This year’s Microsoft Ignite was jam-packed with new releases and upgrades in Microsoft’s line of products and services. The company elaborated on its growing focus to address the needs of its customers to help them do their business in smarter, more productive and more efficient ways. Most of the products were AI-based and Microsoft was committed to security and privacy.
Microsoft Ignite 2019 took place on November 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida and was attended by 26,000 IT implementers and decision-makers, developers, data professionals and people from various industries.
There were a total of 175 separate announcements made! We have tried to cover the top 10 here.
Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE is now available on the web
The web-based version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE is now available to all developers. Called the Visual Studio Online, this IDE will allow developers to configure a fully configured development environment for their repositories and use the web-based editor to work on their code. Visual Studio Online is deeply integrated with GitHub (also owned by Microsoft), although developers can also attach their own physical and virtual machines to their Visual Studio-based environments.
Visual Studio Online’s cloud-hosted environments, as well as extended support for Visual Studio Code and the web UI, are now available in preview. Support for Visual Studio 2019 is in private preview, which you can also sign up for through the Visual Studio Online web portal.
Project Cortex will classify all content in a single network
Project Cortex is a new service in Microsoft 365 useful to maintain the everyday flow of work in enterprises. Project Cortex collates enterprises generated documents and data, which is often spread across numerous repositories. It uses AI and machine learning to automatically classify all your content into topics to form a knowledge network. Cortex improves individual productivity and organizational intelligence and can be used across Microsoft 365, such as in the Office apps, Outlook, and Microsoft Teams.
Project Cortex is now in private preview and will be generally available in the first half of 2020.
Single-view device management with ‘Microsoft Endpoint Manager’
Microsoft has combined its Configuration Manager with Intune, its cloud-based endpoint management system to form what they call an Endpoint Manager.
ConfigMgr allows enterprises to manage the PCs, laptops, phones, and tablets they issue to their employees. Intune is used for cloud-based management of phones. The Endpoint Manager will provide unique co-management options to organizations to provision, deploy, manage and secure endpoints and applications across their organization.
Touted as the most important release of the event by Satya Nadella, this solution will give enterprises a single view of their deployments. ConfigMgr users will now also get a license to Intune to allow them to move to cloud-based management.
No-code bot builder ‘Microsoft Power Virtual Agents’ is available in public preview
Built on the Azure Bot Framework, Microsoft Power Virtual Agents is a low-code and no-code bot-building solution now available in public preview. Power Virtual Agents enables programmers with little to no developer experience to create and deploy intelligent virtual agents. The solution also includes Azure Machine Learning to help users create and improve conversational agents for personalized customer service.
Power Virtual Agents will be generally available Dec. 1.
Microsoft’s Chromium-based version of Edge is now more privacy-focused
Microsoft Ignite announced the release candidate for Microsoft’s Chromium-based version of Edge browser with the general availability release on January 15. InPrivate search will be available for Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Bing to keep online searches and identities private, giving users more control over their data. When searching InPrivate, search history and personally identifiable data will not be saved nor be associated back to you. Users’ identities and search histories are completely private.
There will also be a new security baseline for the all-new Microsoft Edge. Security baselines are pre-configured groups of security settings and default values that are recommended by the relevant security teams.
The next version of Microsoft Edge will feature a new icon symbolizing the major changes in Microsoft Edge, built on the Chromium open source project.
It will appear in an Easter egg hunt designed to reward the Insider community.
ML.NET 1.4 announces General Availability
ML.NET 1.4, Microsoft’s open-source machine learning framework is now generally available. The latest release adds image classification training with the ML.NET API, as well as a relational database loader API for reading data used for training models with ML.NET. ML.NET also includes Model Builder (easy to use UI tool in Visual Studio) and Command-Line Interface to make it super easy to build custom Machine Learning models using AutoML.
This release also adds a new preview of the Visual Studio Model Builder extension that supports image classification training from a graphical user interface. A preview of Jupyter support for writing C# and F# code for ML.NET scenarios is also available.
Azure Arc extends Azure services across multiple infrastructures
One of the most important features of Microsoft Ignite 2019 was Azure Arc. This new service enables Azure services anywhere and extends Azure management to any infrastructure — including those of competitors like AWS and Google Cloud. With Azure Arc, customers can use Azure’s cloud management experience for their own servers (Linux and Windows Server) and Kubernetes clusters by extending Azure management across environments. Enterprises can also manage and govern resources at scale with powerful scripting, tools, Azure Portal and API, and Azure Lighthouse.
Announcing Azure Synapse Analytics
Azure Synapse Analytics builds upon Microsoft’s previous offering Azure SQL Data Warehouse. This analytics service combines traditional data warehousing with big data analytics bringing serverless on-demand or provisioned resources—at scale. Using Azure Synapse Analytics, customers can ingest, prepare, manage, and serve data for immediate BI and machine learning applications within the same service.
Safely share your big data with Azure Data Share, now generally available
As the name suggests, Azure Data Share allows you to safely share your big data with other organizations. Organizations can share data stored in their data lakes with third party organizations outside their Azure tenancy. Data providers wanting to share data with their customers/partners can also easily create a new share, populate it with data residing in a variety of stores and add recipients. It employs Azure security measures such as access controls, authentication, and encryption to protect your data.
Azure Data Share supports sharing from SQL Data Warehouse and SQL DB, in addition to Blob and ADLS (for snapshot-based sharing). It also supports in-place sharing for Azure Data Explorer (in preview).
Azure Quantum to be made available in private preview
Microsoft has been working on Quantum computing for some time now. At Ignite, Microsoft announced that it will be launching Azure Quantum in private preview in the coming months. Azure Quantum is a full-stack, open cloud ecosystem that will bring quantum computing to developers and organizations. Azure Quantum will assemble quantum solutions, software, and hardware across the industry in a single, familiar experience in Azure.
Through Azure Quantum, you can learn quantum computing through a series of tools and learning tutorials, like the quantum katas. Developers can also write programs with Q# and the QDK Solve.
Microsoft Ignite 2019 organizers have released an 88-page document detailing about all 175 announcements which you can access here. You can also view the conference Keynote delivered by Satya Nadella on YouTube as well as Microsoft Ignite’s official blog.