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Microsoft Inspire 2021 – Key Takeaways…

Fri Jul 16 2021

We’re only successful if you are successful – Satya Nadella

Another year, another awesome Microsoft Inspire event.

Microsoft Inspire 2021 was again, unfortunately, a virtual event but what we missed in saying hi to old Microsoft friends we more than made up for in getting to see all the talks!


As always there was a big focus on their partner network with Microsoft CEO Nadella saying:

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We want to be the best partner for our partners.

We’re only successful if you are successful. That means creating new opportunity for you across every sector and every country.

Satya Nadella – CEO, Microsoft

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As in past years, those aren’t just platitudes or empty words. Though.

Microsoft worked hard throughout the entire Inspire 2021 to back them up with actions with the launch of new and innovative cloud products, increased partner support, bringing Windows 365 into the cloud, raising awareness about the advantages of its ‘holistic’ security platform and some truly exciting news for the Azure cloud platform and the Microsoft marketplace.

Windows 365… The ‘Cloud PC’

Perhaps some of the most exciting news to come out of Inspire ’21 was the unveiling of Windows 365.

Windows 365 will, through the power of the cloud, let a user stream their windows desktop virtually on any machine (PC or mobile) through a browser from October this year. And in our favourite twist… you’ll even be able to do this on Apple’s, iPad’s and iPhone’s.

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In the same way that we took Office to the cloud with Office 365 and server to the cloud with Azure, we are now taking Windows to the cloud with Windows 365.

Melissa Grant - Director of Product Marketing, Microsoft

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Windows 365 will be first offered with Windows 10 and then extended to windows 11 when the new OS is fully released.

Microsoft Pushes Its ‘Holistic’ Security Platform

Lots of Microsoft executives took the opportunity to push the companies Security Platform at Inspire 2021, with Satya Nadella pointing out Microsoft was still the only vendor to offer a comprehensive approach to security, and that trying to integrate different point solutions just wasn’t good enough anymore.

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What differentiates our approach is organizing identity, security and compliance—as well as device management—in an interdependent whole, extending protection to all data, devices, identities, platforms and clouds. The Microsoft cloud is the only cloud with best-of-breed and best-of-suite security capabilities. Our ambition is to help every organization adopt a zero-trust architecture, while also reducing the complexity, cost and risk created by stitching together point solutions.

Satya Nadella – CEO, Microsoft

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Vasu Jakkal, Microsoft’s vice-president of security, compliance and identity added that Microsoft offers the unique ability to “safeguard customers end-to-end thanks to its solutions” such as Azure Active Directory identity authentication.

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We are the only security vendor that can do this natively across all clouds and all platforms.

Vasu Jakkal - Vice-president of Security, Compliance & Identity, Microsoft

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A Message From Rodney Clark

Microsoft’s Inspire 2021 was Rodney Clark’s first as Channel Chief and he quickly set the tone for the coming year(s) by speaking about the needs of Microsoft’s partners.

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You want to know that we’ll invest in your growth and profitability

Rodney Clark – Channel Chief, Microsoft

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If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Rodney has been with Microsoft for twenty three years now, and whilst a veteran at Inspire events, this was his first after taking over as channel chief from Gavriella Schuster in April.

During his keynote speech he outlined what his and Microsoft’s approach to providing more effective engagement with partners would be, along with investments in partner technical capabilities they’d be making.

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On engagement, Microsoft is investing to rebuild deal registration workflows, expand frontline support teams and realign its engineering teams to bring partner and seller experiences closer together. We’re also planning improvements to the Partner Center portal that will enable a more consistent navigation process.

In terms of partner technical capabilities, Microsoft is increasing its investments in skilling for the current fiscal year by more than 250 percent,

This includes everything from deep technical training to on-demand digital skilling content.

Ultimately, these skilling initiatives represent our expansion of the channel’s technical acumen.

Rodney Clark – Channel Chief, Microsoft

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Updates To Microsoft’s Partner Programmes

As well as the commitments made by Rodney Clark, a number of other partner-focussed announcements came out of Inspire ’21, mostly focusing on advanced specialisations, updates to the partner centre and ISV programmes.

Advanced Specialisations

Two new advanced specialisations were added to Microsoft’s roster at Inspire 2021, focusing on the Azure Cloud Platform. The two new specialisations are for Hybrid Operations and Management with Microsoft Azure Arc and Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure with Microsoft Azure Stack HCI.

Microsoft Partners will be granted more visibility of Microsoft Sellers after completing these, along with new financial incentives and access to the Azure Business Programs.

Project Orland

A new, private preview, dubbed Project Orland, will be coming to the Partner Centre portal experience and will be capable of providing recommendations of customers likely to convert from trial phases, customers requiring a follow-up and customers ready for new deployments.

The idea behind the updates is to empower Cloud Solution Provider partners with the tools needed to most effectively grow their cloud based businesses.

Updates To The ISV Programs

There were also announced changes to the current ISV programmes coming in Q3 that include a reduction in revenue-sharing fees, easier to understand go-to-market benefits, ISV app license management and discounted environments for development, testing and demos.

Azure Virtual Desktop Will Still Be A Thing

We’ve already covered the upcoming launch of Windows 365 but… Microsoft took the time during Inspire 2021 to underscore this wouldn’t be the death knell of the Azure Virtual Desktop… quite the opposite in fact.

Microsoft took the time to assure everyone that the Azure Virtual desktop would continue to receive investment and be a great fit for certain types of organisations… especially those with virtualisation experience.

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Azure Virtual Desktop can be thought of as a “Swiss army knife” for desktop virtualization, thanks to offering “lots of different tools that you can use to meet very specific needs. There’s a little bit more fine tuning that you can do with Azure Virtual Desktop. For instance, some of our customers might need to virtualize just one app, and they’re looking to do that in a very detailed way. It allows you more flexibility in terms of controlling all the knobs and dials. It does the server virtualization. And if you have an existing investment in Citrix and VMware, which a lot of our customers do, Azure Virtual Desktop is obviously tuned to work very well with that.

Melissa Grant - Director of Product Marketing, Microsoft

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Planned updates for the Azure Virtual Desktop include:


  • A completely public preview of the capability to directly join Azure Virtual Desktop virtual machines to Azure Active Directory
  • Cost optimisation features
  • A streamlined onboarding experience to create new Azure Virtual Desktop environment
  • A monthly, per-user access pricing option for Azure Virtual Desktop from next year.

New For Azure

Speaking of Azure, it’ll soon be getting new Stack HCI features and an Azure migration program as proof of Microsoft’s commitment.


The new Azure Stack HCI features will include simplified guest licensing as well as enhanced infrastructure security.

Whilst the Azure Migration & Modernization Program will now cover even more migration and modernization offerings across apps, infrastructure and data… including support for the Azure Arc; a set of technologies that was designed to bring Azure’s cloud management capabilities and services to virtually any environment.

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The Microsoft cloud helps power every organization’s digital capability, while ensuring their independence and sovereignty over it. No other cloud offers this. And the Microsoft cloud is built on trust and security: trust in technology, trust in business model alignment. No other cloud offers this,” Nadella said. “And the Microsoft Cloud offers the best integration across the technology stack, while offering openness at every layer of the stack, ultimately improving time to value, reducing costs, increasing agility. No other cloud offers this.

Satya Nadella – CEO, Microsoft

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The Microsoft Commercial Marketplace Just Had Its Fees Cut

Microsoft announced at Inspire ’21 that it had slashed its commercial marketplace fees on transactable offers from the previous 20%... down to just 3%!

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Microsoft’s commercial marketplace presents a massive growth opportunity for partners. Our commercial marketplace is the channel to scale your solutions to millions of customers. And this marketplace exists only for one purpose--to help you scale and connect with customers

Charlotte Yarkoni - Chief Operating Officer for Cloud & AI, Microsoft

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Not Quite Ready To Get Back To Work Just Yet?




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Fri Jul 16 2021

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