A certain tech giant based in Redmond, Washington has big plans for fiscal 2019 which will significantly impact the small business community. Operating an October-September fiscal year, Microsoft Corporation holds multiple kick-off events in the fall to announce its vision for the upcoming year, as well as new products, services, and offerings. One of the headliner events is Ignite, Microsoft’s annual conference for developers and IT professionals.

News coming out of the Ignite conference indicate major changes are coming to the global technology marketplace, but what does all this mean for small businesses like yours? Here is a list of the most important Microsoft changes for small businesses in 2019:

Teams gets even more useful features

Microsoft’s fastest growing solution, Teams, is getting new features for meetings, such as meeting recordings and transcript creation. Teams is getting special attention from Microsoft as it continues its head-to-head race with Slack. Microsoft sees instant messaging as one of the fastest developing mediums along with voice-interaction and doesn’t intend to fall behind. Read here for details.

Microsoft is trying to end the password era

Passwords are a pain-in-the-butt for users and found lacking as a primary security feature. For businesses which deploy Microsoft Azure Active Directory, the Microsoft Authenticator app can be used to drastically improve security while providing a more convenient user experience. Authenticator has mobile capability and is designed to use multi-factor sign-in to reduce risk of compromise by an estimated 99.9%. Rather than taking a password, Microsoft Authenticator uses a combination of your phone, fingerprint, face, and PIN. Read here for details.

Seamless search across Microsoft apps

Microsoft has updated its Search application to provide seamless search across Windows, Office 365, and Bing.com for an intelligent, personalized search. Users can leverage Search to easily find internal documents, find suggested actions, and more. Read here for details.

Office 365 – OneDrive files on-demand expanded to macOS

Access all your files easily, but only store the files you need locally. This feature was released for Windows last fall and is now expanded to Mac. Read here for details.

Here comes Office 2019

Word and Outlook get new focus mode, OneNote gets a major re-vamp including ink-to-text support (write it out with your digital pen, OneNote transcribes it to text), and improvements are made to the digital pen experience across the board. Warning: If you want Office 2019, you must be using Windows 10! Read here for details.

Windows Server 2019 is here too

Per Microsoft, with their next major server OS release they wanted to focus on hybrid, security, agility, and total-cost-of-ownership (TCO). Only time will tell if all these benefits are realized, but there are certainly some stand-out abilities in the new release. These include:

  • Native integrations between Windows server and Azure for hybrid services and deployments
  • Security improvements such as shielded VMs, attack and zero-day exploit detection via Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
  • Added software-defined storage capabilities to accommodate hyper-converged infrastructure

Read here for details.

A multitude of popular products going end-of-support (EOS)

2019 will be a busy year for many small organizations when it comes to life-cycle planning. Microsoft has been planning to cut off all support to several product families (which are soon to be three versions behind) for some time, and 2019 will mark the last year for Microsoft extended support (like updates and security patches) on the now-antiquated programs. Here are some of the most popular products to go EOS soon:

If your network contains these products, you should start planning out their replacement now. Leaving such products in your network following the end-of-support deadline will likely result in grievous performance drags, security vulnerabilities, and very likely noncompliance to standards like PCI.

Big changes, big opportunities for small business in 2019

As arguably the biggest mover and shaker in the information technology industry, Microsoft Corporation will be doing their best to move more operations to The Cloud and shake off older, traditional products and platforms. For small businesses, this Microsoft year will be focused on Office 365, Teams, and Azure, in addition to scrubbing EOS products from their network (especially Windows 7).

Overall, Microsoft seems to have a clear vision right now, putting hybrid IT infrastructure, communication, user productivity, and security at the forefront of their new launches and updates. Small orgs can leverage this opportunity to bring stability to their infrastructure, while adapting their operations to move faster with better communication and lower risk. “Adapt to survive” is a very familiar concept in business – in 2019, Microsoft will add more credibility to an old saying.

Would you like guidance on how to adapt to Microsoft’s announcements?

As a Microsoft Silver SMB Cloud Solutions Provider, Progressive Technology Inc. helps small organizations set their IT strategy and budget in alignment with overall company objectives. Whether it’s migration to Office 365, or ensuring licensing compliance, our team can work with yours to make sure you are prepped for success and maximizing ROI.

Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consulting session regarding your Microsoft infrastructure and strategy for 2019!