The Microsoft Roadmap: Enterprise Collaboration Tools

Mobile Man / Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Microsoft Collaboration Tools

Have you ever spent your hard earned cash on a pair of shoes, a new tablet or a designer jacket, only to walk past the same store a month later and see the item in the half-price sale? If only someone had told you about the upcoming sale! Investing in Microsoft products is not dissimilar and having an idea of the corporation’s Roadmap can help you avoid those “if only I’d known” moments.

Gathering an idea of what to expect from the Microsoft Roadmap is more than a pastime for soothsayers and Microsoft super fans. If your organization is considering an overhaul of current IT systems, deciding whether to update from SharePoint 2010 or weighing up the benefits of Windows 8.1 versus staying on Windows 7, knowing what’s round the corner is essential. The last thing any organizations wants is to invest heavily in an IT solution only to see a newer, better solution released soon after.

The crystal ball

There are three principal methods of finding out what Microsoft will be releasing in the coming months and years. If you’re very good at convincing your managers, investing in Microsoft Directions will give you the most detailed and reliable updates, but at considerable cost. If you can get to one of Microsoft’s major conferences (such as the upcoming Ignite event in Chicago over the first few days of May) you’ll come away with a pretty good insight of what to expect from the ‘Softies in coming months. Your last approach would be to trawl through the speculation and confusion of discussion boards, press releases, interviews and blog posts that litters the Internet.

For those attending Ignite, there’ll be ample opportunities to find out all about forthcoming releases and updates, and we’ll no doubt have a much more concrete idea of when to expect new releases after the event. However, for those not able to attend, we’ve saved you the time spent scanning the ‘net for more details on the Roadmap. There are a lot of exciting things coming out of Redmond in the coming months and a particularly detailed summary of expected releases can be found here.

What to expect:

Windows 10 is of course the big story for 2015 and is expected in Summer 2015. It’s a change in course after Windows 8 which alienated so many users, and will come as a free upgrade for anybody using Windows 7 and up. The platform will come with Cortana built in, will incorporate both the Internet Explorer 11 and so-called Project Spartan browsers and will function with HoloLens. Why no Windows 9? Perhaps because Microsoft see Windows 10 as such a huge leap forward; from now on in, it’ll hardly make sense to speak about which ‘version’ of the OS you use as Windows will update much more regularly and applications will be universal. The days of waiting for the next Windows release are (supposedly) over.

Windows Phone 7 and upwards will also upgrade to Windows 10 this year (at no cost) and Microsoft are trying to make their apps available for free on other platforms too. It’s all part of a move to be universal, to provide everything to everyone. It’s bold, it’s brave, and it just might work.

If Windows 10 is the big picture, there are also a number of other significant releases in the coming months:

  • Office 2016 and Office Apps. Release in second half of 2015

See these screenshots for an idea of what the productivity suite will look like. It’s got a darker theme and is designed to be touch friendly (although desktop users shouldn’t be too disorientated) but by and large Office will still feel like Office. As usual, the changes will be incremental and users should adjust to them quickly.

  • SharePoint 2016 and Exchange 2016. Late 2015

Server editions of SharePoint and Exchange have been put on the back burner a little in recent years since Microsoft has been pushing Office 365 and cloud solutions. Nonetheless, they recognize that many companies just aren’t ready for the shift to the cloud just yet and we can expect On-Premises and Hybrid solutions in the foreseeable future.

  • Visual Studio 2015. Autumn 2015

Microsoft have open sourced the .NET compiler, will expand the environments cloud development capabilities and offer support for new languages. The biggest development however will be Visual Studio's support for universal app building.

  • Dynamics CRM. Summer/fall 2015

Microsoft will continue with their current trend of regularly updating Dynamics every few months. This year’s updates will almost certainly incorporate Cortana.

  • Power BI. Second half of 2015

Power BI will have a general release for free towards the end of the year with apps for iOS and Android also made available.

A busy year

It’s going to be an exciting year for those in the Microsoft environment; the corporation are hoping to become the universal IT provider and make their services as widely accessible as possible. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on these releases as and when they arrive!

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