Microsoft Inspire 2021: Windows 365, Azure, Teams, and More!

Sreeraj Vasukuttan

Inspire is Microsoft’s annual partner event, where Microsoft celebrates partner success of the year before and sets the stage for the new year. Yesterday at Inspire 2021, Microsoft announced Windows 365, its new cloud PC offering, and it looks really cool. Microsoft choosing the Inspire venue for these massive product announcements is nothing new.  For example, at Inspire 2016, Microsoft announced Microsoft 365, their flagship SaaS offering now.  Inspire is more exciting when Satya Nadella drops new products and offers during the keynote. It naturally sets the stage for us for the year to come as well. 

Get ready for the top product announcements and offers from the event, with comments from our team members to follow.  

Windows 365–a simplified Cloud PC for hybrid work world:  

Windows 365 is your new Cloud PC from Microsoft designed to support hybrid work scenarios with a simple out-of-the-box desktop deployment experience built on top of Azure Virtual Desktop. There will be two variants of Windows 365—Business and Enterprise, to be available starting August 2, 2021. Windows 365 will follow a familiar per-user, per-month pricing model. Windows 365 will support Windows 11 in the cloud as well, once it’s available later this year. Finally, Windows 10 Pro licenses will be eligible for a hybrid use discount of Windows 365. Microsoft hasn’t announced the pricing for Windows 365 yet. Please subscribe to our newsletter for Windows 365 pricing updates.  

Better platform experience of Microsoft Teams with new Dynamics 365, and Viva announcements:  

To enable a better platform experience in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft will now let you view and edit Dynamics 365 data in Teams for free. With this, you can have a more integrated ERP, CRM experience of Dynamics 365 in your organization without having to pay for more licenses. Form a user experience perspective, your Dynamics 365 user can get maximum efficiency with their Dynamics experience in Teams itself with the added benefit and features.   

Microsoft Viva, Microsoft’s new employee experience platform within Teams, will get additional integration partners and new features. For example, Viva Connections will get new work-class integration partners, while Viva Learning will add more learning partners. In addition, Viva Topics will soon get features such as SharePoint Syntax taxonomy integrationMulti-geo support, and user opt-in, as suggested experts, etc. The improvements to Microsoft Viva will further enhance the platform experience of Teams. Check out our blog post to learn more about Viva and the role of employee experience platforms in the era of hybrid work.  

New Azure benefits for partners and customers to boost cloud adoption:  

Microsoft announces new partner benefits for Azure Synapse and Azure Stack HCI. Azure Stack HCI will see product enhancements such as Azure Stack support Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) feature for Windows Server and Secured-core server. Azure SQL will become an Azure Arc-enabled resource starting July 30, 2021.  

Microsoft is adding one additional year of exteneded support for customers who are hosting Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure. As Windows Server/SQL 2012 and 2012 R2 are apraoching end of life, Microsoft is making Extended Security updates available vailable in Azure for free and as paid option for on-prem with Software Assurance.  

To increase the doption of Azure Virtual Desktop Microsoft is now offering Azure Virtual Desktop promo that includes free access to Azure Virtual Desktop for streaming first-party or third-party applications to external users. This promo ends December 31, 2021.  

Now here’s what Connection’s Microsoft team members think about Inspire 2021: 

Ashley Lofaro, Partner Development Specialist for Microsoft OEM devices said “I am excited about the new Windows 365 for its built-in security and Zero Trust that allows employees to work from anywhere while keeping their business data is secure. This is a needed option for customers to have the flexibility that hybrid work requires.”   

Belynda Talbott, Business Development Manager-Microsoft said “I am excited that Microsoft announced the inclusion of Dynamics inclusion within Teams. I think it will increase the value and usage of Teams and this in turn should increase usage as well as the demand for workshops.” 

Katie JohnSr. Product Manager-Microsoft said “I was Inspired by the way Microsoft is addressing the biggest challenges and opportunities that such a rapid worldwide change is presenting us. I am excited to hear how we as partners can play a key role in what is sure to be a historic next 10 years.. All the keynotes and sessions were so informative, but I especially loved the announcements on how Microsoft  will integrate Dynamics more with Teams to further the Teams platform as the front-end future of work and ‘the end of context switching.” 

Leandro Rocha , Sr Cloud Solutions Architect  said “I always feel excited and grateful for all of those technologies and solutions provided by Microsoft to improve community life and transform business. I am looking forward to attending sessions related to Hybrid and multi-cloud strategies with Microsoft Azure and Security to defend against threats because I see it as crucial to the business while embracing cloud. On the VDI side, I’m eager to see more about Windows 365 and its relationship with Azure Virtual Desktop.” 

Jenny Gibson-Kautz, Partner Development Specialist for Microsoft Software said “I found the new integration of Dynamics365 into Teams for all users very exciting. It may be a strategic move to develop a wider user base of Dynamics suite.  Dynamics has also been fortified with stronger AI and security features.”  

Matt Smith, Mgr MS Customer Success said I’m excited about the Windows 365 announcement, the ability for people to work securely from anywhere on any device with no change in user experience is a game changer.  I’m looking forward to learning more about the solution and how it’s sold and positioned with clients.  I’m also excited about VIVA and looking forward to learning more about this product/ service.”  

Shannon Barnes, Product Manager for Surface devices said “As Connection has a great track record in serving Industry Solutions, I am hearing at Microsoft Inspire today great alignment to better serve these vertical markets. Manufacturing, Retail, Healthcare, and more are getting a great focus by both of our organizations to serve our customers better. We are in a fantastic position to move customers forward with Microsoft Surface and Surface Hub devices.” 

Let us know what you think if Windows 365, Teams Dynamics 365 pairing, and the Azure offers in the Comments. Check our Microsoft brand page to learn more about the Microsoft practice at Connection or to reach out to our Microsoft experts.  

Sreeraj Vasukuttan is a Technical Marketing Manager at Connection with a passion for technology and marketing. He enjoys writing about cloud, security, and end-user compute. In his free time, he loves watching films, cooking, and traveling with his family.