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Microsoft Extends Project Cortex Private Preview, Pulls Back on SharePoint Events

Microsoft last week announced an expanded private preview of Project Cortex, its emerging knowledge resource solution for users of Microsoft 365 services.

The private preview was originally offered back in December, and applications to try it that weren't accepted back then are still under review for "later this year." Those applicants "won't need to reapply," Microsoft's announcement explained.

Apparently, nothing's changed from the December announcement. That means the private preview of Project Cortex is just available in English, requires signing a nondisclosure agreement and entails using certain Microsoft 365 services. The good news is that Microsoft promises to provide all of the needed licensing "without additional charge."

Microsoft first unveiled Project Cortex last year during its November Ignite event. It's based on a combination of technologies to create an organizational knowledge resource for Microsoft 365 users. Project Cortex uses artificial intelligence for information processing, the Microsoft Graph for searching Office 365 data and SharePoint Online for pulling content together.

Project Cortex Talks
Microsoft is planning to talk about Project Cortex in upcoming live meetings using the Microsoft Teams service. The talks will be recorded and available via the Project Cortex Resource Center.

Here's that meeting schedule (calendar links), with one-hour events starting at 9:00 a.m. PST:

SharePoint Events
Various upcoming SharePoint-related events have been postponed, gone virtual or been cancelled as a consequence of novel coronavirus retrenchments. Details were described by Mark Kashman and Chris McNulty, both senior product managers on the SharePoint team, in this Tuesday announcement.

In essence, all of the "Ignite the Tour" events have been cancelled, but Kashman promised that "a lot of that content will be coming on demand." Many SharePoint Saturday events are postponed.

The Microsoft Business Applications Summit of May 6 to 7 is going virtual, while the SharePoint Conference 2020 event, originally scheduled for May 19, has been pushed out to March 2021.

Lots of Microsoft-related events have been altered because of the pandemic, including the Microsoft Build developer event, which is going virtual, and the Microsoft Inspire partner conference, which has been cancelled. For an ongoing and changing list, see Redmond Channel Partner's "2020 Microsoft Conference Calendar."

Crisis Management Apps and Sites
Kashman and McNulty recapped in their Tuesday announcement advice on how to create a Crisis Communication App using a Power Platform template, plus how to create a SharePoint Online Communications Site designed to show emergency info.

The Communications Site template came about because of a call from an internal Microsoft team to put up a SharePoint site as a response to the COVID-19 situation, Kashman explained. It took about 20 minutes to get a framework for layering up content. From that, Microsoft got the idea to create a crisis management site, which is now available in the Microsoft SharePoint Look Book, Kashman added.

McNulty explained that the Look Book has expanded to become more than just a book of SharePoint site examples. It has expanded into an initiative to take printed online templates into something that can be provisioned using the SharePoint Provisioning Service, he explained. The SharePoint Provisioning Service also offers templates to provision a trial site, which can added to an existing SharePoint Online tenancy, as well.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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