By Yusuf Mehdi
In our mission to empower people with knowledge with Microsoft 365, one critical opportunity is the internet. We know that 60% of the time people spend on the PC is within the web browser, and it has become the primary way we work, learn and play. The internet has become an everyday utility, that we reach for automatically without thinking, yet two decades after its introduction, we are bumping into challenges and obstacles that raise questions for us.
- Is our data safe and our privacy protected as we surf the web?
- At work, why can’t we find our internal company information, like our pay stub or co-worker’s office location, right from within our browser or search engine like we do with web search?
- Why can’t the web work more seamlessly with the productivity tools we know like Office 365 so that we can be more productive with our research and collaborate with others?
At Microsoft, we believe it is time to expect more from your web experience whether you are using it for personal or business use, an IT manager in a company, or a web developer. Today we begin with a focus on people in businesses and introduce the new Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Bing – the browser and search engine for business.
We see a unique opportunity to bridge the tradeoffs of today’s web search with more complete solutions that Microsoft can uniquely address. We will unite the internet with your intranet with Microsoft Search in Bing so that you can increasingly access more of your important data in a single browse and search experience. We will provide you powerful default privacy protection, while still allowing you to benefit from web personalization. And we will enable you to move from great web research directly into Microsoft Office applications to enable you to be more productive.
Today, we also introduced a new Microsoft Edge logo that is designed to capture the waves of innovation that we plan to bring to you.
The opportunity to empower people to be more productive at work
One of the biggest problems for people at work is the difficulty in finding and accessing corporate information that is known to exist on company intranets. The irony is that it is easier to find an obscure piece of information on the much larger internet, than it is to find a simple document on your company’s intranet such as a paystub portal, a pet at work policy, or the office location of a fellow employee. As company information continues to expand to terabytes, petabytes and zettabytes of information, this will only get more complex. A McKinsey & Company research report validates this familiar challenge by showing employees waste nearly 20% of their time looking for information that they know to be there1. Imagine getting a full day of work back each week to either be more productive or get more time back with your family.
For IT professionals, managing today’s web tools is heavy and costly with a majority of enterprise companies supporting at least two browsers to maximize compatibility across modern and legacy web sites across all the major device platforms. According to a 2019 study by the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach is $3.92M (USD)2. We see an opportunity to make security and manageability simple for IT professionals. To help people and IT professionals be more in control, secure and productive, today we are announcing:
- The release candidate of the new Microsoft Edge for Windows and macOS can be downloaded right now with general availability targeting Jan. 15 in more than 90 languages. Microsoft Edge runs on the same Chromium web engine as Google’s Chrome browser, offering you best in class web compatibility and performance.
- New experiences to Microsoft Search in Bing to save you time searching for information inside your company. Type in the address bar to search for people, using natural language, such as by their title, team name and office location. You can also search for office location, with answers that show floor plans for directions. You can get definitions for company acronyms and use a broad set of question and answers to find internal company information.
- Along with three ecosystem partners – Accenture, BA Insight and Raytion – we are starting our Microsoft Graph connectors preview program today. This expands the reach of Microsoft Search for Microsoft 365 customers, with the addition of over 100 connectors including Salesforce.com, ServiceNow, Box and more, that will become available in H1 2020. Connectors bring more information to your employees’ fingertips through Microsoft Search.
- The new ability to easily access Microsoft Search in Bing on your mobile phone. Knowledge workers will have the ability to search for company information on the go.
- A new tracking prevention default in Microsoft Edge. We believe you should know who has access to your data and have the control to choose what you share. Microsoft Edge starts with tracking prevention on by default, so you don’t have to take any actions to immediately start having a more private browsing experience. With SmartScreen and Tracking prevention, we help protect you from phishing schemes, malicious software and new types of malware like cryptojacking. Microsoft Edge and Bing also now offer new InPrivate mode across your entire web experience so your online searches and browsing are not attributed to you, offering you more control over your personal data.
- New features such as Collections can be enabled as part of the Microsoft Edge preview builds, that let you more easily collect web content, organize your research and export that content into Word and Excel so that you can use the power of those applications to analyze information and collaborate.
For IT Professionals, we are also announcing three new capabilities:
- The expansion of the Microsoft FastTrack deployment program to deploy the new Microsoft Edge in Q1 2020.
- The expansion of the App Assure program to cover Microsoft Edge in Q1 2020. If your site works in Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, or the current version of Microsoft Edge, then it just works in the new version of Microsoft Edge. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll help you fix it at no additional cost. We’re the only company that can make that guarantee.
- A new security baseline for the new Microsoft Edge. Security baselines are pre-configured groups of security settings and default values that are recommended by the relevant security teams. Microsoft Edge has its first security baseline now in preview, making it fast and easy for IT professionals to have a recommended starting point for security and compliance policies. These announcements build on top of a comprehensive Microsoft approach to control and security on Microsoft Edge, which utilizes core security architecture that IT professionals are already using and are familiar with.
Today marks an important milestone as we head to the formal launch of Microsoft Edge and Bing for our commercial customers in January. As we enter the new year, we are excited to share more about how we will expand opportunities for developers, and later in the spring even more for consumers. It’s time to expect more from the web.
(The author is Corporate Vice President, Modern Life & Devices, Microsoft)