Microsoft announcements: From TechEd Europe innovations to baking Skype into IE

Microsoft announced several security, privacy and management enhancements at TechEd Europe, but blowing the cap off Office 365 cloud storage and trying to bake Skype into IE are some of Redmond's real 'innovative waves.'

Satya Nadella
Credit: Johannes Marliem

Microsoft was recently named the 10th-most profitable company in the world, but based on the ‘wave of innovation’ announcements pouring out of TechEd Europe, if Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has his way, then Microsoft may move up that list by next year.

Although this is not the first time Microsoft claimed it released a ‘wave of innovation,’ some of the new innovative “security enhancements” for Azure Virtual Machines and Cloud Services include:

  • Support for multiple network interface cards (NICs) so customers can bring their own networking and security appliances, such as load balancers and firewalls.
  • New Network Security Groups that enable customized security boundaries for network access and provide greater control over traffic flow.
  • Microsoft Anti-Malware for Virtual Machines and Cloud Services, a free service that provides real-time threat protection.

Regarding “management, security, privacy and compliance enhancements for Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365,” Microsoft announced the following new capabilities:

  • Microsoft Intune updates: These updates will enable customers to comprehensively manage Office mobile apps, wrap management technology around their own line-of-business applications, enable more secure mobile app viewing, and provide powerful conditional access features that allow better control of corporate resources with conditional access features. Available within the next few months.
  • Built-in Mobile Device Management (MDM) for Office 365: New, built-in Intune MDM capabilities for Office 365 on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices will provide administrators with policy-driven device management and the ability to wipe corporate data to prevent unauthorized access and use — all while preserving personal data. Available in the first quarter of 2015.
  • Azure Active Directory (AD) Premium updates: Azure AD Application Proxy, generally available by the end of 2014, will make it possible to publish on-premises applications to external users via the cloud. Azure AD Connect, available in preview by the end of 2014, will make it easier to connect on-premises assets to the cloud and synchronize directories to Azure AD.
  • Extending Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technology across Office 365: Over the next few months, DLP capabilities will be added to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business to provide protection for sensitive content across Office 365. In addition, in 2015, Office apps will support DLP notifications to provide users with helpful prompts related to information protection.

Office 365 unlimited cloud storage

Microsoft also blew the cap off its cloud storage by offering unlimited OneDrive storage to Office 365 subscribers. In an impressive move that could woo customers away from Google and Dropbox, Microsoft will offer an Office 365 “Personal” version for $6 per month and a “Home” edition for $10 a month. Previously, the storage limit was 1TB for Office 365 Personal at a cost of $6.99 per month. The new Office 365 Home edition can be installed on five devices, meaning it can be shared across five different accounts, with a reduced cost of $100 if paid annually.

Baking Skype into IE

Not all of Microsoft’s interesting new developments are being announced at TechEd Europe. For example, Microsoft announced plans to bake Skype into Internet Explorer, meaning there is no need to download a plugin. “It’s all about convenience – imagine you’ll be able to simply open IE and make a Skype call to friends, family, or get real-time support for that new device right from your browser.” Microsoft was “excited” that development has started on Object Real-Time Communications (ORTC) API for WebRTC, which was described as “a key technology to make Real-Time Communications on the web a reality.”

While there is no release timeline mentioned, ORTC API for WebRTC enables “a wide range of features from simple conversations to scalable multiparty video conferences.” That's just the beginning of “implementation efforts for IE.” Microsoft added that its "goal is to move forward to the future without compromising the present – and ensure easier interoperability between web browsers and billions of existing communications endpoints, including SIP-based VoIP endpoints, 'Public Switched Telephone Networks' and 'Video Teleconferencing' systems."

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