At its annual partner conference, Microsoft showcased a host of technological developments, a list that includes a broader scope for team integration, a cloud PC, and an investment in specialized clouds.

The range of developments is the software and cloud provider’s response to a decisive shift towards digital adoption. Speaking at Microsoft Inspire 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a “heartbreaking” experience, but one which also served as a catalyst for “an era of rapid change” at the global scale.

“There is no going back to the digital adoption levels of two years ago,” Nadella said. “There is only forward.”

For Microsoft’s more than 400,000 partners, the task ahead is to guide customers through the process. transition to hybrid work and learning environments, Microsoft executives noted.

Teams integrates with Dynamics 365, Viva

To this end, Microsoft has unveiled new or extended tools. In collaboration technology, Microsoft has linked its Teams platform to Microsoft Dynamics. Teams customers can view and edit Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no additional cost and without a Dynamics 365 license, the company said.

The integration makes Dynamics 365 a second part of the Teams suite, “enabling much more collaboration between customers, customers, employees and sales channels,” said Mahadeva Bisappa, senior architect at SPR, a consulting firm. digital transformation consultant and Microsoft partner based in Chicago.

Bisappa also highlighted the teams’ bond with Microsoft Viva, an employee experience platform launched by Microsoft in February 2021. The integration makes Viva’s capabilities available through Teams. Such developments underscore the role of teams “as a new interface for remote and hybrid working,” he noted.

Windows 365: a hybrid operating system

At Microsoft Inspire 2021, Nadella also unveiled Windows 365, which he says presents cloud PC as a “new category.” He called Windows 365 a hybrid operating system, accessible on devices and the cloud. Organizations, he said, can set up a cloud PC and “stream the entire Windows experience from the Microsoft cloud to a personal or corporate device.”

Windows 365, which is expected to be available in late 2021, is based on Azure Virtual Desktop, formerly Windows Virtual Desktop. It will launch Windows 10 and Windows 11 virtual desktops, once the latter is available.

“With the announcement of Windows 365, Teams’ integration with Dynamics, Viva and Windows 11, Microsoft is equipping its ecosystem of technology partners to align with the new hybrid world of work,” said Tony Guidi, vice senior president of strategic partnerships at Core. BTS, an Indianapolis-based MSP and Microsoft partner.

These developments align with Core BTS’s continued efforts to maximize customers’ Microsoft investments, Guidi added.

Focus on sustainability

Dedicated clouds have become a priority for Microsoft at its partner event.

“No two digital transformations are the same,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Microsoft. He noted that customers in different industries need different offers.

However, Althoff cited a more horizontal offering, Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, as “an opportunity for partners to build on the promise of digital transformation.”

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, available in preview, aims to help organizations measure carbon emissions and set sustainability goals. Microsoft plans to advance the sustainability cloud as a new category of business process, seeking to make it as critical as CRM is to the sales process, Nadella said.

Microsoft Inspire 2021 also featured an undercurrent of a different kind of sustainability, which focuses on human capital and talent management, noted.

Brendan Walsh, senior vice president of partner relations at 1901 Group, an MSP and a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos.

Microsoft, for example, plans to increase its investments in digital technology skills training as part of its effort to support partners.

“I like the common thread of sustainability,” said Walsh, citing the importance of developing, competing and retraining the workforce.


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