Ignite 2016 Highlights Big Improvements to Skype, SharePoint & More

This Monday marked the start of Ignite, Microsoft’s weeklong showcase of upcoming software and services. As can be expected, the event has focused heavily on the cloud and its capabilities. As such, the week has been ripe with big announcements for Office 365, the biggest of which concerning efficiency of the central pillars of Office 365: Exchange Online, Skype for Business and SharePoint Online.

Efficient Email Protection

In coming months Exchange Online will see improvements to its Advanced Threat Protection service, a relatively new add-on feature designed to scan incoming mail for malicious links and attachments. Currently, the service can cause incoming mail to be delayed while scanning occurs. This update will increase the efficiency of the scanning process and allow mail to be read while content is still being analyzed.

Efficient Calling

One of the biggest announcements was the addition of long awaited auto attendant features to Skype for Business PSTN & PBX. Starting next month, businesses will have the ability to preview automated directory services to help callers find the department or employee they are trying to reach. This addition will likely make the service an attractive option to businesses with a larger number of users spread among many departments.

Secondly, Skype for Business will also be updated with an equally anticipated Call Queue feature, that can automatically put incoming calls on hold should users be unavailable to answer. This feature will be of particular benefit to businesses that receive large volumes of calls, such as smaller teams or customer service departments. Call queue will enter preview alongside auto attendant within the next month.

Efficient (And Secure!) Collaboration

Moving on to SharePoint, new improvements were made to the syncing feature of the platform to make it more reliable. The past year saw the release of the next generation sync client for OneDrive for Business, yet it only applied to that service. The new SharePoint update will leverage the next gen sync client to synchronize with the platform as well as enable selective sync for files and folders.

Besides improving performance for SharePoint, many new security features were announced, including device & location based access policies, encryption with customer owned keys, and unified auditing within the Security & Compliance center.


Overall, these changes can be expected to make SharePoint a more attractive option to businesses that see the platform as a potential file server alternative.


Past Ignites have sought to reinforce Microsoft’s vision of how technology can improve workplaces, and 2016 has been no different. Microsoft focused on security and intelligence, representing two sides of the cloud coin. Security acknowledged the concerns toward the cloud, and demonstrated how Microsoft is actively working to undermine cyber threat. Intelligence, on the other hand, represents the promise of the cloud, and shows what businesses can achieve when they harness big data. Overall, these announcements continue to show the ambition of services like Office 365, and the productivity that can be afforded by businesses that use it.

Catch up on the rest of this week’s announcements by checking out the Official Ignite YouTube Page!

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