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

Microsoft extend Extended Security Updates


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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.

Windows 11: Microsoft’s new operating system


Introducing Windows 11 | Windows Experience Blog

Despite us all believing that Windows 10 was the last version of Windows…here we are with Windows 11 announced and fast approaching.

What do we know?

Microsoft have said “holiday season 2021” so I’d imagine it will be available in time for Black Friday with things really ramping up for Xmas.

Not all devices running Windows 10 will be able to run the new OS:

You can download the Health Check app here to find out. There is a requirement for TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chips and, according to TechRadar, many devices that have one may have them disabled by default – which means the Health Check app fails machines which, ultimately, will be able to run Windows 11. Before you go an buy a new machine, take a look and see if you’ve got a TPM chip to enable!

One has to wonder what this might mean for businesses – is Windows 11 going to require a big wave of hardware refreshes? If so, I can see Windows 10 becoming the new Windows XP!

What’s new?

Some of the key changes include:

  • Keyboard optimised for touch and tablet use
  • Snap layouts – let you arrange multiple windows in various configurations, you can see some of the options here:
Introducing Windows 11 | Windows Experience Blog
  • You will also be able to create multiple fully separated desktops.
  • “Chat from Teams” integrated into the taskbar and the ability to use 2-way SMS messaging.
  • Revamped Microsoft Store which will include Android apps via a partnership with Intel and Amazon.
  • Annual updates rather than the current 2 per year.
  • The Taskbar will be centered and, it seems, will have to be positioned at the bottom of the screen. I’ve had mine at the top for years (it’s the best place to have it!) and can imagine this being enough to keep me on 10 for a while! 🤣

Further Reading

Microsoft blog

Windows 11 specs

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.