Hello, followers and subscribers! As the year comes to an end, I want to take a moment to thank you for your support and interest in my blog. It has been a busy and exciting year in tech and I hope you enjoyed reading my posts which focussed mainly around AI, Modern Work, Cloud Security, Windows and Surface.
In my last blog post before Christmas, I will recap some of the highlights of what I posted about throughout 2023. Let’s take a look at what news and info I shared this year.
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I kicked of the new year with ISE event, some news around Microsoft’sd Secyriuty revenue, the MVP programme and Cisco and Microsoft’s partnership around collaboration.
- Cisco and Microsoft Teams partnership: The blog discusses the significance and benefits of the collaboration between Cisco and Microsoft to enable Cisco devices to run both Webex and Teams seamlessly without a reboot¹.
- Microsoft’s security revenue and market share: The blog reports on Microsoft’s impressive growth in the cybersecurity market, driven by its integrated and comprehensive security portfolio and partner ecosystem.
- Teams Premium features and pricing: The blog explains what Teams Premium is, how it differs from the standard Teams license, and how much it costs for different currencies.
- Microsoft’s cloud price harmonisation: The blog informs about Microsoft’s plan to align the pricing of its cloud products and services across the globe based on the US dollar exchange rate, and how customers can prepare for it².
- Windows Insider MVP award and program: The blog shares the author’s personal experience and excitement of being re-awarded as a Windows Insider MVP, and invites others to join the Windows Insider Program and nominate potential MVPs.
In february 2023, we sawe Cisco Contact Centre certified for Teams and a new Teams client announced (which is now generally available). I also found my old RM Tablet PC (running Windows XP tablet and did a quick recap review). Here is a summary of all the things I blogged about in Feb 23:
- Microsoft Teams new client: The blog reports that Microsoft is working on a new version of Teams that will be faster, more efficient, and more stable than the current one. The new version will use Webview2 and React technologies and will be available in preview soon.
- Webex Contact Center for Teams: The blog announces that Cisco Webex Contact Center has received official Microsoft Teams certification, which means that it can integrate seamlessly with Teams to provide enterprise-class customer service across multiple channels. The blog explains the benefits of this integration for both Microsoft and Cisco, as well as for organisations, partners, and customers.
- Yealink DeskVision A24: The blog reviews a new all-in-one collaboration device from Yealink that combines a 24 inch 4K touch-display, a pop-up camera, a speaker, a wireless charger, and a touch screen monitor. The device is certified for both Teams and Zoom and offers a premium desktop collaboration experience. The blog praises the device’s design, functionality, and value.
- RM Tablet PC: The blog revisits an old RM Tablet PC from 2002 that ran Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which was a special edition of Windows XP designed for pen-sensitive screens. The blog credits the RM Tablet PC and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition for introducing and innovating the touch and tablet computing world that we now take for granted. The blog also reflects on the evolution of tablet devices and operating systems since then such as Microsoft Surface Pro.
March was a busy month. We saw the Cisco and Microsoft partnership expand, talked about how Cisco Thousand Eyes is a vital tool for troubsleooting and managing the end user expewrience in the world of remote work and SaaS applications, chewed the fat over Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop, covered new AI features coming to Windows 11 and of course, covered the huge announcement about the upcoming Microsoft 365 Copilot. Here’s some of the things I talked about:
- Microsoft and Cisco partnership: The blog starts with the announcement of the certification of Cisco Board Pro to run Microsoft Teams Rooms natively, as well as supporting Webex. This is part of the ongoing collaboration between Microsoft and Cisco to provide interoperability and seamless experiences for their customers.
- Surface Hub 2S update: The blog then mentions the new version of Windows that will ship with the next generation of Surface Hub 2S devices, called Teams Rooms on Windows. This will feature a new user interface, unified management, and new collaborative features such as FrontRow and Copilot for Teams.
- New Teams app for Windows: The blog also covers the new preview version of the Teams app for Windows, which is said to be faster, more efficient, and more streamlined. The new app also includes the foundations for new AI-powered experiences, such as Copilot for Microsoft Teams.
- Microsoft 365 Copilot: The blog introduces Microsoft 365 Copilot, a new AI assistant that leverages large language models and Microsoft Graph data to help users with natural language queries, tasks, insights, and content creation across Microsoft 365 apps and services.
- ThousandEyes by Cisco: The blog explains how ThousandEyes by Cisco is a digital end user experience monitoring solution that helps ensure optimal performance of SaaS apps and cloud services for employees and customers. It also compares it with Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365.
- Windows 11 updates: The blog concludes with a summary of the latest updates and features coming to Windows 11 in 2023, such as Taskbar enhancements, Energy Recommendations, File Explorer improvements, and Moment updates.
April saw me talk more about updated to Windows 11 and Windows 365 (including Windows 365 Boot), a review of the gorgeous Surface Pro 9 5G, new AI features in Widnows 11 and Surface and the lauch of Mcirosoft Designer in preview.
- Microsoft Designer: A new AI-powered tool for creating social media content, integrated with Edge browser and powered by DALL·E.
- Windows 11 Insider builds: New features and fixes for Windows 11, including a revamped widget board, spatial audio support, and Windows Studio Effects.
- Surface Pro 9 5G: A hands-on review of the new Surface device with built-in 5G, NPU, and Windows 11 features.
- Edge Workspaces: A new way to separate browsing tasks into dedicated windows and collaborate with others using Loop components.
- Windows 365 updates: New features that integrate Windows 365 with Windows 11, such as a native app, Windows 365 Boot, and offline mode.
May 2023, saw Microsoft Announce Fabric – their new data analtics platform for the AI era, Windows Copilot (the neg gen Clippy/Cortana for Windows 11) and a in depth comparison of ChatGPT vs Bing Chat (now, Copilot). Here are the summaries of the blog posts in order:
- Microsoft Fabric: A new data and analytics platform for the AI era. This post introduces Microsoft Fabric, a new platform that integrates Azure Data Factory, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Power BI into a single product. Fabric aims to simplify data management, integration, and operation by providing a lake-centric, open, and AI-powered approach. Fabric also offers role-specific experiences for data professionals and business users, as well as seamless integration with Microsoft 365 applications.
- Windows Copilot: The Cortana that never was. This post discusses the new Windows Copilot feature that will bring AI to the forefront of Windows 11. Copilot will live in the Windows sidebar and offer contextual actions and suggestions based on what’s on screen. Users will also be able to ask natural language questions and Copilot will respond much like Bing Chat. Copilot will also support third-party plugins that use OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology, enabling cross-application tasks and generative AI capabilities.
- Bing Chat vs ChatGPT: Why Bing Chat is better. This post compares and contrasts Bing Chat and ChatGPT, two natural language chatbots that use OpenAI’s GPT technology. The post argues that Bing Chat is superior to ChatGPT in several aspects, such as speed, accuracy, quality, capability, and accessibility. The post also highlights some of the unique features of Bing Chat, such as web search, image search, image creation, conversation modes, and integration with other Microsoft apps and services.
June 2023, I talked about how Microsoft is helping defend Ukraine from Cyber Attacks from Russia, the death of Internet Explorer and Windows Autopatch. We also looked at the massive changes to Cisco’s Cloud managed network infrastructure solutions.
Here are the summaries of the blog posts in order:
- Microsoft shares lessons from Ukraine cyber war. This post talks about how Microsoft helped Ukraine defend against Russian cyberattacks and information operations, and what insights they gained from this experience.
- Cisco brings Catalyst to the Meraki cloud. This post announced that Cisco was introducing a new option for customers to manage their Catalyst switches and access points using the Cisco Meraki cloud dashboard. This was announced at Cisco Live 2023.
- Microsoft announces Viva Sales. This post introduces a new intelligent service that connects customer data across any CRM into Teams and Office and fills many of the gaps left by legacy CRM platforms. This was the latest additon to the Microsoft’s Viva suite.
- Internet Explorer is officially dead: This post marks the end of life of Internet Explorer, the once dominant web browser that was released in 1995. It explains what end of life means for users, and why they should switch to Microsoft Edge or other modern browsers. It also reviews the history of Internet Explorer, its decline in market share, and its legacy features that are still supported by Edge.
- Microsoft acquires Milburo: This post reveals that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Milburo, a world leader in foreign threat analysis and research detection services. It states that Milburo will join Microsoft’s Customer Security and Trust organisation, and will enhance Microsoft’s threat detection and analysis capabilities.
- Microsoft launches software updates dashboard: This post unveils a new software updates dashboard in the Microsoft 365 admin center that enables IT to get a unified overview of the installation status of Windows and Microsoft 365 app updates across all their devices. It shows how the dashboard provides charts and statistics on update status and end of service, and how it supports both fully managed and monitored only devices. It also provides links to further information and instructions on how to enable the preview.
- Windows Autopatch reaches public preview: This post announces that Windows Autopatch, a service to automatically keep Windows and Microsoft 365 up to date in enterprise organisations, has now reached public preview. It describes how Windows Autopatch shifts the update orchestration burden from the IT department to Microsoft, and how it provides features such as testing rings, halt and rollback, and expedited updates. I also covered prerequisites, licensing, and features of the service, and how to join the preview.
The second part of the year, kicked off with pricing being announced for Microsoft 365 Copilot, Microsoft renaming Azure AD to Entra ID and Bing Chat Enterprise (a commercial grade version of Bing Chat) being made available free to Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise Customers.
- Bing Chat Enterprise: A new version of Bing Chat that is secure and private for work, powered by generative AI. It can be accessed from Microsoft Edge, Windows 11, or bing.com/chat. It is free for existing Microsoft 365 customers or $5 per user per month as a standalone version.
- Microsoft 365 Copilot Pricing: An AI powered service that brings generative AI features into Microsoft 365 apps and services. It is currently in a closed private preview and will cost $30 per user per month for commercial customers on top of their Microsoft 365 licenses.
- Orca AI: A new open-sourced AI model that can imitate the reasoning of large foundation models like GPT-4 in a much smaller footprint. It is designed to solve the limitations of using smaller language models and revolutionise the AI industry.
- Microsoft Entra ID: A new brand name for Microsoft’s unified access and security offering, which includes two new products: Entra Private Access and Entra Internet Access. These products are designed to provide identity-centric and zero trust network access to any app or resource, from anywhere. Azure Active Directory is also renamed to Entra ID.
In August (while many of were on summer holidays), I gave some key tips o Microsoft 365 Copilot based on feedback and questions from customers, talked about Microsoft’s upcoming Surface and Windows 11 event, highlighed key things from Cisco’s latest Network Trends report.
Here are the summaries of the three blog posts on this page:
- 5 things you need to know about Microsoft 365 Copilot: This post covered the main features and benefits of Microsoft 365 Copilot, a new AI-powered assistant that can help users with various tasks across Microsoft 365 apps. It also discussed the pricing, availability, and preparation for Copilot, as well as the potential drawbacks and limitations of AI-generated content.
- New devices? More AI? What is coming to Windows 11 and Surface?: This post speculates on what Microsoft we going to announce at their “special event” on September 21st, 2023. It expects that Microsoft will unveil new Surface products, such as Surface Laptop Studio 2, Surface Laptop Go 3, and Surface Go 4, as well as highlight the recent advancements in AI, such as Windows Copilot, Bing Chat Enterprise, and Windows Studio Effects.
- Cisco adds ransomware detection and recovery to their XDR system: This post reports on Cisco’s new solution that integrates their Extended Detection and Response (XDR) system with Cohesity’s DataProtect and DataHawk offerings to provide ransomware detection and recovery support. It explains how this solution can help organisations protect and restore their data in the event of a ransomware attack, and how it fits into Cisco’s comprehensive security portfolio.
- Key highlights from Cisco network Trends Report. The blog post discusses the 2023 Global Networking Trends Report by Cisco, which covers some of the emerging networking trends in the multi-cloud world, and how they affect the IT operations and security of organisations and highlights the challenges and opportunities of hybrid work and multi-cloud adoption, such as providing secure access to applications distributed across multiple cloud platforms, gaining end-to-end visibility into network performance and security, and adopting a SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) model that delivers simplified and consistent security and performance for multi-cloud access and hybrid work. I also covered an overview of the Cisco products that can help organisations address many of the challenges of multi-cloud networking and security, such as Cisco SD-WAN, Cisco Umbrella, Cisco Cloudlock, and Cisco SASE.
This was a busy month of blogging. I talked about the Meta and Microsoft partnership, availability of Microsoft 365 Copilot for “some customers”, Cisco’s aquistion of Splunk, New AI features in Surface and Windows, Microsoft Copilot “copyright” protection, changes to E5 licensing with more Security included and more.
Here are the key things talked about in each blog post on this page:
- Meta AI to use Microsoft Bing: This post discusses the expanded AI partnership between Microsoft and Meta, which will integrate Bing Search into Meta’s AI chat experiences, such as ChatGPT, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.
- Microsoft Mesh entered public preview in October: This post introduces Microsoft Mesh, a new 3D immersive experience that will be surfaced through Microsoft Teams. It explains how Mesh can help blur the lines between the physical and virtual space, and how to get started with it.
- Microsoft unveils the Surface Hub 3: This post explores the features and benefits of Surface Hub 3, the latest all-in-one hybrid meeting and collaboration device that combines the best of Microsoft Teams Rooms, Windows, and Surface Hub. It also compares it to Surface Hub 2S and explains how to upgrade from it.
- Cisco to Aquire Splunk: This post reports the news that Cisco will acquire Splunk, a cybersecurity and observability platform, for $28 billion. It describes how the acquisition will help Cisco create the next generation of AI-enabled security and observability solutions.
- Microsoft announces Microsoft 365 Copilot availabilty: This post announces the availability and pricing of Microsoft 365 Copilot, a new AI assistant that helps users with various tasks across Microsoft 365 apps and services. It also covers the features and benefits of Copilot in Windows, Bing, and Microsoft Shopping.
- Windows 365 get’s top spot in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. – where I discussed that Microsoft had been recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for Desktop as a Service (DaaS), which is the provision of virtual desktops by a public cloud or service provider. We covered their Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop platforms and Microsoft’s unique position in this space.
October saw me talk more about the ROI of Microsoft Copilot, the new vision for Micrsosoft OneDrive, Teams Town Hall, major updates to Bing Image Creator and the end of support (RIP) for Windows Server 2012!
- OneDrive 3.0 Update: This post announces a major update for OneDrive, which includes a new design, AI features, and more. It also explains how to get started with OneDrive Town Hall, a new experience for large-scale events that replaces Live Events.
- Teams Town Hall: This post introduces Teams Town Hall, a new feature that allows users to host various types of internal and external events, such as company-wide town halls, all hands, global team meetings, etc. It also describes the advanced production capabilities, the structured approach for attendee engagement, and the unified experience for users that Teams Town Hall offers.
- Windows 11 Moment 4 Update: This post highlights the new features and improvements that are rolling out with the latest feature update for Windows 11. It includes a new File Explorer design, Copilot for Windows, a new AI assistant, improvements to the Taskbar, and notable in-box app updates.
- Windows Server 2012 End of Support: This post reminds users that support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 ended on 10th Oct 234. It also provides some options for users to upgrade, purchase Extended Security Updates, or migrate to Azure.
- Bing Image Creator: This post showcases the new Bing Image Creator, which uses OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 to generate high-quality, creative, and realistic images from natural language prompts. It also explains how to use Bing Image Creator and how it provides improved safety and ethics with content credentials and content moderation system.
- Microsoft 365 CoPilot: What is the ROI? – This talked about availability and pricing of Copilot, and went into looking at examples around the ROI. We explored how it can help with productivity, creativity, and decision-making for users who can leverage its features and capabilities and looked at some numbers. We also covered the need to adopt Copilot in the right way – proper planning, training, support, and data management to ensure successful adoption and measurable outcomes.
- News about the key annoucements at Microsoft Envision: this was a review of the key things announced at Microsoft’s AI event in London in 2023. I talked about my take on the keynote speeches and what we have and what is coming in this esciting world of AI.
Another busy month of news – it never slows down. In November I talked about my hands on experiences with Windows 365, Copilot coming to Windows 10, all the new “Copilots” Microsoft announced at Ignite, new Apps in Teams and did a demo and walk through of Copilkot Studio. I also shared my view on why “everyone” needs a Surface Pro for work!! I also shared details of major updates coming to Cisco’s partner programme in 2024.
Here is a summary of my key blog posts:
- Cisco Announce major changes to Partner Programme in 2024. In this blog, I talk about Cisco’s new partner incentive programme that rewards partners for selling Cisco hardware, software and as-a-service solutions, as well as driving customer adoption and growth of subscriptions and a new set of specialisations to help identify and reward key partners.
- Microsoft Ship Windows 11 2023 H2 Update – Here I talk about the next wave of AI features, security updfate sand enhancements hitting Windows 11.
- Why I can’t stop using Windows 365 CloudPC: I shared my personal experience of using Windows 365 Cloud PC as my main device for the past four weeks.
- Intro and demo of Microsoft Copilot Studio: An overview of Microsoft Copilot Studio, a new platform that allows Microsoft 365 customers to build their own generative AI copilots and custom GPTs. I included a step-by-step guide on how to create a simple copilot using a website as a data source, and showed how to test and publish it.
- Copilot coming to Windows 10: We see Microsoft announce that Copilot is coming soon to Windows 10 devices – we look at the hardware requirements, the availability, and the benefits of using Copilot on older devices.
- Microsoft Ignite 2023: A new family of Copilots announced: I cover all the new announcements and insights about the new Copilots introduced at Microsoft Ignite 2023.
- Why you need to use Inking with a Surface at Work.I showcase my expereince and tips in using Surface at work and in particular for taking notes in meetings. Game Changer.
In the the last month of 2023 (a short month for many), I closed the year with a post about the Cisco and Microsoft “better together” story and invited people to register for our event in January at our new Client Exdperience Centre, gave tips on writing AI prompts, talked about Google’s Gemini AI (the ChatGPT compete), talked more about Designer and Image Creation, updates to Copilot with GPT4 Turbo, and highlighted the results of the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS. We also talk about Mcirosoft investment in the UK for AI data centres and charges coming for Windows 10 support beyond 2025.
- Cisco and Microsoft: Simplifying Enterprise Collaboration. This post discusses how Cisco and Microsoft have partnered to enable Cisco’s Webex video devices to connect to Microsoft Teams meeting services, and how this collaboration benefits customers who use both platforms.
- Microsoft investing 2.5 Billion in UK Data Centres – This blog seems me talk about what this means for the UK and for AI, jobs and the future.
- Prompt Engineering: AI prompts that punch! This post provides some tips on how to write and perfect good AI prompts for generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Copilot, including how to be specific, provide context, use simple language, and experiment with different variations.
- Teams meetings, webinars and Townhalls. What to use when. This post explains the differences and use cases of three distinct formats of virtual events in Teams: meetings, webinars, and town halls. It also outlines the key features and considerations of each format.
- Microsoft and Cisco: Leaders in the UCaaS Gartner 2023 Magic Quadrant This post summarises the highlights of the Gartner 2023 Magic Quadrant for UCaaS, where Microsoft and Cisco are both Leaders. It also compares their strengths and weaknesses in terms of messaging, meetings, telephony, contact center, and pricing.
- What is Google Gemini and when is it available? This post introduces Google Gemini, a new AI-powered search engine that aims to provide more relevant and personalised results for users. It also discusses the features and benefits of Google Gemini, such as semantic understanding, contextual awareness, and conversational interface. It says that Google Gemini is expected to launch in mid-2024.
Goodbye 2023 – Hello to an AI Powered 2024
That’s it for my year in review! I hope you enjoyed reading it, maybe learned something new or useful from it or saw different perspective.
I want to thank you again for your support and interest in my blog and for being part of my journey. I appreciate your comments, likes, shares, and feedback and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
In 2023, we witnessed the dawn of a new era, where AI became an integral part of our everyday lives, enabling us to accomplish things beyond our imagination. This era is as significant as the inception of the personal computer, the start of the world wide web, mobile phones, and cloud in the previous decades. What new opportunities and challenges will AI bring us in 2024?
I wish you all a Happy New Year! May 2024 bring you health, happiness, and success in all your endeavors!