Microsoft Inspire 2021 is in session. Their largest partner event of the year, this annual conference is an opportunity to network, learn from industry leaders, and find out the latest news in Microsoft’s offerings. Like last year, this event is held digitally and you can still register for attendance if you want to catch the last half. In the meantime, here are our top five announcements from the first day of the conference.
Windows 365 Cloud PC
Microsoft’s products evolve as the state of technology and users’ needs change. In keeping with that evolution, Windows 10 and Windows 11 (which will be available later this year) will now be possible as a cloud service. This new offering is called Windows 365. This is a way to stream the whole Windows experience through the cloud. Apps, data, settings—all of it can be accessed from any device. The idea is to provide a flexible and secure option for a variety of workplace circumstances, from regular employees working remotely to temporary or seasonal workers. The user’s device + Windows 365 = Cloud PC, a new hybrid computer category. Organizations can choose the Cloud PC size that fits their needs and pay by month per user. Smaller businesses can opt for a simple, self-service model that doesn’t require IT experience; larger ones with IT admin can use Microsoft Endpoint Manager to deploy and manage their Cloud PC.
Azure SQL Enabled by Azure Arc
Azure Arc integrates with Azure Lighthouse so that partners can manage resources among multiple customers, whether in datacenters, edge, or multicloud environments. Starting on July 30, Azure SQL enabled by Azure Arc will be generally available. This means that Azure SQL will be together with Windows Server, Linux, and Kubernetes as resources that managed service providers can use for any on-premises or cloud environment according to customer needs. Azure Lighthouse users will enjoy additional control and agility with this new availability.
New Pricing Option for Azure Virtual Desktop
Organizations can now use Azure Virtual Desktop to deliver apps from the cloud to users outside the organization, such as partners or clients. This is great news for independent software vendors who want to expand their software as a service (SaaS) offerings. A new per-user pricing option will facilitate this: starting January 1, 2022, pricing for external users will be $5.50/user/month for apps alone, or $10/user/month for both apps and desktops. (This pricing for external users is in addition to regular Azure subscription costs.) Even better in the meantime: you can try it this year for free.
New Collaborative Apps in Teams
If you love Microsoft Teams like we do, you’ll enjoy new and enhanced collaborative apps designed to make shared workflows more seamless. Dynamics 365 will be integrated with Teams to improve the way team members work together, in real-time or asynchronous collaboration. These new apps were developed with Microsoft partners including Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday, Atlassian Confluence, and SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C).
MCAS App Governance Add-in Now in Preview
There’s a new add-in capability for Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) called App Governance. It can be used to monitor Microsoft 365 apps and quickly identify, alert and prevent any risky behavior straight from the compliance center. It provides deeper visibility into apps as well as comprehensive detection & remediation powered with machine learning and automation. It also allows for governing in a policy-driven way—you can define and enforce appropriate app behavior based on your security and compliance needs. App Governance is available in preview for now.
Bonus: Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability
I can sense that those five announcements left you wanting an encore, so here it is: Microsoft wants to help organizations across all industries reduce their carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals. So it’s starting what it calls Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, which will help organizations record, report and reduce their CO2 emissions. This cloud resource will facilitate partnering with experts in order to make environmental progress happen faster, and it will aid in guiding organizations to invest in sustainable options and practices.
Microsoft Inspire 2021: Speaking of Partners
For more details on announcements from Microsoft Inspire 2021, see the official Book of News. And speaking of partners, stay tuned for winner announcements for Microsoft’s Partner of the Year and Microsoft US Partner Awards.