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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Organisations will be able to add a customisable registration page to webinars – an example of which you can see below:
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.
You can see more info on these, and dozens of other new features coming to Teams, here.