Microsoft Office 365 and SQL Azure updates: What's on tap

Microsoft is set to begin rolling out new updates to its Office 365, SQL Azure and Dynamics CRM Online services in the coming weeks/months.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

As opposed to most Microsoft software, the company's cloud services -- at least some of them -- are updated several times a year. A number of Microsoft's major service platforms, including Office 365 (and its Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online components); SQL Azure; and Dynamics CRM Online are set to be rev'd before the end of this calendar year.

Here's some of what's on tap for the coming refreshes:

SQL Azure Q4 2011 Service Release (due before the end of calendar 2011)

New features include:

  • Maximum database size expanded. The maximum database size for individual SQL Azure databases will be expanded three times, from 50 GB to 150 GB
  • Support for federation. With SQL Azure Federation, databases can be elastically scaled out using the sharding database pattern based on database size and the application workload, according t the company. "This new feature will make it dramatically easier to set up sharding, automate the process of adding new shards, and provide significant new functionality for easily managing database shards."
  • New SQL Azure Management Portal functionality. New capabilities include improvements in the ability to monitor databases, drill-down into schemas, query plans, support spatial data, indexes/keys, and query performance statistics.

SharePoint Online Q4 Service Release (due for staged rollout in late October through November 2011)

New features include:

  • Business Connectivity Services (BCS). Enables connecting to external systems via web service based endpoints (for customers with enterprise plans only)
  • Windows LiveID support.    Allows Office 365 tenant administrators to invite external users to a site collection. They sign in with a Windows Live ID-based user name and password
  • Windows Phone 7 "Mango" (official support and http:// connectivity). Ability of small-business and enterprise Office 365 customers to access SharePoint Online lists and document libraries from their Windows Phone
  • Recycle Bin. Self-service ability to recover sites from a site collection’s recycle bin
  • Browser support. Adds "official" support for the Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) and Google Chrome browsers

Lync Online Q4 Service Release (due in Q4 2011)

New features include:

Dynamics CRM Online service (due in Q4 2011)

New features include:

I've asked Microsoft for more information on other features due to be released as part of the Office 365 Q4 update but have not received word back.

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