Microsoft unveils Project GigJam collaboration tool

Redmond offered a sneak peak of its upcoming GigJam collaboration tool at Worldwide Partner Conference 2015, and other recent Microsoft news.

Microsoft unveiled a new collaboration tool, Project GigJam, at the 2015 Worldwide Partner Conference.

GigJam is designed to facilitate task-oriented collaboration by allowing users to pull relevant information from multiple applications into a Dashboard, with the option of controlled content sharing among team members, according to a Microsoft blog.

The preview demonstration showed Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant delivering customer relationship management (CRM) data and emails into the dashboard. A touchscreen redaction feature allowed users to edit how much of the display was shared with each team member, along with whether a recipient had full or read-only access to the documents. The ability to link disparate data sets and Skype integration were also demonstrated.

Prior to the unveiling, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the goal  is reinventing productivity by removing barriers between devices, applications and people. Microsoft has yet to announce a release date for Project GigJam.

Project GigJam demo
Unveiled at the 2015 World Partners Conference, this GigJam demo shows multiple users collaborating on a specific business problem. In this case, a smartphone user (left) is preparing to share product data to the task administrator's dashboard (upper right), which already contains several data sets pertaining to the demonstration task.

SharePoint 2016 beta slated for August

The newest on-premises version of Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration platform will debut as a beta 1 preview in August, according to a company spokesperson.

The beta was originally slated for the fourth quarter of 2015, but the spokesperson said an earlier release would allow more time for Microsoft to collect feedback on the preview.

Microsoft anticipates a beta 2 version will be available before the end of quarter three, with general release coming in the spring of 2016.

Microsoft has targeted three primary areas for improvement with SharePoint 2016: better user experience and mobile access, easier and more reliable hybrid deployment, and new compliance and reporting features.

Microsoft announces premium Office365 suite

Microsoft plans to roll out a premium version of its Office 365 cloud services suite before the end of the year. Known as E5, the Office 365 enterprise services suite was announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2015.

New E5 features include the following:

  • New Skype for Business features for real-time communication, such as Cloud PBX phone service and meeting broadcast;
  • Power BI Pro, which adds numerous data visualization and reporting features;
  • New analytics features, such as Delve Organizational Analytics;
  • New security features, such as advanced threat protection against malware and viruses for Exchange; and
  • The e-discovery tool Zoom, which can analyze unstructured data from a variety of Microsoft products and services.

The Office 365 suite already offers a variety of products, including Microsoft Office, Outlook, Skype, OneDrive and SharePoint.

Next Steps

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