Microsoft bought a lot of companies during 2015. What were they, and what did they bring to the tech giant?
Best Mobile Tech Of 2015: Our Top 10 List
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It's not unusual for Microsoft to make a few acquisitions, but Redmond did a lot of shopping in 2015. The company made its most recent acquisition when it bought Talko, an enterprise mobile communications startup founded by former executive Ray Ozzie.
This year brought transformational change to Microsoft. Many of its 2015 acquisitions were intended to enable future growth in several areas of the company and bring new features to different products and services.
Because some purchases will longer to integrate, we won't begin to see them take hold until 2016. In the meantime, for those who are trying to keep track, let's review this year's acquired companies and what Microsoft plans to do with them.
Analytics was the most common theme among Microsoft's acquisitions in 2015. These started in January with text analytics startup Equivio, which Microsoft bought with the intention of improving machine learning capabilities in Office 365.
Three days later, it confirmed its purchase of Revolution Analytics, a business that had created an enterprise platform around the open-source R statistical- and predictive-analysis language. The acquisition was reportedly done to help more businesses use R and data science to gather big data insights.
Microsoft bought mobile BI company Datazen to further its strategy for Power BI, its cloud-based business analytics service. Datazen identified as a mobile BI program for customers who needed an on-premise solution.
Organizational analytics company Volometix was purchased to help people understand how they manage their time. Its technology will be combined with Office 365 and Delve Organizational Analytics to help people access and understand their behavioral data.
Analytics startup Metanautix built a tool to enable SQL queries against all types of data, no matter where the data lives. Microsoft acquired its technology to help companies connect their many data stores, across public and private clouds, without combining it in a centralized system.
In a year when security breaches continued to make headlines, Microsoft bought two Israeli security companies: Adallom and Secure Islands. It had purchased another Israeli security business, Aorato, in November 2014.
Cloud security firm Adallom had integrated with Check Point's Threat Emulation sandboxing capabilities, and partnered with Dropbox, prior to its acquisition. Microsoft plans to use its technologies to boost its cybersecurity operations, which makes sense given its stronger focus on cloud.
Secure Islands specialized in advanced data protection, classification and loss-prevention technologies. Microsoft had already used its tech for data security in its Azure Rights Management Service, and had plans to integrate Secure Islands' technologies into the cloud-based security service following the acquisition.
Several acquisitions targeted Microsoft's enterprise tools and services. San Francisco-based LiveLoop, which created collaboration features for PowerPoint, was purchased to bring new collaboration tools to Office apps.
App management tool BlueStripe helped monitor and troubleshoot apps across operating systems, datacenters and cloud environments. Microsoft bought the enterprise solution to improve management services like Operations Management Suite and System Center. Shortly after, it acquired FieldOne to boost its IT field services portfolio.
Dynamics CRM was affected by Microsoft's purchases of Incent Games and Adxstudio. Incent Games built sales gamification platform FantasySalesTeam, which Microsoft plans to use for driving productivity and CRM adoption. Technologies from Adxstudio are intended to improve Web tools for Dynamics CRM users.
Recently acquired Talko let mobile employees call, text, hold conference calls, and send voice and video messages, and record and bookmark chats. The tech and talent behind the service will be used to bring new features to Skype and Skype for Business.
Mobile-related acquisitions played a role in helping Microsoft improve its mobile app offerings, and we'll continue to see their integration in 2016. Its acquired businesses share the common focus of on-the-go productivity.
Shortly after it launched Outlook for iOS and Android, Microsoft bought Sunrise, the startup behind a next-gen calendar app for the two competitor platforms. It announced the integration of Sunrise's design and functionality into Outlook in October 2015, with the update of its iOS and Android calendar apps.
Mobile productivity is also at the core of Wunderlist, the to-do list app Microsoft acquired with the purchase of German startup 6Wunderkinder GmbH. Wunderlist for Windows 10 was released in October with new functions like Live Tiles and Cortana integration.
Mobile Data Labs, the maker of mobile finance tool MileIQ, was purchased to bring new technologies to Office 365. While the startup team will "continue to build and offer mobile productivity solutions," Microsoft wrote, it will also explore new ways to derive insight from Office 365 and Office Graph.
Other: Gaming, digital pens
Microsoft also invested in gaming this year. Havok, a 3D physics provider and tech supplier for the gaming industry, was acquried to improve Microsoft's gaming experiences.
To build upon the capabilities of its Surface Pen, Microsoft reportedly purchased Israeli digital pen maker N-trig. The company, which had reportedly fallen into financial troubles, had thought up the pen for Surface Pro 3.
It's worth noting that N-trig, along with some other purchases, does not appear in the official Acquisition History on Microsoft's Investor Relations page, despite several reports these transactions occurred earlier this year.
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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio
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