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

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 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 Product Terms: June 2021


There was a pretty big change this month as Microsoft removed a key requirement for “From SA” licenses. These allow organisations that have on-premises licenses with Software Assurance (SA) to migrate to Microsoft 365 at a reduced price – taking into account the investment in SA.

Back in early 2020, Microsoft added a clause that customers had to retain their existing on-premises licenses throughout the “From SA” subscription period. This presented a barrier for organisations in Europe looking to engage in the 2nd-hand software market and re-sell their (now unwanted) on-premises licenses.

However, in June 2021 Microsoft said:

For customers who choose to purchase “From SA” licenses, we removed the requirement that customer retain the corresponding Qualifying Licenses throughout its From SA license subscription period

It’s a very interesting move from Microsoft and I am keen to see what related announcements we might see at their Inspire conference in July.

Further changes include:

Windows 10 Enterprise/E3 has been removed as a pre-requisite for the M365 F5 add-on SKUs.

Remote Work Starter Plan added to CSP <– This seems to have launched in Japan in August 2020 and looks to be basically a “Teams+OneDrive” SKU

 Customers with Microsoft Project Plan 1/3/5 are only permitted to use Universal Resource Scheduling to schedule Project and Task tables within the context of a project

Microsoft Product Terms: May 2021


Here are the Microsoft Product Terms changes for May 2021:

M365 Business Basic/Standard/Premium added as pre-requisite licenses for Audio Conferencing and Phone System

Microsoft 365 Career Coach USL has been added for Academic customers

Microsoft 365 Scheduler has been added. This includes a “human-assisted AI Service” for complex scheduling requests.

Microsoft Teams: Terms added to confirm licenses are not required to join meetings/live events hosted by licensed users. Also that external users don’t need a license for Guest access via AAD External Identity.

Power Platform: All Power Platform licenses now have “extended term eligibility” under EA/EAS/SCE

A relaxing of the terms around Project for the web and how the data can be viewed.

Various Azure services have had updated terms.

Microsoft EMS & Intune price increases


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Microsoft are adding a raft of new features to both EMS (Enterprise Mobility & Security) and Intune, these include:

  • Microsoft Tunnel VPN features for Android and iOS devices
  • Enhanced MacOS management capabilities
  • New endpoint analytics features
  • Various enhancements to Microsoft Endpoint Manager

These, and other, additions mean that Microsoft are putting the prices up. From July 1, 2021:

  • EMS E3 will increase from $9 pupm to $11
  • Intune will increase from $6 pupm to $8

However, the price for Microsoft 365 E3 won’t increase (and so one must assume that neither will E5) – making the bundle option that little bit more attractive.

See the Microsoft announcement here.

Microsoft add webinars to Teams


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It was announced a while back that webinar functionality would be coming to Microsoft Teams and details have been released at this week’s Microsoft Ignite conference – including the required licenses.

Features

Organisations will be able to add a customisable registration page to webinars – an example of which you can see below:

Source: Microsoft – https://cdn.techcommunity.microsoft.com/assets/MicrosoftTeams/Attendee%20Registration%20%26%20Email%20Confirmations.gif

Fully interactive webinars will be able to handle up to 1,000 (one thousand) participants with moderation available to control audio/video etc. and, should you need it, Teams can scale up to 10,000 participant “view-only” sessions. Microsoft are, for now, increasing that limit to 20,000.

You will also be able to download an attendee report showing attendance, participation etc. which is key for follow up. More reporting features are being rolled out over the coming months.

How is it licensed?

These new capabilities will be fully available as part of:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/A3/G3
  • Microsoft 365 E5/A5/G5

and will also be available in:

  • Microsoft 365 Business
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium

for up to 300 users.

I’m pleasantly surprised that this doesn’t require an add-on license – it’s quite possibly been done as in-built functionality to give them the best chance of fighting off the threat from Zoom et. al. If you have to pay extra to Microsoft, you might as well just stick with your existing provider but if it’s “free”…that likely changes matters for a lot of organisations.

Further Reading

You can see more info on these, and dozens of other new features coming to Teams, here.