The Year Microsoft Changed Everything
January 18, 2016 | Elliott Carter | 3 Minute Read
It has been an incredible year for the tech giant Microsoft and in my opinion the year they changed everything. From their product line to their operating systems, Microsoft have not only made them faster, friendlier and in most cases thinner, they have made them more desirable.
For example, the rave of the tablet world was the iPad but since the release of the Surface Pro 4 and the incredibly powerful hybrid Surface Book they have shaken up the whole market and the talk of the town is no longer the iPad but a more varied selection of tablets. The practicality and mobility of the Surface range has made them the ultimate tablets for not only the business world but for home users as well.
I’ll discuss these tablets further… but as this is 2015 in review we can’t start with Surfaces.
So where to start?
Microsoft officially released Skype for Business. This wasn’t a complete surprise as since 11th March Microsoft had publicly announced the product and made it very clear this was a replacement for Lync. We loved Lync, it was an underused tool yet something we know we couldn’t do without. It allowed us to get in touch with colleagues instantly whether it be a call or a message, it allowed us to send over documents for a quick read or host a group conference call and project our screen into the call for everyone to see. The release of Skype for Business transformed the Lync we knew and loved into a much cleaner and user friendly experience yet keeping its best features and then some.
Probably the biggest date in Microsoft’s calendar: this date brought us the release of Windows 10. Not only did it bring back the familiar start screen (even we sighed with relief when that returned) but Cortana, a truly personal assistant that helps you get things done. We found once Windows 10 had been deployed across all of its devices it made everything seem like it was singing from the same hymn sheet. We loved Smartglass and Streaming, it allowed us to take the Xbox out the living room and into the bath tub. Continuum allowed us to hook up a Windows Phone to a monitor and turn it into a desktop-like experience and of course the new Start Menu. Although new, it was familiar, It took the best from both worlds, using Windows 8’s tiles and the classic start menu and merged them into one harmonious item. It just worked and was instantly recognisable and easy to work around and we love it.
The day Microsoft shocked the world. Not only did they release the Surface Pro 4 and Microsoft Band 2 (as expected) they released their very first laptop: the Surface Book. Microsoft’s “Ultimate Laptop” had given us an insight into the new direction the company is heading, and with a strong start. The Book boasts, even at its base model, an Intel Core i5, allowing you to run Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and other demanding software smoothly all while running other applications on the side. Its ability to run such powerful apps mixed with its portability does indeed make it the “Ultimate Laptop”, and boy do we want one.
The date Office 2016 was released. We’ve all used Office at some point in our lives and 9 times out of 10 you will still be using it. In fact, I am actually using Word right now…
The 2016 update brought us a pretty face lift, a whole bunch of new features and so many background improvements I could go on forever. Notably one of the best new features is the live collaboration built into Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. If you use Office 365, simply open a document from SharePoint or OneDrive and as long as the other user has Office 2016 and a Microsoft account you can edit the document in real time and see their adaptations. This feature is great but we are all eagerly waiting for the day Excel gets added to this list. Another new feature is the ‘Share’ button. Right from Word you can share your document with a colleague simply by typing in their email address and clicking Share. Easy! Overall we like Office 2016, its not only much smoother running but more importantly to us, it integrates with Office 365 perfectly.
Enterprise E5 became available. Enterprise E4’s replacement is your all-singing and dancing licence. It comes with the everything Office 365 can offer but unfortunately not a welcoming glass of bubbly to accompany your shiny new licence. Even more excitingly though, its PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) ready and has adopted a cloud PBX (switchboard) system that includes PSTN calling with features such as call holding and call transfer. As of June 30th 2016, Enterprise E4 will no longer be available to purchase and slowly but surely will be wiped of the face of the earth.
Overall Microsoft have refined their products across the board and in such a way even the most loyal Apple/ Google users might hold their horses before investing their hard-earned cash.
One thing is for certain, Microsoft seem to be moving from strength to strength and we’re very excited to see what’s coming in 2016!