MICROSOFT IGNITE BOOK OF NEWS

Introduction

Foreword by Frank X. Shaw

Welcome everyone to Microsoft Ignite, and once again we have a book’s worth of news about Microsoft 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, Security, Power Platform, AI and much more.

Our goal with the Book of News is to provide you with a guide to all the announcements we are making, with all the detail you need. Our standing goal remains as it has always been – to make it as easy as possible for you to navigate all the latest information and provide key details on the topics you are most interested in.

Microsoft Ignite is a seminal moment for our company. We will welcome more than 100,000 global attendees across a variety of industries to experience our latest and greatest technologies while also getting a sneak peek at new products and services that will be coming in the future.

The backdrop for our news at Ignite is the Microsoft Cloud. The Microsoft Cloud powers an organization’s digital capability, while providing the safeguards necessary to keep data confidential and secure. There is no question that the past year and a half has been a catalyst for structural change in every industry, from the adoption of telehealth in healthcare, to digital wallets in financial services, to curbside pick-up and contactless shopping in retail.

Digital technology will be more necessary than ever, for every organization, in every sector. The implications for IT are profound. Fundamentally, we are moving into an era in which people expect their digital data to be available anywhere, at any time and on any device.

We have a great lineup of news and some really exciting moments planned for this year’s Ignite. I hope that you can join us.

As always, send us your feedback! We want to know how we can do better. Are you getting the information and context you need? What can we do to make the experience ever better next time?

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What is the Book of News?

The Microsoft Ignite Book of News is your guide to key news items that we are announcing at Microsoft Ignite. The interactive Table of Contents gives you the option to select the items you are interested in, and the translation capabilities make the Book of News more accessible globally. (Just click the Translate button above the Table of Contents to enable translations.)

We also pulled together a folder of imagery related to a few of the news items. Please take a look at the imagery here.

We hope the Book of News provides all the information, executive insight and context you need. If you have any questions or feedback regarding content in the Book of News, please email [email protected].

1. Azure 1.1. Azure AI

1.1.1. Azure Cognitive Search supports more languages

First introduced in March, Azure Cognitive Search’s semantic search capability has added support for more than 50 languages. Advanced machine learning techniques help understand user intent and contextually rank the most relevant search results. Azure Cognitive Search support for more languages is in preview.

Learn more about this update.

1.1.2. Azure Cognitive Services offers preview of Azure OpenAI Service

Azure OpenAI Service is a new Azure Cognitive Service that provides customers access to OpenAI’s GPT-3 models with enterprise capabilities such as security, compliance and scale requirements that are available only on Azure. The new service can be applied to a variety of use cases from summarization to content and code generation. With responsible AI controls and advanced fine tuning, customers can apply these models to their most mission-critical apps. OpenAI Service is currently available by invitation only.

Other updates for Azure Cognitive Services that are now available include:

  • Azure Cognitive Service for Language consolidates capabilities previously available in Text Analytics, QnA Maker and Language Understanding into a unified service, while also introducing the new Language Studio. This improves the developer experience by providing different language capabilities in a single place versus multiple services.
  • A commitment tier pricing model for Azure Cognitive Services designed to give high-volume customers a more cost-efficient, predictable and scalable alternative to the current pay-as-you-go model. Customers can use large volumes of the service at a discount by making regular payments up front for a set capacity.

Learn more about this update on the Tech Community and the AI Blog, or download visual assets.

1.2. Azure Data

1.2.1. Azure Cosmos DB introduces developer-friendly features

Azure Cosmos DB is introducing a set of new features that make it easier for developers to build and maintain cost-effective application databases and easily migrate Apache Cassandra data to the cloud.

Cost-control and productivity enhancements include customizable provisioned throughput spending limits, cost-savings alerts in Azure Advisor and partial document updates for the Core (SQL) API. The latter was among the most-requested features by customers because of the significant developer productivity benefits alongside programming flexibility. These features are now generally available.

Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra, now generally available, makes it easy for developers and database administrators to expand their Cassandra workloads to the cloud. Automatic synchronization enables hybrid data to run in the cloud and on-premises, and benefit from cloud elasticity and infrastructure management.

Learn more about this update.

1.2.2. Azure Synapse Analytics announces updated features and enhancements

Azure Synapse Analytics is a limitless analytics service that brings together data integration, enterprise data warehousing and big data analytics, giving customers the freedom to query data on their terms, at scale. Several updates have been added, including:

  • A set of industry-specific database templates integrated into the studio experience, at no additional cost. With the availability of database templates in Azure Synapse Analytics, customers can shape and describe data in a standardized way for their specific industries. Database templates also make integration of different data sources easier. New and existing projects can leverage out-of-the-box database templates that address a wide variety of industry-specific business areas with detail. Database templates for retail, consumer packaged foods and financial services industry (FSI) (banking, fund management, property and casualty insurance) are in preview.
  • Real-time analytics for telemetry, time series and log data are in preview. Azure Synapse data explorer provides customers with a dedicated query engine optimized and built for log and time series data workloads. With this new capability, now part of the Azure Synapse unified analytics platform, customers can easily access their machine and user data to surface insights that can directly improve business decisions.
  • Event Hubs Premium is now generally available. This linked service in Azure Synapse provides customers with superior performance and predictability for mission-critical data streaming workloads, enabling them to manage event streaming, ingestion and analysis in real-time. Featuring reserved compute, memory and store resources to boost performance and minimize cross-tenant interference in a managed multi-tenant platform as a service (PaaS) environment. Event Hubs Premium also enables end-to-end big data processing pipelines for customers to collect and analyze real-time streaming data.

Learn more about industry-specific database templatesreal-time analytics and Event Hubs Premium.

1.2.3. Flexible Server deployment option for Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL generally available this month

Flexible Server is a deployment option of the Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL’s fully managed database services. The Flexible Server deployment option is designed to provide maximum control for an organization’s databases, high availability options to help ensure zero data loss, built-in capabilities for cost optimization and increased productivity enabled by the Azure ecosystem. The Flexible Server deployment option will be generally available for both Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Database for PostgreSQL this month.

Learn more about this update.

1.2.4. New investments in Azure SQL boost performance and security

Azure SQL Managed Instance has significant new investments and feature updates to enhance performance and security for apps modernizing on Azure SQL and include:

  • Link, a feature of Azure SQL Managed Instance: A new feature that connects SQL servers hosted anywhere to Azure SQL Managed Instance, providing hybrid flexibility and database mobility. Customers can enable disaster recovery and bi-directional migration between SQL Server 2022 and fully managed SQL Managed Instance. Workloads can be offloaded to read-only scenarios on Azure to take advantage of cloud-only features, performance and scale.
  • Next-generation hardware: New hardware based on the Intel Ice Lake processor provides a significant performance boost over the current generation. In addition, new business offers provide significantly more memory per vCore and increased storage to 16 TB in both general purpose and business critical service tiers. And Windows authentication support in SQL Managed Instance gives customers the benefit of modern authentication in the cloud without changing their apps.

Increased storage on the general purpose service tier is generally available. All other updates are in preview.

Learn more about this update.

1.2.5. SQL Server 2022 now in preview

SQL Server 2022 is the most cloud-connected release of the product yet, integrating with Synapse Link and Azure Purview to enable customers to drive deeper insights, predictions and governance from their data at scale. Cloud integration is easier than ever before with high availability and disaster recovery (HA/DR) live migration without downtime, along with no-ETL (extract, transform and load) connections to cloud analytics, which allow database administrators to manage their data estates with greater flexibility and minimal impact to the user. Performance and scalability are automatically enhanced via built-in intelligence. There is choice and flexibility across languages and platforms, including Linux, Windows and Kubernetes.

Learn more about this update.

1.3. Azure Dev & Ecosystem

1.3.1. Azure Communication Services SMS short code preview and Microsoft Teams interoperability general availability

Azure Communication Services is releasing two improvements designed to enhance customer experiences across multiple platforms:

  • Azure Communication Services will preview short codes for its SMS offering later this month. With Azure Communication Services, developers can integrate SMS-based engagement and workflows into their business or consumer apps to enable and improve on-the-go interactions with seamless connections. With short code functionality businesses can deliver a high volume of messages with both sending and receiving capabilities. This is important in scenarios like two-factor authentication, promotional campaigns and appointment reminders. With this functionality, developers can register for a new short code through an easy, automated UI and registration service.
  • Azure Communication Services interoperability into Microsoft Teams will be generally available in December, enabling developers to streamline voice, video and chat interactions between users on a custom-built app or website and Teams users. This is ideal for many business-to-consumer scenarios, such as healthcare professionals delivering remote care, finance advisors helping consumers with a loan application or support staff helping users install a new product.

Learn more about this update. 

1.3.2. Azure Container Apps now in preview

Azure Container Apps, a fully managed, serverless container service built for microservices that scales dynamically based on HTTP traffic, events or long-running background jobs, is now in preview.

Users can now build and develop modern apps using their favorite programming language or framework and deploy containerized apps to a fully managed serverless container service without needing to manage complex infrastructure. Applications run on open-source technology, including full support for Distributed Application Runtime (Dapr), and scale dynamically based on HTTP traffic or events powered by Kubernetes Event-Driven Autoscaling (KEDA).

Learn more about this update.

1.3.3. Azure Logic Apps updates

Microsoft is announcing updated preview capability and general availability to Azure Logic Apps Standard features to help enterprise integration between mission critical systems in the cloud, on-premises and in a hybrid way with runtime available on Azure, Azure Arc and locally.

  • Customers can now run Logic Apps in a fully disconnected fashion, on Azure Arc, to leverage existing SQL investment for more predictable billing with SQL as a storage provider for Logic Apps runtime. This will help customers to run Logic Apps fully disconnected without Azure storage dependencies. This update is in preview.
  • Ability to connect to enterprise-grade, vNET-enabled connectors such as Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). This update is in preview.
  • Managed identity support for various built-in operations and connectors. This update is generally available.
  • Automation tasks to support event replication at a massive scale for BCDR for Event Hub and Service Bus. This update is in preview.

In addition, there is faster designer performance for complex and advance workflows. An intuitive wizard experience is now in the Azure portal for users to upgrade from consumption to standard Logic Apps. These updates are in preview.

Learn more about this update.

1.3.4. Azure Service Bus large message support generally available

Azure Service Bus is a fully managed enterprise message broker with message queues and publish/subscribe topics. Azure Service Bus premium tier namespaces now support sending and receiving payloads up to 100 MB, an increase from previous limits of 1 MB. Customers can now send large messages without having to split messages to reduce size or implement claim check patterns. In addition, legacy workloads using larger message payloads on other enterprise messaging brokers can seamlessly migrate to Azure Service Bus. This update is generally available.

Learn more about this update.

1.3.5. Azure Web PubSub service reaches general availability

Azure Web PubSub service will reach general availability in December. This service leverages the standardized WebSocket protocol to support real-time client/server connections at scale, allowing developers to focus on the user experience behind web applications, such as live monitoring dashboards, cross-platform live chat and real-time location on maps.

Learn more about this update.

1.3.6. New solutions for running Java EE applications on Azure container platforms now available

New solutions for running Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) applications on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) and Azure Red Hat OpenShift (ARO) are now available in the Azure Marketplace. Customers can now use Azure Marketplace offers for Oracle WebLogic Server on AKS and IBM WebSphere Liberty/Open Liberty on AKS and ARO to automatically provision resources on Azure. Enterprise customers will now have greater choice and flexibility to migrate their mission-critical Java EE apps to the cloud with offers jointly supported by Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

The offers for WebLogic on AKS and WebSphere Liberty/Open Liberty on AKS and ARO eliminate most manual deployment steps. Automatically provisioned resources include virtual networks, storage, AKS or ARO, the Kubernetes operators and container registries. These solutions make it easy to get up and running quickly, while allowing for a high degree of control and customization.

Learn more about these updates for WebLogic and WebSphere on Azure.

1.3.7. Open Service Mesh add-on for Azure Kubernetes Service now generally available

The Open Service Mesh (OSM) add-on for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is now generally available. OSM is a lightweight and extensible cloud native open-source service mesh built on the CNCF Envoy project. OSM implements Service Mesh Interface to provide the most common service mesh features. Customers will be able to experience first-class Azure support on a fully integrated cloud native application stack. They can use the service mesh capabilities from OSM integrated natively with AKS to manage configurations such as traffic shifting, enabling Mutual TLS (mTLS), configuring access control policies, and monitoring and debugging of application communications for their microservices.

Learn more about this update.

1.3.8. Updates and enhancements to Azure DevOps

Developers can plan smarter, collaborate better and ship faster with Azure DevOps suite of modern dev services. Several updates and enhancements to DevOps include:

  • Developers can secure their deployments to Azure through OpenID Connect integration between Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and GitHub Actions. As hackers target development environments and credentials for source code tampering and injection of malicious code, these new capabilities prevent those attacks by eliminating the need for developers to manage long-lived cloud credentials in the GitHub secret store. They also will minimize the chances of service downtime due to expired credentials. This update is in preview.
  • The DevOps Workflow Generator tool is designed to help customers visualize their entire DevOps toolchain and find ways to improve it. The free tool is valuable for any organization or developer seeking to understand their own DevOps process and how to increase efficiency. When the tool has gained significant traction, reports showing the latest trends and developments will be published. This new tool is generally available.

Learn more about this update.

1.3.9. Updates to Azure API management include GraphQL preview, WebSocket API general availability and more

Azure API management provides a hybrid, multicloud management platform for APIs across all environments. Updates to API management include:

  • Azure API Management integration with Azure Event Grid is now generally available. With this capability of integration with Event Grid, customers can build an application that updates a database, creates a billing account and sends an email notification each time a user is added to an API Management instance. Event Grid is a single service for managing routing of events from source to destination.
  • GraphQL passthrough support in Azure API Management is now in preview. With the GraphQL support, customers can leverage all the existing benefits of API Management, including security, observability and reduced latency, for their GraphQL APIs while also adding GraphQL-specific features. Other benefits include the ability to easily add GraphQL services as APIs; securing GraphQL APIs by applying existing and GraphQL-specific control policies; and exploring the schema and run text queries against GraphQL APIs in the Azure and developer portals.
  • Native support for WebSocket APIs in Azure API Management is now generally available. WebSocket APIs are used by customers to build real-time web apps, such as stock market reports and live sports scores. Native support for WebSocket APIs allows customers to manage, protect, observe and expose their WebSocket APIs in Azure API Management, providing a more consolidated view and consistent governance of all APIs across environments, whether in the cloud or on-premises.

Learn more about Azure API management integration and WebSocket APIs.

1.4. Azure Hybrid

1.4.1. Feature update and new tools for IT pros in Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI is an Azure service that combines the price-performance of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) with native Azure hybrid capabilities, while helping enterprises leverage existing skills. The latest update delivers new and differentiated capabilities for the infrastructure, management and security of Azure Stack HCI clusters.

At the infrastructure level, updates include GPU enablement for AI/machine learning, soft kernel reboot, thin provisioning and dynamic CPU capability. Management level updates include multi-cluster monitoring, the ability to create and manage virtual machines (VMs) from the Azure portal and managed guest OS inside VMs. At the security level, server core is now included in all Azure Stack HCI integrated systems to provide baseline hardening against current and future threats.

Additionally, new tools are now available for IT pros to plan their deployments through a sizing tool, designed specifically for Azure Stack HCI. A new partner program allows IT pros to leverage validated independent software vendor (ISV) solutions and partner services on Azure Stack HCI.

Learn more about this update.

1.4.2. New Azure Arc releases

Azure Arc enables organizations to standardize visibility, operations and compliance across a wide range of resources and locations by extending the Azure control plane. Enabled by Azure Arc, customers can bring Azure services to any infrastructure, including other clouds, delivering scalability, fast deployment and always up-to-date cloud innovation.

Several new Azure Arc-enabled features, in preview, include:

  • Deep and native integration with Azure Stack HCI: Azure Stack HCI is an Azure service that combines the price-performance of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) with native Azure hybrid capabilities, while helping enterprises leverage existing skills. This update delivers new and differentiated capabilities for the infrastructure, management and security of Azure Stack HCI clusters. The latest release of Azure Stack HCI is Azure Arc-enabled by default to provide administrators with visibility across multiple deployments and leverage their choice of Azure services. Developers and users of virtual machines (VMs) running on Azure Stack HCI will receive self-service machine control from Azure to help inventory, organize and control distributed virtualization environments. Additionally, managed service providers and system integrators can utilize these capabilities with Azure Lighthouse to create powerful, scalable solutions.
  • Enhanced integration with VMware vSphere: Customers building and working in a hybrid cloud environment will experience enhanced integration between Azure Arc and VMware vSphere. Developers and users of VMs running on vSphere will receive self-service VM control from Azure, enabling them to create, configure, operate and delete VMs based on existing or new vSphere templates. This gives VMware administrators visibility across multiple vSphere deployments and leverages their choice of Azure services to help them inventory, organize and control distributed virtualization environments.
  • Azure Arc-enabled machine learning – inferencing: Customers can now build, train and deploy machine learning models in on-premises, multicloud and edge computing environments using Azure Machine Learning. The simplified and fully managed machine learning add-on can be deployed with one click on Arc-enabled Kubernetes and supports Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services Kubernetes clusters.

Learn more about this update.

1.4.3. New Azure Virtual Desktop features, including support for Azure Stack HCI

Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI, now in preview, is designed for customers who want a modern cloud service for desktop and application virtualization but also need to support some apps and data on-premises.

Azure Stack HCI is a hyperconverged infrastructure solution that customers can deploy in their datacenters to extend and run Azure services. With Azure Virtual Desktop, customers can now enable employees to use a modern virtual desktop infrastructure solution with Windows 10 and Windows 11 desktops and apps from their datacenters.

IT implementors can save on cost with Windows 10 multi-session and Windows 11 multi-session, a capability previously found only on the public Azure cloud. They can also meet data sovereignty residency, address latency and continue to benefit from a consistent management experience in Azure.

In addition, a new autoscale feature in Azure Virtual Desktop, now in preview, will enable users to start or stop session hosts automatically based on a defined schedule. This enables users to save on cost by shutting down idle session hosts during off-peak hours while ensuring enough capacity to meet users’ needs during peak hours.

Learn more about this update.

1.4.4. New updates and enhancements for Windows Server on Azure

Azure Automanage allows IT admins and DevOps pros to simplify and optimize IT management with automated operations.

Azure Automanage machine best practices, which support Windows Server, Linux virtual machines (VMs) on Azure and Azure Arc-enabled servers, has the following new capabilities:

  • Custom configuration profiles to both Windows Server and Linux VMs (in preview). Select from a list of Azure services such as Azure Backup and Security Center and apply to Azure VMs.
  • Support for Azure Arc-enabled server VMs including on Azure Stack HCI (in preview). Apply Automanage service to both Linux and Windows Server VMs on any Arc-enabled server.

Azure Automanage for Windows Server, which enables unique innovation for new Windows Server VMs on Azure, has the following enhancements:

  • Hotpatch: Quickly deploy security updates without having to frequently reboot (in preview).
  • SMB over QUIC: Securely access new file servers remotely over untrusted networks and without a VPN (generally available).
  • Extended network for Azure: Migrate Windows Server workloads to Azure, while preserving original IP addresses (generally available).

Learn more about this update. 

1.5. Azure Infra

1.5.1. New Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets

Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets flexible orchestration mode is now generally available. This new set of capabilities allows customers to manage virtual machines (VMs) in large, scaled-out application environments. The deployment, management and scalability of their applications are now simplified, providing full control of the individual VMs within a scale set while increasing application resiliency at large scale – thousands of VMs. These new capabilities provide a simplified customer experience and combine the functionality of availability sets and Virtual Machine Scale Sets. Azure customers will now be able to:

  • Change VM sizes without redeploying their scale set, resulting in greater operational agility.
  • Mix Spot Virtual Machines and pay-as-you-go VMs within the same scale set to optimize costs.
  • Spread instances across fault domains automatically, or specify a fault domain to ensure high availability.
  • Automatically increase or decrease the VMs in a scale set based on metrics, schedule or AI predictions.
  • Manage VMs and Virtual Machine Scale Sets using the same APIs.

Learn more about this update.

1.5.2. New Azure Virtual Machines for better price performance

New Azure Virtual Machines that deliver better price and performance for most general purpose and memory-intensive workloads, compared to prior virtual machine (VM) generations, are now part of the Azure Virtual Machines portfolio and include:

  • The general availability of the Dv5 and Ev5 Azure Virtual Machine, which deliver up to 15% increased performance for most workloads and can scale up to 96 vCPUs. These work well for most general computing workloads including e-commerce systems.
  • New Dasv5 and Easv5 Azure Virtual Machines, which are based on the 3rd Generation AMD EPYC 7763v (Milan) processor. These new VMs provide options with and without local disk storage for a lower price of entry. They are ideal for memory-intensive enterprise applications and large relational database servers. This update is generally available.
  • An upcoming preview of Ebs v5 Azure Virtual Machine, a new memory optimized VM series that delivers up to 300% increase in remote storage performance compared to the Ev4 VMs. The new VMs offer up to 120,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and 4,000 MB/s of remote disk storage throughput, making it ideal for data-intensive workloads.

Learn more about this update.

1.5.3. Several updates for enhanced support and capabilities with Azure Monitor

Azure Monitor is launching several enhancements and capabilities for customers to better manage and monitor their Azure and on-premises apps, infrastructure and network resources including:

  • OpenTelemetry support in application insights, an open-source standard for vendor-neutral instrumentation with exporters for .NET, Node.JS and PythonApps (in preview).
  • Enhanced troubleshooting for Azure Firewall and VPN Gateway in network insights, including new resource topology views and pre-built monitoring workbooks (generally available).
  • EventHub integration with Azure Monitor alerts for network isolation (generally available). They can enable receipt of alert notifications over a secure network using Event Hub and Private Links.

Learn more about this update.

1.5.4. Updates to Azure Disk Storage now generally available

Disk bursting allows customers to increase their performance above the provisioned limit and is most suitable for mission-critical workloads where performance letdowns are not an option, even with spikes in demand. On-demand disk bursting is now available for Azure Disk Storage. Unlike credit-based systems where customers can only burst if they have accumulated credits, on-demand bursting allows customers to burst six times – up to 30,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and 1,000 MBs of throughput – of the provisioned amount when needed. This provides flexibility to scale performance to meet demand while optimizing costs. This is available for Azure Premium solid-state drives (SSDs).

Learn more about this update.

1.5.5. Virtual machines selector helps customers find the right Azure Virtual Machines

The Azure Virtual Machines portfolio continues to expand. Now, customers can quickly select the right virtual machine (VM) based on their specific workload and budget using the new virtual machines selector.

The new virtual machines selector, now generally available, lets customers specify the category of workload they want to deploy in addition to VM technical specifications, disk storage preferences, region and OS. The tool then displays a set of recommended VMs and disk storage. Customers can make better budget forecasts with the pricing calculated by adding the VMs to estimate the overall total cost.

Virtual machines selector is now available in 26 different languages.

Learn more about this update.

1.6. Azure IoT

1.6.1. Microsoft IoT Signals explores current state and future plans of IoT

In 2021, Internet of Things (IoT) continues to be well-adopted globally, with 90% adoption, and is critical for organizational success. Growth is both accelerated by global circumstances and emerging technologies, with 66% of organizations expecting to increase their investment in IoT and an additional 28% planning to maintain investment, according to Microsoft IoT Signals.

Microsoft IoT Signals provides a lens into how the IoT is showing up for organizations across key industries and emerging technologies. Spanning 10 countries and over 3,000 respondents, this thought leadership report dives into IoT strategies, business growth and considerations around sustainability and cybersecurity.

With IoT Signals, organizations can explore:

  • The rate of IoT adoption, including top reasons for adoption and why it’s not expected to slow down.
  • How companies are measuring their success in IoT, as well as the benefits and challenges they’re experiencing.
  • The deep dives into the use and key benefits of IoT across manufacturing, healthcare, retail and energy industries.
  • The current use of emerging technologies like AI, edge computing and digital twins in IoT solutions.

Download the 2021 IoT Signals report here.

1.7. Azure Migration

1.7.1. Azure Migration and Modernization Program expands coverage areas

The Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP) has provided thousands of customers with expert help and best practices across their apps, infrastructure and data, whether they are modernizing existing investments or migrating to the cloud.

With these additions, AMMP provides comprehensive coverage for customers to move their applications, data and infrastructure to Azure while enabling hybrid flexibility and an enhanced security posture.

AMMP has made additional support available for the following scenarios:

  • Security: AMMP is deepening its focus on security with additional guidance and deployment assistance for services like Azure Security Center and Azure Defender.
  • Hybrid/Azure Arc: AMMP will help customers with deploying Azure Arc to workloads that need to remain on-premises or aren’t ready to move yet, helping them consistently manage cloud and on-premises environments.
  • Expanded app modernization: AMMP will help customers move their Red Hat OpenShift environments to Azure and build new cloud-native apps using containerized/microservices architectures and DevOps approaches.
  • SAP: AMMP will help customers plan and move their SAP environments to Azure.

Learn more about this update.

1.8. Azure Mixed Reality

1.8.1. HoloLens 2 promotional offer now available

Mixed-reality tools are a way to transform a workforce into an agile, collaborative and precise organization. Microsoft HoloLens 2 is an enterprise-ready, mixed-reality solution that thousands of enterprises across varied industries have utilized to explore a new way of working. Customers looking to transform their workforce, unlock innovation and utilize the Microsoft Mesh App to foster collaboration can look to HoloLens 2.

HoloLens 2, HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition and HoloLens 2 Development Edition are available at a 15% discount through a limited-time promotional offer exclusively through Microsoft Stores from now through November 30, 2021. Limitations and exclusions may apply.

Learn more about this limited-time offer.

1.8.2. Introducing Mesh for Microsoft Teams

As Microsoft Teams meetings evolved, features like grid view, Together mode and Presenter mode marked the beginning of 2D immersive meeting experiences. With the introduction of Mesh for Microsoft Teams, the next leap for 2D and 3D experiences is on the horizon.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams will enable new experiences with personalized avatars and immersive spaces where users can connect with presence and have shared immersive experiences. With personalized avatars, users can maintain their presence in meetings without turning on cameras. Users can make the conversations interactive and express emotions using live reactions that will be represented through avatars. Organizations now can use immersive spaces that resemble physical spaces, such as conference rooms, design centers and networking lounges to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity and foster water-cooler connections.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams bridges the gap between physical and digital, empowering users to connect across devices wherever they choose to live and work from. These experiences will be available as part of Teams on PC, mobile and through mixed-reality headsets.

Because Microsoft Mesh and Teams are secure and scalable by design, organizations can have peace of mind knowing that their data is in their control, protected and secure by default. In addition, users can leverage existing documents, presentations and content from Microsoft 365 and share and collaborate using this content spatially.

Teams users will be able to access these Microsoft Mesh-enabled capabilities, in preview, in the first half of 2022.

Learn more about this update on Innovation Stories and the Microsoft 365 blog, or download visual assets.

1.9. Azure Networking

1.9.1. Azure Gateway Load Balancer enables insertion of third-party network virtual appliances into a network path

The Azure Gateway Load Balancer is a fully managed service that allows customers to ensure that traffic to an application endpoint is first sent to an appliance to filter traffic, packet inspect or other use case via a network virtual appliance.

Gateway Load Balancer ensures both sticky flow and a consistent route to a network virtual appliance. Other benefits include single-click virtual integration into the network path, easy addition or removal of network virtual appliances, cost-effective scalability and the ability to select top appliances from the partner ecosystem. Gateway Load Balancer is currently in preview.

Learn more about this update.

1.9.2. Azure Network Function Manager now generally available

Azure Network Function Manager, which offers a consistent management experience for pre-validated mobile network functions to enable a private LTE/5G solution, is now generally available. The service also enables a seamless cloud-to-edge experience for Azure Marketplace network functions like SD-WAN and VPN. For a true hybrid experience, customers can use Azure Marketplace to choose from a pre-validated list of marketplace network functions to help ensure proper operation with Azure Stack Edge.

Learn more about this update.

1.9.3. Azure Virtual Network Manager now in preview

Azure Virtual Network Manager is now in preview. Customers can easily manage their virtual networks across subscriptions while scaling cloud-based workloads. The configuration feature of Azure Virtual Network Manager can help create complex virtual network topologies like mesh and hub and spoke in just a few clicks. Security features also can help customers create administrator rules to enforce organization-level security policies.

Learn more about this update.

1.9.4. New features for ExpressRoute include IPv6, MACsec

Azure ExpressRoute has been updated with features that will improve the routing, security and data path performance of customers’ hybrid networks.

Generally available updates to ExpressRoute include:

  • IPv6 support for private peering, enabling customers to expand into mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) markets with Azure or to address IPv4 exhaustion in existing on-premises networks.
  • Additional ciphers and advanced functionalities in MACsec to encrypt physical links between a customer’s network device and Microsoft’s network devices when they connect to Microsoft via ExpressRoute Direct.
  • FastPath, which improves the data path performance between customers’ on-premises networks and their virtual networks, now supports more scenarios, including virtual network peering.

Learn more about this update.

1.9.5. Updates to Azure network security include Azure Bastion availability

Several updates have been made across Azure network security and include the general availability of the Azure Bastion Standard SKU and Web Application Firewall (WAF) enhancements, now in preview.

Azure Bastion is a fully managed jumpbox-as-a-service that provides secure, remote connectivity to virtual machines (VMs) deployed in any local or peered Azure Virtual Network. The new Standard SKU extends functionality for enterprise customers who need infrastructure scaling capabilities and reliability, in addition to connectivity via consumer protocols and port numbers.

The Application Gateway WAF will have a new engine that provides better performance and increased limitations. In addition, it supports Core Ruleset CRS 3.2, which provides enhanced security and reduction of false positives. Azure Front Door WAF will have a new ruleset, DRS 2.0, which features anomaly scoring, body inspection and first-party managed rules for enhanced security.

Learn more about this update.

1.10. Azure Resilience

1.10.1. Azure Chaos Studio helps simulate real-world outages

To help new and existing users improve app resilience through disruption, Azure Chaos Studio offers customers a fully managed experimentation platform to accelerate discovery of hard-to-find issues. Chaos Studio gives customers the chance to disrupt their apps intentionally to identify gaps and plan mitigations before those issues affect users. For example, it may observe how apps will respond against real-world disruptions, such as network latency, unexpected storage outages, secrets expiring or a full datacenter outage.

Customers are enabled to be more resilient against faults and failures by better understanding application resiliency, experimenting through a library of agent- and service-based faults, and monitoring production quality through continuous validation. The Chaos Studio service is in preview.

Learn more about this update.

2. Business Applications 2.1. Dynamics 365

2.1.1. Collaborative apps released across Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Office and Teams

To help navigate the new hybrid world, organizations must prioritize flexibility, allowing them to operate as one business, everywhere. New capabilities and features being released across Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Office 365 and Teams will to change the way people work and collaborate. These updates, now in preview, include:

  • Accessible business data: Access to information can become an impediment and slow down how organizations can support customers. Dynamics 365 and Teams help organizations bring networks closer so those closest to issues can access the people and information needed to spur innovation and solve problems. Organizations can now quickly find results from business data across Microsoft Search, unfurl that data into actionable cards (Loops) across Outlook and Teams and search valuable business data inline while writing.
  • Increased collaboration: Sales teams need access to experts across the organization to build proposals to address customer needs. Teams can invite anyone across the company to collaborate on Dynamics 365 sales records within the flow of a Teams chat or channel. Other collaborative updates include the ability to have a “chat now” pop out from anywhere in Dynamics 365 and inbound/outbound digital voice with Teams, featuring conversational intelligence.
  • Real-time engagement: Organizations can see who is working with them in the flow of work with live co-presence throughout Dynamics 365 apps. In addition, users can have all the information available on people they are collaborating with and how to engage with them via calls, chats or meetings.

Learn more about this update on the Dynamics 365 blog and the Digital Transformation blog.

2.1.2. Microsoft Customer Experience Platform puts organizations in control of customer data

The Microsoft Customer Experience Platform is a complete marketing solution that puts organizations in control of their customer data to personalize, automate and orchestrate customer journeys. It’s designed to deliver personalized and connected experiences from awareness to purchase. With a deep understanding of customers and rich, out-of-the-box insights, organizations can now understand and predict intent to deliver the right content on the right channel and in the right moment.

Microsoft Customer Experience Platform utilizes assets from across the company to create a cohesive Service as a Solution (SaaS) product while also delivering capabilities from Microsoft Customer Insights and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing. Features in this new solution include:

  • Consent-enabled Consumer Data Platform (CDP): This feature, in preview, enables the chief data officer (CDO) to use consent data directly in the CDP as an integrated, first-class capability. Organizations can utilize consent enablement to build complete customer profiles, manage known and pseudonymous aliases, ensure consumer data practices are compliant and protect that data with robust privacy and security controls, all in real-time.
  • Expanded business-to-business (B2B) tools: A business-to-business CDP combines customer data from all sources – CRM, email, websites, point-of-sales, partner systems, social networks and more – and performs identity resolution at the contract and account level to generate unified profiles for individuals and accounts. This feature is now generally available.

In addition, AI-suggested content creation and delivery will automatically generate a set of content snippers to serve as inspiration for customer emails, allowing organizations to review and fine-tune content when composing emails. The new segmentation builder, generally available, allows organizations to improve marketing return on investment by targeting the right audience and simplifying segment creation, no matter how complex the logic.

Learn more about this update on the Dynamics 365 blog and the Digital Transformation blog

2.1.3. Microsoft Dynamics 365 adds key capabilities for Supply Chain Management

As manufacturers seek to create an agile and connected factory, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can now help customers predict demand shifts, supply constraints and equipment downtime by eliminating siloed Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to improve visibility of the production floor. Manufacturers can now work seamlessly with any MES system to unify data and generate predictive insights that can improve quality and optimize production processes.

Additionally, a priority-based enhancement to the planning optimization engine in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps eliminate zero-stock events. The solution automatically prioritizes replenishment of high-demand items in near real-time based on order priorities, current stock levels and projected inventory, leading to improved supply chain management. These updates are in preview.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets

2.1.4. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces coming to preview soon

In today’s environment of both digital and physical spaces, organizations have less visibility into their physical footprint than their digital channels, limiting their potential to optimize operations and improve employee and customer experiences. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces lets organizations harness observational data, use low-code capabilities to control observations and then produce real-time, predictive insights. Connected Spaces, coming to preview next month, is built to be extensible and works with existing hardware.

Connected Spaces lets organizations gain a new perspective in the way people move and interact in nearly any space, from the retail store to the factory floor. Maximize safety in high-risk areas, observe queue management and seamlessly manage the connected factory, all in the name of understanding spaces in new and intelligent ways.

Learn more about this update on the Dynamics 365 blog and the Digital Transformation blog.

2.1.5. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service voice channel now available

Organizations can transform their contact center operations with the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service voice channel, now generally available. This addition to the existing omnichannel capabilities leverages the power of Microsoft Teams to bring traditional Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Customer Engagement Center (CEC) under a single, integrated customer service Software as a Service (SaaS) solution with Dynamics 365 Customer Service.

Now, the automation, intelligence and data insights that were previously only available for digital channels are available in a voice option. Organizations can get up and running quickly, deliver an all-in-one contact center, improve knowledge authoring and management, and transform contract center routing to deliver improved service experiences for customers in both digital and voice channels.

Learn more about this update on the Dynamics 365 blog and the Digital Transformation blog.

2.1.6. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights now in preview

To help organizations proactively mitigate supply challenges and changing customer demand, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Insights is now in preview. Supply Chain Insights enables organizations to predict and mitigate disruptions and ensure positive customer experiences through fulfilling demand. With this solution, organizations can:

  • Collaborate and unify data in near real-time from third-party data providers, logistics partners, customers and multi-tier suppliers.
  • Enhance visibility by creating a digital twin of the supply chain and then generate actionable insights powered by AI.
  • Further predict and mitigate risk by enriching supply chain signals with external constraints like environmental disasters or geopolitical events that could affect the supply chain.

These actions can help organizations make better decisions based on an in-depth understanding of their actions both upstream and downstream. They can then be automated and executed through any enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other supply chain execution system.

Learn more about this update on the Dynamics 365 blog and the Digital Transformation blog.

3. Industry Cloud 3.1. Industry Cloud

3.1.1. Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services now generally available

Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, now generally available, introduces new capabilities that unlock the power of the Microsoft Cloud to help innovate for responsible and sustainable growth. Based on a foundation of privacy, security and regulatory compliance across Microsoft and its partner ecosystem, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services is built on an industry data model that enables interoperability and innovation. In addition, we released new capabilities to help enable retail banks to enhance customer and employee experiences, as well as drive loyalty and customer growth.

By integrating new and existing capabilities in Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services is designed to unlock unprecedented value. A robust partner ecosystem extends the value of the platform with additional solutions that help address the urgent challenges the financial services industry is currently facing.

Learn more about this update.

3.1.2. Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing now in preview

Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, the newest addition to the Microsoft Industry Cloud family, provides an end-to-end manufacturing solution that brings together new and existing capabilities across the Microsoft Cloud portfolio, as well as partner solutions that seamlessly connect people, assets, workflows and business processes, helping organizations become more resilient and sustainable.

Announced in February, and now available in preview for customers, this is the first time Microsoft is offering an end-to-end, manufacturing industry-specific cloud solution. What makes Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing vital is the commitment to industry-specific standards and communities, as well as co-innovation with Microsoft’s rich ecosystem of partners.

Supply chain and manufacturing disruptions are here to stay, bringing with them an intensified need for innovation and evolution. Manufacturers across industries are asking for help accelerating the transformation of all aspects of their end-to-end business. These are areas where Microsoft can help connect experiences across customer operations, workforce, design and engineering processes, customer engagements and the end-to-end value chain with Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing.

Learn more about this update.

3.1.3. Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit now generally available

Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit transforms Microsoft’s industry-leading technology, including productivity and collaboration tools, business applications, cloud services and infrastructure by connecting it to the most common nonprofit scenarios. Built for fundraisers, volunteer managers, program managers and other roles unique to the nonprofit sector, these integrated solutions help address urgent challenges, ranging from constituent/supporter engagement to data management to program design and delivery.

Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit meets nonprofits where they are, leveraging applications that organizations may already utilize, including Microsoft 365, Azure and Dynamics 365, alongside purpose-built Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit solutions like Fundraising and Engagement, Volunteer Management and Volunteer Engagement.

Learn more about this update.

3.1.4. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability now in preview

Microsoft believes the world needs bold ambition and a broad vision for the future of sustainability solutions. This includes greater transparency and data sharing, agreement on common taxonomy and methods of measurement, and standard practices for tracking and reporting data.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, previously in private preview, is a solution to help organizations take control of their sustainability goals and accelerate global progress. This new solution allows organizations to better record, report and reduce their carbon emissions on a path to net zero more effectively. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability simplifies a complex problem by giving organizations the ability to:

  • Use a common format to connect data from various sources and get a carbon emission footprint for their entire operation, as well as improve visibility across their supply chain.
  • Use meaningful insights to understand data, measure progress and meet regulatory and reporting requirements.
  • Identify the actions needed to reduce their footprint, improve processes and make lasting changes within the organization.

Learn more about this update.

3.1.5. Updates to Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare now available

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare helps deliver trusted and integrated capabilities to manage health data at scale with easy-to-deploy tools. It gives a boost to automation and efficiency on high-value workflows across patient experiences, care coordination and frontline worker collaboration.

Several recent updates to the offering further extend these capabilities across several categories and include:

  • Enhanced patient engagement: Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare offers an enhanced patient view that allows providers to associate one patient record with other patient records and easily navigate between them for faster access (in preview). The new Waiting Room in Microsoft Teams helps patients know they’ve taken the right steps to connect to their appointments (in preview). Integration of Microsoft Forms with Microsoft Bookings helps with data collection from a patient’s prior visit to a virtual visit (in preview). A new mobile browser join function allows a patient to join a virtual visit from a mobile device (generally available).
  • Improved clinical and operational insights: Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare offers better modeling of healthcare data in dataverse, allowing partners to define the process and experience for their customers (generally available). Improved ingestion of healthcare data allows customers to select how much data is copied between systems, minimizing duplication and saving space (in preview).
  • Increased health team collaboration: Microsoft Teams Electronic Health Record (EHR) Connector – Cerner allows visits to be launched from within EHR system patient or provider portals (in preview). A scheduled queue for virtual visits in Microsoft Bookings offers a dashboard-like view of the day and real-time appointment updates (in preview). Virtual Visits Manager, a standalone Teams app, simplifies the data analytics process through reporting and actionable insights about virtual consults (in preview).

Learn more about this update.

4. Microsoft 365 & Windows 4.1. Microsoft Office

4.1.1. JavaScript API in Microsoft Excel allows developers to create custom data types

The latest JavaScript API, generally available in Microsoft Excel later this month, gives developers the ability to create their own custom data types, including images, entities and formatted number values, backed by their own custom data sources. In addition, the creation of custom functions can now make use of these new Excel data types.

Customers will be able to create their own add-ins and extend previously existing ones to capitalize on data types, resulting in a more integrated, next-generation experience within Excel. They can share these data types across the organization and create add-ins or solutions that connect data types to their own service or data. The API gives power to users and developers, allowing them to better organize, access and work with their data.

Learn more about this update.

4.1.2. Microsoft Editor with Context IQ offers personalized authoring experience

Context IQ is a natively integrated AI experience across Microsoft 365 that can predict, seek and suggest information people need, right in the flow of their work. The first experience to be transformed by Context IQ is Microsoft Editor. Today, Editor can help people write with confidence, correcting grammar and spelling across documents, email and the web, making context relevant suggestions as the user types, and auto-completing sentences. With Context IQ, Editor is taken another level by offering users predictive assistance.

Editor with Context IQ will help with:

  • Attaching, inserting or sharing a file: Editor with Context IQ suggests a relevant file or document that a user may want to include based on similar subjects or because they have created or worked on them before.
  • Finding available calendar times: Editor with Context IQ recognizes when a user wants to schedule a meeting and will leverage the Microsoft Graph to recommend times when all participates are available, saving from switching apps and conducting a calendar search.
  • Tagging colleagues in a file: When the @ symbol is added to a comment, Editor with Context IQ recommends potential people to tag based on colleagues the user is currently working with on documents or stakeholders they previously tagged for document reviews.
  • Microsoft Loop components, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams integrations: Editor with Context IQ, suggests related Loop components for Dynamics 365 sales records, as well as components from third-parties, such as Jira, Zoho and SAP. This allows users to seamlessly pull all customer content from Dynamics 365 into a Teams channel, so that business data shows up right in the flow of their work.
  • Entering data or objects: Editor with Context IQ lets users enter information without switching between email or other apps. In Teams, simply press Tab to let Editor with Context IQ complete a sentence, such as adding a frequent flier number when booking a flight online.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets

4.1.3. Microsoft Forms Collection now available

Microsoft Forms Collection is a new feature that allows customers to create and manage an online archive for their forms and quizzes in Microsoft Forms without leaving the site. This long-requested update allows users to create unlimited collections and store, access and manage forms and quizzes at home or on-the-go.

Learn more about this update on Tech Community and the Microsoft 365 blog

4.1.4. Microsoft Loop gives users a single, flexible and collaborative canvas to get work done

Microsoft Loop is a new app that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps, enabling teams to think, plan and create together.

Microsoft Loop consists of three core elements: Loop components (previously Fluid components), Loop pages and Loop workspaces. These elements are built on the Fluid Framework open-source platform, providing real-time collaboration operating at a massive scale. Microsoft Loop components are rolling out in preview across Microsoft 365 apps, such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook and OneNote in the coming months, with more Microsoft Loop functionality to follow.

  • Loop components are atomic units of productivity that allow users to complete work and collaborate in the flow of work – on a Loop page, in a chat, email, document or online meeting. Loop components can be as simple as lists, tables and notes or as sophisticated as a customer sales opportunity from Dynamics 365. Because Loop components stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps, users are always working with the latest information.
  • Loop pages are flexible canvases where users can organize their components and pull in helpful elements like links, files or data in ways that suit their specific project needs. Loop pages can start small and continue to grow to match the size of the ideas.
  • Loop workspaces are shared spaces that allow users to see and group everything important to their project. Loop workspaces make it easy for users to catch up on what everyone is working on, react to ideas and track progress toward shared goals.

Loop components are continually being added. New additions include voting table and status tracker. Voting table makes it easy to brainstorm, choose and decide as a team to help drive ideation and decision making. Status tracker helps gather information, track progress and maintain an up-to-date view of the project across the team.

Additionally, new Loop components to facilitate your business workflows – starting with Dynamics 365 records – are being added. App developers will also be able to build Loop components by extending their existing message extensions apps and Microsoft Graph Connector integrations with minimal investments. More specific details will be shared next year at Microsoft Build.

In addition to these new components, previously announced agenda, notes and task list components will be available soon as part of the new meeting notes experiences in Outlook, Teams and OneNote. By adding notes to calendar invites in Outlook or Teams, users will be able to collaborate on the agenda with invitees ahead of the meeting to collectively capture notes and follow-up actions during the Teams meeting.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets

4.1.5. Recording Studio in Microsoft PowerPoint lets you tell your stories

With the shift to more virtual interactions there is a need to simplify the creation of a polished slide deck and make it personal to audiences. The recording experience in Microsoft PowerPoint has been enhanced so customers can now use the recording studio in PowerPoint to easily tell their stories, in their own words, using video. This allows them to reach more people in a way that is accessible and convenient for viewers to absorb content in their own time.

Users can record, retake and share their presentation with ease, allowing them to clearly get their message across and connect with their audience. Recording studio also provides unique integration with Cameo and Designer in PowerPoint to enhance the quality of slides – making them immersive and engaging to the audience. This experience will be available in the beginning of 2022.

Learn more about this update.

4.1.6. Smart Alerts help developers seamlessly integrate solutions in Microsoft Outlook

Smart Alerts, in preview, is a new feature in Microsoft Outlook that enables developers to validate content before a user sends an email or appointment to alert them about potential improvements. Smart Alerts can be used in conjunction with event-based add-in extensions to perform logic while users accomplish tasks in Outlook, like creating or replying to emails.

This is an update from previous releases, which only supported event-based add-ins when composing emails or attachments. Now, event-based add-ins for recipients, attachments, recurrence and date changes are generally available.

Learn more about this update on Microsoft Docs and the Microsoft 365 blog.

4.1.7. Updates to Office.com and the Office app for Windows

Microsoft is updating the experience on Office.com and the Office app for Windows to serve as a hub for files, content and apps. With these updates, users can easily find content across multiple file types, whether they are stored in the cloud or shared through Microsoft Teams or Outlook, to get recommendations on content that needs attention, and access the right apps and tools for the job.

Enhancements to the site include:

  • Home page: The Recommended Files section has been updated to include inline action buttons, enabling people to immediately accomplish tasks, like replying to a comment or sharing a file, without jumping between apps. The Quick Access section adds additional filtering capabilities to help users find recently opened, shared and favorite content. Users also can easily collaborate on content by sharing via Teams or booking time to review content with co-workers from within the experience.
  • My Content pane: Updates include enhanced capabilities for searching and filtering content by document type, activity and time. Users can also find files according to the people they work with or meeting content, such as recordings and attached documents. Infinite scroll has been added so users are not limited in search results, even when going back years.
  • Create pane: Updates showcase the ability to create new content using dozens of tools across Microsoft 365. It’s easy to find the app needed for a task or to choose a template from one of several new template categories to help get started. These template categories include company templates that help users create branded content.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets

4.2. Microsoft Teams

4.2.1. Collaboration across organizational boundaries with Microsoft Teams

Workgroups often extend beyond organizational boundaries. Employees may connect with multiple external stakeholders, such as customers and vendors, during work, leading to utilizing different collaboration or even personal apps. This makes it harder to keep track of the latest updates and requires constant context switching, which creates security risks. Microsoft Teams Connect, coupled with the secure access capabilities of Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), a flexible identity platform, makes cross-organizational collaboration easier with two updates:

  • Shared channels can be shared with individuals and teams across multiple organizations. To enable easy access, shared channels appear within each member’s Teams tenant, alongside other teams and channels. Users will be able to schedule a shared channel meeting, use Microsoft apps and share each channel with up to 50 teams and as many organizations as needed. With cross-tenant access settings in Azure AD, admins can also configure granular and differentiated trust relationships for external collaboration with different organizations. This feature will be available in preview in early 2022.
  • Chat with Teams personal account users extends collaboration support by enabling Teams users to chat with team members outside their work network with a Teams personal account. Customers can invite any Teams user to chat using an email address or phone number and remain within the security and compliance policies of boundaries of their organization. This feature will be available by the end of 2021.

Learn more about this update.

4.2.2. Enhancements to Microsoft Teams Rooms and devices

Updates to Microsoft Teams Rooms and a set of new Teams devices support hybrid work and inclusive meetings and include:

  • Direct guest join, which allows Teams users to join meetings hosted on other meeting platforms from a Teams Room, will expand to include BlueJeans and GoToMeeting. This expansion builds on the existing capability for Zoom and Cisco meetings and is expected to be available in the first half of 2022.
  • Customers can now manage Surface Hubs from the Teams admin center alongside other Teams devices. In the coming months, customers will be able to use Microsoft’s managed services to manage their Surface Hubs. This is expected to be available by the end of 2021.
  • The Yealink deskVision AIO24 will join the Teams display portfolio with a new 24-inch display that can be used as a standalone device for Teams collaboration or connected to a PC as a second screen. This larger Teams display includes audio, video, a touchscreen and a native Teams display experience and can even be used to charge PCs and mobile devices. The Yealink deskVision AIO24 is expected to be available in early 2022.
  • The recently announced hotdesking experience on Teams displays allows users to quickly locate and reserve flexible workspaces in a shared office space. With Teams displays, users can make calls, set up ad-hoc meetings or sign in to access a personalized Teams experience. Hotdesking will be available on the Yealink deskVision AIO24 and on the Neat Frame in early 2022.
  • The Logitech Tap Scheduler joins the Teams panels portfolio, which allows users to easily view meeting room availability, location information and meeting details at a glance. In addition, new Teams panel features include the ability to check into a room using the panel and sensor integration that automates occupancy insights and room release, which makes rooms available if no one has checked in after a certain amount of time. These updates are expected to roll out by the end of 2021.

Learn more about this update.

4.2.3. Introducing Mesh for Microsoft Teams

As Microsoft Teams meetings evolved, features like grid view, Together mode and Presenter view marked the beginning of 2D immersive meeting experiences. With the introduction of Mesh for Microsoft Teams, the next leap for 2D and 3D experiences is on the horizon.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams will enable new experiences with personalized avatars and immersive spaces where users can connect with presence and have shared immersive experiences. With personalized avatars, users can maintain their presence in meetings without turning on cameras. Users can connect with eye contact and express emotions using live reactions that will be represented through avatars. Organizations now can create immersive spaces that resemble physical spaces, such as conference rooms, design centers and networking lounges to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity and foster water-cooler connections.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams bridges the gap between physical and digital, empowering users to connect across devices wherever they choose to live and work from. These experiences will be available as part of Teams on PC, mobile and through mixed-reality headsets.

Because Microsoft Mesh and Teams are secure and scalable by design, organizations can have peace of mind knowing that their data is in their control, protected and secure by default. In addition, users can leverage existing documents, presentations and content from Microsoft 365 and share and collaborate using this content spatially.

Teams users will be able to access these Microsoft Mesh-enabled capabilities in preview in the first half of 2022.

Learn more about this update on Innovation Stories and the Microsoft 365 blog, or download visual assets

4.2.4. Microsoft Teams platform enhancements and new collaborative apps

Microsoft Teams enables customers to bring their favorite apps into the flow of their work and gives developers the ability to build immersive experiences in their Teams apps. New updates to the Teams platform make it easier for people to streamline key workflows in Teams.

One update allows new apps to be embedded in Teams collaborative surfaces. Teams and other Microsoft technologies are continuing to provide more tools for both partners to build off-the-shelf apps and for enterprises to build custom line-of-business apps that embed in Teams collaborative service. Today Microsoft is adding:

  • Enhanced features for Power Virtual Agents. (See item 6.1.4)
  • New collaborative apps from partners, including Atlassian’s Jira Cloud and SAP Sales & Service Core, enable customers to engage with these apps across chat, channels and meetings.

Another update allows Software as a Service (SaaS) applications using Teams components to embed collaboration. Teams functionality can also be embedded in other SaaS applications, such as:

  • Teams chat connectivity with Dynamics 365 sales. (See item 2.1.1.)
  • Makers soon will be able to embed Teams chat functionality within apps built with Microsoft Power Apps. (See item 6.1.1)
  • Azure Communication Services Teams Interoperability soon will be generally available. (See item to 1.3.1)

Additionally, the redesigned Teams App store, launching later this month, makes finding the right app simple and streamlined with an updated layout and experience for finding apps in Teams. Improved categorizations, intelligent app recommendations and curated app editorials make it easier for users to discover and acquire apps.

Learn more about this update.

4.2.5. Microsoft Teams webinar enhancements and additional broadcasting capabilities enable more engaging external events

Virtual events are here to stay, and attendee engagement and retention depend upon being able to deliver interactive, personalized experiences. New webinar and broadcasting capabilities in Microsoft Teams make it easy to set up and deliver professional, engaging experiences to internal and external audiences. These new capabilities include:

  • Virtual green room enables organizers and presenters to socialize, monitor the chat and Q&A, manage attendee settings and share content before the event starts. This feature will be available in preview in early 2022.
  • Enhanced controls for managing what attendees see to minimize distractions and keep the audience engaged during an event. This ensures that attendees will only see shared content and presenters that are brought on screen. This feature will be available in preview in early 2022.
  • Co-organizer is the ability to assign multiple organizers for webinars and meetings. There can be up to 10 different co-organizers assigned, and the co-organizer will have the same capabilities and permissions as the organizer, enabling them to do multiple tasks such as manage webinar and meeting options, create polls and control audio settings. This feature will be generally available by the end of the year.
  • The new Q&A in Teams feature enables a more structured question and answer experience. Organizers and presenters can mark best answers, filter responses, moderate and dismiss questions and pin posts, such as a welcome message. Q&A in Teams will be available in preview this month.
  • Isolated audio feed enables producers to create an audio mix using isolated feeds from each individual. As broadcasters use NDI or hardware-out, they will be able to get the ISO audio feed along with the ISO video feed from any Teams meeting. This capability is enabled within the meeting settings and will be available in preview this month.
  • Cvent, the leading events and hospitality management platform, is now integrated with Teams, enabling customers to use Cvent to manage event lifecycle, including registration and agenda management, and deliver the virtual meeting and event experience via Teams. This feature is now generally available.

Learn more about this update.

4.2.6. New enhancements to the Microsoft Teams admin center streamline IT management

Several improvements in the Microsoft Teams admin center make it easier to navigate and simplify the IT management of Teams. New features, now generally available, include the ability to search for any function in the Teams admin center, and an app discovery tool that makes it easier to find and discover relevant apps, with better organization of apps into categories, additional app details and a streamlined ability for users to request apps.

In addition, advanced IT management features, now in preview, include:

  • A new device analytics dashboard that enables customizable views of timeseries data and device utilization metrics with insights, troubleshooting tips, suggested actions and proactive alerts, as well as the ability to download and share reports.
  • A new workspace view that provides data and analytics for all devices in a specific physical location, such as all of the meeting room devices and Teams displays in a particular building. This capability provides IT admins the ability to manage connected devices, and monitor workspace health, utilization and conformance to standards at any location.
  • Priority account notification and alerts enable IT admins to specify priority users, so they can closely monitor the collaboration experiences of these users, with real-time device alerts and post-call quality metrics to help prioritize support delivery.

Learn more about this update.

4.2.7. New Microsoft Teams chat features

New features in Microsoft Teams chat support asynchronous collaboration so teams can keep conversations and work projects moving forward.

  • Chat with self enables users to send themselves a message, such as quick ideas or reminders.
  • Chat density feature lets users customize the number of chat messages they see on the screen with different modes. Compact mode lets users minimize the need to scroll up and down by fitting 50% more messages on the screen. Comfortable mode keeps the chat display as it is in Teams today.
  • The variety of reactions users can add to a chat message has been extended, enabling users to choose from more than 800 3D emojis, up from six that are currently available, to find more ways express themselves.
  • Delay delivery of messages enables users to select a specific time to send a message. Like delay delivery in Outlook, users will be able to send a chat message at a time convenient to them, and the message will arrive to its destination at the scheduled time.
  • The new search results UI in Teams chat helps users stay on top of information you need. Users can filter results and toggle between tabs to find the needed information.

These new features will roll out between now and early 2022.

Learn more about this update.

4.3. Microsoft Viva

4.3.1. Microsoft Viva Insights to add new premium features

Microsoft Viva Insights is adding new premium and enhanced features to help individuals and managers collaborate more effectively, while also building work habits and team norms that promote productivity and well-being in the flow of work.

The updates include:

  • New insights and tools to help managers improve personal habits while fostering team culture will be available in the Viva Insights app and in manager cards in the daily briefing and monthly digest emails from Microsoft Viva starting this month.
  • A new effective meetings experience will be available in the coming months in the Viva Insights app in Microsoft Teams. Meeting organizers will be able to view personalized insights and suggestions to help improve their meeting habits. Users will also be able to create and share meeting plans to set team meeting norms, such as shorter meetings by default and always including Teams links.
  • Guided meditations and mindfulness exercises from Headspace in the Viva Insights app in Teams will be generally available later this month in additional languages – French, German, Portuguese and Spanish – to foster mindfulness and well-being throughout the workday.

Learn more about this update.

4.3.2. Microsoft Viva now generally available as a suite with new module on the way

Microsoft is helping accelerate and transform the employee experience with Microsoft Viva. Adding to the employee experience platform’s previously available modules – Viva Topics, Viva Insights and Viva Connections – Viva Learning is now also generally available.

In addition, customers can now purchase Microsoft Viva as a suite (also available with a Glint add-on) to gain access to all the generally available modules.

In the coming year, Ally.io, a recently acquired leading objectives and key results (OKR) company, will join the Viva family as a new module to help people and teams come together to build alignment and achieve better business outcomes. Customers who purchase the Microsoft Viva suite will get access to future value, including Ally.io when it becomes generally available in the Microsoft Cloud over the next year.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets

4.3.3. New Microsoft Viva Topics updates generally available soon

Viva Topics is expanding customers’ ability to discover knowledge from more sources, manage it at scale and adopt it across more apps in Microsoft 365 with new updates. These updates, which will be generally available in the coming months, include:

  • Ability to unlock adoption of knowledge across more of Microsoft 365, including Outlook email and Yammer communities.
  • A new question concierge service for Q&A that routes questions to suggested experts when the answer is not immediately known.
  • More ways for topic managers to oversee large knowledge domains, including automatic grouping of related topics into segments, feedback workflows and usage analytics.
  • Support to crawl knowledge from content written in French, German and Spanish.
  • Addition of Viva Topics to the US Government Community Cloud (GCC).
  • Automatic creation of topics built by the automated taxonomy services of Syntex.

Learn more about this update.

4.3.4. Partner integration and deployment updates for IT pros available in Microsoft Viva

Microsoft Viva’s extensible platform enables customers to access industry-leading apps in their natural flow of work via key partner integrations. Several partner integrations for Microsoft Viva are now generally available, with more coming soon*:

  • Viva Learning: SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, Coursera, Skillsoft, Pluralsight, edX, Udemy, Go1, Infosec, Josh Bersin Academy, Udacity*, Harvard Business Review*, OpenSesame* and EdCast*
  • Viva Connections: Qualtrics, ServiceNow, UKG, Talentsoft, StandOut by ADP, Adobe Sign, Moveworks, Lifeworks, Limeade, Tribute, Blue Yonder, Zebra-Reflexis, Workday*, DocuSign*, EdCast* and Espressive*
  • Viva Insights: Headspace, Qualtrics and Glint

In addition, IT admins can now leverage the centralized Microsoft admin center to access set-up guides for deploying all Microsoft Viva modules. This update is now generally available.

*Available by January 2022.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets.

4.4. Next Gen Apps

4.4.1. Expansion of SharePoint Syntex offers increased value for users

First introduced at Microsoft Ignite 2020, SharePoint Syntex uses AI to turn unstructured files into organized information that helps customers find, protect and automate business processes, eliminating the patchwork of manual activity and disconnected systems many organizations have used in the past. Syntex is now expanding, providing more features to deliver broad user value. These generally available updates include:

  • Content assembly: Users can automatically build new content from existing data sources, leveraging AI models to turn existing documents into automatic templates, creatable contracts, invoices, spreadsheets and more.
  • Contract management: Syntex contract management lets users govern contract creation, analysis and lifecycles using standard clause libraries, workflow driven approvals, automatic classification and lifecycle management.
  • Search and analysis: Use natural language search to find documents with precision, based on the automatic metadata and extended columns created by Syntex.

Additional updates include enriching the core content processing engine and adding support for prebuilt models to handle files like ID cards, invoices and receipts.

Learn more about this update

4.4.2. New features, capabilities and use cases for video with Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Stream empowers customers to be more connected and achieve more with fast, intelligent video integrated throughout Microsoft 365. Several new features and updates have been added to increase the capabilities of Microsoft Stream, including:

  • Microsoft Teams meetings engagement: Customers can view Microsoft Teams live transcripts as closed captions in the player or side pane for the recording, adjust playback speed and more. This update is generally available.
  • Video as a Document (VaaD): Users can start managing and using video like other documents with this feature. They can find meeting recordings based on what was said, access videos through stream.office.com, and experience increased video quality across Microsoft 365 with the new web player. This is now generally available.
  • Classic migration: The ability to migrate videos from Microsoft Stream (classic) to Microsoft Stream (built on SharePoint) is now in preview.

Learn more about this update.

4.5. Windows 11 & Windows 365

4.5.1. Multiple updates make it easier to deploy and manage Windows 11

As organizations plan their move to Windows 11, several new updates for IT will help with both deployment and management:

  • Windows Update for Business deployment service: To make it easier for organizations using Microsoft Intune to leverage the control features of Windows Update for Business deployment service (a cloud service that provides control over the approval, scheduling and safeguarding of updates delivered from Windows Update), we are integrating controls for scheduling and deploying Windows feature updates directly into Intune. This update will roll out this month.
  • Test Base for Microsoft 365: Test Base for Microsoft 365, now generally available, is a cloud service designed to provide confidence that apps will work with different security and feature updates. Independent software vendors (ISVs), enterprise partners and organizations can test their line-of-business apps against versions of Windows Client and Server. In addition, several new updates for Test Base include support for Windows Server 2022 testing (now generally available), email alerts and notifications (generally available), updates to the onboarding and test results features via APIs (in preview), and faster debugging and root causes analysis through video recording (generally available).
  • Universal Print: Universal Print is a cloud service that allows people to securely print to any printer in the organization without the need for print servers. Universal Print is being updated with printing support from Microsoft Excel for web, from any device using a browser (generally available by the end of 2021).

Learn more about this update.

4.5.2. New enhancements to Windows 365, including Windows 11 support on Business Edition

Windows 365 is a cloud-based service that introduces a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 by putting the operating system into the cloud and securely streaming the full Windows experience for personal or corporate use.

Several new enhancements for the Windows 365 service include:

  • Support for Windows 11: A virtual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip for Windows 365 will enable support for Windows 11, along with optimizations for Microsoft Teams and Office. Windows 365 customers will have the choice to purchase Cloud PCs running Windows 10 or Windows 11 as their requirements dictate. In addition, new tools will help users of Windows 365 Business transition to Windows 11. This update is generally available.
  • Configurable grace option: Currently, certain conditions will put a Cloud PC into a seven-day grace period that ends in automatic de-provisioning of the service to prevent inadvertent loss of user access and data. This update allows customers to immediately end the grace period, so IT admins won’t have to wait the full seven days to remove user access. This update is in preview.
  • Support for Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)-joined Cloud PCs: Customers won’t need their own Azure infrastructure or the need to create an on-premises network connection with this update. This update is in preview.
  • Endpoint Analytics resource reports in Microsoft Endpoint Manager: These will include metrics for CPU and RAM performance on Cloud PCs to help IT ensure the best possible experience and aid in support and troubleshooting. This update is in preview.
  • Endpoint Analytics connection reports in Microsoft Endpoint Manager: This report will update IT on Cloud PC sign-in times, and the speed and reliability of network connections from the user location. These reports will provide insights to help resolve slow logins and connection bottlenecks. This update is generally available.
  • User enhancements to windows365.microsoft.com: Enhancements to windows365.microsoft.com allow users to – on demand – change local resource settings (such as printers, microphones and keyboards), choose from new alternative keyboard options, edit settings in-session and more. This update is in preview.

Learn more about this update on Microsoft Docs and the Microsoft 365 blog

5. Microsoft Edge 5.1 Microsoft Edge

5.1.1. Microsoft Edge now available on Linux

Microsoft Edge is now generally available for Linux via stable channel. Edge on Linux was previously only available in preview channels. Microsoft Edge can now be found throughout the full complement of major platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux. To celebrate the availability, the Microsoft Edge Surf game has a special, limited-time surprise from the Linux world in the Edge 97 release dev channel, which is accessible by keying in the classic Konami “cheat” code.

Learn more about this update.

5.1.2. New experience to simplify transition to Internet Explorer mode before IE retirement

In advance of the impending Internet Explorer retirement on June 15, 2022, the Cloud Site List Management experience allows customers to store their organization’s site list in a compliant cloud location instead of requiring on-premises infrastructure to host the site list. The Enterprise Site List is essential in configuring Internet Explorer mode in the transition from Internet Explorer to Microsoft Edge.

Customers can create, import and export site lists as well as audit changes to site list entries through the Microsoft 365 admin center. Multiple site lists can be published to the cloud and group policy can be used to assign different groups of devices to use different lists. This experience is currently in preview.

Learn more about this update.

6. Power Platform 6.1. Power Platform

6.1.1. Deeper integration between the Microsoft Power Platform and Teams

As organizations continue their digital transformation journey, the ability to harness low-code development capabilities in a collaborative manner has become crucial for business success. Microsoft has continued its efforts to seamlessly integrate Microsoft Power Platform capabilities with Microsoft Teams.

Power Automate is now more deeply integrated with Teams as well. For example, users can browse a gallery of Teams-specific automations right from the Teams App Store and create an automation from a template, in just a few clicks, without having to do any advanced configuration.

New integrations that will enhance the combined Power Platform and Teams experience include:

  • Power Automate Templates available direct from the Teams App Store (generally available).
  • Power Virtual Agents will allow bot makers to share bots in Teams to users in appropriate security groups (generally available).
  • Power Virtual Agents can proactively message users Teams (in preview).
  • Power Virtual Agents bot makers can directly add their bot to a team channel (coming soon).

In addition, the Microsoft Power BI app in Teams is now generally available. The app enables users to create, discover and share rich experiences. Users can also now effectively track project progress with new scorecard visuals by participating in the ongoing preview of Power BI Goals in Teams.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.2. Discover new insights with process mining in process advisor

Process mining, via process advisor in Microsoft Power Automate, helps organizations streamline how they work. Process mining provides direct data insights across the business processes organizations use daily to help them identify inefficiencies across their business to improve how they work. With process mining in Power Automate, organizations can leverage their business data to produce analytics and process maps to glean new insights into ways to optimize business processes. Organizations can better understand which activities are most time consuming, discover commonalities in business practices and improve efficiencies by identifying bottlenecks.

Process mining helps organizations identify activities that take the most time and are repeated the most often, improve efficiencies by locating and understanding bottlenecks and view process maps and get deep analytics using custom filtering from chosen data attributes. Process mining is now in preview.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.3. Enhanced experience with AI Builder on Microsoft Power Platform

AI Builder is the powerful low-code AI service integrated with Microsoft Power Platform, offering ready-to-use AI models for a variety of use cases. Several enhancements to the service, now in preview, include:

  • The ability to bring custom-built AI models into AI Builder to use with the Power Platform.
  • Seamless integration between AI Builder and Lobe, an industry-leading AI service that now comes with AI Builder.
  • Future seeding of AI Builder capacity included in Microsoft Power Apps.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.4. Enhancements and updates to Power Virtual Agents

Several updates for Microsoft Power Virtual Agents improve the creation, development and functionality of AI-powered chatbots used to respond to employee and customer needs. These updates occur in several categories:

  • Fusion bot development: Comments can be added to enable better collaboration. Any bot maker can share ideas, concerns and questions by leaving comments related to specific topics, allowing conversations to occur directly inside the authoring experience (in preview).
  • Always-on service: Bots can be connected to phone call interactions as interactive voice response (IVR) for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service. The bot can answer the call to the phone number using speech recognition and text-to-speech and then pass along the context to live agents, eliminating the need for repeat questions (generally available).
  • Power Virtual Agents as a skill: Power Virtual Agents bots can now be used as Microsoft Bot Framework skills. Customers with Bot Framework bots deployed within the organization can easily extend with Power Virtual Agents bots (generally available).

Several other enhancements and updates within the bots in the workplace category include:

  • Microsoft Teams proactive message: Bot makers will be able to send a proactive message to a user or group within Teams with full context, based on external trigger events (in preview).
  • Sharing bots with colleagues via security groups: Organizations can now share bots with security groups, with easy management of who should and shouldn’t have access to the bot (generally available).
  • Mention and interact with bots in a team channel: Bot makers can create and add bots to a team channel directly while allowing other people in the channel to interact with the bot (coming soon).

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets

6.1.5. Intelligent automation updates in Power Automate

Microsoft Power Automate utilizes a series of tools to create an end-to-end business solution designed to automate processes, deliver deeper insights and foster workplace collaboration. Updates and enhancements include:

  • Azure Virtual Desktop starter kit, now in preview, helps organizations manage Robotic Process Automation (RPA) workloads with greater ease. With the new starter kit, users can integrate existing Azure Virtual Desktop deployments and automatically turn on virtual machines (VMs) to scale out RPA workloads faster. This helps optimize infrastructure costs and reduce overall wait times for flow runs in Power Automate.
  • Several usability updates have been made with RPA in Power Automate for desktop. It is now easier to get started with your first automation thanks to a simplified recorder that spans across the web and desktop in one platform. Also, Power Automate for desktop is now accessible from the Start menu in Windows 11.
  • To support the management and controls over these new features, there is now advanced governance support over desktop flows so admins can define data loss prevention (DLP) policies that warn makers when they are creating flows that may violate compliance standards of their organization.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.6. Maker collaboration in Power Platform scales innovation and speeds app delivery

By allowing pro developers to build apps with makers in the business and IT fields directly, Microsoft Power Platform can scale innovation. Collaboration in Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents takes on the look and feel of Microsoft Office where makers and developers can come together to collaborate, comment, troubleshoot and solve challenges while building apps, flows and chatbots. This speeds delivery, empowers makers to learn more while building their skills and dramatically improves customers’ time to market.

Comments let users to contextually add notes and feedback and have conversations with others directly in the app, flow or chatbot, just like in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. For example, a user can add a comment on a screen in the Power Apps app asking for help with a formula. Comments can also be used to remind the team about changes to a specific step in the Power Automate flow or collaborate with subject matter experts on building complex Power Virtual Agents bots. This feature is now in preview.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.7. Open-source and developer collaboration for Microsoft Power Fx

Microsoft Power Fx allows makers to add advanced logic and create sophisticated apps in Microsoft Power Apps. Now, with open-source collaboration of Power Fx via GitHub and developer communities, developers can participate in the process by adding advanced logic as part of their fusion process, enabling Power Fx and Power Apps makers throughout their organization.

Power Fx can now accommodate developers of all types. By extending Power Fx to open-source communities in GitHub, developers can quickly leverage and distribute code to the makers in their organization, giving everyone the power to create complex, rich apps faster than ever. This update is in preview.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.8. Pay-as-you-go Power Apps per-app licensing via Microsoft Azure subscription in preview

Historically, when developers were ready to deploy their Microsoft Power Apps to users they would need to acquire pre-paid licenses, which could cost them valuable time in getting solutions built and delivered. To simplify this and get apps into the user’s hands more quickly, developers can now connect a Microsoft Azure subscription to Power Apps and pay only for what they use.

By moving to Azure subscription licensing, developers and IT pros can extend low-code solutions and leverage Azure capacity to activate user passes for the Power Apps per-app plan to grant access in real-time. This feature allows Power Apps to bridge the Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) worlds of business applications and Azure. It also gives makers and developers the flexibility they need to build and deliver apps faster and with less friction, to get them into the users’ hands while also not having to forecast what they might need for app licenses before they distribute. This subscription is now in preview.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.9. Power Apps mobile apps for iOS and Android now available in preview

Microsoft Power Apps mobile apps for iOS and Android are now available in preview, enabling customers to natively distribute apps through low-code solutions. This helps developers control branding and dictate the experience they want their users to have for the enterprise line-of-business standalone apps they have built. Microsoft has constantly redefined the process of what constitutes an app and where they are available. Through rich user experiences on the web and Bing integration, in Microsoft Teams, on mobile clients and for external users in Power Apps portals, Microsoft meets users where they are.

Learn more about this update.

6.1.10. Return to Workplace solution updates for Microsoft Power Platform

Microsoft Power Platform is releasing the latest update to its Return to the Workplace solution, version 1.6, now in preview. This update allows the solution to sufficiently meet the upcoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccination guidelines that require organizations of more than 100 employees to self-report and produce evidence of vaccinations and test results across employees.

The Return to the Workplace solution’s low-code technology enables organizations to comply with these guidelines by providing management tools for vaccine attestations and exemptions through periodic testing. This solution is easily customizable and quickly deployable, allowing customers to remain agile and adapt to changing hybrid working conditions.

Learn more about this update.

7. Security, Compliance, Identity & Management 7.1. Security

7.1.1. Microsoft Defender for Cloud now natively protects multicloud environments

Microsoft aims to provide the same experience and level of security customers are familiar with from Azure workloads to other cloud environments. Now, native support for multicloud environments is available through the extension of Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Cloud Workload Protection capabilities to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Microsoft Defender for Cloud now has a seamless onboarding experience when customers connect their AWS environments. Having removed dependencies on AWS Security hub, Microsoft is the leading cloud provider that enables customers to onboard, monitor and secure their multicloud environments from a single place.

This cohesive cloud security offering, formerly named Azure Security Center and Azure Defender, is now called Microsoft Defender for Cloud. The change reflects our commitment to an integrated approach across Microsoft’s security solutions.

New capabilities include:

  • The ability to assess AWS configurations against security best practices and common regulatory standards, with more than 150 out-of-the-box recommendations and the ability to build custom ones.
  • AWS security recommendations will now also be reflected in Secure Score, enabling teams to better prioritize across multicloud environments through a holistic view of their security state.
  • Support for Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), which extends workload protection capabilities to AWS and provides customers with a more end-to-end experience.
  • Integration with Azure Purview that allows security teams to discover, classify, track and secure sensitive information across their cloud workloads, improving alert prioritization and security recommendations.

Learn more about this update.

7.1.2. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 offers foundational set of endpoint security capabilities

The endpoint remains one of the most targeted surfaces for malware and ransomware. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 offers foundational endpoint security capabilities at a lower price. This can be purchased as a standalone, and customers who own Microsoft 365 E3 now have these capabilities included as of today. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 1 includes protection for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.

This new product offering is focused on prevention and includes a robust set of features, including next-generation antimalware, host firewall, device control and host-intrusion protection to provide multi-platform and multicloud security for organizations around the globe.

For the most complete set of endpoint security capabilities, including endpoint detection and response, customers should consider Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 2, which remains a component of Microsoft 365 E5, E5 security and can be licensed separately.

Learn more about this update.

7.1.3. Microsoft Defender for IoT now secures enterprise IoT devices

Internet of Things (IoT) and Operational Technology (OT) devices are notoriously difficult to secure because they are often unpatched and unmonitored, making them attractive targets for attackers looking to infiltrate corporate networks. Microsoft Defender for IoT (formerly Azure Defender for IoT) is an agentless solution that is being extended to discover and secure enterprise IoT devices like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, smart conferencing systems and building automation. This solution also secures OT and industrial control system (ICS) devices in sectors like manufacturing, energy, water and oil and gas. Microsoft Defender for IoT is deeply integrated with Microsoft Sentinel and Microsoft Defender, and SIEM and XDR solutions. It also supports third-party tools like Splunk, IBM QRadar and ServiceNow.

Learn more about this update.

7.1.4. Strengthening privacy and security on Azure with Confidential Computing and Trusted Launch

Customers need the highest levels of data privacy to innovate, build and securely operate their applications. Azure Confidential Computing helps meet security and privacy needs by protecting data-in-use, allowing for added security and multi-party computation without giving access to data.

New updates and enhancements include:

  • Azure confidential virtual machines (VMs), built on AMD EPYC 3 processors to lift and shift existing workloads to be confidential without changing any code, will be in preview this month.
  • Azure confidential VMs, built on Intel SGX technology to optimize for confidentiality at the application level, are now in preview, offering six times the number of cores and 2,000 times the encrypted memory for large data workloads. These new offerings help leverage a growing ecosystem of solutions to lift and shift existing applications into secure enclaves and get full control over a confidential security posture.
  • Worker nodes in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) are now available in preview on Intel SGX to secure confidential containers and are coming soon to AMD EPYC VMs to encrypt the memory of containers with AMD Sev-SNP technology.
  • Trusted launch for all Azure Generation 2 VMs with Secure boot and vTPMs to protect against advanced and persistent attack techniques is now generally available.

Learn more about this update.

7.1.5. Vulnerability management for Android and iOS devices

Added support for vulnerability management for Android and iOS devices in Microsoft Defender for Endpoint is currently in preview. For Android, the new capabilities will support OS vulnerabilities as well as Android-based, in-app vulnerabilities. OS-based vulnerabilities will be supported for iOS devices.

The newly added support for Android and iOS strengthens cross-platform support and offers customers a single vulnerability management solution across Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS and Android endpoints.

Learn more about this update.

7.2. Compliance

7.2.1. Microsoft Endpoint Data Loss Protection and Insider Risk Management for MacOS in preview

Microsoft Endpoint Data Loss Protection (DLP) and Microsoft Insider Risk Management are now available on the MacOS platform in preview. With DLP customers can identify sensitive content like credit cards, medical documents, intellectual property and other defined content in files and documents and enforce a DLP policy to prevent inappropriate sharing transfer or use that can pose risk to the organization. With Insider Risk Management, organizations can define policies to identify and mitigate risky user behavior indicators and inappropriate or malicious user activity with data.

Learn more about this update.

7.2.2. Multiple enhancements added to Microsoft Information Protection to protect Microsoft 365 data

Automatic labeling of files is now more robust within Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) via machine learning-based trainable classifiers. In addition, exact data match support for named entities is now available as a condition. Limits on the number of Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint locations that can be selected during automatic labeling have been removed.

When Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files that are encrypted and labeled with MIP are exported to PDF, the label and encryption will persist, giving users another layer of classification and protection even if the file type is changed.

Learn more about this update.

7.2.3. New APIs and connectors help organizations address compliance across non-Microsoft data sources

Microsoft Graph APIs for eDiscovery provide functionality for organizations to automate repetitive tasks and integrate with existing eDiscovery tools to build repeatable workflows that may be required based on industry regulations. Compliance Manager is expanding to enable customers to manage their organizations’ compliance requirements for non-Microsoft sources.

With new data connectors, Microsoft compliance solutions work with more than 65 non-Microsoft data sources. These capabilities enable customers to use compliance solutions with non-Microsoft data and applications to help with their multicloud infrastructure.

Learn more about this update.

7.3. Identity

7.3.1. Azure Active Directory expands Identity Governance capabilities and adds new workflow extensions

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Identity Governance can now reach more business-critical apps, including those hosted on-premises and in private clouds. Identity administrators can now unify identity and access lifecycle management across all apps, making it easier to keep track of the access rights across their entire environment and, ultimately, reducing identity-based risk. This update is in preview.

Learn more about this update.

7.3.2. Microsoft extends Zero Trust capabilities with new identity security features

Microsoft continues to strengthen its identity security capabilities across the cloud and on-premises to ensure that all identities, including apps and workload identities, are under improved protection. Several security enhancements have been made to help customers bolster their security posture and adopt a Zero Trust approach and include:

  • Conditional Access device filters: These allow customers to apply different Conditional Access policies on specific devices and exclude or target individual devices or device groups when creating Conditional Access policies (generally available).
  • Conditional Access app filters: IT admins can tag applications with custom security attributes and apply Conditional Access policies based on those tags, rather than individually selecting apps (in preview).
  • Conditional Access overview dashboard and templates: IT admins will now have a comprehensive and integrated view of Conditional Access policy gaps and coverage, empowering them to easily manage organizational policies. They can also leverage pre-built templates for recommended Conditional Access policies (in preview).
  • Anomalous token and token issuer detections: These updates will flag suspicious activities related to token-based authentication (generally available).
  • Continuous Access Evaluation (CAE): CAE provides more robust security by continuous monitoring of each access session and security policy enforcement in real-time if a critical security event is detected (generally available by the end of 2021).
  • One-click enablement for risk data extensibility: This allows enablement of riskDetections, RiskyUsers and RiskySPs data to be exported to third-party SIEMs, allowing security teams to track trends, identify compromises and easily query risk data for detection and troubleshooting purposes (generally available).
  • Conditional Access for workload identities: This capability will enable IT admins to enforce organizational security policies for workload identities and apps, for example, block access to sensitive resources from non-trusted locations (in preview).
  • Additional authentication method policies for apps and workload identities (in preview): Now, IT admins can configure policies for application authentication methods like certificates and password secrets. New authentication method policies include blocking custom passwords and symmetric keys and enforcing max lifetime on key credentials.

Learn more about this update.

7.3.3. New capabilities to secure, manage and migrate more application types in Azure Active Directory

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is making it easier for IT admins to modernize identity and access management for a wider range of application types, from on-premises to the cloud. The ability to migrate more apps from Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) is now in preview.

Customers can accelerate migration of apps on AD FS to Azure AD. These AD FS capabilities now available in Azure AD include support for additional user attribute claims, use of regular expression (regex) to transform claims configuration, use of name substring match to filter groups included in tokens and support for additional Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) configuration settings.

Learn more about this update.

7.4. Management

7.4.1. Microsoft Defender for Business coming soon to preview

Microsoft Defender for Business is a new endpoint security solution, coming soon to preview, which helps organizations with up to 300 employees protect themselves against cyberattacks. This enterprise-grade solution is specially built for small- and medium-sized businesses and targets security threats, including malware and ransomware, across Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices.

Microsoft Defender for Business will be available to customers as a standalone purchase and included in Microsoft 365 Business Premium. Key features include:

  • Simplified deployment and management for IT administrators who may not have the expertise to address today’s evolving threat landscape.
  • Next-generation antivirus protection and endpoint detection and response to detect and respond to sophisticated attacks with behavioral monitoring.
  • Automated investigation and remediation to help customers react quickly to threats.
  • Threat and vulnerability management proactively alerts users to weaknesses and misconfigurations in software.
  • Microsoft 365 Lighthouse integration with Microsoft Defender for Business for IT service providers to view security events across customers, with additional capabilities coming.

Learn more about this update.

7.4.2. Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps extends data protection with app governance

Organizations are embracing cloud apps to improve productivity while managing costs. This growth requires a comprehensive approach to both security and compliance. Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, formerly known as Microsoft Cloud App Security, is a cloud access security broker (CASB) that enhances the security posture of an organization’s cloud apps by identifying and combatting cyberthreats. New capabilities for governance, application coverage and additional platform visibility are now generally available to address the growing need to protect cloud apps and data.

App governance now provides additional app behavior context in Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps. App governance is a security and policy management capability to monitor and govern app behaviors and quickly identify, alert and protect data, users and apps. Designed to identify anomalous behaviors in OAuth-enabled apps that access Microsoft 365 data via the Microsoft Graph API, app governance uses machine learning models and data access policies to provide actionable insights via reports, dashboards and real-time alerts.

In addition, Defender for Cloud Apps includes security for more than 26,000 cloud apps, covering all major cloud app use cases. Microsoft expanded its native API integration portfolio to include mission-critical cloud apps like Slack, Smartsheet, Zendesk and OneLogin. Defender for Cloud Apps also has extended the discovery of shadow IT to MacOS devices deployed within the environment via integration with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

Learn more about this update.

7.4.3. Microsoft Endpoint Manager now provides cross-platform endpoint management and security

Microsoft is expanding the breadth of its endpoint management solution with new features and capabilities in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Updates, now in preview, include:

  • Linux desktop management to give the ability to configure conditional access from Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), and apply and manage security policies from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.
  • Endpoint Manager to manage macOS devices beyond package (PKG) files. This means that organizations can now deploy and manage non-PKG apps with Microsoft Intune, enabling them to increase security with app protection policies consistently across apps.
  • Added improvements to Office security baselines for Windows and Windows Update security baselines to help administrators simplify device and app compliance workloads.
  • Microsoft Connected Cache to transparently and dynamically cache Microsoft content (updates, drivers and apps) on Configuration Manager servers to help save bandwidth and complement the existing peer-to-peer caching capabilities.

Learn more about this update.

7.4.4. New Microsoft Sentinel innovations across the full lifecycle

Microsoft Sentinel, the Microsoft native cloud Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), helps organizations optimize security operations through AI and automation. To aid overworked security operations teams, significant updates have been made to Microsoft Sentinel across the full security operations lifecycle. These updates, in preview, include:

  • More than 100 solutions in data collection in a new content hub for easy delivery and deployment of data sources.
  • User Behavior Analytics (UEBA) detection models to identify threats based on behavioral anomalies. These can be customized using new Watchlist templates to provide insights relevant to the organization. In addition, expanded fusion can help identify unknowns and correlate them with existing inputs to create prioritized inputs for rapid investigation.
  • Using Microsoft Azure Synapse to tap into the limitless power of big data analytics and machine learning models.
  • Near real-time analytic rules, tuning recommendations and streamlined management/deployment of rules from GitHub and Azure DevOps repositories to improve the efficiency of a security operations center (SOC).

Users wishing to explore Microsoft Sentinel can now take advantage of a 30-day free trial to experience these updates.

Learn more about this update.

7.5. Microsoft Teams

7.5.1. Protect people and data with Communication Compliance and updates in Microsoft Teams

Organizations around the world rely on Microsoft Teams for critical collaboration and communication. Protecting both people and data within Teams is more important than ever.

To protect data and address regulations, laws and organizational policies, Microsoft Records Management has new capabilities integrated into Teams and include:

  • Adaptive policy scopes allow organizations to configure a retention/deletion policy for a group within Teams, such as a department or location-based group, and maintain the membership of these groups as users create or delete new teams. This update is in preview.
  • Organizations can now configure a separate retention/deletion policy for attached files stored in OneDrive and SharePoint with a message. Organizations who wish to save the version of the file attachment sent with the message can now do so. This update is currently in preview.
  • Retention/deletion policies for private Teams channels are now generally available.

In addition, to help to protect people and address the need for a positive work culture, several updates have been made to further integrate Communication Compliance with Teams.

Now users can analyze content in modern attachments like content shared within links to OneDrive and SharePoint sent over Teams. Additionally, Communication Compliance is integrated with Teams shared channels, providing the ability to detect offensive language or sensitive content shared with users outside the host team.

In addition, the onboarding experience has been improved, making it easier for customers to begin using the service. Day Zero insights will enable customers to see potential communication risks in their organization without configuring any policies. This evaluation can help organizations identify potential high-risk areas and determine the scope of communication policies. New training videos will offer step-by-step guidance to properly configure Communication Compliance.

Also, the service now offers integration with Data Loss Prevention (DLP) with recommendations to configure relevant policies in Communication Compliance at the end of DLP policy configuration workflow. Enhancements to the investigation flow allow investigators to un-resolve a message that may have been remediated incorrectly. A policy post-review activity report will provide policy review activity so that organizations can better track the status and progress for unresolved policy violations.

Additional language support to detect threat, harassment and profanity in Arabic, Dutch, Korean and Chinese Traditional has been added.

Learn more about this update.