Microsoft Product Terms May 2020


May 2020 brings:

  • A new Office 365 license for “Premium Messaging” which requires F1/F3/E3/E5 as a pre-requisite. Can’t currently see any other info about this but I’ll keep looking!
  • Retirement of Windows Thin PC as an SA benefit.
  • Removal of text around converting Training Vouchers into Planning Services days.
  • Clarification around SQL + containers.
  • Clarification around From SA licenses.
  • Updates to reflect the various Office/Microsoft 365 related name changes.

With the SQL clarification, nothing has changed so I wonder if this “clarification” is Microsoft’s way of giving everyone a reminder of the rules before they start to enforce them in compliance checks and audits?

Microsoft Product Terms, April 2020


This month’s Product Terms has got a few cool additions – one in particular!

Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection for Servers

This was previously only available via an Azure Security Center subscription but can now be obtained via EA/EAS and CSP. It covers Windows Server 2008 R2/2012R2/2016/2019.

In order to purchase MDATP for Servers, organisations must have a combined minimum of 50 licenses of:

  • Microsoft Defender ATP
  • Windows E5/A5
  • Microsoft 365 E5/A5
  • Microsoft 365 E5 Security

Interestingly, if ATP for Servers customers decide to migrate to using Azure Security Center (ASC) on those same servers, active ATP for Server licenses will be credited against the ASC price.

New Microsoft 365 SKUs

April 2020 sees the introduction of:

  • E5 eDiscovery & Audit
  • E5 Information Protection & Governance
  • E5 Insider Risk management

Prerequisites

For eDiscovery & Audit and Insider Risk Management, the license prerequisites are:

  • Microsoft 365 (any)
  • Office 365 (any)
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • OneDrive for Business

For Information Protection & Governance, the prerequisite licenses are:

  • Microsoft 365 (any)
  • Office 365 (any)
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • OneDrive for Business
  • Azure Information Protection
  • EMS E3/A3

Office / Microsoft 365 F1 & F3

Microsoft have renamed the old F1 licenses to F3, and introduced a new F1 SKU to sit underneath, with limited capabilities as it only includes EMS E3 and “limited” Office services. The F1 license is pretty much just Teams really – no email, no Onedrive etc.

Microsoft licensing for Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

I’ve saved the best ’til last here – in my opinion at least! RPA is a growing area of business – the idea of using bots, rather than humans, to perform repetitive tasks to increase efficiency and, when used properly, job satisfaction. However, it’s also a licensing minefield – and Microsoft have been very quiet on this subject…until now! Well, actually, they’re still being quiet because these new additions were just slipped into the April Product Terms without any other mention – it strikes me as odd because these new licenses could herald a pretty significant change.

What have they added?

The Product Terms now contains:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/A3 – Unattended license
  • Power Automate per user with attended RPA plan
  • Power Automate unattended RPA add-on

There’s not a huge amount of extra info in the Product Terms but it does say that the E3/A3 unattended license includes Office 365 E3/A3, Windows 10 E3/A3, and EMS E3/A3 – no mention of them being restricted or limited at all.

Some definitions

The OST (Online Service Terms) gives more information. Microsoft’s definition of RPA is:

“An application (or set of applications) used to capture data and manipulate applications to perform repetitive tasks. Bots operate upon any UI element of Windows 10 within an OSE and/or operates upon any Office application in any OSE.”

Attended bot = This is a bot that “assists a person to execute automation on the person’s local and/or remote workstations.” They go on to say that “it operates concurrently with the person on the same workstation/s to accomplish repetitive tasks and is triggered by explicit actions of that person“.

In this scenario, it sounds like you would assign a regular M365 license to both the user and the bot?

Unattended bot = “Any bot that doesn’t strictly conform to the definition of an attended bot“.

The Power Automate unattended RPA add-on can be added onto the Power Automate per user with attended RPA plan and Power Automate per flow plan.

Microsoft 365 Business Voice


Microsoft have been working on cloud telephony for several years – at least 10 by my count – and it’s been available through Office 365 E5 for a few years now. E5 is very much an enterprise level offering so it’s great to see that Microsoft have now introduced Business Voice for organisations of 300 seats and below.

It requires an underlying package that contains Microsoft Teams and includes a phone system, audio conferencing, and calling plan all bundled together and is available via CSP in the UK & Canada immediately.

How to buy

It is available as an add-on to:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials
  • Office 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 A1/A3
  • Office 365 E1/E3
  • Microsoft 365 Business
  • Microsoft 365 A3/E3

Includes 1,200 minutes per user (in the UK), can host up to 250 people in an audio conference, and costs ÂŁ12.00 per user per month.

Office 365 / Microsoft 365 already represents a great offering for small to medium businesses, giving them so many of the things they need all in one package. Adding telephony strengthens it even more and surely makes Microsoft 365 the “go-to” for the vast majority of organisations…and a difficult proposition to compete against if you’re Google et al.

Further Reading

Microsoft Announcement – https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Small-and-Medium-Business-Blog/Introducing-Microsoft-365-Business-Voice-in-Canada-amp-the-UK/ba-p/970064

Microsoft Product Page – https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/business-voice

Power Platform Personal Payments


Users can buy their own Power Platform licenses without corporate checks.

In a move that could be seen as a way to anger asset managers across the world, Microsoft have decided to allow individual users to purchase licenses for Power BI, PowerApps, and Flow via self-service – that is, without any level of central admin oversight.

This move can easily lead to license non-compliance, software over-spend, and a weakening of data security and GDPR compliance. Microsoft say it is “based on customer demand” but I’m sure that pretty much everyone except the users will be against this as an idea. No IT admin, asset manager, procurement manager, or budget controller has ever wished it was easier for users to buy licenses off their own back!

As it stands, there is no way to turn this “feature” off although I feel this might be another one of the increasingly frequent scenarios where Microsoft “listen to feedback” and make some changes. It’s clearly an attempt to reduce the friction at the point of adoption for Microsoft’s Power Platform versus competitor products (such as those from Salesforce) and while the final users may welcome this change, it will only serve to stoke ill will with many in the corporate world I’m sure.

The licensing for Power BI, Flow, and PowerApps has a number of potential pitfalls and allowing decentralised purchasing by people where licensing isn’t a concern is a recipe for disaster. Equally, there will be plenty of cases where users don’t realise that they’re already licensed for some/all of these components, leading to companies paying for more licenses than required. Concerns around data also seem fair – this move will make it more likely that company data is stored in places that can’t be seen by the company overall.

Microsoft: Windows & AI – all change


On March 29th, Microsoft announced another company re-org. This one sees some big changes to the Windows side of things and gives a good overview of where Microsoft’s sees its future.

The biggest news is that Terry Myerson – Executive Vice President of the Windows & Devices Group (WDG) is leaving, and the team is being divided across two new entities.

Experiences & Devices

This team will be led by Rajesh Jha, who’s been at Microsoft since 1990, is a member of the Senior Leadership Team and most recently headed up engineering for Office 365.

In his email to Microsoft employees, Satya Nadella says:
“Computing experiences are evolving to include multiple senses and are no longer bound to one device at a time but increasingly spanning many as we move from home to work and on the go”

Hopefully, this gives an idea of where this team is heading – creating software, and devices, that work together in ways that match how people want to use them. Software experiences that work seamlessly across multiple devices – of different types and with different operating systems – are what more people are looking for. As the consumerisation of IT continues, users having multiple devices with Windows, iOS and Android will more and more become the norm within business settings.

As Nadella goes on to say in his missive:
“These modern needs, habits and expectations of our customers are motivating us to bring Windows, Office, and third-party applications and devices into a more cohesive Microsoft 365 experience.”

It’s interesting that 3rd party apps are included here. He could be referring to managing them via EMS (the 3rd element of Microsoft 365) or is he perhaps hinting at something else?

Cloud & AI

Scott Guthrie (often seen in a red shirt) will lead this team. Guthrie has been at Microsoft since 1997 and is known for his work in many areas, including .NET. Satya Nadella says the goal of this team is to “drive platform coherence and compelling value across all layers of the tech stack” – this will include things such as “distributed computing fabric”, AI infrastructure, tools, and higher-level services around knowledge and cognition.

Other changes

There are more teams being created and more people being moved, all to support the drive towards a better device/app experience and to further the growth of cloud and AI. These include:

Panos Panay

The man in a large part responsible for the success of the Surface product line is now “Chief Product Officer”, tasked with “creating new categories and opportunities for the entire ecosystem”. This is an interesting move – what other devices, that wouldn’t come under the Surface banner, could be on the horizon?

Joe Belfiore

He will continue leading Windows experiences and “drive Windows innovation in partnership with the PC and device ecosystem”. Satya also says that “Joe will share more about the Windows roadmap at Build” – with the recent talk of multi-user editions of Windows (to facilitate access to remote desktops without requiring Windows Server), I’ll certainly be paying attention between May 7-9.

Windows Platform Team

This team will move into Azure team and help “accelerate (Microsoft’s) efforts to build a unified distributed computing infrastructure and application model”. Interestingly, the team led by Roanne Sones, which deals with technical engagement with OEMs, ODMs and silicon vendors, will also join the Azure team.

New teams

Two new teams have been created:

• AI Perception & Mixed Reality
• AI Cognitive Services & Platform

Which certainly show that Microsoft’s focus on Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality (such as HoloLens) is becoming ever more integral to Microsoft’s future aspirations.
As part of this, Harry Shum (EVP, AI & Research) & Brad Smith (Chief Legal Officer) have created the AI & Ethics in Engineering & Research (AETHER) committee, to help keep Microsoft’s AI technologies in check.

Further Reading

https://news.microsoft.com/2018/03/29/satya-nadella-email-to-employees-embracing-our-future-intelligent-cloud-and-intelligent-edge/

Changes to Microsoft SA e-learning


Microsoft Software Assurance offers a range of benefits, one of which is e-learning.

For those of you currently using this within your organisation, be aware that it is migrating to a new site from July 1, 2018. The current site:

Onlinelearning.microsoft.com

will be shut down and become inaccessible.

No courses, transcripts, certificates or reporting will be available via the existing site, so anything you wish to retain will need to be downloaded prior to July 1, 2018. This also means that any courses currently being taken will need to be completed before that date, otherwise all progress will be lost.

Why?
The new site is said to offer a much better user experience with faster access to content as well as interactive learning plans, customizable cheat sheets, and quick start guides. Microsoft have said they will release more information on the new portal soon.

Update

The new site is https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/ and it covers a range of Microsoft training across:

  • Azure
  • Dynamics
  • PowerApps
  • Flow
  • PowerBI

with more planned over time.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central


Microsoft have announced the upcoming release of Dynamics 365 Business Central, with general availability from April 2, 2018 for 14 countries:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Denmark
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • France
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Sweden
  • Finland

with Australia and New Zealand following on July 1, 2018.

central.jpg

What does it do?

Microsoft say this product “brings the full power of Dynamics NAV” to the cloud and covers:

  • Managing finances
  • Operations
  • Sales
  • Customer Service

Licensing

There will be 2 editions available:

  • Dynamics 365 Business Central Essentials
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central Premium

and, although I haven’t seen it confirmed, it’s likely it will have the 300 user limit that applies to the Office 365 Business products.

Interestingly, this product will be available ONLY via the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program…there is no volume licensing availability announced.

Further Reading

Microsoft Blog

Microsoft give more info about VMware on Azure


Intro

Microsoft recently announced their plans to start running VMware software natively within the Azure cloud. This caused much interest in the tech world as well as some angry words from VMware!

You can read more about the initial announcement here

After the initial blog post, Microsoft went very quiet and had no more to say on the subject. I attended a webinar about VMware & Azure but this just covered the Azure Migrate tool – Microsoft’s new way of converting on-premises VMware VMs to Azure VMs running in the cloud…a great offering but not the super interesting part really!

Some news!

Today (December 19, 2017) Microsoft have given us a bit of an update, in a new blog post.

They tell us that they’re working with multiple VMware partners and will run the solution on existing VMware certified hardware:

preview hardware will use a flexpod bare metal configuration with NetApp storage

This will allow organisations to continue running the VMware software they have invested in – both in terms of money and time – and that they trust to run their business, but also allow them to have L3 network connectivity with Azure services such as:

  • Azure Active Directory
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Azure Functions

Microsoft are in discussions with these VMware partners – and also VMware themselves – and aim to:

make this offering generally available next year

VMware’s Angry Words

Interestingly, VMware angry words have become less angry.

There initial blog post was quite confrontational but has since been updated and now ahs a more reconciliatory tone. For example:

Original Post:

Recently, Microsoft announced preview of VMware virtualization on Azure, a bare-metal solution that is stated to run a VMware stack on Azure hardware, co-located with other Azure services in partnership with VMware-certified partners. No VMware-certified partner names have been mentioned nor have any partners collaborated with VMware in engineering this offering. This offering has been developed independent of VMware, and is neither certified nor supported by VMware.

Revised post:

Recently, Microsoft announced a preview of VMware virtualization on Azure, a bare-metal solution that is stated to run a VMware stack on Azure hardware, co-located with other Azure services in partnership with VMware-certified partners. This offering is being developed independent of VMware, however it is being offered as a dedicated, server-hosted solution similar in approach to other VMware Cloud Provider Partners (VCPP). The deployment is on VMware certified hardware consisting of FlexPod. VMware is in the process of engaging with the partner to ensure compliance and that the appropriate support model is in place.

The original post also said:

Microsoft recognizing the leadership position of VMware’s offering and exploring support for VMware on Azure as a superior and necessary solution for customers over Hyper-V or native Azure Stack environments is understandable but, we do not believe this approach will offer customers a good solution to their hybrid or multi-cloud future.

This is now nowhere to be found in the updated blog post!

A better relationship between the two vendors will surely make for a better experience for customers who take up this new offering as closer ties should mean better support.

Next steps

They say they’ll share more info on plans for General Availability and partners “in the coming months” and if you’d like to take part in the preview – contact your Microsoft account manager.

Further reading:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/blog/vmware-virtualization-on-azure/

https://blog.cloud.vmware.com/s/content/a1y6A000000aFlgQAE/vmware-the-platform-of-choice-in-the-cloud https://www.itassetmanagement.net/2017/11/28/vmware-azure/

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.

Guest

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.