Some Thoughts & Comments From WPC 2015

Here are some things that I thought were noteworthy from Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando this week. Keep reading even if you don’t work for a Microsoft partner, because this stuff affects anyone working in the Microsoft world.

These may be paraphrases because I wasn’t taking precise notes.

“Cortana is everyone’s assistant”

Not it’s not, when on the phone (the most mature version) it’s only supported in 10 countries. You can make it work internationally by screwing up your regional settings. This is what we call The Curse of Zune.

“I love my iPhone”

The Microsoft employee that said this live on a keynote stage was summarily executed backstage. Holy crap on a cracker!

“Cortana Analytics ….. <Snores>”

See The Curse of Zune. I’ll care when Cortana is relevant.

“Cortana Analytics will help businesses all over the planet”

Uh, no. It’ll help the USA at first, and then a max of 10 countries. Don’t believe me? Check out … I dunno … history.

“Sea Otters!!!!”

Apparently, this is why 12,000+ Microsoft partners flew to Orlando this week, according to Terry Myerson. Strange, because Sea Otters are native to the Pacific coast.

“Laissez le bon Windows rollez”

My reaction to Bryan Roper’s Windows 10 demo. OK, he’s Cuban-American and not cajun, but that’s what I thought (and tweeted) at the time. Best demo of Windows 10 I’ve seen yet, and LOVED the energy. The hat beats the hair, easily. We need more Roper in keynotes.

“Microsoft to expand its Surface distributor count from a couple hundred to a few thousand worldwide”

This is huge news. It means nothing to most people, but for the last 3 years my employers have said “sorry, we can’t sell that” over and over and over. To finally open the sluice gates through the channel to business, Microsoft’s new $1 billion business could double or treble in a year.

*Yawn*

Seriously, Microsoft, trim those keynotes down to 2 hours. Down … to … two … hours. Oh my!

“Soon you will see premium Microsoft phones designed for Windows 10”

Nice timing – I’m due an upgrade from my provider. Me wanty Continuum.

“CSP program to include Azure, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and CRM Online, in addition to Office 365”

Again, means nothing to most of you, but this opens up a joint syndication channel to end customers via the channel. It’ll simplify purchasing, and force big changes in the channel too.

“New sync engine coming to OneDrive for Business”

This is badly needed. Two reasons I hear from partners that use DropBox with customers instead:

  • Constantly failing sync that is costly to repair
  • Problems with file path limitations

“There will be 5 more #Azure regions opening in the next few months”

Wowzas! South Korea is rumoured, though Finland was too. India is to come online with 2 regions before the end of this year.  Canada is getting two in 2016 (Toronto and Quebec City).

“Microsoft cloud partner competencies shifting to adoption instead of sales”

Competencies are the incentive-based expertises that partners must qualify to achieve. One measure has been amount of associated licensing sold to the partner’s customers. This is changing, as it it internally with Microsoft’s sales people, from monetary value to adoption. This is to counter “shadow sales” of cloud services that are more like sneaky discounted inclusions in volume licensing deals rather than requested purchases.

“WPC 2016 will be in Toronto”

Start camping out for your sessions now. The reviews that I heard of of the last WPC in Toronto were horrific – big crowds, tiny rooms, and few people able to attend sessions.

“You’ve got to have technical people dedicated to keeping up with Azure”

Keeping up is my job. It’s impossible for one person to keep up. Either have a team of subject matter experts that have time allocated to do this, or get serious about attending regular tech updates. And this isn’t just Azure, it’s EVERYTHING Microsoft from 2 years ago onwards.

“We’ve got to become more technical”

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told this to partner sales people, account managers, owners and Microsoft subsidiaries, many of which have drained away technical roles over the last 5 years. Fact is, folks, Azure is a technical sale. No solution design, no pricing, no sale. Please move on.

“Continuum is my favourite feature of Windows 10”

Satya Nadella agrees with me. If Continuum-capable flagship Windows phones can be put into the hands of enterprise users with Office 365, then we have a game changer. But Microsoft needs to fix the channel. Their fascination with telecoms companies ha crippled the phone. Even Apple is selling unlocked phones via distribution now.

Microsoft News – 16 July 2015

It’s been a busy week with WPC driving announcements that affect partners.

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows Client

Azure

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System Center

  • Datazen Enterprise Server: Datazen Enterprise Server is a collection of web applications and Windows services. Acts as a repository for storing and sharing dashboards and KPIs.

Office 365

Licensing

Miscellaneous

Microsoft News–13 July 2015

I don’t have all that much for you, but the big news is the Azure Site Recovery (ASR, Microsoft’s DR site in the cloud) now supports VMware virtual machines and physical servers, without using System Center. You do need to run some stuff on-prem and in the cloud to make it work though, so there will be a tipping point where the solution becomes affordable.

Azure

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System Center

Office 365

The August 1st Microsoft Price Increases Continue – Office 365 & More

I learned today that the price of Office 365 is increasing, at least in the Euro zone. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Every SKU except E3/E4 is going up by 10%
  • E3 and E4 are going up by 8%
  • 365 Pro Plus is not increasing

As well as that we will see other online prices going up:

  • CRM Online by 10%
  • EMS by a whopping 26%

We already know that user (not device) CALs for on-prem products are going up by roughly 13%:

  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard & Enterprise CALs
  • Lync Server Standard, Enterprise, & Plus CALs
  • Project Server CAL
  • SharePoint Standard & Enterprise CAL
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • System Center Client Management Suite
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows RDS & RMS CAL
  • Windows MultiPoint CAL

VDA pricing is going up by 9% approximately.

My advice: if you’re buying soon then buy now, and enter a volume license agreement that locks in your pricing for X years. A good distributor or LAR can give you the correct advice. That’s fine for the on-prem stuff, but cloud services are subject to fluctuation, even in volume licensing.

To any “journalist” that decides to quote this post: my name is Aidan Finn.

As usual, I will not be answering licensing questions. That’s the job of your reseller, LAR, or distributor.

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Microsoft News – 29 June 2015

As you might expect, there’s lots of Azure news. Surprisingly, there is still not much substantial content on Windows 10.

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows Client

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Azure

Office 365

EMS

Misc

Microsoft News 02-June-2015

The big news of the last 24 hours is that Windows 10 will be released on July 29th. I posted before The Verge, etc, that I will be away and not reporting on the release on that date.

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows Client

Azure

Miscellaneous

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Microsoft News 28-May-2015

Very little to cover here, except one possibly controversial article on Hyper-V that you long-time readers might expect me to write an angry response to …

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Azure

Office 365

My First Blog Post Written & Posted Using OneNote

Hey genius, I know that the text of this article is clipped. Why don’t you read why before commenting?

Late yesterday afternoon, Microsoft announced that they had released a OneNote Publisher plug-in for WordPress that allows you to:

  1. Write your blog post using OneNote on any device of your choosing
  2. Log into your WordPress admin page and directly import your post from your online OneNote account to publish it, formatting and all.

How well does it work? I’ll let you be the judge of that because this is the very first post that I’ve written for AidanFinn.com that wasn’t written using Microsoft Live Writer.

You install the plugin as normal in WordPress. Then follow the help to configure a link to your OneNote account. The plug-in adds a button to the Add New Post page in WordPress. Click that button to connect to OneNote and select your article.

A pop-up window opens. This requires you to log into your Microsoft Account, and the very first access will require you to link your site with your OneNote account. Give it a few seconds, and the window will populate with all your notebooks, sections, and pages. Select the page that is your article and click OK.

It takes about 20 seconds for the article to appear in the Add New Post window, with most of your formatting – text formatting is fine but image location (centre) is lost, and more bad things happen which become apparent after clicking Publish (see later).

At this point, format your images, and sort out the metadata and SEO stuff in wp-admin and you can publish your article.

What do I think of this integration? I love the ability to write on any device, even offline, and have my work available on any other device. I’ve often started a post in place A and finished it in place B on a different device, requiring me to either remember to “post draft to blog” or use remote connectivity to get to the first machine.

What do I not like? I am losing some of the metadata stuff that Live Writer makes easy, but the silver lining on that cloud is that it would force me to do that stuff better in wp-admin. Formatting of line spacing is poor. And if your text box in OneNote is too wide then the article line width gets messed up. You should see some of that here.

Am I going to try use this new method of writing and posting? I’ve actually changed my mind about this. I originally posted “absolutely”. Now I have to say “absolutely; when Microsoft sorts out some of the bugs”. The potential for a GREAT solution is there, but right now, it’s just potential.

Microsoft News – 23 April 2015

I’ve been really busy either preparing training, delivering training, on customer sites, or prepping my two sessions for Ignite. Here’s the roundup of recent Microsoft news for infrastructure IT pros:

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows 10

Azure

Office 365

Intune

Miscellaneous

Microsoft News – 8 April 2015

There’s a lot of stuff happening now. The Windows Server vNext Preview expires on April 15th and Microsoft is promising a fix … the next preview isn’t out until May (maybe with Ignite on?). There’s rumours of Windows vNext vNext. And there’s talk of open sourcing Windows – which I would hate. Here’s the rest of what’s going on:

Hyper-V

Windows Server

Windows Client

Azure