Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ category

June 24th, 2019

Guides is a new solution that works with Microsoft applications based on HoloLens (and, increasingly, mobile and tablet devices) in mixed reality, in four core areas: remote assistance, training, collaborative visualization, and contextual data access, (‘your data in your space’.)

Guides, trains people on how to correctly work with assets in a real-world setting.

Guides can display 3D visuals, training materials, and interactive tasks through HoloLens. It is intended to train workers and measure their performance. It has the ability to capture and store data on their usage history via the Microsoft’s Common Data Service – or in other apps that consume CDS data like Dynamics 365 Field Service or Finance and Operations.

SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – end of life July 9, 2019 -ask Synergy Software Systems

June 23rd, 2019

Microsoft has previously announced that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 will reach end of life on July 9, 2019.

This means that in less than a month, Microsoft will no longer release regular security updates for the product.

There are several reasons this is important to you.
• Attacks against software products of all types are common and ongoing. With Microsoft SQL being such a prevalent platform, attacks against it are ubiquitous, and it’s important to keep your database platform up-to-date with the latest Microsoft security patches.
• Many compliance requirements dictate that you must be running currently supported software.
• As Microsoft drops support for a product, many third-party applications may also discontinue support for their products running on those platforms.

So, if you are still running SQL Server 2008/2008 R2, then what are your options?

1.Upgrade to a newer version of SQL.
SQL 2019 is in preview release as of this writing, so the current production version of SQL Server is 2017. Its end of life will be October 12, 2027.
Evaluate your applications and databases to make sure they are compatible e.g. Dynamic Ax 2012 is not supported beyond SQL 2016

Plan a migration for either on-premises or cloud. A move to an Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, will not require you to upgrade in the future. By choosing this option, you will also gain access to new features which have appeared in the latest SQL Server versions. However, it only offers subset of SQL features so you need to be sure it will support your application and use.

2.Migrate to Azure to receive three more years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. If you need to stay on the same SQL code base for a bit longer, Microsoft will allow you to rehost your SQL 2008 environment in Azure and still provide you with security updates for an extended period. There is no extra cost for the extended updates beyond the standard Azure VM rates.

3.Purchase extended support. Microsoft allows customers with an active Enterprise Agreement and Software Assurance subscription to purchase and receive three years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. The annual outlay for the updates is 75% of the full license cost.

4.The least desirable option is to stay where you are and pray. If circumstances prevent you from moving forward now, then at minimum you should:
• Recognize and account for the risk;
•Plan and budget for a transition as soon as possible;
•Re-evaluate your security and tighten it as much as possible.

Microsoft provides guidance for handling the end of support of SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 at https://www.microsoft.com/2008-eos.

Of course, Synergy is ready to help you to evaluate and to progress to the next level. 0097143365589

If you are running newer versions of SQL Server, then here are their End-of-Life dates.
•SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022
•SQL Server 2014 – July 9, 2024
•SQL Server 2016 – July 14, 2026
•SQL Server 2017 – October 12, 2027

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, support is coming to an end.

June 23rd, 2019

Sometimes lifecycles end because of age or workload and other times they expire due to vendor support.
In the case of Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Microsoft announced that Extended Support will end on January 14, 2020.

Microsoft provides: Mainstream Support, Extended Support, and Beyond End of Support.

Mainstream Support

Mainstream Support is Microsoft’s first phase of support and lasts five years. It includes the following benefits:
• Incident support (no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims)
• Security update support
• Ability to request non-security updates

Extended Support

The Extended Support phase follows Mainstream Support, and also lasts five years. The key features of Extended Support are:
• Paid support
• Security updates at no additional cost
• Ability to request non-security updates (available only via Unified Support, a new model of support that offers comprehensive support that covers your entire organization)
• Microsoft will not accept requests for warranty support, design changes, or new features during the Extended Support phase.

Beyond End of Support

The Beyond End of Support phase is the final phase of the product lifecycle and lasts for three years. Here are the key things to remember.
• Request to change product design and features are not available
• Security updates are available only with the purchase of the Extended Security Update Program for up to three years. This typically costs 75% of the on-premises license cost annually.
• Technical support is provided when you purchase Extended Security Updates and have an active support plan in place on the product that has moved beyond the Extended Support date.

Server 2008 and 2008R2 are moving out of the Extended Support phase on January 14, 2020. From that date on,
non-security updates will no longer be available,
security updates will be available only if you pay for the Extended Security Update Program,
and other vendors will diminish their support of this operating system version.
If you are not prepared, then this will leave your environment open to security holes, application instability, and support restrictions.
If you have not already planned for this then now is the time to get it into your budget for first thing next year.

Synergy certifications

June 22nd, 2019

Happy to announce that our Gold partnership with Microsoft has been confirmed again for the next 12 months.

Recently we have also certified consultants in ABBY the industry leading OCR software.

Earlier in the year we became a gold partner with UIPath the market leading Robotic Process Automation solution, for which Synergy has more than 50% of the certified consultants in the region.

This is part of our commitment to deliver professional service for digital transformation to our clients.

UAE and AI

June 20th, 2019

A report commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY says the UAE has seen the second highest AI investment over the past decade, more than USD $2.15 billion
• One in five companies in the country consider AI as their top digital priority
• 94% of C-suite leadership consider ‘AI strategy’ as an important topic and 35% of non-managerial staff are actively having AI discussions

New research shows the state of AI within businesses across the UAE is expected to improve dramatically over the next three years,as a growing number of executives look to AI to drive their digital agendas. Already, 18% of businesses in the country consider AI their most important digital priority. (AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Click here – a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY.)

The UAE’s progress in elevating the AI agenda is a direct result of leaders across the country recognising that the technology is a key differentiator across all sectors. 94% of companies in the UAE report involvement in AI at executive management level – the highest percentage of any surveyed country in MEA.

“When we examine companies with high AI maturity, it’s clear that the technology is driven directly by the CEOs themselves. This high level of involvement typically results in greater investment in AI, broader adopti on and a greater number of successful implementations,” says Sayed Hashish, regional general manager at Microsoft Gulf.

Leadership capability in the UAE is also rated high when compared with other countries in MEA. While 64% of respondents believe they have moderate, little or no AI leadership competency, 24% of executives in the UAE rated themselves as highly competent, with another 46 percent indicating they are either competent or very competent. Most companies still consider themselves to be in the planned phase of AI maturity, meaning AI has not yet been put to active use. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just 8% of businesses perceive themselves as advanced in their application of AI.

It’s not surprising that the UAE is the second highest regional investor in AI over the past ten years, investing $2.15 billion in total. The bulk of this investment went towards social media and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. This was followed by notable spend across a further eight technologies, including smart mobile, gamification, and machine learning.

Machine learning is ranked as the most useful AI technology, with primary emphasis placed on decision support solutions, then smart robotics and text analysis, where customer interactions are the key focus.

The UAE’s open culture around AI is a highly positive indicator of the health of the technology within the country. 94% of UAE companies have ‘AI Strategy’ as an important topic at C-suite level and a significant 35% of companies say AI discussions are filtering down from top management right the way through to non-managerial levels. As a result, employees in the UAE embrace opportunities to participate in skills training and pilot programmes.

UAE companies are, in general, heavily focused on customer engagement when it comes to AI. The use of chatbots in the marketing space has become common, largely because they enhance the customer experience, ultimately demonstrating obvious value to management. UAE respondents expect AI to deliver greater operational efficiencies, drive down costs and, most importantly, enable them to be more competitive. Companies within the Emirates view prediction (76%) and automation (76%) as the most relevant applications of AI for their businesses.

65% of UAE companies rate themselves as highly to very competent when it comes to drawing on external alliances to strengthen their AI capabilities.

Synergy Software Systems offers Integration as a service, Robotic Process Automation, Machine learning, and Advanced analytics solutions

Major SQL updates don’t skip – SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU7 and SQL Server 2017 CU 15

May 26th, 2019

This week, Microsoft released two major updates.

SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU7 has multiple fixes including:

• Filtered index corruption
• Access violations in sys.dm_exec_query_statistics_xml, sys.dm_hadr_availability_replica_states, sys.availability_replicas, sys.dm_db_xtp_hash_index_stats, sys.fn_dump_dblog, sys.dm_db_xtp_checkpoint_files
(I.e. if you monitor your servers, which you should, then you should apply this CU to avoid problems caused by the monitoring tool’s queries)
• AG failover fails
• Incorrect query results on columnstore indexes, and also this

SQL Server 2017 CU 15 has even MORE fixes, read the full list. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4498951/cumulative-update-15-for-sql-server-2017

Note also, that from SQL Server 2017, the Analysis Services build version number and SQL Server Database Engine build version number do not match

There are some CUs you might be tempted to skip because they don’t affect you. These releases will affect a wide range of features and you should plan to apply these sooner than later.

General Availability of Unified Service Desk 4.1

May 22nd, 2019

Many new features.

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/usd/2019/03/08/public-preview-of-unified-service-desk-4-1/

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/unified-service-desk/admin/whats-new-unified-service-desk-administrators?view=dynamics-usd-4.1

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/unified-service-desk/what-s-new-in-unified-service-desk?view=dynamics-usd-4.1

Unified Service Desk has an annual release cadence for the major version upgrades. Customers on Unified Service Desk 3.2 or a lower version, should plan to migrate to the latest/supported release of Unified Service Desk. Some features of earlier versions will be deprecated from earlier versions ofUnified Service Desk

Going forward, Unified Service Desk will support the last three releases (N-2 format). On the release of the next version of Unified Service Desk, the oldest supported version will be deprecated. For example, with the release of Unified Service Desk 4.2, Unified Service Desk 3.3 version will stand deprecated.1.) Unified Service Desk 3.2 and any lower versions

Hosted controls
• Hosted Control and Web Hosted Application of CCA Hosted Application
For the CCA Hosted Application type of hosted control, there are four types of Hosted App Type. Out of those, Hosted Control and Web Hosted Application are deprecated.

If you are using Hosted Control Hosted App Type of CCA Hosted Application, then use the USD Hosted Control type of hosted control.

Similarly, for Web Hosted Application Hosted App Type, use the Standard web application type of hosted control. The Web Hosted Application uses the paradigm of UII Web Application Adapter (UII action protocols) to talk and interact with Unified Service Desk. With the direction to use the Standard web application type of hosted control, use RunScript actions.

CRM Dialog hosted control
The CRM Dialog hosted control type is used to work with Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps dialog. Microsoft is deprecating the CRM Dialog hosted control. As an alternative to Dialogs, use Business Process Flows or Canvas Apps.
In the Unified Service Desk, either use Unified Interface page ,or Standard Web Application type of hosted control. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/get-started/whats-new/customer-engagement/important-changes-coming#dialogs-are-deprecated

•Interactive Service Hub Page hosted control
The Interactive Service Hub Page hosted control is used to host interactive service hub forms within Unified Service Desk. Upgrade to Unified Interface forms and use the Unified Interface Page hosted control.

end-of-life for Dynamics Field Service (online) legacy versions by February, 2020

May 22nd, 2019

Last week Microsoft announced the retirement of all legacy versions (web client and mobile) of Dynamics 365 for Field Service (online) by the end of February, 2020. This change aims to provide all users access to the latest capabilities and improvements, and offer a better support experience.

All customers must update to Field Service version 8.x by February, 2020

These versions are impacted:
• Field Service web client versions 7.x and 6.x
Field Service mobile (2017) on all platforms including iOS and Android

Regular updates on these versions will continue until October, this year and Microsoft will continue to provide support until December, 2019.

This change does not impact Dynamics 365 for Field Service (on-premises) versions.

Most of the Recent improvements are only available in Field Service version 8.x onwards, so organizations using earlier versions are missing out on new capabilities such as:
• Improved scheduling experiences
• Improved IoT scenarios and enablement
• Multi-resource work orders
• Crew scheduling
• Pools
• Facilities-based scheduling
• Geo-fencing
• SLA improvements
• Entitlements
• and more…

Field Service 8.x has been available via opt-in on the insider portal (https://experience.dynamics.com/insider) since last August. There are significant changes to the user interface as part of the move to the Dynamics 365 Unified version. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/admin/about-unified-interface

Consider:
• Do not install this directly on your production environment. This upgrade should initially be done in a non-production environment with change management and release controls.
We don’t anticipate any breaking changes, but i test to ensure that no customizations are impacted by the upgrade process. Run the Solution Checker to assess potentially problematic customizations.
• Field Service version 8 relies entirely on the Unified Interface. All navigation is controlled by model driven apps.
Field service version 7 had significantly different navigation which will no longer be available when using Field Service.
• Field Service mobile in version 8 takes advantage of the new Field Service Mobile app and a new mobile project.

Use of previous project templates or mobile apps, including Field Service Mobile (2017) and Field Service Mobile (2016), on Field Service version 8 is not supported.

Plan to follow Microsoft’s detailed steps to build a derivative mobile project against the new project template and then move your mobile users to the new app.

• Update internal documentation and conduct internal training to manage the organizational impact of changes from the navigation, mobile app, and any potential functionality impacts discovered by testing or the Solution Checker.

• Once ready, enable on your production environments.

Note. There is a trials version. When Field Service is not installed on an org, then you can install the Field Service Trial from App Source. However, do not attempt this on an org with Field Service version 7 because this install will fail. It is blocked by Microsoft to protect organizations from accidentally upgrading to the latest version, without an understanding of the impact of this upgrade.

Dynamics 365 – LCS updates April 2019

April 28th, 2019

New features in Lifecycle Services (LCS) enable you to configure when you get updates to your production environment and how you can pause an update when you are unable to take the update due to a critical business activity.

These features were only available to customers using version 8.1 and above. From today these features will also be available to customers that are using version 7.3. For customers that are on 7.3, LCS will update their sandbox and production environments to the latest Platform update each month.
For customers that are on version 7.1, 7.2 and 8.0, you can apply the latest platform update manually using the servicing flows.

With the features now available in LCS, you will be able to do the following:
• Configure whether to get Platform updates for your production environment in the first, second, or third week of the month and in what time zone.
• Pause updates through LCS if you are unable to take the update. You can pause a maximum of 2 continuous updates. However, if you are more than 2 releases behind, then you will not be allowed to pause updates. For example, if you are on Update 23 and the currently available platform update is Update 25, then you will be able to pause. But if you are on Update 22, then you will not be allowed to pause.
• Get notified about upcoming service updates through LCS.

Changes that will affect the servicing flows that will be released in the May 2019 update of Lifecycle Services (LCS).

Sign off on maintenance operations triggered through LCS

From today, on completion of any maintenance operation (servicing, database movement, upgrade, and putting system in maintenance mode) you have the option to sign off, or to sign off with issues as the last step to indicate completion of the operation.
Only after you indicate sign off, is your environment ready for the next operation.
The following changes we will be made to streamline the sign off process:
• Going forward the environment will be ready for the next operation after the current operation has been successfully completed. This means that sign off is no longer the terminal state, but rather it is the completion of the operation. Operation completion states are now Successful, Rollback Successful, or Aborted.

• The Sign off button will be moved to the Environment history page, so after the operation is complete, you can navigate to the Environment history page to indicate sign off if you want to validate and capture this information.

• The release candidate check for moving packages from sandbox to production will continue to check whether the package was successfully applied in a sandbox before you can move it to production. It does not depend on you signing off on the update.

•T he sign off will only apply to a servicing operation, because that is the main operation where you validate the environment state to verify whether there are any issues. For other operations, such as database movement, upgrade and maintenance mode, sign off does not apply and will not be visible.

• For service updates pushed by Microsoft, whenthe environment is not in a terminal state (environment has a pending sign off), then LCS will not apply the update. There are often instances where customers forget to sign off on a previous operation and because that is the terminal state LCS skips the environment and doesn’t apply the update. As a result, customers ask us why LCS didn’t update their environments. With this change, sign off is managed separately, so if your environment is in a Deployed state then LCS will apply the update.

Provide a single package containing all customizations and ISV solutions
One recommended best practice is to provide a single package containing all customizations and ISV solutions when doing updates to your environment. With a single package because it contains all of the changes it is easy to recreate the environment and you don’t need to worry about the order of packages applied.

This also helps with the CI/CD pipeline and provides reliability when doing the updates, because all of the dependencies are included in the package.

However, LCS doesn’t have any validation checks that enforce this best practice. Soon LCS will addi a warning check for Application deployable packages to highlight that there is a difference in the modules that exist on the environment and what is available in the package that is provided during deployment.

This will initially be a soft-check but will later become a hard check that will prevent you from applying updates when all of the modules on the environment are not accounted for in the package and in the list of modules to delete. When there are modules that are listed in the ModuleToRemove file, then those will be deleted.

With the new self-service deployment feature, it is required that you use a single package. Whatever is available in the package overwrites what is on the environment.

Today, self-service deployment is available only to new customers signing up for Finance and Operations; however, existing customers will be soon be migrated to this feature based on their Azure region. This new check to help with this transition and enforce the recommendation. From today you can manage customizations and third-party models from your build server.

In the near future LCS will also add a feature that allows you to create such a package from your development environment.

Windows 7 is out of support soon

April 25th, 2019

PCs with Windows 7 will reach end of service soon and no longer receive security updates after January 14, 2020.

Its important to plan to upgrade to a modern desktop experience for example with Windows 10, 8th Gen Intel® Core™ vPro™ processors and Office 365 now.

Shift to Windows 10 to protect your business information, customer data, and your employee’s digital identities as well as your brand’s reputation with the latest security features. Help secure your business against today’s security threats with built-in, always up to date10 safeguards for your information and devices with a modern Windows 10 Pro device

Windows Hello
Sign in with your face or your fingerprint and replace passwords with easy-to-use multifactor authentication with Windows Hello
Use your phone and other Windows Hello companion devices12 to quickly unlock your Windows PC without using a password.

Windows Information Protection
Control how employees use business data, & blocking them from copying customer or financial data into social media apps, for example.

Windows Defender Antivirus
Windows 10 offers built-in protection from malicious software and hacking attempts

Single sign-in

Employees can use a single login across Windows 10, Office 3658, and other Microsoft PCs, tablets, and phones, using Azure Active Directory.

Benefit from superior portability, faster startup, better multitasking – so you can work and stay productive wherever you are.

Document management Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

April 21st, 2019

Document types are used to categorize the documents that you attach to records or the templates that you create.
Each document type can be stored in a unique location.
A default set of document types is provided. You can use these document types to categorize an attachment as a file, image, note, or URL.

By modifying the list of file extensions that are allowed, you can control the types of files that users can attach to records.

The File and Image default document types are configured to use Azure storage as the location. Microsoft SharePoint Online is one of the storage locations that are supported natively. Currently, only SharePoint Online is supported. Support for on-premises SharePoint (a local SharePoint server) may be added in the future. SharePoint communication works for the current user only if the following conditions are met:
• An Office 365 license is associated with the user’s account.
• The user is a typical user on the tenant, not an external user (for example, a user from another tenant).
• There is a SharePoint site for the tenant (for example, Contoso.SharePoint.com).

A good improvement is the document preview pane. This does exactly what you’d expect, show a preview of the attached at hand. Whether it’s an image, PDF file or in example a Word document, a preview of the file will be shown allowing you to quickly check the attachment. The preview pane is not just a fixed preview thumbnail, but allows you control over the file by for example, scrolling or zooming in and out of the preview.

The attachments preview uses the Web app Open Platform Interface (WOPI) that is provided by Microsoft Office Online Server. On the Document management parameters page, on the General tab, in the Office Web Apps Server field, specify the Office Online Server instance to use for attachment previews. The default value is https://onenote.officeapps.live.com. This value points to the cloud-based WOPI server.

Introduced with Platform Update 11, when viewing a record, the system will indicate the number of attachments on that record by showing a count on the Attachments button. This number will indicate that there are attachments associated with the record, without having to navigate to the attachment details form. The count will show up to 9 attachments, with more than 9 attached documents being represented as “9+”.

Microsoft opens first cloud data centres in Africa and signs agreements to support U.A.E. Smart solutions

April 15th, 2019

A landmark achievement for the MEA region. 6 March 2019 saw the launched of the first Microsoft datacenters in Africa. which opened in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. This world-class cloud infrastructure will power emerging cloud, AI and edge computing innovations across the African continent. Microsoft is the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacenters in Africa, and has announced 54 Azure regions worldwide, more than any other cloud provider.

According to the Cloud Africa 2018 report, use of the cloud among medium and large organisations has more than doubled from less than 50 percent in 2013 to pervasive use in 2018. While Kenyan and Nigerian businesses see business efficiency and scalability as the most significant benefits of cloud computing, South African companies view time-to-market and speed of deployment as the greatest advantage. The security and reliability of cloud services are pivotal when discussing digital transformation. At the same time, cloud services help with compliance for evolving laws around data protection, which have become increasingly focused on data residency requirements.

Today the Abu Dhabi Smart Solutions and Services Authority (ADSSSA) today announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Microsoft to establish a ‘Cloud centre of Excellence’ that will aim to build its capacity for the delivery of cloud services and platforms, as well as upskill the emirate’s public sector workforce. Microsoft’s collaboration with ADSSSA will focus on the establishment of a Cloud Centre of Excellence. Under the agreement, Microsoft will provide instructor-led training for 240 government employees from various departments and agencies. The training will be distributed across 11 tracks, and will encompass all Microsoft skill levels, from 0 to 300. Instruction will ensure that Government of Abu Dhabi employees are well-versed in such technologies as Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, Office 365, data, AI and Dynamics 365. Through Cloud Society in Box, Abu Dhabi Government employees will receive access to an online training portal hosted on ADSSSA Azure Tenant that can be customised to assign and track training paths. Microsoft specialists will be on hand to deliver regular support to all training delegates and guide them on their upskilling journeys.

Yesterday Smart Dubai today announced a landmark collaboration with Microsoft to achieve the goal of making Dubai the happiest city on Earth. The move aims to accelerate digital transformation across the emirate and empower government employees to innovate faster. Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by H.E. Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director-General, Smart Dubai, and Sayed Hashish, General Manager, Microsoft Gulf, Microsoft will support Smart Dubai in its digital transformation journey by accelerating adoption of Microsoft Cloud technologies, and will conduct targeted training sessions as well as upskilling workshops in cloud and other associated technologies.

Smart Dubai was formed under the guidance and vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai a knowledge hub and the happiest city on Earth. The organisation’s strategy is to urge participation and counsel from a wide array of city stakeholders, including residents, visitors and business owners.

“We all have a responsibility to accelerate towards the vision established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister & Vice-President of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, to create a Dubai that shines as a beacon for others to emulate,” said H.E. Dr. Aisha Bin Butti Bin Bishr, Director-General, Smart Dubai. “Through this collaboration with our trusted partner Microsoft, we are taking another decisive step in that journey. By upskilling and empowering our people, we are building a platform for change and innovation that will serve our citizens, residents, visitors and businesses for decades to come.”

Under the MoU, Microsoft’s UAE datacenters that are expected to open this year, will be used to support the Government of Dubai’s digital transformation efforts through the adoption of a range of Microsoft technologies. Microsoft will train departmental staff in those technologies, empowering them to achieve more in their roles, and accelerate digital transformation across the emirate of Dubai.

“The intelligent cloud has become a cornerstone of digital transformation, and Dubai’s government has led the way in its adoption,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, EVP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations. “We remain a steadfast partner to the Government of Dubai in its journey to become a smart city. As strong proponents of lifelong learning, we are uniquely poised to reskill and upskill public sector employees in cloud, allowing them to add immeasurable value to Dubai’s excellence e-government services.”

Microsoft experts will also collaborate with Smart Dubai on use cases and adoption scenarios, and will work jointly on roadmaps for rolling out new platforms to other government entities. Microsoft will also conduct awareness sessions on its cloud technologies for government entities and guide those entities on how best to benefit from online Microsoft courses and certifications.

Last week HE Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence confirmed that the UAE government adopts an integrated and dynamic model for the utilization of artificial intelligence that supports industry growth, development of new sectors as well as strengthening governance and ethics frameworks, ultimately anticipating future challenges and creating a positive change for humanity.

This came during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf, to enhance joint cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence development, governance and ethics in the UAE, as well as developing a set of concepts, strategies and future ideas and study implementation mechanisms then implementing them. HE Al Olama said: “The UAE government focuses on enhancing innovation in modern technology applications and employing them in achieving sustainable development, and realizing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai”

The focus of this collaboration will be on four key areas: identifying and developing technological solutions based on artificial intelligence to achieve the United Nations goals of sustainable development, enhancing the use of artificial intelligence in all government bodies in the UAE, establishing an integrated and global framework for governance and AI ethics, contributing to achieving the outputs of the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence.

Goodbye XP

April 13th, 2019

This week we have the end of Windows XP support, which means the lifespan of the OS was over 17 years. That’s a long time to run any system without an upgrade. There probably still a few SQL 2000 systems out there, which is older than XP, and likely a few of them are running on Windows 2000 in a VM somewhere. Sosome companies will continue to run XP and provably some ATMs, kiosk displays, and other embedded applications will show that XP start screen on occasion.

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights- now available for MEA region

April 11th, 2019

In November 2018, Dynamics 365 AI for Sales (Now called “Sales Insights”) was made available in North America. We are happy to announce that Dynamics 365 Sales Insights has expanded availability to also include Europe, Middle East and Africa. Customers can join the product preview, start a trial as well as purchase licenses to empower users across the sales organizations with Dynamics 365 Sales Insights.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is a “next-generation” application of big data and machine learning.

Region and language availability for Dynamics 365 for Sales

Before November 2018, we used the term “international availability” to capture multiple intentions: the physical location of the data, where the data is stored (“Region”), and the language in which information is displayed (“Display language”). Following the release of the new Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, there is a new intent: the Model language, specifically the language of the data that is parsed by the model to produce insights.

Region

With Dynamics 365 for Sales, System Administrators can specify the region where customer data will be stored. In the process of creating a new org, customers can select a geographic location (“Geo”) to determine where data will be stored. Data will not move from one geo to another, and Microsoft will not limit the geos/locations where customers, or their end users, can access data.

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights is now available across multiple geos, including North America, Europe and the UK.
We expect availability to additional: Australia, Asia Pacific, South America, Canada, India and Japan, also by end of April 2019.

Display language

When creating a new org, System Administrators need to select a base language for the org. The base language determines default regional and language settings for the org. Once base language is selected, System Administrators can enable additional languages for display as well as for assistance (“Help”). Dynamics 365 for Sales currently supports 45 display languages.

Currently, Dynamics 365 Sales Insights for Sellers supports all 45 display languages.

Model languages in Dynamics 365 Sales Insights

With the new Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, some features use natural language algorithms to derive insights. Those capabilities analyze text (such as email communications or notes) as well as voice utterances (from call recordings), to develop relevant and actionable insights.

From the full list of Dynamics 365 Sales Insights capabilities, two features are still limited to North America. These include Who Knows Whom and Relationship Analytics from Exchange. However, Customers in Europe, Middle East and Africa can still benefit from Relationship Analytics, to analyze the health of their customer relationships, based on activities within Dynamics 365 only.

Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement apps v 9 – User Session Timeout Management

April 11th, 2019

The maximum user session timeout of 24 hours is being removed. This means that a user is not forced to sign in every 24 hours to use the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps and other Microsoft service apps, like Outlook, that were opened in the same browser session.

Honor Azure AD session policy

By default, the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps leverage the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) session policy to manage the user session timeout. Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps uses the Azure AD ID Token with Policy Check Interval (PCI) claims. Every hour a new Azure AD ID Token is fetched silently in the background and Azure AD enforces the Azure ID instant policy. For example, if an administrator disables or deletes a user account, Azure AD instant policy will force a user password reset and revoke the refresh token.

This Azure AD ID token refresh cycle continues in the background based on the Azure AD token lifetime policy configurations. Users continue to access the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement/Common Data Service data without needing to re-authenticate until the Azure AD token lifetime policy expires.

Resilience to Azure AD outages

In an event that there are intermittent Azure AD outages, authenticated users can continue to access the Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement/Common Data Service data if the PCI claims have not expired or the user has opted in the ‘Stay signed in’ during authentication.

Set Custom Session timeout for individual environment

For environments that require different session timeout values, administrators can continue to set the session timeout and/or inactivity timeout in System Settings. These settings override the default Azure AD session policy and users will be directed to Azure AD for re-authentication when these settings expire.