A woman leans against a table holding a tablet, with a wall of tapestries beside her



A Foreword by Frank X. Shaw

A second virtual Microsoft Inspire. While most of us likely did not expect us to be meeting through our devices again this year, we’re excited to welcome you to this year’s event and share the latest news on our vast partner ecosystem. We’ve taken all the learnings and feedback from the past year’s slate of digital events and have worked diligently to make this year’s Inspire the best experience possible.

Inspire is a two-day virtual event and will start on Wednesday, July 14 at 8:15 a.m. PT. We’re creating a global experience that’s accessible to any partner, anywhere in the world. Over the two days of Inspire programming, our partners will hear about the opportunities across the entire ecosystem to build and sell cloud-to-edge solutions, and how Microsoft is committed to helping partners thrive and grow.

The Inspire Book of News is your guide to all the announcements we’re making. We have news across the commercial marketplaces, Teams, Dynamics 365 and Azure, along with new innovations for partners. You can find details on all the announcements in this book and on the press microsite to help bring the news to life. The microsite will continue to expand during the event to include more images, videos and blogs, so keep checking in.

As we head into another Inspire, I want to thank each of you. It’s been a year and a half that you’ve been reporting on virtual events, and we know that your attention is at a premium. Our commitment is to continue evolving the ways we provide you with information, all in the hopes that it makes things just a bit easier. Please keep the feedback coming, and let us know what you think.


What is the Book of News?

The Microsoft Inspire Book of News is your guide to key news items that we are announcing at Microsoft Inspire. 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 App Dev

1.1.1. Azure API Management integration with Event Grid now in preview

Azure API Management integration with Azure Event Grid is now in preview. With this capability, customers can configure API Management to publish events to Event Grid when a new user or new subscription is created on an API Management resource. Event Grid is a single service for managing routing of events from source to destination.

Learn more about this update. 

1.1.2. Event Grid integration with Azure Kubernetes Service now in preview

A preview of Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) as an event source for Azure Event Grid is now available.

Azure Event Grid is a single service for managing the routing of events from source to destination, with near real-time notifications. It allows users to easily build apps with event-based architectures by subscribing to events and then taking action when the subscribed event is received. To automate AKS operations, customers can now subscribe to the following events:

  • AKS event for a new Kubernetes version upgrade availability.
  • AKS event for a new node image version upgrade availability.

Users select the Azure resource to subscribe to, provide an event handler or WebHook endpoint and then take action when the subscribed event occurs.

Learn more about this update. 

1.1.3. New smart defaults for Azure Kubernetes Service simplify and expedite configuration

Smart defaults are now in preview for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Smart defaults are a set of scenario-specific cluster configurations that can be applied in a single click to help customers avoid common pitfalls in setup and operations and get going quickly.

This feature also saves customers time that would be spent navigating through documentation and testing different settings.

Customers can select from Dev/Test, cost-optimized, batch processing and hardened cluster access scenarios and can quickly apply preset configurations for node pool size, auto-scaling, availability zones, Azure Monitor and Azure Policy that are specific to these scenarios.

Learn more about this update.

1.2. Azure Data

1.2.1. New Partner Center in Azure Synapse connects customers to partner solutions

Partners in the Azure Synapse ecosystem can now include their solution directly in the new Browse partners page in Synapse Studio. The Browse partners page serves as a hub for discovering third-party independent software vendor (ISV) partners and solutions verified to work with Azure Synapse.

Customers can now enact this experience in the Synapse Studio for Incorta, Informatica and Qlik Data Integration.

Learn more about this update.

1.3. Azure Hybrid & Multicloud

1.3.1. Azure Stack HCI has new partner programs, advanced specialization and product features

Microsoft Azure Stack HCI partners are being offered new programs and marketing assets to showcase technical capabilities and highlight the value of Azure Stack HCI, a cloud-connected, hyperconverged infrastructure operating system (OS) delivered as an Azure service. Enhancements include a new partner program for independent software vendors (ISVs) and an advanced specialization in Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure with Azure Stack HCI.

In addition, Azure Stack HCI product enhancements include simplified guest licensing activation and enhanced infrastructure security:

  • Azure Stack HCI now supports Hyper-V’s popular Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) feature for Windows Server. Customers with existing Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition activation keys can enter them directly into the Azure Stack HCI host using the Windows Admin Center or PowerShell. Virtual machines running Windows Server will automatically inherit activation from the host, so product keys for each virtual machine do not need to be managed separately.
  • Secured-core server, which is available for Azure Stack HCI, is becoming a required component for HCI integrated systems. Secured-core server simplifies security enablement at the server level by resecuring hardware, firmware and OS capabilities to help protect against threats. Secured-core server disrupts practical attack vectors proactively.

Learn more about this update.

1.3.2. Manage Azure Arc-enabled SQL Server with Azure Lighthouse

On July 30, Azure SQL will join Windows Server, Linux and Kubernetes as Azure Arc-enabled resources that are generally available to be managed with Azure Lighthouse. Partners who already use Azure Lighthouse to manage multiple customer data services across environments will benefit from increased control and agility with Azure Arc-enabled Azure SQL.

Learn more about this update.

1.3.3. Microsoft Partner Network adds two advanced specializations for hybrid

As businesses increasingly turn to hybrid technology to manage complexity, the Microsoft Partner Network is adding two advanced specializations: Hybrid Operations and Management with Microsoft Azure Arc and Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure with Microsoft Azure Stack HCI.

With these new specializations, partners can differentiate themselves by showcasing their capabilities in an area organizations are increasingly adopting. The Hybrid Operations and Management with Azure Arc specialization validates a partner’s ability to enable at scale management and DevOps across hybrid and multicloud scenarios using Azure Arc. The Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure with Azure Stack HCI specialization validates the partner’s ability to deploy a hyperconverged infrastructure on-premises with connectivity to Azure Stack HCI.

Partners who earn Azure advanced specializations gain increased visibility with Microsoft sellers and customers, as well as access to Azure business programs and additional financial incentives.

Learn more about this update.

1.4. Azure Infra

1.4.1. Per-user access pricing option for Azure Virtual Desktop expands remote app streaming

A new monthly per-user access pricing option for Azure Virtual Desktop will help independent software vendors (ISVs) unlock new business opportunities as they deliver apps from the cloud to external users. The per-user access pricing option will be effective January 1, 2022, with free promotional access available now through December 31, 2021, for streaming first-party or third-party apps to external users. Organizations will continue to pay for the underlying Azure infrastructure.

Many organizations currently use Azure Virtual Desktop to stream apps to employees. This new pricing option will expand the ability of ISVs to deliver apps to customers and business partners and expand their software as a service (SaaS) businesses.

Learn more about this update.

1.5. Azure Migration

1.5.1. Expanded programs and updates support cloud migration and modernization

Microsoft is expanding programs and extending security updates to streamline and simplify cloud migration and modernization. Program expansions include:

  • The Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP), previously called Azure Migration Program, now covers a wider breadth of migration and modernization offerings across apps, infrastructure and data, including support for Azure Arc.
  • Azure Migrate App Containerization now supports deploying containerized apps to the Azure App Service — Web App for Containers tool. The App Containerization tool helps modernize existing ASP.NET and Java web apps by packaging them as containers and deploying the containerized app to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) or Azure App Service Containers.

In addition, on-premises Windows Server and SQL Server customers looking to migrate and modernize can take advantage of the extension of free Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for Windows Server 2012/R2 and SQL Server 2012, as follows:

  • Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 Extended Support will end October 10, 2023. SQL Server 2012 Extended Support ends July 12, 2022. Customers that cannot meet this deadline can protect their apps and data running on these releases for three additional years when they migrate to Windows Server and SQL Server on Azure and take advantage of free ESUs on Azure. Customers running Windows Server and SQL Server on these releases and on-premises will have the option to purchase ESUs.
  • Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 three-year ESUs are coming to an end January 10, 2023, and July 12, 2022, respectively. Customers who need more time to migrate and modernize will be able to take advantage of a Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 security update extension for Azure for one additional year.

Learn more about these updates.

2. Business Applications 2.1. Dynamics 365

2.1.1. Dynamics 365 data access now included with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams customers will now receive access to view and edit Microsoft Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no extra cost, whether or not they have a Dynamics 365 license. The provision of no-cost data access provides flexibility for organizations to determine when and how they purchase Dynamics 365. The inclusion of Dynamics 365 access will remove a barrier to productivity within the customer workflow. Now, any employee with a Teams license can see Dynamics 365 records directly within Teams. Permissions and access rules can be configured to help ensure only the appropriate users can access customer record data. Customers who need advanced features or analytics can purchase Dynamics 365 to further interact with the data.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets

2.2. ISV Connect

2.2.1. ISV Connect program gets enhancements, reduced revenue sharing

Two years after the ISV Connect program for partners was introduced, it is being reimagined to bring new value to independent software vendors (ISVs). ISV Connect offers platforms, resources and support to help ISVs develop, publish and market their apps. Based on feedback from ISVs, the program will introduce simplified, go-to-market benefits; new technical benefits, such as ISV app license management and discounted Dev/Test/Demo environments; and substantially reduced revenue sharing. These changes will be implemented by this fall. Microsoft is also making additional investments in Microsoft AppSource to improve app discoverability and search results for its audience of more than 750 million customers in 141 countries.

ISV Connect is transforming how Microsoft helps ISVs meet the growing market opportunity in Business Applications. More than 734 ISVs have enrolled in the program and certified more than 1,472 apps in Microsoft AppSource.

Learn more about this update.

3. Microsoft 365 3.1. Cloud PC

3.1.1. Introducing the Windows 365 Cloud PC

Windows 365 is a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 as a cloud service, streaming the full Windows experience — including apps, data and settings — to any device from the Microsoft Cloud. Windows 365 also creates a new hybrid personal computing category called Cloud PC, which uses both the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a full, personalized Windows experience.

Windows 365 is designed to give organizations a new, flexible and secure way to empower distributed workforces, temporary and seasonal employees and workers with a need for specialized workloads.

With either Windows 10 now, or Windows 11 once it is generally available later this calendar year, individual users or information technology personnel can choose the size of the Cloud PC that best meets their needs with predictable per user per month pricing. With instant-on boot to their personal Cloud PC, users can stream their applications, tools, data and settings from the cloud across devices.

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

From ISVs to systems integrators to managed services providers to OEMs, Windows 365 creates new opportunities for partners to extend new, full Windows experiences to the cloud.

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

3.2. Microsoft Teams

3.2.1. New and enhanced Collaborative apps coming to Microsoft Teams

New and enhanced Collaborative apps are coming to Microsoft Teams in partnership with independent software vendors (ISVs) and include Atlassian Confluence, Salesforce, SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C), ServiceNow and Workday. All of these integrations bring structured business processes and data together into the context of collaborative work.

With Teams, developers and ISVs can build the next generation of apps with collaboration at the core, enabling real-time and asynchronous collaboration for meetings, chats, content creation and business processes. These Collaborative apps designed for hybrid work were announced at Microsoft Build.

Learn more about this update.

3.3. Microsoft Viva

3.3.1. Microsoft Viva adds 20-plus partner integrations

Microsoft Viva, an employee experience platform that brings together tools for employee engagement, learning, wellbeing and knowledge, will add integrations with more than 20 partners, including ServiceNow, Qualtrics and Workday, when it becomes generally available in the fall. Through these new partner integrations, in addition to existing partnerships with Headspace, SuccessFactors and others, customers can seamlessly surface tools, insights and experiences personalized for employees in the flow of their work.

Learn more about this update, or download visual assets.

3.4. Partner

3.4.1. New benefits introduced for partners building Microsoft Teams or Viva apps

New benefits have been introduced for independent software vendors (ISVs) who want to build and market Modern Work apps for Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva. Eligible ISVs will receive access to Microsoft technology, curated training, one-on-one consultations and marketing resources to help them reach the 145 million people collaborating on Teams daily. ISVs planning to build Teams or Viva apps for business-to-business scenarios are eligible. Partners must be members of the Microsoft Partner Network. Additional terms and conditions apply.

Learn more about this update.

3.5. Security

3.5.1. Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project “Orland” to help partners deliver managed security services

Two partner tools, Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project “Orland,” are now in preview. These tools are intended to drive partner growth and profitability by making it easier to deliver managed security services and identify new growth opportunities.

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse is a unified portal that helps managed service providers easily secure and manage their Microsoft 365 Business Premium customers and deliver standardized services. Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, announced in limited preview last year, is now in preview for all eligible partners.

Project “Orland,” a new experience in the Partner Center to help partners grow their cloud business by sharing Microsoft-powered insights about their customers to improve account management, is launching in private preview. Partners will get recommendations such as customers with trial conversion opportunity, customers who may need follow-up or customers ready for new workloads to deploy from their existing customer install base.

Learn more about Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project “Orland.”

3.5.2. Microsoft Cloud App Security app governance add-in now in preview

App governance is a new paid add-in capability for Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) that can be used to monitor, protect and govern Microsoft 365 apps and quickly identify, alert and prevent risky behaviors directly from the compliance center. This capability is now in preview.

MCAS is a cloud security broker (CASB) that helps users gain visibility across multicloud apps, discover shadow IT, protect sensitive information anywhere in the cloud, enable protection against cyber threats, assess compliance and manage security posture across clouds.

Many apps are unintentionally overprovisioned, which can lead to greater risk exposure than expected. This new add-in feature will provide organizations with the ability to define and enforce appropriate app behavior policies for Microsoft 365 OAuth apps that use the Microsoft Graph API with data, high-value users and other apps.

App governance add-in provides:

  • Deep visibility and insights: Get deeper visibility into apps that access Microsoft 365 data and actionable insights on how the app is configured and behaving in the environment.
  • Policy-driven governance: Proactively define and enforce appropriate app behavior with data, users and other apps in accordance with your organization’s security and compliance posture for data access.
  • Comprehensive detections and remediation: Detect anomalous app behavior with machine learning models and address issues with automated and manual remediation actions.

Learn more about this update. 

4. Microsoft Marketplace 4.1. Microsoft Marketplace

4.1.1. Commercial marketplace agency fees reduced to 3% across the board

Fees for transactable offers have been reduced to 3% for every transactable application published in the Microsoft commercial marketplace across the Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace digital storefronts. This reflects a significant reduction from the standard 20% industry fee, simplifies the fee structure and acknowledges Microsoft’s commitment to its partner network. Microsoft has seen a 70% increase year-over-year in transactable applications in the commercial marketplace and expects those numbers to continue to increase. The commercial marketplace aims to lead the way in simplifying the process of buying and procuring software for enterprise customers, as well as optimizing their spending.

Learn more about this update.

4.1.2. CSP partner margins coming this fall for commercial marketplace publishers

Starting this fall, publishers with transactable Microsoft commercial marketplace offers will be able to set one price for customers and another price for Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partners of their choice. This allows publishers to provide a margin to CSP partners upfront while CSP partners can also add a price markup when reselling to customers outside of the commercial marketplace. Publishers can develop their channel with partners in the CSP program and compensate these partners for generating sales.

This new flexibility is intended to create stronger connections among partners and incentivize independent software vendors (ISVs) to share a margin with resellers. The overall goal is to make it more profitable for Microsoft partners to engage and sell commercial marketplace offers.

CSP partners will be able to identify offers with a margin and leverage existing publisher relationships and form new publisher relationships to sell Microsoft products, commercial marketplace offers and their own services to customers.

Learn more about this update.

4.1.3. Independent software vendors will be able to sell apps within Microsoft Teams

Independent software vendors (ISVs) will soon be able to sell their apps within Microsoft Teams. This will expand the ability for ISVs to monetize their offerings and provide a simplified experience for Teams IT admins to purchase apps and subscriptions directly from the Teams admin center on behalf of their organization. App purchase will become available this summer.

Teams IT admins will be able to install and purchase ISV apps from one single location inside the Teams admin center with a credit card or via invoice. Invoice billing is a preferred method for many customers, including those who do not have a company credit card.

Additionally, ISVs can offer private pricing to customers, which can help them secure larger deals in Teams and the Teams admin center. Microsoft commercial marketplace fees for transactable offers have been reduced from the standard 20% industry fee to 3% for all transactions.

Learn more about this update.

5. Sustainability Initiatives 5.1. Sustainability Initiatives

5.1.1. Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability will help organizations meet sustainability goals

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

This new cloud will enable customers to invest in sustainable practices and partner with experts to accelerate progress around their carbon reduction and sustainability goals. This new offering acknowledges carbon reduction as one of the most urgent crises facing the planet, and it responds to demand from investors, customers and legislators for more commitment, accountability and measurement of carbon reduction efforts within organizations.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is built on trusted Microsoft technologies including, Azure, Microsoft Dataverse, Power Platform and Power BI. This new offering will employ Microsoft’s ecosystem of partners for specialized industry third-party apps, data sources and emissions data connectors.

In addition to the upcoming Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, Microsoft previously announced Microsoft Cloud for Retail, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services and Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit.

Learn more about this update.

5.1.2. Microsoft on track to reach its 2025 renewable energy goal

In January 2020, Microsoft made a commitment to have 100% renewable energy supply for all operations by 2025, inclusive of datacenters, buildings and campuses. Going forward, Microsoft will match 100% of all energy used with zero-carbon sources by 2030, in addition to procuring its own 100% renewable energy supply by 2025.

In the past 12 months, the company has procured 5.8 gigawatts of renewable energy across 10 countries. This procurement brings the company’s operating and contracted renewable energy projects to an excess of 7.8 gigawatts globally. Microsoft has worked with multiple renewable energy suppliers, including AEP Energy, BP, Invenergy, Shell, Volt Energy and more.

Learn more about this update.

5.1.3. Microsoft to pilot new 24/7 renewable energy matching solution in Netherlands

Microsoft will pilot a new 24/7 renewable energy matching solution in the Netherlands with local energy provider Eneco and FlexiDAO, a technology supplier. The program will match hourly energy consumption at one of the company’s Amsterdam datacenters with Dutch offshore wind.

Without the transparency of supply and demand, market forces cannot work to ensure that renewable energy demand is supplied from renewable sources. To address that gap, 24/7 energy monitoring matches the supply of renewable energy with demand for that energy on an hourly basis.

Microsoft will be a flagship customer of the integrated 24/7 solution in the Netherlands pilot, which will enable Eneco customers, including Microsoft, to have access to 24/7 tools at scale. This builds on Microsoft’s announcement last November for the availability of the first commercial 24/7 hourly energy matching solution with partner Vattenfall, which will monitor energy use and renewable energy matching for Microsoft’s Swedish datacenters.

Learn more about this update.

5.1.4. New platform, in partnership with REsurety, more accurately measures clean energy

Microsoft has partnered with REsurety to create the Locational Marginal Emissions (LMEs) platform, which is powered by Microsoft Azure and calculates LMEs for both load and generation. This platform takes into account factors such as where and when energy was produced, and the condition of the transmission grid, to more accurately assess the environmental value of clean energy. Current carbon and renewable energy accounting standards use regional and annual averages to estimate the carbon value of clean energy, but not all megawatt-hours of energy are of equal value.

As the founding customer of this service, Microsoft will use the platform to measure the carbon resulting from its datacenter load, as well as how much carbon is mitigated by its renewable energy supply agreements. The platform was created following a successful pilot program to measure LMEs in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) energy market and is available to other grid participants interested in accurately measuring the carbon in their operations.

Learn more about this update.

5.1.5. Sustainability efforts include carbon removal RFPs, climate funding and new tools

In addition to the upcoming Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability and other climate-focused news detailed in this section, Microsoft has made other progress toward its goals to be carbon negative, water positive, zero waste and to protect ecosystems. Notable updates include a new request for proposals (RFPs) for carbon removal; direct investments in several companies that are working toward sustainability solutions; and new tools and resources to support companies in their own sustainability goals.

Microsoft launched carbon dioxide removal RFPs in July 2020. In January of this year, the company shared the results of that process, through which it purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon. The company is now accepting new proposals for carbon removal purchase for the fiscal year ending June 2022.

Through its Climate Innovation Fund, Microsoft will invest $1 billion over four years in new technologies and sustainability solutions. The company recently made direct investments to several companies, including AutoGrid, NCX, Twelve and Rheaply.

Lastly, new in-depth capacity-building tools and resources, developed in partnership with Engie, WSP and CDP, will help companies report their greenhouse gas emissions, develop clean energy strategies and reduce their energy-related emissions.

Learn more about this update.