SAP Cloud Partnership, Feature Phone Sale: Microsoft Roundup

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This week brought news of a Windows 10 Mobile Insider preview build, a Bing Concierge Bot, plans to bring SAP HANA to Azure, and the sale of Microsoft's feature phone business.

The bulk of news to come from Redmond this week related to mobile and cloud. We learned about the sale of Microsoft's feature phone business, Windows 10 Mobile Insider preview build 14342, and delivery of SAP HANA to Azure cloud.

Microsoft announced this week it's selling off its entry-level feature phone division to HMD Global, and to FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Foxconn. The transaction is valued at $350 million and is expected to close in the second half of 2016.

As part of the transaction, Microsoft will transfer all properties related to its feature phone business, including brands, software and services, customer contracts, the care network, critical supply agreements, and other assets. About 4,500 Microsoft employees will be transferred to, or have the option to join, HMD Global or FIH Mobile.

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While some may take this as a sign Microsoft is turning away from mobile, the company claims it will remain committed to its other mobile initiatives.

"Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity, and VAIO," the company wrote in a statement.

SAP and Microsoft are broadening their partnership with new integrations between Office 365 and SAP cloud products, and by enabling SAP HANA to run on Microsoft Azure. SAP HANA and S/4 HANA apps will be certified to run development, test, and production workloads on Azure so users don't have to download SAP software.

The two companies also announced the documents, calendar, communication and collaboration tools, and other Office 365 data will be combined with SAP apps including Fieldglass, Concur, Ariba, and SuccessFactors.

All of these new capabilities, which were announced this week as part of the SAP SapphireNOW conference, will be available by the third quarter of 2016.

This week brought the release of Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 14342 to the Fast ring of Insiders. Two days after the initial release, Microsoft pushed preview build 14342.1003, which is the same build with additional fixes to improve reliability.

Some of the new features in this build include swipe navigation in Microsoft Edge, the ability to redirect websites to open on a mobile app, and improvements to the Feedback Hub. This build also delivers several fixes and known issues, all of which you can browse in greater detail in Microsoft's blog post on the release.

Windows 10 Mobile build 14342 brought a major redesign to the Windows Store. The new UI was only available on mobile phones at the time of launch, but it has since made its way to the desktop. The update has refined the interface and made it easier to manage apps.

We learned that Microsoft is developing a Bing Concierge Bot, which will function similarly to the Google assistant announced at this year's Google I/O. News of the bot's development originally surfaced in a job advertisement seeking a software engineer to work on the project.

The Bing Concierge Bot will perform the same tasks as a human assistant, i.e. automatically complete tasks and run errands. Users will chat with the Bing assistant using natural language. The conversation helps it collect information on a specific task so it can find the appropriate service providers to complete it.

Microsoft has also announced the availability of the Skype for Business App SDK preview. Developers can use the new SDK to integrate instant messaging, audio, and video into their custom-built iOS and Android apps.

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