Microsoft’s Top 5 Power Platform Announcements At Ignite 2021

The updates include the introduction of a free Power Automate offering and the expansion of Power Fx.

What’s Next For Power Platform

Microsoft’s Ignite 2021 conference this week included multiple announcements related to the Power Platform, from security improvements to enhancements in reporting and governance. The announcements reveal the tech giant’s latest investments in its platform that enables workers without coding and data science experience to perform automation, data analysis, development of solutions and creation of chatbots. In a keynote address Wednesday, Microsoft Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, who leads the Microsoft cloud and AI group, said that customers using the “low-code, no-code” tools see “tremendous success in terms of rapidly deploying solutions into their environment that take a fraction of the time that it maybe would have a couple years ago, when everything had to be built by hand.”

What follows are Microsoft’s top five Power Platform announcements at Ignite 2021.

Power Automate Desktop For Windows 10 For Free

Microsoft Power Automate Desktop is now available to all Windows 10 users for free, bringing a new robotic process automation (RPA) to these users. Power Automate Desktop will be included with Windows Insider Preview builds in the coming weeks. Current Windows 10 users can also download the tool. Power Automate Desktop for Windows 10 can automate tasks in SharePoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote and other apps, including third-party apps. It has a web and desktop recorder, a drag-and-drop designer and 370 pre-built actions. Last year, Microsoft acquired Softomotive with plans to merge its WinAutomation platform with Microsoft Power Automate to enhance its native capabilities for building bots and integrating apps from other software platforms, including SAP, Citrix and Java. In May, Microsoft added Teams business process templates to Power Automate.

Microsoft Power Fx Expands

The Power Fx open-source programming language that is the formula language for Power Apps will expand into the consistent language across Power Platform. Expressed in text, Power Fx will be available for open source contribution in GitHub and expand across Dataverse, Power Virtual Agents and Power Automate for anyone with Excel skills to perform more advanced actions with their data.

More Access to Power BI Premium Per User

Power BI Premium Per User, based on the new Power BI Premium Gen 2 architecture, becomes generally available April 2 for $20 a user a month with a new Autoscale option with pay-as-you-go and improved use metrics for better clarity around how much users are spending on the tool. The Autoscale option adds capacity during peak use and removes it when use decreases. Power BI Premium allows analysts to see data and build end-to-end platforms through drag-and-drop interfaces. Microsoft’s goal is to replace legacy business intelligence products.

Power Virtual Agents Gets AI Boost

The Power Virtual Agents tool to allow creation of chatbots without coding experience has new AI capabilities, with improved natural language learning so bots can learn from conversations with users. The bots will pull from customer details already in the system, like addresses, to personalize chats with returning users. The bots also come with new topics tuning capabilities to decrease the amount of clarifying questions bots have to ask. Last summer, Microsoft offered Power Virtual Agents in the Teams app store.