Microsoft Inspire 2021


Microsoft Inspire is one of the tech industry's largest partner events. (Formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.) It’s held annually, usually in North America, however in the last two years, the event has been broadcast virtually due to the global pandemic.


The in-person events have up to 20,000 attendees from around the globe, allowing partners to come together and understand Microsoft's roadmap for the upcoming year. It’s a huge networking opportunity, all about building new connections, sharing best practices, experience the latest product innovations, and learning new skills and techniques.


The virtual events have extended this experience to a whole new audience. Attendee numbers have skyrocketed in recent years with the newly adopted virtual hosting approach. 


“It’s Microsoft’s largest partner event of the year, with 2021 focusing on Cloud and the opportunities it provides for partners. As a M365 Cloud Specialist, I thought I would highlight the best bits for our readers.”
Urfaan Azhar, Microsoft Strategist


Most key notes and sessions are all available on demand now. There are hundreds of sessions to choose from, with many partner focussed announcements. We thought we would pick out some of our personal highlights that might be of interest to you as a user of Microsoft related products.


Some key speakers to look out for are Microsoft's president Brad Smith and CEO Satya Nadella, who paint a picture of where they think the industry is heading, predicted technology trends and social responsibility.


Microsoft partners Nick Parker and Rodney Clark both spoke of the changes and challenges being faced by the channel, whereas Jared Spataro and Alysa Taylor gave insights and updates for Microsoft 365 and Business applications. Vasu Jakkal focused on security; ensuring trust is at the foundation of business relationships.




Windows 365


This was a big release, and there will be a Business and Enterprise version to follow. It’s a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 as a cloud service, streaming the full Windows experience — including apps, data and settings — to any device from the Microsoft Cloud.


Windows 365 also creates a new hybrid personal computing category called Cloud PC, which uses both the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a full, personalised Windows experience.


Enterprise IT can use Microsoft Endpoint Manager to procure, deploy and manage Cloud PCs for their organisation. Small businesses can use a simple, self-service model to procure Cloud PCs for their organisations without a need for IT experience. For all businesses, Windows 365 simplifies Windows updates and leverages the power of the cloud to mitigate security risk.


More information on Windows 11


The release date for Windows 11 will most likely be October 20th of this year for pre-loaded systems, but unfortunately not for upgrades. Upgrades will be free but will not available until 2022. There are new and higher minimum specs than Windows 10 and the requirement for a TPM chip might lock out many users (China and Russia may get a non-TPM version as it is banned in those countries.) One interesting point is that the infamous Blue Screen of Death will now get replaced by a Black Screen.





Dynamics Data included in Teams for no extra cost


“All Microsoft Teams customers will now receive access to Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no extra cost,” said Nick Parker, Microsoft global partner solutions corporate vice president. “This integration will remove barriers to productivity for customers, as well as silos between collaboration and business process.”


Microsoft Viva becomes tangible with pricing


Viva is an employee experience platform bringing together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights. Powered by M365 and primarily ran through Teams, Viva aims to empower people to be the best from anywhere, in any location. There have been 21 new integration partners added to LinkedIn Learning and Coursera, including Workday and ServiceNow. Pricing shared of $4 or £2.92 in GBP per user per month each for Topics, Insights and Learning can now be obtained and added to any Microsoft 365 plan.



Azure Virtual Desktop 


A new monthly per-user access pricing option for Azure Virtual Desktop is being introduced. It is designed to help ISVs unlock new business opportunities as they deliver apps from the cloud to external users.


Windows Server 2012/R2 And SQL Server 2012 ESUs


On premise workloads migrated to Azure will benefit from an extension of free Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for Windows Server 2012/R2 and SQL Server 2012. Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 Extended Support will end October 10th, 2023. SQL Server 2012 Extended Support ends July 12th, 2022.


Customers can extend this for three additional years when they migrate to Windows Server and SQL Server on Azure and take advantage of free ESUs on Azure. Customers running Windows Server and SQL Server on these releases and on-premises will have the option to purchase ESUs.


Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 three-year ESUs are coming to an end January 10th, 2023, and July 12th, 2022, respectively. Customers will be able to take advantage of a Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 security update extension for Azure for one additional year.


Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project Orland


Lighthouse will make it easier for managed support partners to deliver managed security services. Project Orland gives partners powerful insights into customer utilisation, helping their customer drive usage, utilisation and productivity.


Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability


Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, available later this year, will help Microsoft and its customers, across all industries, meet their carbon reduction and sustainability goals. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability will allow organisations to record, report and reduce their emissions on their path to net zero.




PTG have upcoming events on the above topics which you can get involved in. We have a 3-day event to attend in-person called Reconn3ct, hosted in our brand-new HQ. The days will include key updates and demos from leading technology brands in cloud, edge, and security and will be actioned-packed with rich content, expanding your knowledge and experience. We’ll be celebrating the official opening of our new office and the end of lockdown restrictions too, so hospitality will be plentiful.


To get involved, talk to us. 


Technology moves fast, we do too and so can you.