Microsoft Viva Insights: What is it?


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Microsoft Viva is the new range of Employee Experience tools from Microsoft and is made up of a range of Viva products:

  • Insights
  • Topics
  • Learning
  • Connections

A brief overview of the four components is here but I want to dive deeper into Viva Insights.

What is it?

Initially it looked like it would build upon the Workplace Analytics product but Viva Insights is now listed as “formerly Workplace Analytics” so it appears to be a rebrand as well as adding new features. Tbh, that makes sense as it helps to keep everything in the “Viva” bucket.

Viva Insights aims to improve employee wellbeing and productivity through using data to highlight people’s work habits such as answering emails outside of work hours and spending too much time in meetings for example. It will also provide reminders to block out time for “focus tasks” and help managers ensure they schedule regular 1-1 meetings with team members. The personal insights also include mindfulness sessions, reminders to take breaks, and a check-in to gauge a user’s mood.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-viva/buy-insights?activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab

It aims to provide insights at a team level and also an organisation wide level, enabling action to be taken wherever potential issues may arise. Given the impact of COVID-19 and the long-term increase in flexible working, anything that can help organisations better look after their employees – and enable employees to better look after themselves – is well timed and has the potential to be very useful.

I speak to a lot of people who find themselves on constant back to back video meetings and calls, with little time to process any of that information and even less to simply sit back and think and plan. More work = less productivity in many cases and Viva Insights may help with this…if used properly.

Pricing & Licensing

Viva Insights is an add-on license to:

  • Office 365 E1/E3/E5 (plus the A and G versions)
  • Microsoft 365 E3/E5 (plus the A and G versions)
  • Microsoft 365 365 Business Basic/Standard/Premium
  • Exchange Online Plan 1/2

and costs $4 per user per month.

Certain “personal insights” are available to all users with a license that includes Exchange Online, while others require the above add-on. There is also the extra consideration of Viva Insights Capacity.

Viva Insights Capacity

There are a range of additional things that an organisation can do with the data generated by Viva Insights – and this is where we get into the realm of capacity credits.

These additional capabilities include:

  • Analysis templates to quickly generate interactive Power BI reports tailored to common business scenarios
  • Advanced tools to help users query and customize metrics and combine Viva Insights data with external data, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and survey data
  • Analysis accelerators including an R-script library to help analyze organizational data trends, processes and networks
  • Built-in safeguards to help protect personal privacy
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-viva/buy-insights?activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab

Pricing & licensing

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.

Conclusion

Viva Insights represents two growing trends for Microsoft:

  • Software that is sold to parts of the business other than IT
  • Licensing which involves ongoing usage “credits” that can, potentially, be consumed in huge amounts across an organisation…and run up big bills

Organisations are definitely going to be looking for products that help them in this area and, within organisations already using Microsoft 365, Microsoft are well placed to be among the options.

If you’re responsible for Microsoft spend within your organisation, this is certainly something to keep an eye on in the future!

Further Reading

Microsoft Viva Insights

Microsoft Viva Insights Capacity

Microsoft 365 A1 per device licensing


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Microsoft have introduced a new SKU for Education – Microsoft 365 A1 for devices. It costs $38 per device for 6 years and provide the full M365 suite of apps plus Minecraft and cloud management capabilities.

The announcement seems to be aimed at Google due to the mention of “providing more for students and educators relative to competitive offerings at the same price” but, as Mary Jo Foley points out, Google’s most expensive EDU offering is $5 per student per year. Perhaps Microsoft are banking on education establishments seeing a very high ratio of students to devices?

See the Microsoft announcement here.

Podcast: Microsoft New Commerce CSP changes


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Microsoft recently announced a range of upcoming changes to CSP via their “New Commerce Experience” and it’s safe to say that it’s caused some consternation among Microsoft partners – and rightly so really.

Westcoast invited me onto their “Cloud Talk” podcast to talk through some of these changes, what they mean for partners, and what the future might look like. We also talk about the Microsoft 365 price increases.

I had a great time talking to Tom about all this and hope you find the podcast useful and interesting – we cover quite a bit in 34 minutes! Check it out on Spotify here:

For more background, check out my blog posts:

New Commerce Experience changes

Microsoft 365 price increases

Microsoft introduce Defender for Endpoint Plan 1


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Microsoft have announced the preview of “Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1”.

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (MDfE) is the new name for “Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection” (MDATP), which is the differentiator between Windows 10 E3 and E5. The existing version of MDfE will become Plan 2 and the newly introduced Plan 1 will contain a subset of features.

What’s included?

Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 diagram
Microsoft Docs site

The Plan 1 offering will include:

  • Next-generation protection
    • This includes anti-virus and anti-malware cover
  • Attack surface reduction
    • These include:
      • Ransomware mitigation
      • Web protection
      • Network firewall
      • and more
  • Manual response actions
    • These are:
      • Run anti-virus scan
      • Isolate device
      • Stop and quarantine
      • Indicators to block/allow files
  • Centralised management
    • Includes access to the Microsoft 365 Defender portal with RBAC access and reporting.
  • It will also include:
    • Security reports
    • APIs

The MS Docs page states that MDfE P1 will support:

  • Windows 10 1709 and later
  • macOS Big Sur, Catalina, and Mojave
  • iOS
  • Android OS

although the MS Tech Community page states “Windows 7, 8.1, 10, 11, macOS, Android, and iOS“.

Differences between Plan 1 & Plan 2

Features exclusive to Plan 2 include:

  • Device discovery
  • Threat & vulnerability management
  • Automated investigation & response
  • Advanced hunting
  • Endpoint detection & response
  • Microsoft Threat Experts
  • Support for Windows Server
  • Support for Linux

Licensing

MDfE Plan 1 will be included in Microsoft 365 E3/A3 and will also be available as a standalone license.

You can check out the preview of MDfE P1 here – Preview signup.

Further Reading

Techcommunity announcement

MS Docs page

Microsoft make changes to CSP license terms


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Microsoft’s upcoming “New Commerce Experience” (NCE) is bringing some changes to the CSP world, which will mean things are different for partners and customers.

Longer term contracts

3 year terms will be available for Microsoft 365 & Dynamics 365 on CSP – a change from the current max. of 12 months. This will enable orgs to protect against price increases over a 36 month period and makes a lot of sense, given Microsoft’s aim to move many Level A Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers to CSP from 2022 onward.

Flexibility costs money

Microsoft say that there will be “new monthly-term offers with a price premium for customers who need term and seat-count flexibility“. One very attractive feature of CSP has always been the ability to reduce/cancel license quantities at a moment’s notice without penalty…the above statement suggests that customers who still want that will have to pay for the privilege.

Customers will be able to combine short/long term licenses, which is great for industries where seasonal fluctuations bring a short term increase to the user base. This is something that was addressed in the MPSA several years ago, before it lost its mantle as the “next big thing” to CSP.

There are various other changes to help partners offer a better service to customers including:

  • Streamlined trial conversion
  • Add-ons available separately
  • Enhanced management capabilities

All changes hit General Availability on October 1, 2021 although some won’t be available in Brazil until February 2022.

Microsoft add telephony features to Microsoft 365


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Microsoft have announced their intention to add unlimited dial-in minutes to a wide range of Office/Microsoft 365 SKUs. Currently available with E5, the expanded range will cover:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/F1/F3
  • Office 365 E1/E3
  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic/Standard/Premium

Further extending Microsoft’s telephony offering to a wider range of businesses and users – which has to be a good thing right?

This change will take effect from March 2022.

Microsoft 365 price increases


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For those that haven’t seen, Microsoft have announced increases to the list pricing of Office/Microsoft 365 that will take effect from March 2022. The new per user per month pricing will be:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic (from $5 to $6)
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium (from $20 to $22)
  • Office 365 E1 (from $8 to $10)
  • Office 365 E3 (from $20 to $23)
  • Office 365 E5 (from $35 to $38)
  • Microsoft 365 E3 (from $32 to $36)

Note, there are no prices increases for Microsoft 365 E5 or the “F” SKU products. Microsoft have stated that they “want to make it more economically transparent that E5 represents the best value” and that this increase reduces the gap between M365 E3 and E5.

While price increases are never anyone’s favourite thing, and a 25% increase for E1 is certainly pretty sizeable – my main feeling is that, actually, this isn’t the end of the world or VENDOR LOCK-IN writ large. These are the first such price increases in about a decade and I don’t think that they are unreasonable or an example of Microsoft abusing their position or their customers.

In a nutshell, Microsoft have added a LOT of stuff to O/M365 over the years and it is better than it used to be. Microsoft say they have added 24 new apps and over 1,400 new features since Microsoft 365 was introduced. These include:

  • Teams
  • Stream
  • Yammer
  • OneDrive
  • Visio

Microsoft also include the Power Platform apps but, as they’re relatively new and pretty limited without extra licensing, I’m not sure how much value they’re adding right now tbh.

Taking Teams as an example, it is miles ahead today of Teams on Day 1 as so many new features and capabilities have been added. I’d say that most customers have probably found an extra $2-$4 (pupm) value from the additions over the years…if you’ve started using OneDrive or Teams for example.

Product Utilisation

Often, people will say something like “no-one is using every feature in their subscription” as a “gotcha” in these cases – that’s absolutely true and will always be the case. No person or organisation will ever use every feature in everything – and they don’t have to. An organisation simply needs to use enough of a product that it adds value to their business by helping them do something new/faster/better etc.

I haven’t watched everything on Netflix and I never will, but as long as I keep watching enough each month, and they keep adding new content, that I’m getting value – that’s fine. It’s well known that product adoption can be more difficult that expected for organisations, and it often becomes more difficult the larger the user base. That said, if an organisation truly hasn’t seen an increase in value that far outstrips this price increase, a review of what they’re buying and how they introduce new software to their users is urgently required.

Setting a precedent?

All this said – if these price increases become a regular thing from Microsoft – every 1 – 3 years for example – then my tune will surely change! However, if they continue to add new apps and features and keep price increases few and far between (and at a reasonable level) – it seems fair enough to me if I’m honest.

However, doing it a month after announcing almost $70 billion annual operating income isn’t the greatest timing! While I think the principle is sound, if you can make that much money…do you really need to increase the price? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should…

For end user organisations, this is absolutely a great opportunity to review your Microsoft spend and strategy though.

  1. Take a look at what you’re buying and compare that to what you’re using. If the gap is too big, work out what changes can be made and when, depending on your contract.
  2. Start to define your negotiation strategy – can you work with MS to get a deeper discount to (partially) offset these price increases? Be wary however, of what you might have to commit to in order to get them…it’s likely they’ll be pushing M365 E5 pretty hard.
  3. Get external help from partners and consultants to help you make the best decisions as quickly as possible.

Microsoft Product Terms August 2021


We have confirmation of Windows 365 Enterprise base license requirements:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Intune
  • Azure AD P1

and the bundles that count too:

Microsoft 365 F3/E3/E5/A3/A5/Biz Prem/Student Use

Microsoft note that swapping a user’s Win365 license (by “resizing”) is not “license reassignment” and so can be done as frequently as required.

Also, you can’t use it for “digital asset transaction validation workloads” (aka Bitcoin mining I assume).

We also get confirmation that Windows 365 Business has no license pre-requisites (unlike Enterprise) although Windows 365 Business w/Windows Hybrid Benefit requires a Windows 10 Pro primary device (which is used periodically).

Azure Arc SQL has been added and Hybrid Benefit can be used…but prevents use on Listed Providers infrastructure.

There is a $0 license offer for Azure Virtual Desktop (until December 31, 2021) where you “serve Azure Virtual Desktop Customer Solutions to third parties on Azure”.

Microsoft Product Terms site is here.

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

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