6 innovations from Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference

New offerings around business intelligence, collaboration, data visualization, email, and private clouds should be on your radar

Anticipation is high for Windows 10's formal release on July 29, but Windows 10 is not Microsoft's only project in the works. This week at its Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft and third-party developers showed off several cool, useful innovations.

Here are the six that I think are most worth your attention, three from Microsoft and three from other companies.


Microsoft showed the power for businesses of using its new HoloLens holographic computing device with one of its partners, Autodesk. It's worth watching the keynote and fast-forwarding to the HoloLens demo to see the intrigue of this technology.

Microsoft also showed off HoloLens in a home environment, with a person using it in his living room to interact with holographic elements superimposed on the tables and walls. The demo connected the HoloLens to a camera, so everyone in the audience could see what the person was seeing. People in the audience laughed with joy at this futuristic technology made real (I was one of them).

Project GigJam

Julia White, general manager of the Microsoft office business, demonstrated a new Microsoft app called Project GigJam. This app (for PCs, tablets, and smartphones) lets you pull up business information onscreen; cross out data you don't want to share and circle items you want to share; then send the desired data to co-workers. It's a collaboration tool for controlled screen sharing of data.

In White's demonstration, a sales manager looked at different orders and assigned the orders to different people, where each person can see only what he or she should be focused on.

Cortana Analytics Suite

Microsoft announced the Cortana Analytics Suite, which uses voice interactions to combine Microsoft's Power BI and Microsoft ML (machine learning) tools to pull in big data and provide "actionable intelligence" on it, including underlying patterns and causes as well as predictions.


This third-party tool functions as a UI layer on top of SharePoint, Office 365, and Azure to present the underlying data in a more attractive format. Eye appeal is important when you consider users are the key to effective date usage, and most prefer a more compelling UI to engage with that data than what IT typically delivers. 


Another third-party developer, Exclaimer helps design professional email signatures that are controlled in the cloud for Office 365 users. The idea is not new, but Exclaimer makes it work in the cloud, so well-formatted signatures (important in marketing activities) are added to your emails no matter what device you are using, not only from the Outlook computer client. Essentially, it uses Azure to add the designer signatures to emails from Microsoft apps on any client device.


This company interests me because its products bring the cloud to you. Its "cloud in a box" product offers hyperconverged private cloud infrastructure. Although similar to a vBlock, Gridstore uses Hyper-V and only flash drives (which improves performance).

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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