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Key takeaways from Microsoft Inspire 2021

Our Microsoft experts have summarised the key messages and updates from Microsoft's Inspire virtual event, including Azure, Windows 365, Microsoft Viva.

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Abbie Hanson

Microsoft Licensing Specialist

In a year of virtual events, Microsoft’s Inspire 2021 is one not to be missed. Following Day 1 of the conference, our Microsoft experts have summarised the key messages and updates so far, including Azure, Windows 365, and Microsoft Viva.  

Cloud for Sustainability

Sustainability was a major focus for Microsoft, specifically Microsoft Cloud which is a new offering helping customers across all industries meet their carbon reduction and sustainability goals. Available for preview later this year, it enables organisations to record, report and reduce their emissions on a path to new zero. Microsoft have promised more information soon but in the meantime you can read the announcement from Microsoft.

New products and offers for Azure

Microsoft’s Cloud is the most comprehensive and trusted in the industry with over 60 data centre regions globally and capabilities which enables the best integration within the Microsoft stack.

Microsoft announced Azure SQL enabled by Azure Arc. Azure SQL will be an evergreen product so it will always be up to date and it will work on any infrastructure and allow for cloud billing. This will be generally available on 30th July 2021.

Microsoft will also be offering free Extended Security Updates only on Azure. Azure customers will be entitled to 3 years of updates for Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012, and Microsoft will also offer 1 year’s updates for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2.

Microsoft have also extended their Azure Synapse migration offer. Qualifying customers are able to save up to 70% when migrating to Azure Synapse, with the offer being extended to 31st December 2021.

The Azure Migration and Modernisation Program offers guidance and tools required to move to Azure. Some customers will be eligible for access to Azure migration experts as well as cost savings when moving to Azure.

In a gesture to show customers that they are committed to supporting customers’ success on their platforms, Microsoft made an exciting announcement that Azure Marketplace transaction fees will be reducing from the industry 20% to 3%, as well as across App stores.

Changing the Modern Workplace

An exciting new offering announced by Microsoft is Window 365 which will bring the operation system as we know it into the cloud. This game changing announcement will take Microsoft’s current cloud working portfolio to the next level.

The beauty of working through Windows 365 is that the status of Windows will stay the same even as you switch between devices. For example, if you are working on your desktop in the office, you then leave work and log back in on your laptop at home, all your applications will be in the same state as you left them on your work PC. This truly allows for a seamless workspace across multiple devices.

Customers can also leverage Endpoint Analytics to gain an insight into the performance of Windows 365 cloud PCs. Using this data, you can upgrade the performance of PC’s running more demanding workloads within minutes. Best of all, Windows 365 will work with both Windows 10 and Windows 11 - all you need is a web browser and Multi-Factor Authentication will continue to keep your workspace secure.

You will also be able to access your Windows 10 or Windows 11 operating system from anywhere, on any device including Mac, Linux and Android. This allows for amazing scalability across devices and locations securely, and sessions can be picked up exactly where they were left off no matter what device you use.

What’s coming for Business Applications

 Collaborative Apps are key to closing the workflow circle by taking features of other apps and using these in one holistic, integrated app. A great example of this is the upcoming Dynamics 365 Integration with Teams.

Microsoft Teams customers will now receive access to view and edit Microsoft Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no extra cost, whether or not they have a Dynamics 365 license. This will allow organisations to determine when and how they purchase Dynamics 365 more easily.

Introducing Microsoft Viva

At Inspire day 1, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Viva - an Employee Experience Platform (EXP). It is intended to help users stay connected with each other and the company’s mission, providing a simplified way for users to connect to tools and systems used every day. Viva will allow customers to enter the opportunity of employee experience and is broken down into: topics, insights, learnings, and connections.

  • Viva Topics lets you identify knowledge experts from across your organisation, and uses artificial intelligence to categorise information into topics, making it easier for you to keep up to date.
  • Viva Insights uses dashboards to give people valuable insights into the work individuals are delivering and the impact this has on the business, their productivity and personal wellbeing.
  • Viva Learning brings together first and third party learning tools so that users can easily invest time into upskilling.
  • Viva Connections will provide a highly personalised dashboard for actions and reminders, acting as a personalised feed for company news and information.

Get in touch with your account manager for more details on any of the announcements discussed above.