I was working in the Hands-on-labs department as I have been the past couple of TechED conventions. We had around 150 labs available during the week and over 70 Microsoft Certified Trainers worked with the labs, mainly helping attendees getting started with and finishing labs. It was a lot of fun as usual! If you attended Ignite these labs will be accessible through "My Ignite" for 30 days after the event.
The keynote hall was huge!
The first day started out with a keynote filled with many nice announcements of just released and soon to be released products. "Empowering" seemed to be a major buzzword used throughout the keynote. A lot of shorter demos and videos made the three hour keynote really enjoyable, but a Seventh-inning stretch would have been nice.
Satya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft opened and Joe Belfiore did a lot of the demos, and among some of the new things announced were:
Office 2016Public Preview, Windows Server 2016, System Center 2016, Exchange Server 2016 and also SQL Server 2016 were also discussed of course, so lots of new technology is on its way for sure.
A nice one note sketch of the keynote.
Several cool demos of an improved Cortana, the voice activated assistant were shown. Cortana have now learnt how to use windows as well, so that we can ask her: "How do I project my screen?" for example. Adding Business Intelligence to Cortana makes her feel a bit like "HAL" in the 2001 movie - cool, but a bit scary as well.
Windows Hello is a new way of logging in simply by letting the computer look for your face, and as soon as the computer sees your face you logged in to the system.
Next Gurdeep Singh Pall talked about Modern productivity, which is teams, human mobility and meetings. Julia White came on stage to show the new Surface Hub which is a huge touch-sensitive screen with cameras that can be used for running Skype for business meetings. Gurdeep also stated: "If you’re still using WebEx and GoToMeeting, and products from the last decade, stop doing that. You can use your money on better things." His entire speech can be found here and here you can read more about how Skype for Business gains momentum.
Other Skype for business news and announcements that came during Ignite were:
- Skype for Business Broadcasting - broadcast meetings to up to 10,000 users simultaneously.
- A new, not an upgraded, Skype for Business for Mac client will be delivered this year.
- In-call co-authoring allows multiple people to work together on a single document during a meeting.
- Shared Line Appearance - multiple devices share calls and state information.
- Intune integration is coming for Skype for Business mobile clients.
- Reiterated: PSTN calling is coming to Office 365, soon.
Between 5:00 and 6:00 PM the first day there was a second "showcase" keynote which showed things that Microsoft research is working on. Very interesting thoughts on big data, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, speech recognition and computer vision. I recommend you to watch this keynote in case you missed it at Ignite, also check out how-old.net if you have not done so already.
Watch out for a coming blog post on the Ignite sessions, venue, expo hall, networking, tweeting and parties!