Microsoft Project & Visio self-serve

Towards the end of 2019, Microsoft announced the ability for users to “self-serve” when it came to purchasing Power Platform licenses. This allowed users to buy licenses directly in the portal, circumventing central IT although, after much kerfuffle, Microsoft made it possible for organisations to turn off this feature.

Microsoft have now added Project & Visio Plan 1 & 3 licenses to the self-serve roster – clearly this is a purchasing channel they’re keen to continue exploring. In several areas, Microsoft appear to be slowly moving towards more direct sales models, a la Salesforce, and this is part of that approach – building up loyalty and customer stickiness among the users, regardless of what the overall company stance may be.

Find more info on how to allow/deny this capability here.

Microsoft Product Terms: October 2017

Microsoft have introduced a number of changes in the October 2017 Product Terms document – let’s take a look.

SQL Server 2017


SQL Server 2017 has been released, and the big thing is its support for Linux.

Microsoft point out page 29 of the Product Terms that “SQL Server Licenses are platform agnostic” and can be used on “Windows or Linux platforms”.

Machine Learning Server

The Product Terms also states that only customers with SQL Server Enterprise + SA may use updates to “Machine Learning Server for Windows or Linux” that are released after October 2017.

Additionally, for each SQL Server Enterprise core license with active SA, customers may run “Machine Learning Server for Hadoop” on up to 5 (five) servers.

What is “Machine Learning Server” you ask? Good question! It was “Microsoft R Server” and now, with the 9.2 release, it becomes “Machine Learning Server”.

For more info – head to this Microsoft blog.

R Server

The various flavours of “R Server” are being retired and so there are transition plans in place for those organisations with Software Assurance.

R Server for Hadoop

For each 1 (one) R Server for Hadoop license with active SA, you may renew SA for 2 (two) x SQL Server Enterprise Core Licenses.

R Server for Linux

For each 2 (two) R Server for Linux licenses with active SA, you may renew SA for 2 (two) x SQL Server Enterprise Core Licenses.

R Server for Teradata DB

For each 1 (one) R Server for Teradata license, you may renew SA for 6 (six) x SQL Server Enterprise Core Licenses.

SQL Server for Linux Promotion

On page 95, we see there is a promo running from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018 where:

“Microsoft will offer a Linux-specific subscription license for SQL Server 2017”

and, unlike the regular license this promo offering will:

“allow use of SQL Server on the Linux platform only”.

I can currently only assume that this promo offering will be cheaper than the license that offers dual platform rights, but let’s see!

Microsoft 365 F1

This is a new offering, aimed at those “Firstline” (formerly Kiosk) workers, for whom Office 365 F1 (formerly K1) was intended. Microsoft are now looking to extended the features and benefits of Windows 10 and EMS to these workers too – hence an F1 version of the recently renamed Microsoft 365 bundle license.

There are a couple of key things to note:

“The Windows component of Microsoft 365 F1 operates as an Online Service” and does NOT have rights to:

  • Prior versions
  • Different language versions
  • Different platform versions
  • Lower editions of Windows (including LTSB)

Nor does it grant rights to access or use “virtualized instances of Windows”.

A Microsoft 365 F1 USL DOES grant access to Windows Servers, but is not a “CAL Equivalent License” for any other product.

A “step-up” from Office 365 F1 to Microsoft 365 F1 is available.


Visio Online licensing

There have been changes to the licensing here. We can see on page 5 of the Product Terms that:

Visio Pro for Office 365

has been removed and replaced by:

Visio Online Plan 1 & Plan 2

There doesn’t appear to be any further public info on what the plans contain etc. but, as it appears, I’ll be sure to post.

Exchange Online Inactive Mailboxes

A new license has been added to the Exchange Online product line – the “Exchange Online Inactive Mailbox” SKU.

The product name is fairly self-explanatory as this license is required when licensing inactive mailboxes. Again, when there is more public information, I will update with the ins & outs.

UPDATE: Microsoft have confirmed that this change WILL NOT be taking place currently. Although the SKU has been added to the Product Terms, it is not active.

Skype for Business Online Renaming

We get confirmation this month of the Skype for Business Online name changes:

Skype for Business Online PSTN Calling = Calling Plan

Skype for Business Online PSTN Conferencing = Audio Conferencing

Skype for Business Online PSTN Consumption = Communication Credits

Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX = Phone System


We see that Microsoft 365 (the bundle of Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 & Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS)) A3 & A5 have been added to the product line-up.

There have also been changes to the Student Use Benefits:

Student Use Benefit

Microsoft Teams gets External Access

Microsoft Teams – their answer to Slack – has been well received by many organisations in the 6 months since its release, but one thing that keeps popping up is the inability to work with external users.

Well today, September 11 2017, that changes. Microsoft have announced the rollout of guest access. This means companies can now have external partners/consultants/customers etc. to be part of a team, participate in chats, view files and more.

From a technical perspective, this is managed via Azure AD B2B Collaboration, giving the ability to detect suspicious activity, apply conditional access policies and multi-factor authentication.

This feature should really help drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams, both within organisations currently using it internally and also to a host of new customers too.

The Microsoft blogpost is here.

Things I DIDN’T see at Microsoft Inspire 2017

There were LOADS of announcements and updates at Microsoft Inspire but equally, there were some things that weren’t mentioned very much, or even at all. This is a run down of the things I noticed by their absence and I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you DID hear about some of these things, then please let me know!

Azure Stack

Much talked about for the last couple of years has been Azure Stack. The next iteration of Hybrid Cloud, it allows organisations to run Microsoft Azure services within their own datacentre. In the weeks leading up to MS Inspire 2017, information around the licensing models and costs was released online. I was VERY excited (which to be fair isn’t that unusual) but I also saw a fair amount of interest from partners and end users, across Twitter and LinkedIn.

I thought we’d be seeing plenty of talk about Azure Stack in the Inspire keynotes but, unless I missed something, it wasn’t mentioned at all. There were a few sessions being run by the Azure Stack hardware vendors such as Dell EMC and one licensing related session, but that was it.

Workplace Analytics

A little before Inspire, Microsoft started to release information about Workplace Analytics, which uses Office 365 data to help:

business leaders understand collaboration patterns across organizations that influence productivity and employee engagement

Workplace Analytics

With its aim of making collaboration more fruitful and efficient, and to help with hiring staff and building teams, it seems like it could be a key product for many organisations. I expected to see talk of this in one of the keynote sessions but again, it didn’t appear to get a mention. I also didn’t see any sessions talking about Workplace Analytics.

Perhaps it was felt that the the product didn’t fully fit with the messaging around the four solution areas of:

  • Modern Workplace
  • Business Applications
  • Applications & Infrastructure
  • Data & Artificial Intelligence

Whatever the reason, I was surprised not to hear more about it.

Windows 10 Mobile

This one didn’t surprise me to be honest. While it’s clear that Microsoft are still very much working towards the “Cloud First, Mobile First” mantra – it’s also become clear that a mobile phone OS isn’t high up on the list…if it’s on the list at all!

There were lot of sessions aimed at the mobile world. Sessions on building apps with Xamarin, managing mobile devices with EMS and how BlockChain can integrate with the mobile world were all on show…but nothing specifically on the Windows mobile OS.


Microsoft have so many products and threads to their business, and Inspire is a relatively short amount of time in which to get important messages across, that – of course – not everything can be covered in huge detail. However, these 3 stuck out as quite conspicuous by their absence.

Were there products or topics that you thought were under represented? What are your thoughts on the above?

New apps added to Office 365 Business Premium

Microsoft are adding a range of new apps to Office 365 Business Premium – and by extension – to the newly announced Microsoft 365 Business (more on this in another post). These are:

Microsoft Connections

This Mailchimp-esque tool is designed to help organisations create email marketing campaigns with a host of templates for different scenarios.


It also features many of the key metrics needed to track the success of an email campaign, such as:

  • Open rate
  • Clicks
  • Sign ups
  • Unsubscribes

and more. Connections will be available via the web and also Android & iOS apps.

Microsoft Listings

This tool helps business manage their business information across a range of key sites including Facebook, Google and Bing.


Updating once in Microsoft listings will push the changes out to the various platforms and the web dashboard will also give a single place to see page views and reviews.

Microsoft Invoicing

Another tool aimed at making business easier for smaller organisations, this tool helps create and track invoices and also connects with PayPal and QuickBooks for added functionality. Invoicing can be accessed via the web and Android & iOS apps.


Microsoft Business Center

This is a web based, unified dashboard for the newly added apps – giving organisations one place to see their outstanding invoices, the success of their email campaigns, their online standing and more.

Business Centre


These are currently rolling out in Preview to users in US, Canada & UK, starting with those set to “First Release”.


Microsoft purchased MileIQ in 2015, and a now adding it into Office 365 Business Premium. The iOS/Android app is used for mileage logging, when using a personal car for business purposes, and making it easier to claim back the expenses.

Microsoft’s aim

These new additions are aimed at making things easier for smaller businesses and, as Microsoft say, to make Office 365 Business Premium “more valuable for your small business”. Microsoft are looking to move this far beyond “hosted email” and for organisations to see Office 365 as an integral tool across multiple parts of their business – helping them win new business and reduce costs at the same time.

Adding new features and increased value is a key aspect of success for vendors in the new, SAAS world as every year, customers have the option to choose to leave. As a manufacturer, if your product isn’t giving your customers what they want, it is now often easier for them to move to a competitor than ever before.

Further Reading

Microsoft 365


First we had Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) and then we had Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE)…now we have Microsoft 365.

As with the previous iterations, Microsoft 365 is a single SKU that combines:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Office 365
  • Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS)

but Microsoft 365 does bring a change: there are now 2 versions – Enterprise & Business.


Aimed, not surprisingly, at larger organisations, Microsoft 365 Enterprise comes in 2 flavours: E3 and E5 – where each includes the components of the same level.


This is a combination of:

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Office 365 Business Premium
  • Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS)

and features some new tools such as Microsoft AutoPilot and the ability to automatically deploy Office apps to Windows 10 PCs.


Lync AKA Skype for Business

The title says it all really – Lync is soon to be known as Skype for Business.

It makes a lot of sense really as so many people are familiar with Skype – particularly the younger generations who will be the next to arrive in the workplace. Also, the number of times I’ve heard this conversation:

“Have you looked at Lync?

“What’s Lync?”

“It’s like… Skype… for Business”

Would suggest that the market research groups back up this name change.

Office 365 to gain MDM features

Microsoft’s TechEd Europe 2014 (from the wonderful Barcelona) has seen a number of announcements but one of the major ones is that Microsoft will be introducing MDM (Mobile Device Management) features into Office 365. These features will include:

  • Device PIN lock
  • Jailbreak detection
  • Selective wipe (remove corporate data but leave personal data untouched)

MS also say that:

MDM for Office 365 is built directly into the productivity apps your employees know and love, so you can apply policies to help secure company data without sacrificing experience and productivity.

These are the most common features that businesses tend to look for so this both makes Office 365 even more compelling as well as helping make it easier for organizations to get started on their mobile device management journey.

OneDrive up the storage

OneDrive – Microsoft’s personal Cloud storage offering – has, with Office 365, offered 1TB of storage PER USER… but not anymore. Microsoft have increased that to…UNLIMITED!

This really helps with Microsoft’s attempts to position OneDrive as a top contender for Cloud storage among businesses of all sizes.

Read more here:

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