Windows Server subscription for Azure Stack HCI

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Microsoft have announced a new way for Azure Stack HCI customers to license their Windows Server guest VMs. The snappily titled “Windows Server subscription for Azure Stack HCI” (WSSASHCI) allows organisations to purchase Windows Server licenses via their Azure subscription.

Currently the versions available are:

  • Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition
  • Windows Server 2022 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2


WSSASHCI is currently free in public preview but once it hits General Availability (GA) it will be $23.6 per physical core (in your Azure Stack HCI cluster) per month.

Further Reading


Docs page

Azure Stack HCI page

Microsoft financial results: Q2 FY22

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Microsoft’s financial results are, once again, fantastic. For Q2 FY22 (Oct – Dec 21) their headline results are:

  • Revenue = $51.7 billion, an increase of 20%
  • Operating Income = $22.2 billion, an increase of 24%
  • Net Income = $18.8 billion, an increase of 21%

That’s over $51 billion in 3 months – a single quarter bigger than recent annual revenues for companies like Oracle, Nike, and Coca Cola.

Looking at the separate business units we see the following…

Productivity & Business Processes

  • Revenue = $15.9 billion, up 19%
  • Office 365 Commercial up 19%
    • “Continued momentum” for E5
  • LinkedIn up 37%
  • Dynamics 365 up 45%
  • Power Apps up 161%
  • Office Commercial (i.e on-premises) down 17%

Intelligent Cloud

  • Revenue = $18.3 billion
  • Azure up 46%
    • “Significant growth” in long-term contracts (again)
  • Enterprise Mobility up to 209 million+ seats

Yet more strong double digit growth across all these product divisions, as we’ve seen so many times before over the last few years. Although the growth is still very strong with Azure, it’s perhaps worth noting that the % increase is dropping slightly over time…from 50 in Q1 to now 46…although this makes sense – as the base grows, maintaining the same % increase becomes more difficult.

We also saw that the security business surpassed $15 billion in revenue, up almost 45% YoY.

“Digital technology is the most malleable resource at the world’s disposal to overcome constraints and reimagine everyday work and life.”

Earnings Call

There is always plenty of great info in the earnings call and this quarter was no different.

  • Azure Arc has tripled its user base YoY as organisations expand hybrid environments.
  • New Azure customers include:
    • CVS Health
    • Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices
    • Kyndryl
    • Wells Fargo
  • Cosmos DB transactions increased 100% YoY
  • Industry Clouds are driving “significant usage” across Microsoft Cloud
  • Teams has 270 million+ monthly active users
  • Microsoft Viva has over 1,000 paying customers already
  • Microsoft Sentinel has over 15,000 customers – a 70% increase YoY

Satya Nadella also discussed “Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces” (currently in preview) which is focused on automating and managing physical processes. This is part of their “Metaverse” play for business.

Note that many of the new “exotic” products are being name checked here:

  • Azure Arc
  • Cosmos DB
  • Industry Clouds
  • Power Apps
  • Microsoft Sentinel

This really helps to highlight Microsoft’s future plans and the successful growth they’re seeing there already. It also seems that there’s plenty of room for growth over the next few years so it doesn’t seem that Microsoft’s growth will be slowing any time soon.

Further Reading

Microsoft Earnings Press Release & documents

Microsoft Product Terms: January 2022

It’s the first Microsoft Product Terms of 2022 and, as expected, it’s a very quiet one.

A statement re: the end of Open Licensing confirms that:

“…commercial, government, education, and non-profit organizations won’t be able to buy new or renew software licenses, Software Assurance, or online services through the Open License program”

Another name change: “Phone System” is now “Microsoft Teams Phone Standard”.

Microsoft Viva Insights Consumption pricing

Microsoft Viva Insights is an employee experience product from Microsoft that provides insights into how employees are spending their time – are they in too many meetings, are their meeting productive, do they have the time needed to focus on tasks, who do they collaborate with and plenty of other areas.

While it provides a range of pre-built views into that data, organisations are able to build their own too – known as queries. Users, known as analysts, are able to create queries against the vast amounts of data collected by Viva Insights in order to gain more specific…insights into their organisation.

This introduces a range of new metrics and price considerations for organisations. Viva Insights queries are licensed based on capacity credits and every query costs a certain amount of credits, based on factors such as:

  • The number of measured employees included in the analysis
  • The number of weeks of data included in the query output for each measured employee
  • The number of metrics used in the query
  • The type of metrics used from the different price tiers

Within the query designer it will give an estimate of the required credits:

No billing info shown in Query designer

How is it priced?

See the source image

You’ll be pleased to know that Microsoft have introduced some low-level algebra to help calculate pricing, the formula being:



A = measured population i.e. number of employees included in the query

B= metrics – there are a range of metrics to choose from

C = price tier cost – yep, there are different price tiers

D = week i.e. the length of time covered by the data being analysed

Price tiers

There are 3 price tiers:

Tier 1 = 1.25 credits

Tier 2 = 2.25 credits

Tier 3 = 6 credits

Tier 1 includes a total of 68 metrics (at the time of writing) such as collaboration hours andlow quality meeting hours

Tier 2 includes “advanced metrics” which, at the time of writing, is the “network query” group which includes 10 individual metrics dealing with connections and levels of influence between staff.

Tier 3 includes metrics with CRM data

An example of a query calculation is shown here:

Query cost calculation

I think it’s interesting that, although they have this formula, Microsoft state:

“The cost shown is only an estimate. The estimate might vary from the query’s actual cost, which can be seen after the query is successfully ran”

What if you run a query with multiple metrics at different tiers? You calculate as above for each metric and then add the totals together.

How do you get credits?

Each Viva Insights license includes 1 capacity credit per month, pooled across the tenant. If an organisation requires additional capacity credits, they are licensed in increments of 5,000 credits and costs $5,000 per month.

Unused credits expire monthly.

Insights v Workplace Analytics

Viva Insights is the replacement for Workplace Analytics but the latter doesn’t appear to have disappeared completely – the SKU still seems to be available and the Microsoft documentation talks about the differences between Viva Insights Consumption tenants and Workplace Analytics tenants. Analysts working in a Workplace Analytics tenant won’t see query usage or consumption units.

Further Reading

Viva Insights consumption Docs page

Tier 2 network query metrics

Microsoft Product Terms: December 2021

Not much to cover in the final Product Terms of 2021 but that’s often the case as we come into the Christmas break.

  • A couple of clarifications for D365 & Power Platform that minimum purchase requirements must be maintained throughout the agreement term.
  • Microsoft 365 Professional Direct Support is added (not to CSP). If required, it must be purchased for every M365 license – up to a maximum of 500.
  • A few additional Pre-requisite licenses added for Audio Services, Microsoft 365 App Governance add-on, and Dynamics 365.
  • Teams Essentials – the standalone edition for SMB – was added to CSP.

Microsoft 365 Azure Sentinel promotion

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If you have eligible M365 licenses, you can receive a grant of up to 5MB per user per day for free data ingestion from certain sources. Microsoft say this will save $1,500 a month on a standard 3,500 user deployment.

The offer isn’t listed in the product terms but you can find more info here:

Which licenses are eligible?

Customers licensed with the following on an Enterprise Agreement/Enterprise Agreement Subscription are eligible for the promo.

M365 E5 Security
Microsoft 365 E5 Security
Microsoft 365 E5 Security_USGOV_GCCHIGH
Microsoft 365 G5 Security GCC
Microsoft 365 G5 Security_USGOV_DOD
Microsoft 365 A5 Security for faculty
Microsoft 365 A5 Security for students
M365 E5
Microsoft 365 E5
Microsoft 365 E5_USGOV_GCCHIGH
Microsoft 365 GCC G5
Microsoft 365 G5_USGOV_DOD
Microsoft 365 A5 for faculty
Microsoft 365 A5 for students
M365 F5
Microsoft 365 F5 Security Add-on
Microsoft 365 F5 Security Add-on AR_USGOV_DOD
Microsoft 365 F5 Security Add-on AR_USGOV_GCCHIGH
Microsoft 365 F5 Security Add-on GCC
Microsoft 365 F5 Security + Compliance Add-on
Microsoft 365 F5 Security + Compliance Add-on AR (DOD)_USGOV_DOD
Microsoft 365 F5 Security + Compliance Add-on AR_USGOV_GCCHIGH
Microsoft 365 F5 Security + Compliance Add-on GCC

Additional SKUs include:

  • Microsoft 365 E5 Suite features
  • Microsoft 365 E5 with Calling Minutes
  • Microsoft 365 E5 without Audio Conferencing
  • Microsoft 365 A5 Suite features for faculty
  • Microsoft 365 A5 Suite features for students
  • Microsoft 365 A5 with Calling Minutes for Faculty
  • Microsoft 365 A5 with Calling Minutes for Students
  • Microsoft 365 A5 without Audio Conferencing for faculty
  • Microsoft 365 A5 without Audio Conferencing for students
  • Microsoft 365 G5 GCC Suite features
  • Microsoft 365 G5_USGOV_DOD
  • Microsoft 365 E5 Security for EMS E5
  • Microsoft 365 Security and Compliance for FLW

Which data sources are included?

You can use this grant to reduce costs when importing from:

  • Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) sign-in and audit logs
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security shadow IT discovery logs
  • Microsoft information protection logs
  • Microsoft 365 advanced hunting data

New Microsoft SMB telephony SKU

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Microsoft have announced that they’re launching a new add-on SKU “Teams Phone with Calling Plan”, which will replace the SMB focused “Microsoft 365 Business Voice” SKU as well as adding some Enterprise capabilities.

It can be added onto:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Business Standard
  • Business Premium
  • Microsoft 365 F1, F3, E3, A3
  • Office 365 F3, E1, E3, A1, A3

What’s included

Microsoft have stated the new SKU will include:

“A phone system and a domestic calling plan. Domestic calling plan includes 3,000 minutes for the US and Canada, 1,200 minutes in other available markets.

Adding toll-free numbers and additional minutes can be paid per use through Communications Credits and an optional international calling plan that includes 600 minutes/user/month can be purchased as an add-on. 


January 1, 2022

  • “Teams Phone with Calling Plan” SKU is available for purchase via partners.
  • Direct purchases via web will be available January 3 for US, UK, and CA and mid-January for all other markets where available.

March 1, 2022

  • Business Voice no longer available.
  • Customers who purchased Business Voice before this date will continue with their Business Voice subscription until its expiration date.

June 30, 2022

  • Last day to renew existing Business Voice licenses

See the Microsoft announcement here:

Microsoft PowerApps now include AI credits

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Amongst the various elements of the Power Platform, Microsoft offer AI Builder credits. These are used whenever a creation needs to use the power of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence offerings – say for translating or scanning documents. Historically, these have been included with the Power Automate per User w/Attended RPA plan but an additional charge for all other Power Automate and PowerApps licenses.

However, according to a tweet* from Ryan Cunningham – the product lead for Microsoft PowerApps – they are now including AI Builder Credits with all per User and per App licenses…including those already purchased.

He also states that the API request limits are being increased from 5,000 per user per day to 40,000 per user per day.

*I know that tweets aren’t exactly the most legit of sources for licensing information and I will definitely be looking for this to be reflected in product documentation, licensing guides, and the Product Terms…but you’d hope it’s accurate!

Update December 9th, 2021

The new Power Platform licensing guide confirms the AI Builder additions:

Power Apps per App = 250 credits

Power Apps per User = 500 credits

Interestingly, there is a cap on accrued credits of 1,000,000…that equates to 4,000 Per App licenses or 2,000 Per User licenses and is worth $500 per month. This means large organisations will still find themselves spending money on AI Builder credits.

Microsoft security name changes – November 2021

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During their Ignite 2021 conference, Microsoft announced a range of name changes across their security portfolio – these are:

Old nameNew name
Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS)Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
Azure Security Center + Azure Defender Microsoft Defender for Cloud
Azure Defender for IoTMicrosoft Defender for IoT
Azure Defender for StorageMicrosoft Defender for Storage
Azure Sentinel Microsoft Sentinel

These are, I believe, all the changes but there may be some other “Azure –> Microsoft” changes that have taken place!

Whenever products change names, there’s the potential for confusion among partners and customers. While many of these are fairly straightforward, I can definitely see people getting confused between “Microsoft Defender for Cloud” and “Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps” 😂

PowerApps Pay as you Go (PAYG) in Azure

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Power Apps has always been licensed on a per user or per app basis but now it is also available under the Pay as you go (PAYG) model. Microsoft see this as a way to help organisations innovate faster with less wasted spend as it doesn’t require licenses to be allocated to specific users.

How it works

You connect the apps environment to an Azure subscription and then pay for usage via 3 meters:

Power Apps per app PAYG

Pay when a user runs an app – rather than the existing model of allocating licenses beforehand and seeing them consumed based on apps being shared rather than run.

An active user is someone who opens an app/portal at least once a month – usage by users licensed on a per user basis is not included. Cost is $10 per active user per app per month.

Here’s an example from Microsoft:

Example of three apps enabled for pay-as-you-go

Dataverse PAYG

These are split between:

  • Database storage
  • File storage
  • Log storage (only used if auditing is turned on)

and you get 1GB of database storage and 1Gb of log storage included with each linked environment.

Use over the free amount is charged at:

  • Database – $48 per GB per month
  • File – $2.40 per GB per month
  • Log – $12 per GB per month

Microsoft example:

Measured usage above per environment entitlements

Power Platform Requests PAYG

This is the new name for API calls and, as standard, you get 6.000 API calls per user per app per day – Microsoft believe this will be enough for most users. If it isn’t, any additional API calls are charged at $0.00004 per request per day.

Example from Microsoft:

Note that the request example includes both Power Apps and Power Automate.

Where it makes sense, organisations can use both the per user and PAYG models simultaneously.

Cost Management

These new meters will be available within Azure Cost Management, meaning costs can be tracked, budgets can be set, and resources can be tagged. For some organisations, particularly those where FinOps is stronger than ITAM, this new approach may yield better results.

Further Reading

Microsoft announcement

Microsoft Docs

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