Microsoft's Ignite 2018 IT Pro conference: What to expect

There are a few hints about potential SQL Server, virtualization, Microsoft 365, Surface Hub 2 and other revelations in Microsoft's recently published Ignite 2018 session list.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

The next version of SQL Server. Surface Hub 2 and Surface Go with LTE. What's next for Intune and Windows Autopilot. Windows Server 2019. New Remote Desktop services.


Those topics and more are mentioned -- or at least hinted at -- in Microsoft recently published the session list for its annual Ignite IT Pro conference happening at the end of the September.

Looking through the 623 Ignite sessions currently listed, I saw a few things worth noting.

Last year, Microsoft used Ignite to highlight its usual AI, intelligent edge and its futuristic quantum-computing technologies. In March 2018, Microsoft was touting quantum, mixed reality and AI as some of the major topic areas that would be featured at Ignite this year.

However, at least from the listed sessions, it looks like the agenda may be a little more grounded in product reality.

Currently, there is not a single quantum session listed. There are only two mixed-reality ones -- including one on "Visio Immersive," which sounds a lot like what Microsoft is doing with SharePoint Spaces.

AI will still be big, with just under 100 listed sessions that touch on AI in some way. (I wonder if Ignite might be where Microsoft officially unveils the "AI Accelerate Kit" which Microsoft told partners at Inspire would be coming in October and include AI use cases, best practices and "Ethical AI" guidance.)

Like last year, Microsoft will be focusing heavily on Microsoft 365, its bundle of Windows 10, Office 365 and Intune security/management technologies. Additionally, at this year's Ignite, there also will be a lot of Dynamics 365 CRM and ERP content -- which makes sense given October is when the next feature update will arrive for Microsoft's suite of Dynamics products.

This year, there also will be an uncharacteristic (but welcome) number of developer content, as well. ASP.NET, Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio 2017, Node.js and plenty of container sessions are all on the docket. There are a few sessions on Progressive Web Apps and more focused on MSIX, the new Windows 10 application-packaging technology Microsoft is in the midst of rolling out.

There are 115 sessions listed in the catalog that touch on SQL Server (including Azure SQL). And there are hints that Microsoft will peel back the covers on its successor to SQL Server 2017 -- the product codenamed "Aris," which is currently in private Community Technology Preview testing. (Thanks to The Walking Cat on Twitter for the Aris codename.)

"Come learn about the roadmap and new functionality planned for SQL Server including intelligent query processing, data virtualization, new features for mission critical security and HADR, and new scenarios for Linux and Docker Containers," says one session description.

On the hardware front, Microsoft is touting the ability for attendees to "meet the newest members of the Surface family - the Surface Hub 2 and Surface Go." A few days ago, there was a session listed as "Surface in the LTE World" (which seemingly has disappeared since). I was thinking Microsoft might show off the Surface Go with LTE, promised for this fall, at Ignite, but maybe officials have decided to hold off on that for another time/event. Surface Hub 2, which Microsoft showed off earlier this year, is slated to be available to testers this fall and ship in 2019.

Recently, Microsoft made available to testers an early version of a new SKU of Windows 10 called "Windows 10 for Remote Sessions." There's a session at Ignite on "What's new and what's next in Windows virtualization" which might provide more details.

"Come to this session to learn about the latest improvements in Remote Desktop Services (RDS) that enable you to host desktops or applications accessible by remote users," says the description.

Windows Server 2019, Microsoft's next major release of Windows Server, will be a hot topic at Ignite, as well, which, makes sense, given it's due to start rolling out this fall (likely around October).

Microsoft Ignite is happening in Orlando from September 24 to 28.

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