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 Visio comes to Teams for free

Bringing Visio to Microsoft 365: Diagramming for everyone | Microsoft 365 Blog

Microsoft are adding a cut down version of Visio directly into Teams, enabling users to create, edit, and share diagrams without leaving the ever growing central location for productivity. The new app will be available to users with the following licenses:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for business
  • Office 365 E1
  • Office 365 E3
  • Office 365 E5
  • Office 365 F3
  • Microsoft 365 F3 (includes Office 365 F3)
  • Microsoft 365 E3 (includes Office 365 E3)
  • Microsoft 365 E5 (includes Office 365 E5)
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise
  • Office 365 A1
  • Office 365 A3
  • Office 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 A1 (one-time, per-device license with free Office 365 A1 per user licenses)
  • Microsoft 365 A3 (includes Office 365 A3)
  • Microsoft 365 A5 (includes Office 365 A5)

You can see more info, and sign up for early access (not EU), here.

Microsoft Financial Results: Q3 FY21

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Microsoft’s financial results for Q3 FY21 (Jan – Mar 21) are in and, as usual, they’re pretty impressive.

  • Revenue = $41.7 billion – up 19%
  • Operating income = $17 billion – up 31%

Looking at the different product divisions we can see:

Productivity & Business Processes

Revenue = $13.6 billion – up 15%

Office 365 Commercial was up 22%, LinkedIn increased 25%, and Dynamics 365 was up 45%.

Microsoft Teams is up to 145 million daily active users, almost doubling YoY and Office 365 Commercial has nearly 300 million paid seats. Office Commercial products (on-premises Office) was down 25% – continuing its downwards trend as organisations continue to move to the cloud.

Satya Nadella revealed that Power Platform now has almost 16 million monthly active users, an increase of 97%, and revenue has increased by 84%. Amy Hood (CFO) called out Power Apps and Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations as strong performers.

Intelligent Cloud

Revenue = $15.1 billion – up 23%

Azure growth was 50% yet again, with Amy Hood highlighting an increase in the number of large, long-term Azure contracts.

On-premises server products grew 3%, although that seems to largely be due to year on year currency fluctuations, and the EMS install base grew again, now sitting at 174 million seats.

SQL Server on Azure VMs grew 129% YoY alongside Cosmos DB growth too.

More Personal Computing

Revenue = $13 billion – up 19%

Again there was a big difference in Windows OEM as Pro revenue declined 2% but non-Pro grew 44%.

See the Microsoft details here.

Microsoft Product Terms, March 2021

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Main changes for March 2021:

  • A clause added that Business Voice customers can’t provision over 300 users
  • New terms added regarding access to Azure Dev/Test pricing
  • Additional pre-requisite licenses for the new M365 F5 SKUs:
    • Office 365 F3
    • Windows 10 Enterprise per device/E3
  • Dynamics 365 IoT is now “Sensor Data Intelligence Add-in”
  • UK & South Africa now eligible for certain Windows 10 Home to Pro upgrade licenses:
    • UK
      • Windows 10 Home to Pro Upgrade for Microsoft 365 Business Premium*
      • Windows 10 Home to Pro Right Licensing for E3/E5**
    • South Africa:
      • Windows 10 Home to Pro Upgrade for Microsoft 365 Business Premium*

*This is only available via CSP

**This is only available via MPSA

Microsoft 365 Security & Compliance additions

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

It seems Microsoft will be adding some new security and compliance SKUS in February 2021. According to a post from Bytes, a top UK Microsoft partner and LSP, we will soon be able to purchase:

Premium Compliance Assessments

There will be a range of over 150 assessments available which can be added to any Office 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 plan, at a cost of $2,500 per assessments per month.

10-year audit log retention to Advanced Audit

This will enable organisations to retain audit logs for up to 10 years and can be added to:

  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance
  • Microsoft 365 E5 eDiscovery & Audit
  • Office 365 E5

for $2 per user per month.

Data Connectors to E5

This looks like it will extend Microsoft 365 security and compliance capabilities to 3rd party services such as Slack and Zoom. It can be added to any Office 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 plan and will cost $400 per 500GB of data.


The Data Connectors are, I think, the most interesting. Back in November 2019, Microsoft launched a preview of Azure Arc, which enables organisations to run Azure technologies and policies across other clouds such as Amazon AWS, and this new addition is the same thought process. The first time we saw this was when Satya Nadella opened up Office across Apple and Android – making Office available on those devices enables Microsoft to sell more Office 365 AND reach new customers…customers who may eventually purchase other Microsoft services.

While Microsoft would love everyone in every organisation to use Microsoft Teams, they’re pragmatic enough to realise that will never happen – their competitors’ products will always exist…so why not make some money out of it? 500GB of data isn’t much so that $400 a month will quickly start to become a pretty big number of organisations! It also helps Microsoft retain relationships with these organisations, ensuring they stay updated on respective changes and have reasons to talk – giving the chance for future sales…

I’ll keep an eye for more information and, hopefully, an entry in the February 2021 Product Terms.

Microsoft Office & Exchange 2010- end of support

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

3 more Microsoft products fell out of support on October 13, 2020:

  • Office 2010
  • Office 2016 for Mac
  • Exchange Server 2010

If you’re on these older versions, upgrading should certainly be on your roadmap. If not to Office 365, then to a more recent on-premises release. As corporate security becomes an ever greater focus, and ransomware becomes an ever greater threat, now is not the time to be running unsupported software that’s over a decade old!

The changes for access to Office 365 have kicked in too, meaning the only releases of Office that are supported to access Office 365 are:

  • Office 2016
  • Office 2019
  • Microsoft 365 Apps (formerly Office365 Pro Plus)

While Microsoft aren’t proactively blocking older versions, they’ve stated that as they fall further behind, performance and/or reliability issues may start to occur.

Further Reading

Office 2010

Exchange 2010

Microsoft Financial Results: Q1 FY21

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

As I think most of us expected, Microsoft’s strong financial results continued in Q1 FY21.

Headline figures

In July – September 2020, Microsoft saw:

  • Revenue up 12% to $37.2 billion
  • Operating Income up 25% to $15.9 billion
  • Net Income up 30% to $13.9 billion
  • Operating Expenses grew by 10% (primarily driven by investments in Azure)

This is a fantastic performance as Microsoft – unlike many of their rivals – continue to grow and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. While IBM, Oracle, and SAP are all reporting lacklustre numbers – Microsoft are doing very well. This is mainly due to Microsoft’s wide and varied portfolio – if you don’t want one thing, there are plenty of others they can sell you – but also due to the relevance of their product line-up.

Not only are Microsoft 365 and Azure hugely relevant right now, so are products like the Power Platform and Dynamics 365 as they enable new ways of working and digital transformation. This is a strength many of their competitors don’t have – if you don’t want to buy a big database or an ERP system, that dramatically reduces the options for Oracle & SAP for example.

Product Highlights

  • Office 365 commercial revenue was up 21%
  • Dynamics 365 again grew by 38%
  • Azure saw another quarter of 48% growth
  • LinkedIn was up 16%
  • Surface revenue rose 37%
  • Enterprise Mobility & Security install base has grown to 152 million+ seats

On the flip side – Office Commercial was down 30% showing the move away from on-premises perpetual to cloud-based subscriptions continues apace.

Microsoft also called out “continued weakness” in transactional licensing as they saw a 1% drop in “server products” revenue. To be honest, I’m surprised it isn’t a bigger drop than that…

Another drop in Windows Pro OEM sales (22%) while Windows non-Pro OEM grew by 31%. This will partly be due to organisations de-prioritising laptop refreshes right now but also, I suspect, by users working from home buying themselves new “work” devices. That latter aspect opens up some licensing issues – as volume licensing Windows licenses generally can’t be applied to Windows Home licenses.

Microsoft are in a very strong position and it’s further proof that Satya Nadella has overseen one of the greatest corporate turnarounds for a long time!

Further Reading

Microsoft Office 365 Audio Conferencing Extended Dial Out

Microsoft Office 365 Audio Conferencing Extended Dial Out for US and Canada is an add-on license that offers “virtually unlimited” calling minutes for North American users. Although subject to a fair use policy, users with this add-on won’t deduct capacity from their organisation’s pool or Communication Credits.

The license is available via EA/EAS, EES, CSP, and via the web for commercial, Edu, Non-profit and US GCC customers. I haven’t seen pricing info yet but you can see a little more info from Microsoft here.

Microsoft FY20 Financial Results

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Microsoft had, as expected, a great Q4 with revenue up 13% to $38 billion, which closed out an equally good fiscal year. Overall revenue of $143 billion, and operating income of $44.3 billion, was driven by revenue increases in all Microsoft’s key areas:

  • Office 365 was up 19%
  • Dynamics 365 was up 38%
  • LinkedIn increased by 10%
  • Azure was up 47%

Although the Azure growth was lower than previous quarters, it still seems healthy enough for now.

Microsoft called out some interesting points during their earnings call, some of which give a good indication of future direction including:

Slowdown in transactional licensing and flat on-premises server revenue: While this may be down, at least in part, to the impact of COVID-19 – it is also where Microsoft are heading. This is also shown by the fact that Office Commercial (on-premises Office) was down 34% -which Microsoft attributed to a combination of COVID-19 and the move to annuity licensing.

As long as those transactional licenses and on-premises server software are being replaced by CSP, Microsoft 365, and Azure – Redmond will be happy. I’ll be keen to see if this numbers start to rise again as the economic situation stabilises.

Bigger, longer Azure contracts: They stated “material growth” in Azure contracts over $10 million which is good news for Microsoft. For everyone in this new subscription based world, locking customers in to longer term deals is a key aim as it makes it easier for the vendor to forecast and budget.

Increased ARPU for Office 365: Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is a key metric for many of today’s organisations and an increase means Microsoft are making more money per user. This could be as they upgrade to higher level plans (E3 to E5 for example) or purchase add-ons to their existing licenses. The Office 365 seat count increased and the ARPU increased, which are both positive for Microsoft.

All in all, a very positive performance from Microsoft that clearly shows their focus on cloud continues to pay off. Looking ahead to this financial year, FY 21, I think we’ll see more focus on E5 – particularly for security and voice workloads, Power Platform continuing to appear in new places, and increased pressure on those organisations looking to remain on-premises.

See the Microsoft press release and figures here.

Microsoft Office 365 update changes

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Microsoft are changing the Office 365 update models again!

1) They’re introducing the “Monthly Enterprise Channel” – for orgs who want new features each month but with “added predictability, insights and control”…although the insight and control elements won’t be available until later in the year.

This was available as of May 12th, 2020.

2) June 9th sees name changes for the update channels (old name –> new name):

  • Insider –> Beta Channel
  • Monthly Channel (Targeted) –> Current Channel (Preview)
  • Monthly Channel –> Current Channel
  • Monthly Enterprise Channel *new addition*
  • Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) –> Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)
  • Semi-Annual Channel –> Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel

3) June 9th will also see the default update model for Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (aka Office 365 ProPlus) on NEW tenants switch to Current Channel, rather than Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel. Existing tenants won’t change.

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