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Microsoft Teams guest access: Permissions, settings, and how to add a guest
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 03 April 2020 08:12 AM
When it comes to collaborating with external users, you have a few options, but which one is best? We explain the ins and outs of Microsoft Teams guest access—from permissions, to settings, to how to add a guest.
Microsoft Teams makes it easier than ever to collaborate with the right people—both inside and outside of your organization. And when it comes to granting outside users access to your resources, you actually have a few different options.
External sharing is a great way to share documents, files, folders, lists, libraries, and even complete sites in your SharePoint Online. But what happens if you want to collaborate with people outside your organization across multiple products—communicating through chat or coordinating meetings with a shared calendar?
In that case, you can invite someone outside your organization to become a guest access user in Microsoft Teams. That way, they can access your team's resources, share files, and join a group chat with other team members.
Without further ado, let's explore how to collaborate securely using guest access in Teams.
Microsoft Teams guest access permissions
To understand guest access, we should point out that guest access differs from external access in Microsoft Teams.
For more on external access vs guest sharing, along with details on everything related to file sharing in Office 365, check out our comprehensive guide!
So then what exactly are the permissions for an individual granted guest access in Microsoft Teams? And how do they differ from the permissions granted to a team member within your organization? Let's take a look:
*Team owners control these settings. Also note that Office 365 admins control the features available to guests. We'll get into that more a little later.
You can also add external users to an Office 365 Group as a guest, although guest permissions in an Office 365 Group are slightly different and grant them access to more resources outside of Teams. You can read step-by-step directions for how to add guests to a group in the official Microsoft support documentation.
Enable guest access in Microsoft Teams
For external users to be granted guest access, you need to have guest access enabled as an org-wide setting in Teams—it's turned off by default.
Before you get started in the Teams admin center, check to make sure that guest access is enabled at the other three authorization levels.
To turn on guest access in Teams, you need to be an Office 365 global admin and take the following steps:
1. Go to the Microsoft Teams admin center, select Org-wide settings, then click on Guest access.
2. Toggle the Allow guest access in Teams switch to On. Then click Save.
It can take up to 24 hours for changes to take effect. So if users are still prompted to “Contact your administrator” when they try to add a guest to their team, access may not yet be ready.
Are you using default settings in Office 365 groups, Azure Active Directory and SharePoint Online? Then following the above steps may be enough to set up guest access. If not, check out this guest access checklist from Microsoft for more details.
Configure guest access in Microsoft Teams
Once you’ve enabled guest access, it’s time to specify exactly what guests will be allowed to do and see in your teams.
The page in the Teams admin center where you enabled guest access is also where you can configure Calling, Meeting, and Messaging settings for guests.
Go to the same page in the Teams admin center where you enabled guest access...
...and scroll down to configure all the Calling, Meeting, and Messaging settings.
Depending on what you want to allow, you can select On or Off for the following capabilities:
Click Save to apply your new settings.
For more details, check out Microsoft's Teams guest access checklist.
Add a guest to your team in Microsoft Teams
Once you've enabled guest access and configured your org-wide settings to your liking, it's time to start adding some guests!
Only team owners can add a guest in Teams, so if you're an IT admin you might need to make yourself an owner of a team before you start adding guests to it. (You can do this is in the Teams admin center by selecting Teams > Manage teams)
To add a guest to your team in Teams:
1. In the Teams app, select Teams on the left sidebar and go to the team you want to add a guest to.
2. Select More options (...) then Add member.
3. Enter the guest's email address, then click on Edit guest information to give them a friendly user name. Then click Add. Your guest will receive a welcome email invitation.
Guests must have an Office 365 work or school account. If they don't have a Microsoft account associated with their email, they'll be prompted to create one for free.
For more details, check out the official Microsoft documentation.
Set guest permissions for an individual team
Team owners can also configure some guest permissions for their team once a guest has been successfully added (see below).
To set guest permissions for an individual team in Teams:
1. Select Teams on the left side of the app.
2. Go to the team name and select More options (...), then Manage team.
3. Under Settings, click on Guest permissions, then check or un-check the permissions you want to allow. Currently, you can choose to give guests permission to create, update, or delete channels. (File permissions for guests are actually configured in the SharePoint settings by a global admin)
With guest access, your content never leaves your sight
External file sharing can be a great option to collaborate on content with people outside your organization. But then you need to keep track of and manage what's been shared to ensure that content stays secure over time.
With guest access in Teams, your content never leaves your sight—all your data is kept in your tenant, where you can protect it, monitor it, and control it.
Because needs vary between projects, departments, and over time, you'll probably wind up using a combination of the two in your organization. By educating your users and having a governance plan for both methods, you ensure your data stays secure whether people choose to use external sharing or guest access in Teams.
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Phụ huynh đồng hành cùng con học trực tuyến trong mùa dịch
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 31 March 2020 10:27 AM
Với tình hình dịch bệnh nCoV đang tiếp diễn phức tạp, giáo viên và học sinh đã và đang triển khai phương pháp học tập trực tuyến qua phần mềm Office 365. Vậy phụ huynh học sinh đã có những cảm nhận gì về lợi ích của cách học mới này? Hãy cùng Phóng viên NTT khám phá.
“Trong thời gian học tập bằng hình thức trực tuyến vừa qua, tôi thấy con gái tôi đã có thêm những kĩ năng hữu ích, trong đó có kĩ năng sử dụng công nghệ thông tin trong học tập. Ngoài việc học theo thời khóa biểu, con còn tham gia làm bài tập nhóm, sử dụng thành thục các kĩ năng khác nhau để hoàn thành bài tập và mở rộng kiến thức, liên tục kết nối và học hỏi thêm các bạn trong lớp kiến thức văn hóa trong chương trình. Con cũng thực sự chủ động về giờ giấc học tập cũng như các hoạt động vận động, giải trí khác. Cách học này còn giúp con tôi nâng cao khả năng tự học của bản thân mình hơn”.Đó là những lời tâm sự của cô Trịnh Thu Hằng, phụ huynh lớp 9A5 về những kĩ năng mà con gái cô đã trau dồi được trong thời gian nghỉ học trên lớp.
Cô Trịnh Thu Hằng, phụ huynh em Trịnh Hiểu Phương lớp 9A5
Cô Hằng còn chia sẻ việc học trực tuyến như vậy giúp cô yên tâm hơn khi con của cô bước vào năm cuối cấp, chuẩn bị cho kì thi vào lớp 10 đầy khó khăn phía trước. Vì không đến lớp trực tiếp nên các thầy, cô giáo đã biên soạn giáo án theo hướng tập trung trực tiếp vào trọng điểm của kiến thức nên giúp học sinh có thể ôn tập kiến thức gọn hơn, không lan man, dàn trải. Thời gian học trực tuyến theo chương trình của Nhà trường khá chặt chẽ, nghiêm túc nên buộc tất cả các học sinh luôn phải tuân thủ đúng giờ, giúp ích cho việc đánh giá nề nếp cũng như ý thức học tập của học sinh. Quỹ thời gian không bị chia sẻ bởi việc di chuyển đến trường, ngoài thời gian học được nghỉ ngơi, giải trí hợp lí nên việc ôn tập kiến thức chuẩn bị cho quá trình chuyển cấp sẽ bớt căng thẳng mà vẫn đảm bảo hiệu quả cao.
Thầy giáo chuẩn bị kĩ lưỡng cho một tiết học
Học online giúp nâng cao khả năng tự học của học sinh
Phụ huynh học sinh lớp 8A5, cũng là một giáo viên của trường đã chia sẻ: “Mỗi ngày học trực tuyến là từng ngày con của cô có cơ hội để lĩnh hội kiến thức một cách dễ dàng, cơ hội để tương tác, hỏi trực tiếp thầy cô, tương tác với các bạn. Ngoài ra, không gian lớp học được mở rộng từ phòng học ra cả Internet giúp học sinh có thể tìm tư liệu học liệu nhanh, hỗ trợ việc tiếp thu bài. Hơn nữa, nhiều khi trên lớp bạn thường ngại không nói ra ý kiến, nhưng học trong không gian ảo các bạn tự tin và tương tác nhiều hơn. Con cô là đứa trẻ yêu thích thể thao và việc học Thể dục qua Teams cũng giúp cho bạn có các bài tập nâng cao thể lực, rất hữu ích”.
Không chỉ nghe giảng và tương tác với giáo viên, học sinh còn có thể làm bài kiểm tra và nhận được điểm qua ứng dụng Microsoft Forms
Dịch bệnh là ảnh hưởng xấu từ ngoại cảnh mà không ai mong muốn, nhưng đôi khi nó lại là cơ hội để con người sống chậm lại và quan tâm đến nhau hơn. Bác Phạm Trí Dũng, phụ huynh học sinh lớp 10D2 bộc lộ:“Những ngày thường con tôi đi học nhiều, tôi cũng đi làm nên cũng ít khi quan tâm đến việc học tập của con. Học tập online đã giúp tôi yên tâm hơn về tình hình học tập của con mình cũng như có thể đồng hành và giúp đỡ con nhiều hơn”.
Phụ huynh đồng hành cùng con trong quá trình học trực tuyến
Chia sẻ với phóng viên NTT, cô Nguyễn Thị Thu Hương, phụ huynh em Nguyễn Thu Trang (lớp 7A4) đã có những nhận xét: “Theo tôi, đây là phương pháp học phù hợp nhất trong mùa dịch, khi mà tất cả người dân đều đang được khuyến cáo hạn chế ra khỏi nhà. Học online giúp các con vừa tiếp thu đầy đủ những kiến thức cần thiết như học ở trên lớp mà vẫn có thể tương tác tốt với thầy cô. Cảm ơn Ban Giám hiệu Nhà trường, các thầy, cô giáo đã tạo điều kiện để con em chúng tôi có thể học hỏi và ôn tập trong thời kì dịch bệnh này”.
Quả thật, việc học trực tuyến là phương pháp học hiệu quả và bổ ích mà Trường Nguyễn Tất Thành đã và đang triển khai. Xin cảm ơn các giáo viên của Nhà trường đã có giải pháp tuyệt vời để giúp học sinh trau dồi kiến thức cũng như nâng cao tinh thần hiếu học và năng lực tự học.
Bài viết: Phạm Quỳnh Chi (10D2)
Ảnh: Nguyễn Đỗ Bảo Ngân (8A7) - Phạm Quỳnh Chi (10D2)
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Dạy và học thời dịch Covid-19
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 31 March 2020 10:23 AM
Dịch bệnh viêm đường hô hấp cấp do chủng mới của virus Corona gây ra có diễn biến ngày một phức tạp, khiến học sinh toàn quốc phải nghỉ học, gây nên không ít xáo trộn trong việc học tập. Nhiều trường học tại các thành phố lớn đã đưa ra một giải pháp khắc phục tình trạng này, chính là sử dụng phần mềm học trực tuyến để giúp các em học sinh củng cố kiến thức. Ngôi trường của tôi – Trường THCS&THPT Nguyễn Tất Thành là một trong những trường thành công khi áp dụng phương pháp dạy và học online qua hệ thống Office 365.
Office 365 là phần mềm mới được áp dụng cho học sinh và giáo viên toàn trường từ đầu năm học 2019 – 2020. Nó đã trở thành công cụ đắc lực kết nối thầy cô và các bạn học sinh ngoài những giờ học trên lớp. Các bài tập dự án, các bài thu hoạch từ những hoạt động trải nghiệm được giáo viên đăng tải lên Microsoft Teams cho học sinh để có thể dễ dàng kiểm soát và cũng tạo cho chúng tôi nhiều thời gian hơn để hoàn thành bài. Vì phần mềm này rất tiện dụng và đã được hướng dẫn sử dụng từ đầu năm nên cả thầy và trò đều quen dần và trở nên thành thạo. Vì vậy, khi tham gia học tập và tương tác online trên phần mềm này, chúng tôi không cảm thấy khó khăn hay bỡ ngỡ.
Hệ thống ứng dụng của Office 365
Chúng tôi vẫn tham gia các giờ học theo đúng như thời khóa biểu. Các môn học được chia thành các kênh riêng trên phần mềm Microsoft Teams, đến giờ học môn nào, học sinh sẽ tham gia vào cuộc gọi video cùng với giáo viên của bộ môn đó.
Bản thân tôi nhận thấy rằng, học online đã đem lại lợi ích rất to lớn. Học sinh vẫn được ôn tập và củng cố các kiến thức đã học, đồng thời cũng tiếp thu những kiến thức mới đúng theo chương trình. Chúng tôi quen dần với nhịp độ học tập, không có cảm giác là mình đang hoài phí thời gian, cảm thấy thoải mái và hài lòng với những giờ học trực tuyến. Không chỉ vậy, học online còn tạo cho chúng tôi không gian để tư duy rộng hơn và trao cho lứa học sinh chúng tôi cơ hội để được đánh thức tiềm năng về công nghệ. Tuy đôi lúc việc học trực tuyến bị gián đoạn khi ứng dụng Teams hoặc mạng Internet gặp vấn đề, nhưng điều đó không làm ảnh hưởng đến tinh thần dạy và học của giáo viên và học sinh toàn trường.
Giao diện của ứng dụng Microsoft Teams
Học sinh Trường Nguyễn Tất Thành tham gia học online
Hơn hết, tôi vô cùng biết ơn sự nhiệt huyết và tận tình của các thầy, cô trong suốt thời gian học online. Các thầy, cô đã hướng dẫn chúng tôi chuẩn bị bài học thật chu đáo, kĩ lưỡng và sau mỗi bài học, chúng tôi lại nhận được một bản tổng kết những kiến thức cơ bản cần ghi nhớ để nếu chưa theo kịp bài giảng, chúng tôi có thể ghi chép lại. Những bài giảng online với nội dung bổ ích, được trình bày mạch lạc và vô cùng thu hút đã giúp chúng tôi tiếp thu kiến thức thật hiệu quả.
Cô giáo Võ Thị Hải – giáo viên bộ môn Sinh học trong giờ dạy online
Thời gian nghỉ dài đã ít nhiều gây ảnh hưởng tới nhịp sinh hoạt và học tập của học sinh. Nhưng tôi hi vọng rằng, phương pháp dạy và học trực tuyến sẽ phần nào giải quyết được khó khăn, giúp các bạn học sinh không lãng quên kiến thức, quay trở lại trường học với tâm thế sẵn sàng. Chúc cho mái trường mang tên Bác ngày càng đẩy mạnh và phát triển hơn nữa trong việc dạy và học qua phần mềm trực tuyến này.
Bài viết: Lý Mai Hương (11D3)
Ảnh: Tô Mai Linh (11A1) – Sưu tầm
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The 2019 Microsoft Product Roadmap
Posted by Thang Le Toan on 08 April 2019 03:23 AM
From the next major update to Windows 10 to the next generation of HoloLens, here's what's on tap from Microsoft this year.
RECENTLY UPDATED: Windows 10 (4/5), Dynamics 365 (4/5), Visual Studio 2019 (4/2), System Center 2019 (3/29)
Microsoft is widely expected to release the next major version of Windows 10, thought to be version 1903 and code-named "19H1," in April 2019. The desktop operating system follows a biannual (or "semiannual") upgrade release cycle, with major OS "feature updates" arriving in the spring and fall. Microsoft offers Windows 10 as both a semiannual channel Windows as a Service product, and as a more traditional long-term servicing channel product where new updates arrive every two or three years.
Preview builds of Windows 10 19H1 have been rolling out to users enrolled in the Windows Insider program since July 2018. Besides minor feature additions and some tweaks to the UI, a couple of more significant changes have come to light, including the brand-new "Windows Sandbox." Expected to be part of the Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 10, Sandbox is described by Microsoft as a walled-off computing environment where users can run new apps in isolation, keeping the rest of their PC protected. "Any software installed in Windows Sandbox stays only in the sandbox and cannot affect your host," Microsoft said in its announcement. "Once Windows Sandbox is closed, all the software with all its files and state are permanently deleted."
Another new capability expected in Windows 10 19H1 is the "Reserved Storage" feature, which will set aside about 7GB of a PC's disk space for new Windows 10 updates. This reserved space will help ensure that applications are able to properly run after an OS update, according to Microsoft.
"Without reserved storage, if a user almost fills up her or his storage, several Windows and application scenarios become unreliable. Windows and application scenarios may not work as expected if they need free space to function. With reserved storage, updates, apps, temporary files, and caches are less likely to take away from valuable free space and should continue to operate as expected," the company said in a January blog post announcing the feature.
Beyond the spring release, Microsoft is expected to roll out the year's second Windows 10 feature update around October. A report by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley suggested that Microsoft may break with tradition regarding this second release's code name, calling it "Vanadium" instead of the expected "19H2." At any rate, the earliest public test builds of this second release are expected to appear in the early part of 2019 as development for Windows 10 19H1 wraps up. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
As of this writing, the next major version of Windows Server is three test builds in, the first build having arrived back in November 2018. Like its desktop OS counterpart, Windows Server gets "feature updates" on a biannual (or "semiannual") release cadence, which go by version numbers. There's also a long-term servicing channel product option, where new upgrades arrive every two or three years.
Microsoft also releases a more traditional Windows Server product. Windows Server 2019, released back in October 2018, was the last such product. It doesn't get OS upgrades as frequently as the vNext semiannual product offering. The name and timing of the next traditional Windows Server product hasn't been announced.
Organizations can expect the first Windows Server vNext feature update release, perhaps version 1903, to arrive sometime in the spring (likely in April, coinciding with the release of Windows 10 19H1). A second feature update release is planned for the fall.
Outside of Microsoft's perfunctory release notes for each Windows Server vNext test build, the company thus far hasn't spotlighted any major changes or improvements to expect. Microsoft did hint at "new innovations in networking" when it issued test build 18298 in December, but said further details won't come until "the early new year."
The last test build as of this writing, build 18317, also spotlighted a new feature that enables organizations "to support multiple CI [code integrity] policies." [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
The "2019"-branded iteration of the System Center management suite is due sometime in the first quarter of the year, according to a Microsoft document (PDF download).
System Center is a suite of eight products, called "components," that consist of Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Operations Manager, Orchestrator, Service Manager, Service Management Automation, Virtual Machine Manager, and Service Provider Foundation. Microsoft delivers major updates to System Center on a biannual (or "semiannual") basis in the spring and fall, a practice that started for the whole suite with the release of System Center version 1801 last year, although the Configuration Manager component is an exception in that it gets major updates three times per year. A long-term servicing channel version of the product, which gets new "feature updates" every two or three years, is also available.
System Center 2019 will incorporate "[n]ew features and enhancements including integration, support and alignment with Windows Server 2019," according to the Microsoft document. It'll also include "[s]torage optimization and improvements to RBAC [role-based access control] in VMM [Virtual Machine Manager]."
Microsoft's Q1 release of System Center 2019 will be the first long-term serving channel release of the product, according to a detailed blog post by Microsoft MVP Thomas Maurer. It'll bring greater integration between servers and Microsoft's Azure datacenters with coming "hybrid cloud" improvements, he noted. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
As of last July, Dynamics 365, Microsoft's enterprise resource planning solution, became another Microsoft product on a twice-yearly "feature update" schedule. The first of these updates, scheduled to be released on April 5 (following a Feb. 1 preview), will be a big one.
The April 5 "general availability" release of Dynamics 365 will be "the first major update where all of our customers across Dynamics 365 will be on the latest version and on a consistent update schedule," Microsoft explained in an announcement at the end of 2018. "It's also a template of how major updates will be done going forward in April and October every year."
Microsoft's release notes for this so-called "April '19 update" of Dynamics 365 became available just last month as a massive 315-page .PDF that the company plans to update in February as more features emerge. Already, the document lists "hundreds of new capabilities" coming in the April '19 update, including mixed reality and artificial intelligence enhancements across the entire suite.
The update will also integrate Dynamics 365 with Microsoft's Power Platform, which combines the company's various business analytics services -- namely PowerApps, Power BI and Flow. This integration will let Dynamics 365 users "build higher-quality reports, apps, and workflows more easily, while still supporting more advanced enterprise and administrator requirements," according to Microsoft. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
It's been well over two years since the last major release of Microsoft's enterprise integration server, BizTalk Server, became available. The next generation of the product is due sometime in mid-2019, based on the broad timeframe that Microsoft gave in an August 2018 announcement. At that time, Microsoft indicated that it would release BizTalk Server "vNext" about nine months after Windows Server 2019.
The official launch of Windows Server 2019 came in October 2018 (though problems with the update caused Microsoft to subsequently pull the product and then rerelease it about a month later). That would put BizTalk Server's release somewhere after the mid-point of 2019.
Microsoft so far hasn't revealed much about its plans for BizTalk Server vNext, though its August 2018 blog post did indicate that it "will contain all previously released feature packs, platform support for the latest versions of Windows Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio, as well as a supported upgrade path from BizTalk Server 2013 R2 and 2016." The new release will have also "vNext" versions of the BizTalk Adapter Pack and Microsoft's Host Integration Server (HIS). [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
Microsoft first signaled that the next major release of Visual Studio was in the works back in the summer of 2018, soon after it acquired the open source code repository GitHub. Visual Studio 2019 is expected to be released sometime in the first half of 2019, roughly two years after the last current flagship version, Visual Studio 2017, rolled out.
As of this writing, Microsoft has released two preview versions of Visual Studio 2019, the first in late 2018 and the second in January 2019. According to reporting by our sister site, VisualStudioMagazine.com, the new release will include (among other things) AI-enhanced coding capabilities via the IntelliCode feature, improvements to the UI and collaboration capabilities, and enhancements to the "core IDE experience." It will also incorporate improvements aimed at Python, C# and mobile .NET developers. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
The successor to Microsoft's Team Foundation Server (TFS) product, Azure DevOps Server 2019, had its first release candidate back in November 2018 and its second just this January. That second release candidate is the product's last before becoming generally available, Microsoft said at the time, so its likely that the production-ready version of Azure DevOps Server 2019 will roll out sometime in the first quarter.
Among the product's key features are a new UI based on Microsoft's Fluent design philosophy, integration with SQL Server and support for the Azure Pipelines automated development service. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
It's still early days for Microsoft's next-gen database platform. SQL Server 2019's first public outing was at the 2018 Ignite conference last fall, when Microsoft made it available as a Community Technology Preview (CTP). As of this writing, Microsoft has issued just one other CTP build back in December. Though Microsoft hasn't given a definitive timeline for release, it's fair to say that SQL Server 2019 likely won't hit the general availability milestone until later in 2019 -- perhaps November, to coincide with the 2019 Ignite event.
Microsoft has a lot of enhancements planned for SQL Server 2019, a big one being SQL Server Big Data clusters. SQL Server expert and Redmond columnist Joey D'Antoni described Big Data clusters as "a scale-out, data virtualization platform built on top of the Kubernetes (K8s) container platform." Also new to SQL Server 2019 is a feature called Accelerated Database Recovery (ADR), which expedites the process of undoing and rolling back database transactions.
Improvements are also coming to SQL Server's Always On Availability Group stack and the Always Encrypted security solution, as well as overall database performance. Microsoft is also promising support for Apache Spark and the Hadoop Distributed File System, as well as the ability to deploy Python- and R-based applications on clusters. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
It's been roughly four years since Microsoft first debuted HoloLens, its augmented reality headset, which is being positioned as an industrial diagnostic tool on top of being a gaming peripheral. HoloLens was ground-breaking technology at the time, but as the rest of the industry caught up with other mixed-reality, virtual-reality and 3-D platforms and devices, that first-generation headset is now, as Redmondmag.com columnist Brien Posey put it, "starting to show its age."
Microsoft now appears set to unveil version 2 of HoloLens sometime in the first half of 2019. Possibly, it'll make an appearance at the Mobile World Congress event in late February, per some reports.
Details are scant about Microsoft's HoloLens 2 plans. However, Microsoft did confirm at its 2018 Build conference that it is resurrecting its old Kinect motion-sensing device with plans to turn it into an intelligent camera for the new HoloLens (among other use cases).
Microsoft has also described its work around developing an improved "holographic processing unit" for HoloLens that will leverage AI to process deep neural networks. Reports also suggested that the new device will run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850 system-on-a-chip
2018 Roadmap Archive
• Windows 10
Microsoft's semiannual release schedule for Windows 10 is less of a novelty now than it was back in 2015, when Microsoft ushered in the OS under a new "as-a-service" model. Three years and five version updates later, Microsoft is expected to stick to an update model it nailed down last year, with one major update release coming in the first half of the year (usually spring) and another in the second (usually fall).
The first major update, code-named "Redstone 4," has been in the works since August 2017, when the first preview build was made available to Windows Insider testers. Based on each subsequent build's release notes, Redstone 4 looks to be focused largely on feature refinements and usability improvements. There's more support for fonts and languages. The touch keyboard and handwriting features are constantly getting improvements, along with the Edge browser and the Windows Shell. New connectivity and power management enhancements are in the works. And with each build, Microsoft is activating more fluent design components.
There are a couple of brand-new additions, too. In the works for Redstone 4 is a new "Near Share" feature that lets Windows 10 users exchange files with PC users in their vicinity via Bluetooth. Microsoft is also reinstating the "Timeline" feature, which had originally been slated to appear in last October's Fall Creators Update. Timeline essentially lets Windows 10 users keep a record of their recent activities in any given app, making it easier to resume a task when they pull up that app again. And in a more recent build, Microsoft debuted a privacy app called "Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer" that gives users and administrators a better handle on the kinds of telemetry data that Microsoft collects from Windows 10 devices.
Redstone 4 will be followed by another release code-named "Redstone 5" in the later part of 2018. This early in the year, it might be too early to forecast exactly what Microsoft has planned for this second release, though there's at least one feature that Microsoft has already bumped from Redstone 4 and into Redstone 5. "Sets," which first cropped up last November in a Redstone 4 build, is a workspace-management interface that revolves around tabs. Microsoft described Sets as a way "to make sure that everything related to your task: relevant webpages, research documents, necessary files and applications, is connected and available to you in one click." Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it was pulling Sets from future Redstone 4 builds, though it will restore the feature in a "post-RS4 flight." Presumably, that means Redstone 5.
For those waiting for future Windows Mobile/Windows Phone developments, however, don't hold your breath. Microsoft's mobile efforts have been stagnating for some time now, but a Tweet earlier this year from Senior Program Manager Brandon LeBlanc put another nail in the coffin: "No mobile builds are coming." [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
Barely a year old, Teams is already being positioned by Microsoft as an integral piece of its enterprise collaboration portfolio. The Office 365 chat service launched last March as Microsoft's answer to the popular collaboration startup, Slack. Since then, Microsoft has taken significant steps to bolster Teams' enterprise bona fides through regular updates, providing IT management tools, mobile app support, integration with popular third-party apps like Dropbox and Google Drive, and a "guest access" feature that lets users collaborate with members of outside organizations. Microsoft has also been stumping for Teams in the academic space, offering it to schools through the no-cost Office 365 for Education plan, and rolling out UI features designed specifically for students and teachers.
Now, Microsoft plans to advance Teams even further by making it the company's primary unified communications (UC) offering, effectively replacing Skype for Business. Microsoft first announced the planned transition last September at the Ignite conference, calling the move part of its "new vision for intelligent communications." That vision entails Teams inheriting Skype's voice calling and meeting capabilities, as well as AI and machine learning capabilities via the Microsoft Graph, while running on Skype's infrastructure for the back-end.
Those Skype calling capabilities became available in Teams last December. By the end of Q2 2018, Microsoft also expects to add screen-sharing, third-party video support, voicemail capabilities and transcription/recording services. Other features, including "location-based routing," "group call pickup," "call park" and "shared line appearance," are due by year's end, according to Microsoft.
Despite its seeming demotion, Skype for Business isn't going away anytime soon. For one, the Teams-to-Skype transition could take upward of three years, industry watchers estimate. For another, Microsoft has promised to continue supporting Skype for Business Online and Skype for Business Server, with a new server release expected in the second half of 2018. Microsoft is also expected to enable Skype for Business-certified devices to work on Teams sometime in Q2. [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
Cloud may be king at Microsoft nowadays, with the Office 365 productivity suite taking much more of a leading role in Microsoft's product development efforts compared to its on-premises or retail "boxed" counterpart, but Microsoft hasn't thrown in the towel on its old-school Office software yet. At its Ignite conference, Microsoft announced that it was readying the next version of the on-premises Office product, dubbed "Office 2019," for public release sometime in the second half of 2018.
In a blog post announcing Office 2019, Microsoft Office General Manager Jared Spataro characterized the upcoming release as an olive branch to organizations that are still wary of making the move to the cloud. "Cloud-powered innovation is a major theme at Ignite this week. But we recognize that moving to the cloud is a journey with many considerations along the way. Office 2019 will be a valuable upgrade for customers who feel that they need to keep some or all of their apps and servers on-premises," he wrote.
Microsoft expects to roll out a preview of Office 2019 sometime in the second quarter, with general availability in the second half of 2018. New features coming down the pipeline, according to Spataro, include enhancements to the inking feature, improved data analysis capabilities in Excel, expanded PowerPoint animation features and better security. One notable limitation that Microsoft announced early this year: Office 2019 will not be supported on Windows versions older than Windows 10 (which means the still-popular Windows 7 is out of the running). [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
The next major version of Visual Studio is "now in the early planning phase," Microsoft said in June, over two years after the release of Visual Studio 2017.
This announcement represented Microsoft's first official mention of Visual Studio 2019. It was prompted by the company's freshly announced acquisition of GitHub, where Microsoft's developer teams do a lot of their work.
The Visual Studio 2019 announcement was light on concrete details, but John Montgomery, director of Visual Studio program management, gave a broad outline of what developers can expect:
Montgomery added that Visual Studio 2019 previews, whenever they roll out, will be able to run on the same machines as Visual Studio 2017.
As far as a release date, however, Microsoft has offered no timeframe so far, indicating only that it will "say more in the coming months." [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
Microsoft began sharing the earliest details of its next-gen BizTalk Server product in early August, including an estimated release timeframe of "within roughly 9 months of the general availability of Windows Server 2019." That Windows Server product is slated for release sometime in the second half of 2018, which ostensibly pushes the BizTalk Server "vNext" release into early 2019.
According to Microsoft's August announcement, the next BizTalk Server product will contain previously released feature packs, and will support "the latest versions of Windows Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio." It will also be possible to upgrade to the new BizTalk Server product from BizTalk Server 2013 R2 and BizTalk Server 2016. [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
Microsoft also said at Ignite last year that it plans to release the next major version of the on-premises SharePoint Server in the later part of 2018, in tandem with Office 2019. The company hasn't been too descriptive about what changes and improvements are coming to SharePoint Server 2019, but it did share the following "big bets" in a blog post in October:
Another anticipated -- but as-yet unconfirmed -- component of SharePoint Server 2019 could be the potential for continued support for InfoPath, Microsoft's now-deprecated electronic forms software, even though Microsoft is grooming PowerApps and Microsoft Flow to be InfoPath's successor.
Most of Microsoft's improvements come first to the SharePoint Online product, with some (but not all) filtering down to the server product via Feature Pack releases. Microsoft's SharePoint Online roadmap, unveiled in May, promised things like a new SharePoint Admin Center, OneDrive Files on Demand and improved search, but exactly which features SharePoint Server 2019 will get is unclear. Microsoft also launched the SharePoint Framework in 2017 to support client-side customizations using open source tools for SharePoint Online, but also promised to deliver SharePoint Framework support for the server product, too. [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
Microsoft has been more reticent in describing details about the upcoming Exchange Server release compared to the other 2019-branded server releases that are on tap this year. The company has confirmed that the timing of the Exchange Server 2019 preview and release milestones will mirror those of SharePoint Server 2019, Office 2019 and Skype for Business Server 2019, but beyond those details, Microsoft has been mostly mum. Microsoft did indicate in a Tweet at September's Ignite event that the next version release of Exchange will focus on security, compliance, usability and manageability. [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
The last 12 months have proved to be a mixed bag for Dynamics 365, Microsoft's repackaged CRM and ERP cloud suite that first debuted in late 2016. Last spring, the company began integrating Dynamics 365 with LinkedIn, giving sales teams new ways to tap the vast well of information from the professional social network's 500 million registered users. Microsoft also launched the first of the "Dynamics 365 AI Solutions" at Ignite. Dynamics 365 AI Solutions is an initiative that links Dynamics 365 with Microsoft's various AI, machine learning and enterprise search offerings to solve what Steve Guggenheimer, head of Microsoft's Developer Platform & Evangelism unit, called "high-value, complex enterprise scenarios." New Dynamics 365 application components also debuted throughout 2017, including Dynamics 365 for Retail and Dynamics 365 for Talent.
There have been some off notes, too. For instance, the long-promised integration between Dynamics 365 and Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, still hasn't come to fruition -- at least, not in the way that Microsoft had initially planned. In early January 2018, Microsoft announced in a short blog post that it would be "discontinuing the current Cortana integration preview feature that was made available for Dynamics 365," and instead "focusing on building a new long term intelligent solution experience, which will include Cortana digital assistant integration."
Microsoft also caused some consternation among partners last fall when it proposed a white-labeling model for Dynamics 365 under the code name "Tenerife." Microsoft course-corrected a bit after that announcement was met with a general outcry. Instead, the company is now promising a more streamlined Dynamics 365 model that's slated to take effect in the spring of 2018. The company broadly sketched out its plans in a September blog post:
As part of the revamp, Microsoft also plans to release two new NAV-optimized Dynamics 365 offerings for partners in the first half of 2018. One of these offerings will be a Dynamics 365 cloud app sold through Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partners, while the other will be an application development platform for ISVs that qualify for Microsoft's ISV Cloud Embed program. [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
Most of the excitement around Windows Server last year -- from a roadmap perspective, at least -- was generated from Microsoft's move to transition the product to the same biannual servicing model that Windows 10 and Office ProPlus now use. Under this so-called "semiannual channel" release cadence, Windows Server receives two major feature updates each year -- one in the spring and one in the fall. Users enrolled in the Windows Insider program can get early access to each semiannual channel release for testing purposes before it becomes generally available. The first Windows Server (and current) semiannual channel release was "version 1709," which hit general availability last October. The next semiannual channel release, dubbed "version 1803," is currently in the testing phase and should become available in March or April. Microsoft is offering this biannually updated product alongside its more traditional Windows Server 2016 product, where feature updates aren't as frequent.
An obvious advantage of jumping on the semiannual channel train with Windows Server is the opportunity to get new and major feature changes, but organizations have some restrictions. They can only use the Server Core installation option for production workloads with Windows Server version 1709, or they can use Nano Server, but just for hosting containers. Management of Windows Server version 1709 comes via a remote tool called "Project Honolulu," a browser-based solution that replaces the earlier Server Management Tools product. Now in technical preview, Project Honolulu is expected to become generally available "sometime in 2018," according to a Microsoft infograph from Ignite.
In contrast to this new semiannual channel model, Windows Server 2016 continues to follow the more traditional update model. Microsoft has taken to calling this the "long-term servicing channel," where major updates are available every two to three years (akin to the old "service pack" approach). Given that Windows Server 2016 was commercially released in the fall of 2016, there's a chance that the first early test builds of Windows Server "v.Next" could see daylight in late 2018. [BACK TO 2018 PRODUCT LIST]
Kurt Mackie contributed to this report.
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