2016 is shaping up to be a mammoth year for Microsoft. At the very least as far as version numbering is concerned.
If all goes to plan, by this time next year, we’re likely to see an impressive cache of new and reworked business products out of Washington State under the leadership of Satya Nadella.
Whilst those of us in the technical services industry will embrace, adopt and cast our (sometimes polarising) opinions, businesses usually need compelling reasons to upgrade.
So, let’s take a super-quick snapshot of what’s coming up and what it means.
Microsoft’s Big Year – 2016
“Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.”
– Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO.
- What: You may have already seen a “Get Windows 10” icon appear in your system tray. The latest version of the Windows operating system should actually arrive by the end of August this year. The new Windows attempts to deliver what Windows 8 and 8.1 partially succeeded in accomplishing: unifying PCs, laptops, tablets, and Xboxes with a common touch-screen enabled interface.
- Why You Need It: Apparently one in four of the world’s PCs are still running the wholly unsupported – therefore increasingly unsecured and vulnerable – Windows XP. So, Windows 10 could be a catalyst to wrench the last vestiges of XP from your business. If you’re making such a jump, though, you will need to invest some time and energy into coaching your users on how to use the Metro interface.
- Cost: It will be free for existing users of Windows 7 and 8.1. Taking a leaf from the Apple tree, this clever strategy neatly eliminates the most common objection to upgrades: cost. But it’s only free for the first year. After that what will the ongoing fees be? We don’t know, yet, but some form of price was leaked yesterday at $USD 109.99.
- One New Feature: Microsoft’s ‘Siri’ inspired personal assistant, called ‘Cortana’, will enable you to interact with your computer just by talking to it. On first glance, whether this is super helpful for those chained to a desk in an office buzzing with noisy co-workers remains to be seen. More importantly, and less often stated though, Cortana promises to improve searching capabilities across content in your own files and devices as well as the Internet. As a virtual assistant, this could actually prove rather useful.
- What: Office 2016 is the latest version of Microsoft’s productivity suite that includes Word and Excel.
- Why You Need It: With mainstream support for Office 2010 ending later this year, it’s prudent to consider your next moves and whether this involves adopting the Cloud variant, Office 365.
- Cost: Apparently, it will be free to users of mobile devices and small tablets where it will run with some limitations. For desktop environments, the price is likely to be on par with Office 2013 (which was typically $AUD 599 for the Professional edition).
- One New Feature: Office 2016 introduces a mobile optimised version that will make it easier to view and manipulate documents on smaller screens.
- What: SharePoint 2016, the next on premise release of Microsoft’s platform for collaboration.
- Why You Need It: SharePoint 2016 On-Premises introduces support for Microsoft’s “Cloud accelerated experiences” as the company acknowledges that not all data is suitable for SharePoint Online. For example, your business may be bound by Privacy Act restrictions that prevent you from adopting a holistic Cloud delivered environment. Perhaps you have invested in development activities that might be costly (in terms of time and money) to migrate. The good news is that Microsoft is making a commitment to on premise, Cloud and hybrid environments into the future. Also, SharePoint 2016 won’t gobble up even more hardware, so that’s a welcome bonus.
- Cost: Microsoft has not released pricing yet however it’s likely to be on par with SharePoint 2013 licencing.
- One New Feature: The patching process has been streamlined consolidating what can be dozens of patches into two or three that can be applied whilst users are still accessing the environment. This avoids patches being inadvertently applied with other Windows Operating System patches and potentially compromising the stability of a customised environment.
In future posts, we’ll talk more about each of the upcoming Microsoft offerings and how your business can best leverage them.
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Contact Us or phone 1300 LOFTUS (1300 563 887) to discover how we can help determine how and when to upgrade your IT environment and poise it for tomorrow’s business.