisp high-definition (HD) display — either 5 inches on Lumia 640 or 5.7 inches on Lumia 640 XL.
  • Power through the day with battery to spare with a long-lasting battery — 2500 mAh for Lumia 640 and 3000 mAh for Lumia 640 XL.
  • Capture detail-rich photos even in low light with the 8MP camera on Lumia 640 or 13MP ZEISS optics on Lumia 640 XL. Both feature LED flash, a front-facing camera for Skype video calling, and Lumia Camera software right out of the box.
  • Enjoy the latest version of Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Denim update, complete with one-swipe Action Center, Word Flow and Live Folders. People can also upgrade Lumia 640 and 640 XL to Windows 10 and enjoy its benefits as it becomes available later this year.
  • Have the best of both worlds with LTE support available on dual-SIM models for the first time. In addition, all dual-SIM models will feature Smart Dual SIM to help ensure people never miss a call.

Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL customers will be able to access new Windows 10 features and innovation through the Windows Insider Program, as well as upgrade to Windows 10 later this year. Key features and improvements of Windows 10 include new universal apps such as Office, Mail and Calendar, and Photos; Internet Protocol-based messaging from Skype and others integrated directly into the messaging experience; an entirely new browsing experience with the new Project Spartan browser; and extended integration of the Cortana personal assistant.

Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL also come with a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, which includes the latest Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote) on the Lumia as well as on one PC or Mac and one tablet, plus 1TB of OneDrive storage, and 60 free minutes of Skype Unlimited Worldwide calling per month.

“Our newest Lumia devices build on our momentum in the affordable smartphones space,” said Jo Harlow, corporate vice president for Phones at Microsoft. “With the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL, we continue to make innovation accessible to more people. We have packaged competitive hardware with innovative Windows software and Microsoft services to help you achieve more, wherever and whenever you want.”

Lumia 640 XL will begin rolling out globally in March and will be available in matte cyan, orange and black, as well as both matte and glossy white. Lumia 640 will be available starting in April and will be available in glossy cyan, orange and white, as well as matte black. Both Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL will be available in single-SIM and dual-SIM LTE and dual-SIM 3G variants. Lumia 640 XL will also be available as a single-SIM 3G variant. Pricing will vary by market and operator; Lumia 640 is estimated to be around 139 euros for the 3G model and 159 euros for the LTE model, before taxes and subsidies. Lumia 640 XL will be around 189 euros for 3G and 219 euros for LTE, before taxes and subsidies.

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Microsoft News

Highlights from the Windows 10 Announcements; Features

Few months back, Microsoft had invited selected press to unveil their next big OS; many expected it to be Windows 9, but Microsoft went a step ahead and announced the next version to be Windows 10. Have a look at the Top Ten announcements which came in from that event. As a part of the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft received, over 800K pieces of feedback over 200 topics from 1.7 million Insiders.

Today, Microsoft had a second discussion on Windows 10. It was more of an update on how things are rolling in and what new experiences are coming in Windows. Here are some of the high-lights from the announcements made today –

  1. Windows 10 to be the best Enterprise friendly Operating System. Easy deployment, Hardware based security in Windows 10 is also going to be a game changer. Support for Maker boards is also coming in Windows 10.
  2. Windows 10 comes with a more streamlined task bar and the ability to fullscreen the Start menu. The showcased build also had an updated Action button with righthand side notifications bar, offering shortcuts to favourite apps and settings. When the keyboard is detached from a Windows 10 tablet, it will also ask to go into tablet mode to switch between mobile and PC settings.
  3. Windows 10 will come as a free update for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users for the first year. Its more like a Subscription model. Windows OS as a Service; This not only helps Microsoft, but also to the OEMs, ISVs and developers to maintain the applications.
  4. Microsoft also demoed Cortano on PC with a few quick questions about the weather, flight status and other location-based queries specific to the user. One can also dictate emails, search for apps and ask Cortana to perform common tasks.
  5. Like it was previewed sometime back, the synergy between the desktop and phone was one of the key features. Microsoft showed off what Windows 10 will look like for devices with screens that measure 8-inches and smaller, i.e. smartphones and small tablets. Some of the new features include pushing Recent Apps to the top of the Apps list, syncing Action center with PC.
  6. Skype integration with messaging is another neat feature; pretty similar to FaceTime and iMessage on the OS X / iOS ecosystem.
  7. Recent files will roam between your PC, OneDrive and mobile. Again, pretty similar to Handoff feature on the OS X.
  8. There was lot of buzz around the new browser ‘Spartan’ which Microsoft was working, as a replacement to the Internet Explorer.  The browser supports annotation directly on the Web pages, you can mark up and then save the final result to OneNote. The browser, also supports Reading List and a Reader option. The reader mode shows an article as a document, without any ads. Again nothing breakthrough – These were pretty much available on Safari.
  9. Microsoft introduced Windows Holographic, a new API to add a layer of augmented reality to Windows 10. Developers can now add holograms to their apps with this new technology, viewable through Microsoft’s special goggles, Microsoft HoloLens. Read more here
  10. Windows 10 users will be able to game together with Xbox One owners from their PCs, bringing cross-platform gaming for the first time.
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Microsoft News

Take a Bow Microsoft, HoloLens brought the trust back in you!

Microsoft just unveiled a new wearable computer called HoloLens, a device that projects 3-D images you can interact with right in front of your eyes. The Windows HoloLens is similar to an augmented reality experience (the kind many apps on smartphones aim to give) except that this is much more advanced, because users can wear a headset, like Virtual Reality goggles,  to experience holograms in real life.

For Other announcements from the Windows 10 Event which happened on 21st January, 2015 – Read this article

With Google Glass off the grid, HoloLens opens up a great avenue for implementations. Think about the variety of applications developers can build for it. Creatives can also use an app called HoloStudio to design their own holograms at home, inside the HoloLens device itself. One can even 3D print designs from the software directly, too. That’s impressive!

HoloLens brings high-definition holograms in your world, where they integrate with your physical places, spaces, and things. Microsoft says these holograms will transform your digital content (a say a picture or a graph or a game you’ve been playing) into real, physical objects in the room which you can physically interact with. For instance, you would be able to actually play Minecraft as though the game existed in the real world and not just the digital world.

Microsoft introduced Windows Holographic, a new API to add a layer of augmented reality to Windows 10. Developers can now add holograms to their apps with this new technology, viewable through Microsoft’s special goggles, Microsoft HoloLens. The smart goggles can understand users’ gestures, voice and the spatial area surrounding them.

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News

From Office Communicator to Lync and now Skype for Business

Unified communications has been one of the focus areas of Microsoft; right from the announcement of Office Communicator, and then the transition to Lync and their acquisition of Skype. Microsoft today announced, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business.

skype_for_businessIn the first half of 2015, Skype for Business will launch with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365. Microsoft believes that Skype for Business will again transform the way people communicate by giving organizations reach to hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business.

Skype for Business takes advantage of the strengths of both Skype and Lync. For example, as you can see in the screenshotthey have adopting the familiar Skype icons for calling, adding video and ending a call. Also, added the call monitor from Skype, which keeps an active call visible in a small window even when a user moves focus to another application.

At the same time, Skype for Business keeps and improves on all of the capabilities of Lync, including content sharing and telephony. They are also making it easier to connect to people everywhere. Lync already offers instant messaging and audio calling with Skype users. Skype for Business adds video calling and the Skype user directory making it possible to call any Skype user on any device.

Enterprise customers will be able to take advantage of these capabilities simply by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their datacenters. No new hardware is required. For Office 365 customers, it’s even simpler. Microsoft will do the required updates.

Source: Microsoft Press

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Enterprise Tech Microsoft News

Welcome Microsoft Windows 10; Ten Highlights from the Announcement

Update: For the Announcements which Microsoft made on 21st January, 2015: Read these highlights.

Few days back, Microsoft had sent out invites to the press to show off its next version of Windows, codenamed Threshold. Microsoft today announced that, the successor to Windows 8 will officially be known as Windows 10.

I still wonder why they had to skip Windows 9? Well, that means, you will not see the Windows Phone 9 as well. The Windows 10 is more likely to be a One Product, all devices. We will see more information on this in coming months.
Personally, I consider Windows 8 to be a disaster move. It was much worse than Windows Vista to me. With Windows 8, Microsoft was looking at having a product with a good touch-first experience for consumers; Either they didn’t care about the Enterprise users or presumed that, users will get used to the new OS no matter how different it would be. One can’t force people into a situation where everything they know has changed. That indeed caused huge frustration among the PC buyers and eventually affected the Windows 8 sales as well.

Anyway, Glad that Microsoft made this announcement of the Windows 10 Platform. Much towards what Satya focused on “One product family. One platform. One store” approach. The new operating system will offer a tailored experience for each device, but a single store will offer apps and updates across all devices. The two-in-ones devices are going to make the best of this OS. In tablet mode, it makes apps fullscreen. There’s a software back button; You have an option to enter and exit tablet mode.

Ten Highlights of the Annoucements made today:

  1. The most significant visible change to the Windows 10 will be the return of the start button and menu, which was replaced by a tiled start screen in Windows 8. The new button is a mixture of the classic Windows start menu and the live tiles introduced in Windows 8. The start tiles are going to be resizable too.
  2. Other notable features include virtual desktops feature, the Notification Centre and a flatter user interface. Command Prompt gets better as well.
  3. More Multi-tasking Support: With power view you can see the running tasks; and it also supports multiple desktops. It tiles the windows and desktops. You can snap into quadrants.
  4. The web results are now integrated with the search field for the Start Menu. Not a surprise, considering, OS X Yosemite was announced few months back with the Spotlight search feature.
  5. Cortana is integrated to the desktop OS. Its not just going to be a Windows Phone feature only. Its a good way to start with a one OS fits all screen ideology.
  6. Windows 10 will run on the boradset devices from IoT (Internet of Things) to Servers. A tailored experience for each device.
  7. One store to discover apps and update across all devices. Will deliver the right experience on the right device at the right time.
  8. Value for Enterprises: Will be compatible with all the tools and apps they are using today. All devices can be managed by one tool. Customised store for every device you use. Similar to Android L concepts, the OS will have a separates corporate and personal data on devices.
  9. Microsoft is definitely not killing Touch; the new OS will also support touch devices and will be familiar to the Windows 8 users. With Windows 10, when you swipe in from the left, you get the task view. With a swipe in from the right, you get the charms bar.
  10. Will be widely expected to arrive sometime next year post the Build Conference.

Windows Insider program is going to be live tomorrow for all interested beta testers. It will start off with a Technical Preview build for laptops and desktops, with one for servers to follow. There will be a variety of survey tools, forums interactions with engineering team members to enable better feedback mechanism. Microsoft is very keen to learn from the community and make the best of the platform before it retails next year.

Read here for the official Release.