Bart Scheffer rounds up the key announcements from Microsoft’s partner event, which was held virtually for the second consecutive year.

1. Windows 365

Windows 365 is a new way to deliver Windows 10 or Windows 11, streaming apps, settings and content from the Microsoft cloud to any device, anywhere. It makes purchasing Cloud PCs easy with predictable with per-user per-month pricing, and is natively integrated across Azure AD, Microsoft Defender, Microsoft 365 applications and Microsoft Endpoint Manager for Enterprise customers, while business customers can leverage a simplified self-service experience on the web.

It will create “new opportunities for partners”, according to CEO Satya Nadella, by allowing ISVs to “reach a broader audience” with their services, while MSPs and system integrators can help customers “get the most out of their entire Windows estate. Windows 365 provides greater flexibility and a secure way to empower workforces to be more productive and connected, regardless of their location.”

2. Microsoft Viva and new benefits for ISVs

New benefits were announced to help build richer solutions with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva, such as the Microsoft 365 developer sandbox and Microsoft Azure credits, one-on-one consults with Microsoft experts to help design and build application marketing resources to increase exposure to new customers, and support with achieving co-sell status.

Viva connects people to company information, workplace insights, knowledge and learning. Customers value Viva as an open platform that can be easily integrated with existing tools and systems and customised for business needs. Microsoft announced a second wave of 21 Viva partnerships and new research from The Bersin Academy.

3. Lower transaction fees for partners

Several announcements reinforced Microsoft’s commitment to help partners get to market faster, build apps for every customer need and scale to help reach new business heights. One such change is a reduction of marketplace transaction fees from 20% down to 3%, which applies to every transactable application published across AppSource and Azure Marketplace. “This is our investment in your success, so you can invest more in your business and in your people,” Nadella told partners.

According to Charlotte Yarkoni, COO of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI Division, Microsoft’s investment in its marketplace has led to “70% year-over-year increase in transactable applications” and that partners have an “untapped opportunity to build productivity and collaborative applications in the new hybrid-work reality”.

4. Innovate from cloud to edge

A number of announcements around Azure were designed to help customers be future-ready, build on their terms and operate hybrid seamlessly. For example, Azure Migration Program (AMP) is now Azure Migration and Modernisation Program (AMMP). Over the last two years, AMP has helped 4500+ customers move to Azure with the right mix of expert help and best practice guidance, but many customers also asked for help with modernising their applications.

As a result, Azure Migration Program is evolving to become the Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP) with expanded support for app modernisation scenarios, including newly added support for Azure Spring Cloud and Azure Cosmos DB. 

5. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is a SaaS offering that enables organisations to effectively record, report and reduce their emissions towards net zero, with plans to support water and waste tracking. The package includes SaaS offerings that connect to real-time data sources, accelerate data integration and reporting, provide accurate carbon accounting, show performance against goals and provide intelligent insights to enable any organization to take more effective action on sustainability.

6. Microsoft 365 Lighthouse

365 Lighthouse (now in public preview) provides MSPs with one central location and standard security configuration templates to secure devices, data and users for small and medium business customers that are using Microsoft 365 Business Premium. Specifically, Microsoft 365 Lighthouse empowers partners to quickly identify and act on threats, anomalous sign-in and device compliance alerts. Reducing management complexity as our partners scale and driving standardisation across customers will allow partners to proactively manage risks and improve the security posture for the customers.

Further information

  • Westcon Cloud Connect is a complete cloud-calling service that enables direct routing with Microsoft Teams, enabled by Ribbon Connect and supported by Poly headsets and speakerphone
  • Learn more about all announcements in the Inspire 2021 Book of News
  • Find your next Microsoft-accredited training course in our Westcon Academy