Microsoft Round Up – July 2021

Expert Insight

Key Microsoft announcements - July 2021

July 2021 has been a big month for Microsoft – we’ve had the announcement of the revolutionary Windows 365 Cloud PC, during the same week as Microsoft Inspire, as well as promises for new Microsoft Teams features… It’s been one big announcement after another!

So, as Microsoft specialists, we thought we’d summarise some of July’s key announcements and updates, to help you decode the tech talk, and find out how they can benefit you and your team.

Windows 365 - Cloud PC

With the new world of hybrid work in mind, July 14th saw Microsoft announce a fully new personal computing category – Windows 365.

So, what exactly is the new Windows 365 Cloud PC?

This cloud service essentially introduces a new way of experiencing Windows 10 and Windows 11 – enhancing various working roles by easily facilitating a flexible, hybrid workforce and storing data in the Microsoft cloud rather than the device.

Across the board, employees want to use technology that is familiar to them, built with flexibility and security at the forefront. Windows 365 is exactly that – through taking the operating system to the Microsoft Cloud, your existing apps, data and settings are securely transferred to your personal or business devices, essentially creating a Cloud PC designed specifically for a flexible workforce.

“Our vision for a Windows 365 Cloud PC is to deliver a new way to experience Windows through the power of the cloud—while solving both novel and traditional challenges for organizations.” – Wangui Mckelvey, General Manager, Microsoft 365

Stand out benefits include...

Designed for a hybrid world

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, over 70% of employees want the flexible working model to continue, with 66% of businesses considering office redesign or relocation to best facilitate hybrid work environments. These findings made one thing clear – there was a need to connect the home, the office and everywhere in between.

As such, Windows 365 Cloud PC aims to provide a consistent Windows experience across devices and location. You can switch devices and change location with the state of your Cloud PC remaining the same – allowing you to complete work anywhere, at any time, on any device.

Facilitates specialised workers

Specifically, Windows 365 Cloud PC is particularly prevalent for a specialised workforce, such as contractors or seasonal employees – allowing them to come and go as required without the security or expenditure issues of supplying new hardware each time. This equally encourages scalability for businesses during busy periods.

Integration with the Microsoft 365 stack

The Cloud PC supports your business apps and ensures app compatibility for the ultimate streamlined experience. Furthermore, the management and security policies will be consistent with what you’re already used to, managed in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, alongside your existing physical devices.

With this integration, Windows 365 is able to use the security models for Windows 10, Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to provide comprehensive protection across the board. Crucially, following a Zero Trust framework, the Windows 365 Cloud PC will operate with encryption integrated throughout, utilising Microsoft’s enterprise-grade security tools such as Multi-Factor Authentication and Azure Active Directory to create a model of least privilege.

Windows 365 will be available from August 2nd with two editions available, depending on the requirements of your business, Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise. For more information on the new hybrid Windows, watch the below video, or get in touch here to discover how our specialists can help integrate the Microsoft 365 stack into your business.

Microsoft Inspire 2021

Microsoft Inspire 2021 took place digitally over 14th-15th July, with the aim to celebrate and reflect upon a year of complete digital transformation. Specifically, Inspire focused on the Microsoft Cloud – its recent advancements and the opportunities it continues to provide customers and partners.

Stand-out Microsoft updates included:

Industry-specific Clouds – Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability

Microsoft’s industry-specific clouds have been empowering sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, retail and finance by delivering industry solutions designed with industry challenges in mind. Microsoft 365 announced at Inspire its latest cloud offering – Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability. This offering aims to help organisations achieve their sustainability and carbon neutrality goals by enabling them to record, report and reduce their carbon emissions using innovative Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings.

Microsoft Viva enhancements

Microsoft Viva is a solution that works alongside the Microsoft 365 ecosystem to provide an integrated employee experience focused on communications and wellbeing in the workplace. Inspire announced integrations with more than 20 new partners such as Workday and ServiceNow, platforms through which Microsoft Viva customers can seamlessly connect their systems and tools to. The new Microsoft Viva partner list is expected to be available later this year.

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse

New security offerings include Microsoft 365 Lighthouse (coming to preview), whereby Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) will be provided with a centralised location for security management. The unified portal includes templates and tools to help secure data, devices and identify threats at scale for MSP’s using Business Premium. In addition, it simplifies the client onboarding process through intelligent security configuration recommendations (this is one we’re particularly excited about…).

Collaborative apps with Dynamics 365

The future of work requires world-class interaction and collaboration, which is what Microsoft aims to support with new ‘collaborative apps’, introduced to enrich productivity. Essentially, all MS Teams customers will now be able to be able to securely access data from Dynamics 365. This means that Dynamics 365 users can invite any MS Teams user to collaborate and share information across sales opportunities, customer records, customer relationships and more – allowing a seamless integration between various teams and silos across your business to simplify communication.

For more information on the Microsoft updates announced at Microsoft Inspire 2021, click here.

Microsoft Teams

MS Teams is continuing to lead the way with innovative feature updates, to improve and empower today’s remote workforce, and this shows no signs of stopping with the announcement of ‘Fluid Components’ in Teams launching mid-august.

So, what does fluid components actually do?

This new feature essentially makes it easier to co-author content across Teams and Office apps, allowing users to send tables, checklists and items that can be edited or co-authored immediately, via Teams chat. The integration across the Microsoft 365 stack means that this data will also be shareable across Office applications.

Some key features of Fluid components within Teams meetings include the following:

  • Co-create an agenda
  • Assign tasks
  • Take notes
  • Recap content

Utilising Fluid components will essentially reduce the length of chat threads, save valuable time and allow further improved collaboration, across every business.

For a preview on how to use Fluid components in MS Teams, watch the below video.

The new advancements announced by Microsoft this month, further enable flexibility and agility throughout your workforce – hybrid or otherwise – and we can’t wait to see which innovative solutions come next.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, specialising secure, cloud-first technology, our specialists are experienced, certified and ready to assist with the implementation and user adoption of Microsoft’s 365 solutions.

If you would like more information on how we can support your organisation’s Microsoft transformation, click here.

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