Microsoft Debuts GigJam, High-End Office 365 Plan at WPC

At the Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft's partners get a glimpse of a new app that makes copying, pasting and emailing information from business apps a thing of the past.

Microsoft GigJam Intro

Joining the Cortana Analytics Suite at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Orlando, Fla., this week were several announcements that not only affect the company's product and services slate, but also the strategies of the tech giant's partner companies. Among the new products taking the stage during the event is Project GigJam.

"As part of the company's ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced Project GigJam, an unprecedented new way for people to accomplish their business tasks and transform business processes by breaking down the barriers between devices, apps and people," Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, said in a statement.

"GigJam empowers business workers to summon information from their line of business and SaaS apps, spontaneously divvy up the specific information and actions needed to get work done, keep track of each part, and bring it all to closure immediately," Sorgen continued. Microsoft is currently accepting sign-ups for an upcoming preview of the application.

During an on-stage demonstration of the collaborative task-centric app, Julia White, general manager of Microsoft Office, showed how users can ask Cortana to fill the GigJam canvas with customer information and open order. By linking the information with a hastily drawn circle on-screen, White was able to map the data from two separate data sets.

For added context, she was able to pull in related emails, discover an issue affecting sales and share it with colleagues. By crossing out confidential orders before sharing her findings, White was able to adhere to privacy requirements.

"Clearly, this is not just screen-share," White said. "This is something very different. What's happening is GigJam is actually creating a mini-app—a unique mini-app—with exactly the elements I described." That mini-app experience can be shared to a multitude of users and devices.

On the Office 365 front, the cloud-enabled productivity suite is getting a new plan called Office 365 Enterprise Suite E5 before year's end, announced John Case, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office. In addition to the stock Office applications and services, E5 will also include "Skype for Business services for real-time communication, such as Cloud PBX and PSTN Conferencing, new analytics features like Power BI Pro and Delve Organizational Analytics, and new advanced security features, such as eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox, Data Loss Protection (DLP) and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)," he said in a statement.

The Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner program is undergoing a similar expansion. In addition to Office 365, the CSP will soon also provide tools and resources for reselling Azure, Enterprise Mobility Suite and CRM Online, along with new application programming interfaces that help automate related transactions, Case revealed. "We are making the program broadly available to all eligible Partners in 131 countries, up from 48 at last WPC," he added.

Meanwhile, customers that have pre-ordered the Surface Hub will have a longer wait than first anticipated, Microsoft announced. Citing strong demand, Brian Hall, general manager of Microsoft Surface, said in a July 13 announcement that his company is tuning its "manufacturing process to prepare for production at broader scale." As such, Microsoft will miss the original Sept. 1 ship date and will publish an updated shipment schedule early next month.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...