Windows 10 Milestone, SharePoint Server 2016 Launches: Microsoft Roundup

Microsoft released SharePoint Server 2016, updated the Windows 10 device count to 300 million, bought Solair, and announced a June 1 launch for SQL Server 2016.
6 Secrets 100 Winning IT Organizations Share
6 Secrets 100 Winning IT Organizations Share
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Microsoft kicked off May with a major announcement: SQL Server 2016 will be generally available starting June 1 in four editions: Enterprise, Standard, Express, and Developer. The company claims SQL Server 2016 is the "first born-in-the-cloud database."

Some of the upcoming features in the latest edition of SQL Server include Always Encrypted for security and Stretch Database for better access to historical data. SQL Server 2016 combines built-in analytics with in-memory tech so users don't have to move data or affect the experience for end-users.

In other launch news, Microsoft released the final version of SharePoint Server 2016 this week. The revamped edition focuses on cloud and mobile while enabling on-premises customers to take advantage of the cloud.

[Microsoft's cloud business is strong, but can it overcome poor phone sales?]

Some of the changes include an updated SharePoint homepage, which now brings direct access to on-premises tools and Office 365 sites. A new feature called hybrid search lets IT pros browse on-premises content through apps powered by Office Graph.

For the mobile workforce, Microsoft is launching a mobile app for SharePoint 2016 so users can access news and alerts outside the browser. The app will be available on iOS, Android, and Windows this year -- the iOS tool rolling out in a few weeks.

We learned the latest Windows 10 device count when Microsoft reported there are 300 million devices actively running its latest OS. The last official count was 200 million, which was reported in January.

If you haven't downloaded Windows 10, you're running out of time to upgrade for free. After July 29, 2016, you can get it by purchasing Windows 10 Home for $119 or buying a new Windows 10 device.

This week Microsoft purchased Solair, an Italian company focused on IoT. Solair builds IoT customization and deployment offerings through Microsoft's Azure platform to help businesses use IoT more efficiently.

The acquisition is reportedly intended to boost Redmond's enterprise IoT offerings. As part of the purchase, Solair's technology and talent will join Microsoft.

There were a few Windows Store updates this week. As part of its Windows 10 Pro 1511 update, administrators will no longer be allowed to block employee access to the Windows Store via Group policy settings.

The ability to block access to Windows Store is now limited to the Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10, the company stated in a support notice. Windows 10 Pro customers will have to pay to upgrade to Enterprise if they wish to access the feature.

This benefits Microsoft, regardless of how Windows 10 Pro customers react. Either it will generate more revenue from those who upgrade to Enterprise or Education, or from employees who are no longer blocked from downloading Windows Store apps.

IT admins now have access to a larger app selection and more distribution options in the Windows Store for Business. The store now offers paid apps, in addition to free ones. Businesses can use credit cards to pay, though Microsoft notes additional purchase options are planned for future release.

This is good news for developers, who can sell their paid apps in volume to business and education customers. Microsoft estimates small to medium-sized businesses spend about $70 billion each year on desktop software, apps, and utilities.

The Windows Store for Business is now integrated with Microsoft Intune, which synchronizes the app inventory of online licensed apps with app metadata. Admins can use this as a single place to deploy apps and control app updates.

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