Kicking off the Ignite 2021 event today, Microsoft announced a fair few updates across the board, with Power Platform sharing the limelight with Dynamics 365, Azure, Office, and other services. Aside from general updates to the business intelligence platform, Microsoft has also unveiled a fair few updates for services that are a part of it.
For starters, Power Apps mobile apps are now in preview for both Android and iOS. This means that customers will now be able to distribute their apps through low code solutions. Aside from this, Power Apps is getting pay-as-you-go per-app licensing via an Azure subscription, removing the need for developers to acquire pre-paid licenses before being able to deploy their Power Apps to users. The capability - now in preview - essentially allows developers to deliver apps faster, while simultaneously not having to predicting licensing needs beforehand.
On the Power Automate front, meanwhile, changes are brewing in the form of improvements to tools that enable end-to-end business solution automation. The following updates have been noted:
- Azure Virtual Desktop starter kit, now in preview, helps organizations manage Robotic Process Automation (RPA) workloads with greater ease. With the new starter kit, users can integrate existing Azure Virtual Desktop deployments and automatically turn on virtual machines (VMs) to scale out RPA workloads faster. This helps optimize infrastructure costs and reduce overall wait times for flow runs in Power Automate.
- Several usability updates have been made with RPA in Power Automate for desktop. It is now easier to get started with your first automation thanks to a simplified recorder that spans across the web and desktop in one platform. Also, Power Automate for desktop is now accessible from the Start menu in Windows 11.
- To support the management and controls over these new features, there is now advanced governance support over desktop flows so admins can define data loss prevention (DLP) policies that warn makers when they are creating flows that may violate compliance standards of their organization.
Process mining in Power Automate has also been remarked upon; used via process advisor, this service provides direct insights into optimizing business processes, by generating analytics and process maps. The feature is now in preview.
And finally, Power Virtual Agents has received updates to improve the creation, functionality, and development of AI-powered chatbots. These include comments for fusion bot development, always on-service bots, and bots being utilized as Microsoft Bot Framework skills. Other enhancements include a preview for proactive messaging in Microsoft Teams, bot sharing through security groups going GA, and bot interactions in team channels - which will be arriving soon.