Windows Server 2022: New release model


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Microsoft have updated the release model for Windows Server 2022. There will no longer be a Semi-Annual Channel, instead there will only be the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). A new version of the LTSC will be released every 2-3 years, and each release will receive 10 years of support – 5 mainstream + 5 extended.

They state the focus of the Semi-Annual Channel was innovation around containers and microservices and that this work will continue within Azure Stack HCI instead.

Further Reading

Microsoft Docs page

Microsoft Financial Results FY21


$168.1 billion.

That was Microsoft’s revenue for FY21, which ended June 30, 2021, and it is a pretty staggering number! In fact, it’s about 40% bigger than the revenues of Oracle, SAP, and IBM combined!

Equally impressive was their Operating Income number of $69.9 billion but let’s dive a bit deeper and look at the numbers for Q4 FY21 (April – June 2021).

Q4 FY21

Overall for the final quarter, Microsoft saw:

  • Revenue = $46.2 billion – up 21%
  • Operating Income = $19.2 billion – up 42%

(As a comparison – Microsoft’s Q4 revenue was bigger than the individual total year revenue for both Oracle and SAP!)

Productivity & Business Processes

This division had revenue of $14.7 billion, an increase of 25% and within that:

  • Office 365 Commercial increased 25%
  • LinkedIn increased 46%
  • Dynamics 365 increased 49%

Intelligent Cloud

Here Microsoft saw revenue of $17.4 billion, a 30% increase, which was mainly driven by a 51% increase in Azure revenue.

More Personal Computing

This section saw a 9% increase to $14.1 billion with Windows Commercial products rising by 20%; however – Surface revenue dropped 20%…likely impacted by the ongoing chip shortage.

Other areas

The investor calls and information can give great insights beyond simply revenue figures, some of these tidbits include:

  • Another increase in long term Azure deals
  • Office 365 E5 comprises 8% of the total commercial installed base
  • Almost 250 million monthly active users on Teams
  • Almost 80 million monthly active Teams phone users
  • Over 1 billion Teams calls in a single month
  • Almost 600,000 orgs using Microsoft security products – with a 70% increase in SMB

Microsoft continue to grow and Satya Nadella seems confident they will be able to keep this up going forward. It certainly feels that there is a lot of expansion space available for Microsoft across several product areas – both winning business from rivals but, probably more so, creating brand new sectors in the cloud and across business applications too.

Further Reading

Microsoft Investor Info

Dynamics 365 in Microsoft Teams


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Another announcement at Microsoft Inspire is that soon users will be able to view and interact with Dynamics 365 records and data directly inside Microsoft Teams – without requiring additional licensing.

In a blog post, Microsoft state that they are “eliminating the licensing tax” that has previously prevented organisations from integrating Dynamics 365 & Microsoft Teams. There isn’t a huge amount of additional information available yet so the specific questions as to what data can be shared and what can be done to it etc. will have to wait for another day. This blog from Jukka Niiranen attempts to uncover some potential insights from the Microsoft demo video that’s available.

However, it is clear that this is (another) shot at Salesforce in Microsoft’s efforts to make Dynamics 365 the #1 CRM system out there. It also serves to further Teams’ growing position as the central hub for users throughout their work day, where they’re able to do most things at this point (but no email).

Further Reading

MS announcement

MS site (with demo video)

Jukka Niiranen blog

Microsoft extend Extended Security Updates


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Extended Security Updates (ESUs), available for Windows Server 2008/R2 and SQL Server 2008/R2, were introduced in 2019 to extend available security support for 3 more years beyond the end of the products’ extended support periods.

It’s now less than 12 months until the end of the ESU period for SQL Server 2008/R2 and Microsoft have announced they will be providing 12 additional months of cover – but only for workloads running in Azure. This will also apply to Windows Server 2008/R2 – the end of ESU dates are:

  • SQL Server 2008/R2 – July 12, 2022
  • Windows Server 2008/R2 – January 10, 2023

End of support for 2012 Server versions

They have announced the availability of ESUs for the 2012/R2 releases of SQL Server and Windows Server. Extended Support for these ends:

SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022

Windows Server 2012/R2 – October 10, 2023

It’s now less than 12 months until SQL Server 2012 goes out of support so if you’re using that within your organisation, you need to come up with a plan to:

  • Upgrade on-premises
  • Migrate to Azure for free ESUs
  • Budget to purchase on-premises ESUs

See more info from Microsoft here.

Microsoft announces Windows 365


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A new member of the 365 family has joined us – alongside Office 365, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365 – we now have Windows 365.

Formerly known as Cloud PC, this latest offering enables you to stream an entire PC – including the OS, apps, and settings – from the cloud to any device. This means Windows 10 and 11 will be easily available on any device – including MacOS and Linux.

Although clearly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid, global shift to hybrid working, something like this has been a long time coming in many regards. It’s also driven by the changing security landscape…Microsoft also see this as a way to help organisations combat the rise of security threats – let Microsoft take care of securing your desktops so you don’t have to.

Although specific pricing information hasn’t been released yet, it’s expected there will be a range of pre-set options, making it more of an “off the shelf” SaaS offering than the current Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Different SKUs and plans will offer different amounts of storage, processing power, memory etc. for organisations to choose from, with Satya Nadella stating this offering would be applicable to businesses of any size.

Options available

Get started with Windows 365 – Microsoft Tech Community

Licensing requirements

Users with Windows Pro endpoints require:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 + EMS E3

while users with non-Windows Pro endpoints require:

  • Windows VDA E3 + EMS E3

Alternatively, both scenarios can be covered by licenses for:

  • Microsoft 365 F3/E3/E5/Business Premium

Technical requirements

It’s not quite as straightforward as just having those licenses, you will also need:

  • Azure subscription
  • Azure Virtual Network
  • Azure Active Directory sync
  • Certain ports open

to ensure that everything works optimally.

More information on the requirements and how to provision can be found here.

Finally…

Not surprisingly, there will be 2 flavours available:

  • Windows 365 Business
  • Windows 365 Enterprise

and it is set to launch on August 2, 2021. I look forward to seeing more information as it becomes available…and hopefully trying it out myself!

Update

While Microsoft are yet to announce official pricing, pricing for 1 SKU has been revealed. For a desktop with 2vCPU/4GB RAM/128GB storage it will $31 per user per month ($372 per year) – which strikes me as quite expensive…

Further Reading

Microsoft announcement

Windows 365 page

Technical requirements

Microsoft Product Terms: July 2021


Microsoft 365 Education Insights Premium listed as an add-on for Office 365 A1/A3/A5 and Microsoft 365 A3/A5

The “Third Party re-imaging clause” has been added to the Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA), although I’m not 100% sure why at the moment.

Windows “Get Genuine” licenses have been added to the Microsoft Customer Agreement – is this related to the above addition perhaps?

Various terms and clauses updated – including one which clarifies that Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) access rights in Window 10 licenses are limited to customers’ own tenant.s

M365 E5 security/compliance add-ons removed as pre-requisites for Premium Assessments.

Professional Direct Support added for Power Platform. Licenses must be acquired for every Dynamics 365 and Power Platform license on the agreement – but has a maximum of 250. Any licenses above that are covered without additional licenses being required.

Microsoft Power Apps price reductions


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Microsoft announced on July 1, 2021 that they’re cutting the price of Power Apps in half(ish) from October 1, 2021.

Power Apps per User

This was $40 per user per month but will be $20 from October 1, 2021.

Power Apps per App

This was $10 per user per app per month but will $5 from October 1, 2021. However, it should be noted that the features have been reduced too – currently it gives access to:

2 x Apps and 1 x Portal

But under the new rules, each license will allow access to:

1 x App or 1 x Portal

Meaning certain scenarios may not see a real price reduction.

Customers with licenses purchased before October 1, 2021 will retain the current entitlements until renewal.

For organisations looking to purchase before October 2021, there are two promotions which have been extended:

Power Apps per user Promo

$12 per user per month with a minimum purchase of 5,000 licenses.

Power Apps per app Promo

$3 per user per app per month with a minimum purchase of 200 licenses.

There is also promotional pricing available for Power Apps Portals login capacity – both for Tier 4 (25,000+ logins per month) and Tier 5 (100,000+ logins per month).

Microsoft’s announcement is here.

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement v CSP – upcoming changes


Optimizing our purchasing motions for customers and partners – Microsoft Partner Network

It seems that Microsoft are gearing up to position CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) as a replacement for Enterprise Agreement Level A.

In a recent blog post from Dan Truax, General Manager for Partner Digital Experiences and Programs, Microsoft revealed some very interesting information. The post talks about how the current purchasing experience across the various licensing programs is “fractured” as each program has its own terms, prices, consoles, sales processes etc. It states that all customers will sign the “Microsoft Customer Agreement” (MCA) which is currently only for CSP and there will be two “motions – Breadth (CSP) and Enterprise. The desire to simplify licensing is far from new but the blog post goes on to state:

“Partner economics in the breadth motion will be optimized for deals below 2400 seats for new commerce seat-based online service offers, or Azure deals below $1M USD annualized consumption”

Now, “Breadth motion” = CSP and 2,400 seats is the starting point for Enterprise Agreement Level B pricing. This seems to indicate that Microsoft will re-level pricing, and partner rebates and incentives, to make CSP the more attractive option for organisations below 2,400 seats. This is a fairly significant change, furthering Microsoft’s move to make Enterprise Agreements the domain of the large customers with more bespoke needs.

A few years ago, they raised the EA Level A entry point from 250 to 500 seats and I’ve long expected it to be increase to 1,000. In the above post, Microsoft state that the new incentives and pricing changes won’t be implemented before March 2022 at the earliest so perhaps we won’t see any changes until then.

See Microsoft’s post here.

Microsoft Visio comes to Teams for free


Bringing Visio to Microsoft 365: Diagramming for everyone | Microsoft 365 Blog

Microsoft are adding a cut down version of Visio directly into Teams, enabling users to create, edit, and share diagrams without leaving the ever growing central location for productivity. The new app will be available to users with the following licenses:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for business
  • Office 365 E1
  • Office 365 E3
  • Office 365 E5
  • Office 365 F3
  • Microsoft 365 F3 (includes Office 365 F3)
  • Microsoft 365 E3 (includes Office 365 E3)
  • Microsoft 365 E5 (includes Office 365 E5)
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise
  • Office 365 A1
  • Office 365 A3
  • Office 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 A1 (one-time, per-device license with free Office 365 A1 per user licenses)
  • Microsoft 365 A3 (includes Office 365 A3)
  • Microsoft 365 A5 (includes Office 365 A5)

You can see more info, and sign up for early access (not EU), here.

Azure Virtual Desktop


Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) has been renamed to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – a name change that suggests a broadening of its capabilities and market positioning. More than just a rebrand though, Microsoft have added a range of new capabilities as well as new licensing options.

Typically, AVD is licensed via users’ existing Microsoft 365 licenses but Microsoft have added a new “per-user” app streaming option, aimed at enabling organisations to offer AVD SaaS solutions to external users and customers.

Pricing

Currently AVD per-user is on promotional pricing meaning that “streaming first-party or third-party applications to external users” can be done free of charge from July 14, 2021 to December 31, 2021. From January 1, 2022 pricing will be:

  • $5.50 per user per month (Apps only)
  • $10 per user per month (Apps + Desktops)

You can see Microsoft’s announcement here.