Six Exciting Announcements for EUC at Ignite 2021

Last year, I discussed a few exciting things from Microsoft Ignite. This year, I am back to cover a few of the fun things that Microsoft announced that can really contribute to building a great user experience. Let’s get started and cover some of these great announcements.

New Outlook Enhancements Announced at Ignite

They announced two new features for Outlook that are of interest. The first one are Outlook Calendar Boards, which you can see below:

“Outlook

I think the area this would be most useful is leaving it up on a 2nd monitor, but it definitely has an Android Widget-esque feeling to it. I threw one together real quick as you can see:

The other feature that was intriguing is suggested meeting items powered by AI on Outlook Mobile:

“Time

Teams Connect

Another intriguing feature that was announced at Ignite is Teams Connect. As a VMware partner and a CRO, my company is very excited about Teams Connect. You will no longer need to create separate Teams for external collaboration or for other teams. You can now create a new channel and share that out, which helps with Teams bloat. Anything that makes life simpler, is a great feature:

 Shared channels in the Teams navigation pane have a different icon

A New Unified Mobile App Experience in Intune

Probably the feature that is coming that I am the most excited about is the unification of Microsoft Tunnel and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. One of the things that I have been harping on for a long time is unification of apps, such as combining MFA (Multi-factor Authentication) and MTD (Mobile Threat Defense). As you can see below, Microsoft is going to be unifying Defender and Tunnel into a single application. This is a great advancement even though I would love to see Authenticator converged as well, but a nice start:

thumbnail image 1 of blog post titled 
	
	
	 
	
	
	
				
		
			
				
						
							Simplify mobile security with a single app for Microsoft Tunnel and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

Luckily for Intune customers, the migration is simple, which Microsoft highlights here. You will just be deploying Defender out and sending a new VPN profile, but overall its a fairly clean transition.

Microsoft Viva Expansion

Microsoft announced Viva earlier this year, which has been an interesting offering. They tout it as an expansive platform for digital employee experience.

Today, we use Viva Insights to keep our mental health better than we left it. They provide easy ways to praise your employees, be aware of stuff you may have pending, book focus time, and decompress. It’s a really nice idea for self car

We also have Viva Learning, which ties directly into LinkedIN Learning to make accessing training much easier:

Viva Connections is a new announcement to the suite. Viva Connections provides a curated intranet-like experience inside of Teams. Connections includes news, conversations, and other resources for employees. It’s a really exciting idea and a nice extension of your intranet into Teams to deliver a more immerse employee experience:
thumbnail image 2 captioned The Viva Connections desktop experience

One other new area coming is Viva Topics which helps you organize/catalog data within your organization by handling that automatically. A nice screenshot about it is below:

Identification

Document Co-Authoring for Azure Information Protection Files

The last item that they mentioned at Ignite, which is of huge importance in EUC is Co-Authoring for AIP. I am no stranger to discussing AIP as I did here. There are a few issues that we deal with, such as not being able to upload PDFs, but the main one was a lack of co-authoring, which is a crucial area especially in the pharma space.

AIP which has had a name upgrade to “Microsoft Information Protection” as they discuss here can now allow you to co-author documents while maintaining the document encryption that many rely on. The reason that MIP is so important is it protects you when people download these files and lets you expire them out and ensure DLP is strong within your organization.

thumbnail image 3 captioned Figure 2: Co-authoring experience when protected document is opened in two different Microsoft 365 apps for Windows and Mac

Microsoft Mesh Expands into Teams

I have to say that Ignite in general has been underwhelming for the last few years, but they do occasionally deliver on some really smart features. I think Viva and AR/VR are two of the biggest potential areas. We aren’t going to go too deep into Mesh as I think it’s a fringe technology right now considering you are looking at 3K per HoloLens, but feel free to watch their video below. I am super excited about the potential of Mesh, but it’s more of a luxury than a reality at this point for me:

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how you manage devices, Microsoft has a symbiotic relationship with everyone. Whether its Citrix, VMware, Oracle, or whoever else, you heavily rely on them. Their decisions matter and impact our world everyday. I think looking at the decisions they make and shifting is one of the more interesting things about EUC. We never thought that PCs would be managed outside of a world of VPN, domain join, GPOs, etc, but Windows 10 surfaced (no pun intended) and showed us a new way.

We rely on each other and only through reacting to the technological advances of our peers can we grow and evolve. That is what evolution is of course, but the constant shifting and advancement of ourselves.

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