That’s a wrap on Microsoft Inspire 2021! We hope you enjoyed our coverage. Below, you can watch the full recap video of our Microsoft Inspire Teams Live Q&A event on Friday, July 16 as the Pax8 Microsoft Team broke down everything we learned and answered your questions.
Inspire Recap Q&A: Video Transcript
Lyndsey Hoffman, Pax8 Sr. Director of Microsoft Programs: Hey y’all, and welcome to the Microsoft Inspire live Q&A with all of your Pax8 experts and Microsoft Inspire insiders. We’re super excited to be here with you live today, answering your questions directly from the Microsoft Inspire command room at Pax8.
We’re really excited to get kicked off today. Please throw in your questions into the live Q&A for us to answer as a round table. I’d also love to shout out to this entire team and to the Pax8 team. We were honored and blessed to be able to take home the 2021 MS US Business Excellence and Indirect Provider Award, alongside the 2021 Microsoft Eagle Award this year. Kudos to this entire and to all of our partners that have been along this journey this entire year with us. Thanks for joining us.
Let’s kick into some live questions and get the conversation started with these experts.
Again, covering everything from Microsoft Inspire, we want to hear from you. If there was a session that you want more information on or if you want us to share our perspective of something specific, please pop it into the chat. We’ve got everybody from Canada, North America, and the US in the room today. All right, first one is for Alex.
How should partners prepare themselves and their clients for the new Windows 11 operating system?
Alex Heilman, Pax8 Microsoft Special Projects Manager: The Windows 11 announcement from a couple weeks ago was incredibly exciting to see. I know that there’s lots of conversation in this space about, “What’s different about Windows 11 instead of Windows 10, and what is that experience going to be like for me as a commercial organization, making another switch to a whole ‘nother Windows operating system?”
I think one of the best things that you can do is try to get up on knowledge the best way you can by utilizing resources like docs.microsoft.com. There’s lots of amazing deployment resources that Microsoft has made available for the launch of Windows 11.
On top of that, though, I think it’s really important to always foster a culture of seeing what’s next and testing out products before they’re fully released or announced, whether that’s for your own internal enablement or especially for your customers as well. The Windows Insider Program for Business is a great way to do that so you can roll out some of those pre-flights, Windows 11, on maybe some not-as-critical workloads or not-as -critical systems to understand, “What does deployment look like? How do I get my Intune profiles the way that I want them to be? How do I drive the best possible user experience without compromising my security and compliance framework that I already have with Windows 10?”
It’s really critical to understand even some key differences now that there’s only going to be one feature update every single year instead of two for Windows 11. One of the big reasons there is because those update packages for Windows 11 have been reduced by about 60% in their size. So, the deployment timeline, instead of being 30 to 45 minutes for these updates, they’re just going to come in as cumulative updates from a Windows update service that might only take five to ten minutes on a modern device or even less on the latest cutting edge hardware that’s kind of powered and made for Windows 11. That would be my biggest suggestion: to test out Windows 11, understand what the product is, get some of that product knowledge underway, and definitely test out Windows 11 in your ecosystem today to get prepped for it when it comes this holiday.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Love that. Next question coming through the live Q&A is for you, Kristin.
What were the top announcements that partners need to know?
Kristin Fehrenbach, Pax8 Director of Microsoft Go-to-Market: I’ve actually seen this question come through a few times already. What’s the most important for us to really hit on? We heard a ton of excitement around Windows 365, really looking forward to diving in further there. Microsoft Viva, specifically the collaboration between Dynamics and Teams, I think that one is going to be huge for us. Another one, I know that Alex really dove into Lighthouse on our Day 1 recap. So, make sure you’re going to pax8.com/msftinspire21. There’s lots of updates there. Another one that we really were excited about was we heard those storefront transaction fees were dropping from 20% to 3%, which means more money in partners’ pockets. We love all of that info!
Lyndsey Hoffman: That was absolutely huge! I think the 3%, especially dropping down from 20%, is going to be an amazing opportunity. That partnership, especially with the ISVs and our CSP partners and how we’re going to be moving into the future of that co-collaboration and “better together” story was just really beautiful. All right. Let’s take a look and see what next questions are coming through the chat.
What did we learn for nonprofits and social impact this week?
Joshua Dunham, Pax8 Manager of Tech for Social Impact: First off, super excited to see a huge focus for Microsoft as a whole with the nonprofit sector. It’s one of the fastest growing sectors not only in the US, but globally, and it’s amazing to see all the resources that Microsoft is putting forward to help our partners better support the backbone of our communities, which are nonprofits. Some really exciting news. We’ve been working with Microsoft really closely this past year to provide them with your feedback on what y’all need to be successful in supporting nonprofits and I am happy to go over some of what is out there.
As you all know, qualified nonprofits do get access to ten free licenses of Business Premium, ten free licenses of Power Apps, and five free licenses of Dynamics 365 Sales enterprise. After those free licenses, they are heavily discounted so that all of you can provide better resources to your nonprofit customers. Also, we’ve heard lots of feedback. Starting October 1, nonprofit global accelerators are coming live. So, all of y’all can earn an additional 12% on the back end, selling those hero nonprofit SKUs. They’re also extending the stack, so it’s going to encompass Modern Dynamics, and wait for it – Azure is coming. I know it’s something that we’ve been hearing a lot over the last year, around the bigger Azure support. You’re going to see a lot of resources coming out the next few months from Pax8 around how we can help build your Azure nonprofit strategy.
On top of that, in FY22, aged care facilities are now being added to the criteria so those organizations can get access to those discounted and free licenses as well. My recommendation is to double-check! If you are supporting these organizations, go ahead and reach out, and let’s get them qualified with Microsoft so they can start receiving these discounted licenses.
Also, partnered with the Dynamic sales play, the Fundraising and Engagement App is an amazing Power app that lets nonprofits build better connections and relationships with their donors and supporters. This is key, because we do know that nonprofits who showcase technology in a more impactful way, they’re going to get more funding on the backend. Nonprofits who get more funding, guess what? They get to expand their reach, and they get to make a greater impact within the community. That’s what we want. We want our nonprofits to succeed. So, we are super excited for that.
Last, I’ll say it – security, security, security. We’re going to see a huge play come out this next quarter around nonprofit and security. Internally here at Pax8, we are building out a huge security platform that’s hyper-focused around nonprofits because it’s key. We need to make sure that we protect their data, protect their donors, protect the individuals they are supporting. So, again, super excited for the nonprofit announcements, but yeah, it’s going to be an amazing year for nonprofit support.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Loving that and loving the incentives and all the earnings that our partners can have on the back end for supporting these amazing communities. On the topic of security, we’ve got another question coming through. Alex, I’m going to pass this one to you. Security, compliance, and protection were a major focus at Inspire for partners to capitalize on, but along the way, partner accounts can’t access these admin centers with their MFA protective accounts.
What’s the plan to enable partners to perform many of the tasks discussed to secure their customers properly?
Alex Heilman: That’s a fantastic question, and it’s always going to be a focus for Microsoft. I remember there was a session at Inspire that just talked about how Microsoft is a security organization now. I think I said that like three years ago of Microsoft was making this journey to be its own security organization and keep differentiating with the products that it provides. One of those big ones that was talked again at Inspire is Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, right? Which is this critical asset and tool that partners can use – MSPs specifically – to be able to cross-multitenant manage all of their customers in one place, and easily deploy security and compliance policies to make simple changes to enact policies globally between devices and users and identities.
It’s a really great cohesive place to do that, and one of the big announcements out of Inspire is that now Microsoft 365 Lighthouse is in public preview, it’s out of private preview. We know that there was a lot of partners who were trying to get in that program. For your customers who are utilizing Microsoft 365 Business Premium specifically (not Business Standard or Business Basic) can take advantage of Microsoft 365 Lighthouse to manage those customer tenants as long as there’s 400 licenses and below, which shouldn’t be too much of an issue, considering that the cap on Business Premium is 300 seats for an organization to have. So that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for everyone there.
But you can find more about Microsoft 365 Lighthouse on the Pax8 blog for our Day 1 recap for links on how to get enrolled in the program, what are the prerequisites there, and then understanding the capabilities as well. What are you able to manage? What kind of policies are you able to enact down onto multiple tenants? If you’re familiar at all with the Azure Lighthouse product, you can think of that as the exact same approach with Microsoft 365 Lighthouse with the modern productivity, security, and compliance side of things.
Lyndsey Hoffman: I love it, and there is actually another question in the chat around Microsoft Lighthouse.
What are the highlights and use cases of Microsoft Lighthouse for M365 for MSPs?
Alex Heilman: I think it’s key to just understand the impact of being able to make policy change across many organizations at the same time, right? Enacting an MFA policy across 50 customers with one click of a button – that’s a pretty powerful ability for you to be able to enact as an MSP. But then especially, of course, the ever-changing threat landscape continues to evolve as well as the sophistication of those attacks. Remediation is key and being able to get policies out and enacted in all of your customers’ environments is really important. But if I’m having to constantly go in and out of context with each and every one of my customers to be able to make a policy adjustment, it’s going to take a lot of time to be able to do that. So having that one unified command console to go in and make critical changes, especially when more sophisticated attacks come through, I think that’s really key to be able to do.
And then on top of that, this public preview has a lot of capabilities, especially around security compliance and identity, which are kind of the main talking points of why somebody would want a cohesive, consolidated infrastructure or application to be able to make those changes. I would say being able to really go in and make really big policy changes, especially when there are so many attacks that are getting more sophisticated and MSPs want to make sure that their customers are protected, is huge.
Lyndsey Hoffman: 100%. Thanks for that perspective, Alex. Next question. I’m going to shoot over to Ashley here.
Volume licensing is fading out. What resources will partners have with Pax8 to process customers using that program who are now being converted now to CSP perpetual?
Ashley Moretti, Pax8 Manager of Microsoft Programs for US: This is a great question. And we have spent the last six months, maybe more than that, prepping our internal teams to understand this transition. So, reach out to your Wingman and we’ll be able to help you identify what SKUs your customers are currently on – if they are on a perpetual license or an on-prem license.
And what does that mean for moving into the transition to perpetual through CSP? It’s a great opportunity to talk with your end customer about shifting and moving them to the cloud and what that can do for their business. And your Wingman at Pax8 also should be able to help map new skills. So, taking the on-prem SKU and mapping it to a modernized transition through the cloud. Our team also has some playbooks and external facing resources that your Wingman should also be able to share with you as well if you wanted to have that conversation with your end customer without including Pax8.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Right. Love that. Next one. I’m going to shoot over to you, Ryan Hawkinson.
What should be our partner’s top takeaways from the conference as MSPs?
Ryan Hawkinson, Pax8 Manager of Technical Strategy for Dynamics 365: As an MSP, there are a lot of amazing takeaways from the conference, especially things about future-proofing your clients. Coming in and understanding what their technology needs are, not just today, but where they’re going to be in years from now. Because if you’re going to go in and talk to them about Dynamics and being able to make sure you’re getting them in the right applications, or if you’re setting them up with new cloud infrastructure in Azure and taking advantage of the Azure migration pathways and helping them set up new .net applications, you can start to have those in-depth conversations, understand where they’re at, and be able to future-proof the business.
And I’d say the biggest thing around that is being that trusted advisor. And coming in and working with them to understand what their needs are as a business before you start talking to them about their technology. Don’t just present to them the solutions – understand what they need, help future-proof it, and help be that trusted advisor so they’ll keep coming back to you year after.
Lyndsey Hoffman: I love that. And I think there was a great perspective this Inspire around partners services.
Ryan Hawkinson: Absolutely.
Lyndsey Hoffman: I think that was massive for everybody to think through how we, our CSP partners, and our MSPs now work with ISVs, and I totally agree with that. Great point. So, next one passing over to you, Joshua. I know you shared your top takeaways of nonprofit in some of those SKUs that our partners can take advantage of in the nonprofit space.
Any specific promotions or discounts in the nonprofit space that our partners should be aware of coming out of Inspire?
Joshua Dunham: The big three top hero SKUs I mentioned before were M365 Business Premium, Power Apps, and Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise. If I’m not mistaken, Business Premium, I believe is $25. And then Power Apps again, all heavily discounted, I think it’s $5. And then Dynamics is $23 and some change, I think, $23.80 a SKU. So again, heavily discounted on top of that. I will provide a link in the chat as well, where you can go and actually download our Tech for Social Impact playbook. It has every single resource you need to build a better nonprofit practice and highlights those three SKUs. It gives exact pricing so my apologies for not knowing that the exact pricing. And it covers the ways that you can actually go ahead and get your organizations registered.
Now, on top of that, there is a 12% accelerator on the back end for Business Premium, and I believe E3 coming as well. So again, it’s incentivizing all of you to drive your Microsoft business. We know we want to get them off perpetual, get them into the cloud, get them into Business Premium because we know what we found with working with nonprofits is that the collaboration tool built-in with Microsoft Teams is critical. These organizations now are able to connect with individuals within their community virtually so they’re not dependent on having face-to-face conversations. They can expand their reach. Also with Business Premium, we’re going to talk about security, security, security. Top level security to keep all that information safe.
Back to Business Premium Power Apps in Dynamics. What we’ve seen over the past six months is a huge increase in dynamic sales and utilization in the nonprofit space. If you would have told me that a year ago, I’d be like, “What? No.” But it is so exciting to see organizations embracing these Power platforms, really transforming how they utilize technology to make social good change. So I will drop that link for the playbook and also the link for the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofits. That’s an all-encompassing set of applications that gives you the best of Business Premium, Power Apps, Dynamics, Azure. Don’t forget about LinkedIn. We love LinkedIn. In case you haven’t known, we’re kind of LinkedIn celebrities this past week! But the Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofits is utilizing all of those amazing applications to really create social change.
So again, great questions. Keep them coming. I love all the support we’ve been getting around nonprofit. It warms my heart and it kind of proves Microsoft Tech for Social Impact is headed in the right direction with supporting these organizations.
Lyndsey Hoffman: 100% agree. And I think, another call-out is don’t forget to reach out to your Pax8 account team. Everyone is here to support you throughout this entire journey. There are news and updates that are going to be flowing through from the Microsoft organization down to Pax8 over the next couple of months, as these changes start to kick off for FY22. So, don’t forget to stay in touch with your account team and set up a call with your productivity solution consultants to talk through all of those new updates in nonprofit, and Joshua is also available for you guys to chat. So, next question coming through. Kristen, I’m going to pass this one to you.
What do our partners need to know about Windows 365? And why is that important to them as a community?
Kristin Fehrenbach: When you look at Windows 365, it’s really just a new way for you as an MSP to experience Windows 10 and Windows 11 as a cloud service. You’re going to be able to stream the full Windows experience, including all the apps, data, settings, all of that good stuff, all in one centralized location. Alex, you want to add on to that one? I know you get really excited about it.
Alex Heilman: I love Windows! Windows 365 is really a great innovation for partners and for customers who want to have a simplified Windows experience that’s remote. For people who are familiar with Azure Virtual Desktop, I think that’s probably one of the most common questions, “We’ve already seen this before, right? What’s the difference? How is this a different change in how Windows is delivered and should I be curious into this? Should I be evangelizing it?” The answer is yes. For customers who want a simplified Windows environment that comes down to the same license type as Microsoft 365 Business Premium, you can do that with Windows 365. You don’t have to fiddle around with getting your networking set up in Azure or your storage accounts or your computer, any of that.
Windows 365 really simplifies the pricing model for you – it’s a super simple per user per month cost. One of the lowest-sized Windows 365 environments is around $31/a person/a month and they can spin up that environment on any device, anywhere. Whether if it’s Mac OS, Windows, Linux, the web, it really doesn’t matter. You are able to open up a full Windows 10 (and later in this year, Windows 11) environment with the compute that your users need. If you have a user inside of an organization who might need different types of compute capabilities, they just need eight gigs of RA and some storage and some networking, cool, they can go with that approach. But if they’re doing more intense workloads, they can get an eight core CPU and 32 gigs of RAM and 512 gigs of storage and they can have a much better experience. And they can switch in and out of those on the fly, which is really amazing.
You don’t have to worry about working with FSLogix or any other advanced configuration, Microsoft handles that for all of you. But it is key to know that Windows 365 is broken up the same way the Windows licensing is with Pro and Enterprise. With Pro licensing, Microsoft does it all. They manage every part of the experience. You don’t really have to do anything. You just assign the license and call it a day. You go to Windows365.microsoft.com and you’re done. But for the enterprise versions of Windows 365, you get to control networking. So, if you do have more privileged environments, or if you want to have more network access changes that you want to make the same way that you would with Azure Virtual Desktop, you will be able to customize that experience in the Azure portal that you’re using today.
It’s not a whole different manageability portal inside of Microsoft 365’s Admin Center – you actually get to manage that portion inside of Azure, which you would probably be comfortable with if you’re going for the Enterprise tier of Windows 365. It’s just really a great simplified way of getting about things, when you think about being able to accelerate your time, to be able to get a differentiated environment or some sort of VDI environment in your customers’ hands. I don’t think there’s a faster mechanism than Windows 365. There are incredible partners in the AVD space, but by this being kind of a managed service by Microsoft where they take care of everything for you and it’s just a simple click to assign license, it makes it a really easy procedure and process to get people set up with a Windows environment that works anywhere on any device and syncs all of their apps and settings in OneDrive and it makes it a really nice clean experience.
Lyndsey Hoffman: We actually had another question that just came in which kind of rolls right into it.
Can you install any program like QuickBooks, even multi-user QuickBooks on Windows 365?
Alex Heilman: You should be able to. Kind of the same way that Azure Virtual Desktop works and you can have your own virtualized applications in there where you can remote app stream singular applications or have them bundled into the exact AVD environment as well. For Enterprise levels of Windows 365, you’ll have more control over the actual application experience, because by default, you’re going to have your Microsoft 365 apps for Business or apps for Enterprise, depending on what the licensing requirement is for that specific individual accessing it. So, if I was a Business Premium user, my Microsoft 365 apps installation would be for Business. But if I was on the E3 or E5 SKU, it would see my license entitlements. It would switch that over for me automatically. It’s not having to re-install or re-provision or redo anything for me.
And then any changes that are made specifically for me as a user, such as if that’s based off security groups or whatever I have access to, that’s already being enacted inside of Intune or for me and my identity with Active Directory – that’s all going to funnel down to Windows 365 as well, so there’s no extra customization that you have to do. But for Enterprise levels of Windows 365, you’ll have a little bit more control over the actual application experience, including third-party applications and Microsoft’s first party applications as well.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Love that. So, next question. I’m going to shoot this over to you, Ryan Hawkinson.
What security measures does Pax8 have in place to protect our partners and their clients? What do those measures look like from our perspective internally?
Ryan Hawkinson: That’s a great question, especially with all of the attacks that we’ve been experiencing recently. I don’t really want to get into security specifics and part of that is actually because of our security training – if I start talking to you about the exact software we’re using, that’ll change the attack footprint that somebody could come in and attack us. And I know those types of things because of the trainings that we go through. Every week, we have security trainings that teach us about the latest of what’s going on. Whether it’s a technology malware, whether it’s a social engineering ploy that’s going through, we also do our own attacks against our employees to see what we need to remediate internally.
And on top of that too, we also have top of the line security staff. Our Chief Security Officer comes from the White House and did security there. So, we’re in an incredible place with teaching us what’s going on and putting these controls in place. There’s a lot of support for our security and making sure that people are using technology properly, that we’re using emails properly, that we’re sending things to the right people, and we’re working with data as appropriately as we need to.
Lyndsey Hoffman: I feel like that might’ve been our security team doing another security test for us! Next question, I’m going to pass this back to you, Alex.
We heard a lot about Microsoft’s SIEM and XDR solution. What type of client or use case is this solution best going to be suited for as an MSP?
Alex Heilman: Microsoft made a pretty clear stance as relates to SIEM and XDR, as there’s lots of security vendors out there who only offer one or the other. They only have a SIEM, or they only have an XDR. Then on top of that, in terms of their integrations that they have, sometimes it could be limited even by third parties. Microsoft’s approach here is that they think you could take the best of both, right? Best with XDR and best with SIEM and bring it together to have that cohesive security fabric across an organization.
And a lot of Microsoft’s benefit here and something that you would want to see inside of a customer’s environment is that they have a lot of data. They have a lot of users. Their digital estate footprint is across multi-cloud, and they have third-party integrations and third-party services that they want to be able to comprehensively manage and view as well, both from a bird’s eye level, but also to remediate and actually look into incidents and share those incidents between your XDR and your SIEM tools.
Microsoft’s offering is going to be the best in class. And those are the customers who are going to want to have Azure Sentinel and Microsoft 365 Defender and Azure Defender, to be able to look outside of the Azure cloud, whether it’s AWS or Google cloud or Oracle or really wherever that customer happens to be. I can bring in my on-premises resources as well. I can bring in my Microsoft 365 environment, and I’m sharing incidents between all of them, so I get that bird’s eye level of Azure Sentinel, or I can comprehensively look over at my entire organization’s security. But then I can drill down and get very specific into actual incidents and being able to share that really rich telemetry that’s coming from all these applications and coming from these users into one consolidated world that it just shares between all of them.
You get all the potential views that you’d want across everywhere that your organization happens to be. It’s incredibly powerful to not just be locked inside of the Microsoft ecosystem. You can go outside of that ecosystem as well and really be able to view and manage, intermediate across any endpoint, any resource, and anywhere that that data and telemetry happens to reside.
Wrapping all of that up, customers who have environments that are spread out, whether they’re multi-cloud or they’re on premise or have third-party integrations outside of Microsoft, if you want to bring that all into one place and not have multiple tools, and you want to have a consolidated SIEM and XDR, Microsoft is the approach to go to with Sentinel and Defender across Microsoft 365 and Azure.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Love that. Awesome. Guys, keep the questions rolling in, and thank you for such an engaged audience this morning. You guys are coming through with some amazing questions. Ryan, I’m going to pass the mic back to you.
Can you explain the Dynamics 365 plus Teams integration announcement and what it was all about?
Ryan Hawkinson: That is an amazing announcement, especially for organizations that are utilizing Dynamics and are having to spend a bunch of money on licensing for people just to access data within Dynamics. Now, organizations that are in that boat will be able to use Teams and the licensing in Teams to access that Dynamics data. They’ll have access into those tables, so they can start to facilitate better conversations with people working with sales conversations. They’ll also be able to start tracking activity. So as people are using Teams and setting up meetings and having notes in those meetings, they’ll be able to capture all of that back into Dynamics and make a much better experience for all of the people they’re selling to.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Love that. Thank you. We’ve got another one coming through. Tara, I’m going to pass this to you.
What can Pax8 do to help guide our partners on Microsoft funding, and going to market with co-op and additional investments in the Microsoft space?
Tara Bauerschlag, Market Development Funds Specialist: I think it’s really important to really understand the qualifications behind co-op and what you will need to get funded for Microsoft. Think through building your pitch, that’s really what they want to look at in securing those funds – what can you bring to the market, what is new and inventive?
Lyndsey Hoffman: I totally agree. And I think keeping within the scope of those claim buckets as well is reall important. You can take a look through our incentives and rebate playbook, as well as our CSP guide.
Can you talk through what Microsoft likes to see in like a KPI ROI? What do you normally do when you’re building investments to pitch to Microsoft?
Tara Bauerschlag: A lot of times, we like to look at a 10% ROI. It’s really important to show your growth, where you started, and where you can land. It’s a really, really big selling point for Microsoft, showing that 10%.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Yeah. Alex, we’ve got another one coming to your way. And I think this is a great question. Alex is working on our new hybrid remote experience in the Pax8 offices, so he’s a great person to take this question.
Are you using a Microsoft Teams Room device in your conference room today? Which one? Curious for a customer.
Alex Heilman: Yeah. I love Microsoft Teams Rooms. They’re fantastic. I think all organizations, especially for the ones who are coming from Skype for Business and are looking for a more modern environment with a lot of the experiences that Microsoft is trying to drive with vertical-facing conference rooms and with intelligent cameras and microphones. There are some really great experiences that you can drive with them, but the brain of this room is a Crestron Flex device that is Microsoft Teams certified. There are devices out there for Skype for Business, usually 2017, 2018 onwards, that can still get a Microsoft Teams update. I would reach out to that manufacturer to see what that software updating procedure looks like. Because some of them are manual, some of them come over the air, so you’ll need to check in there.
But this is the brain of this device, and it comes with three microphones, one on the central unit and two little pucks that come off of the table. It’s really great for a medium to large sized conference room like this one here, to be able to facilitate that. And we’ve got two displays here as well that we’re able to control from the Crestron Flex device.
And I’m a huge fan of Crestron devices. Logitech also makes some incredible Teams Room devices as well, and they have a lot of great consolidated devices as well. So if you’re looking for something that has speakers and microphones and cameras and document cameras and tracking cameras for people in the room as well, there’s a lot of great options to bring that all into one, especially if you have some spaces that maybe aren’t as big, that you won’t be able to spread out those resources to dedicated cameras and dedicated microphones – the all in one solutions have gotten really great. And that manageability experience through the Teams Admin Center and in the backend, through Intune and Azure Active Directory to actually manage those resources have gotten really great, as well.
Lyndsey Hoffman: I’d say this week as well, just to provide perspective for those of you going out to pitch your end customers on Microsoft Teams Rooms, this entire team did a hybrid remote experience week for Microsoft Inspire, having team members join us from other cities, and being able to be a part of every step of the way as we were joining in sessions. I will say being an end user through that experience this week was absolutely magical, and I think really brought some consistency across the board if you have some employees that are needing to stay remote and others that are wanting to come back to the office, as we start to transition into hybrid work instead of just remote work.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Joshua, next question coming to you.
What’s new in accessibility from Microsoft Inspire this year, and what are you excited about?
Joshua Dunham: I think the biggest thing you’re going to see is how much focus Microsoft is putting in accessibility and inclusion and actually making it – I’m going to make a bad pun – accessible to everyone. I’ve been on a journey with Microsoft for many years and fell in love with Office 365 because of the accessibility features built in. But it’s so much more than just PowerPoint Live in Teams or Dictate in Word and stuff like that. It’s re-imagining how you can take technology and truly make it inclusive and accessible for all.
You’re going to see a big campaign push coming up this next quarter and this next year on how you can utilize technology to bridge the gap and diversify your workplace. Because I think the biggest thing is going to be, how can you diversify your talent so that anyone can come and work for you and can be successful? So they can bring their unique journey to your organization and truly make an impact.
Some things I want to cover, if you aren’t aware, in Office 365 and 365 Office online applications, you get Immersive reader in PowerPoint, you get it in Word. It’s going to de-stigmatize individuals that may be dyslexic, just graphic, have some visual impairment, or even hearing impairment. You also get Dark Mode in Word. You have got to think bigger picture on how you are providing technology to individuals.
Make sure that everything you’re putting out there is accessible for everyone on the receiving end of those applications. One I love and I use even as an adult is Dictate. I’m not the best speller. So being able to translate voice to text is really powerful. Think about individuals with mobility limitations, that is super powerful. And Designer. I use it. I think we all use it in PowerPoint. It’s amazing. It’s going to make your PowerPoint presentations more professional.
What I also love is that Windows 11, being a cloud-based OS, it’s going to give you those higher applications, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, with Immersive Reader and all of the accessibility applications integrated in. So even if you have customers on iPads, on Chromebooks, that maybe you can’t get the Office applications on, they’re able to utilize this. So again, it truly is accessible.
One thing Microsoft is also looking at doing too is expanding the workforce. How can you diversify individuals into your workspace? Here at Pax8, we’re looking to add accessibility hires, accessibility training, and we’re partnering with Microsoft to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that we are giving every qualified candidate a chance to succeed here at Pax8. I will throw in the chat the link on all of the latest and greatest around accessibility. It’s a lot. It’s come a long way in the past five years, and I know that the next year it’s really going to transform the channel. And you’re going to be really surprised to see all the beautiful things coming out around accessibility and inclusion.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Love that. On the topic of Windows 11, Alex, we’ve got one coming through specifically for the end user device.
Do you need a TPM chip on the end user device when you use Windows 11 cloud?
Alex Heilman: I love these questions because everybody who was watching the Windows 11 launch and the hardware specifications, this is a pretty modest switch, requiring TPM 2.0 to be able to be on every device that runs Windows 11. For a lot of the custom-built devices for Windows 10 that don’t have TPM enabled by default, there’s some work to actually go in and enable those. But for most modern devices, Microsoft made it a vendor standard in 2015 to require a TPM inside of all their Windows devices and up. So, for devices 2015 and onwards, they should be pretty good. It’s that TPM 2.0 standard that’s the kicker. There’s lots of TPM 1.2’s out there.
But in the case of Windows 365 in this virtualized instance, one of the benefits, the same way with Azure Virtual Desktop, is that you don’t really care about the actual, physical endpoint because you’re managing all of that entire experience from the cloud, if that make sense. So, for Windows 365, you won’t have to manage any of the actual system level requirements at all.
In fact, back when I used to work at Microsoft and we were testing Windows 365 before it came out, the new Chromium Microsoft Edge, we could launch Windows 365 on an Xbox. Doesn’t have a TPM at all. It’s an Xbox. You could bring that full Windows environment through the web by utilizing Windows 365. You have a full computing environment, where you’re not having to worry about the actual endpoint itself because all of that’s already managed in the cloud, in terms of access. And depending on the license you get, you can manage that networking as well. And their apps and their settings and their files automatically comes down with OneDrive.
So, it’s really a great experience for those, if you don’t want to worry about the endpoint. Your mobility is increased, which is obviously top of mind for hybrid organizations, especially for people who are getting back out there and need a full-powered Windows PC with them at all times to be able to bring that up. And they don’t want to worry about having to focus on the actual physical device itself. They can work from anywhere. They can bring up work details safely on a personal device, if they want to. It’s fully managed through that instance, which I think is really, really powerful.
So yes, by no means do you have to worry about the physical endpoint. That’s all managed in the cloud, for simplicity for both the end user and for IT, who’s deploying it.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Love that. The future is here. Now, next question, I’m going to pass it over to you, Kristen.
Do you believe Microsoft is continuing to move further into specific vertical clouds?
Kristin Fehrenbach: 100%. We definitely saw that during all of Inspire. They continue to talk about verticalization. They really hit on the key six while we were there, but do know that there are eight. We’ve got automotive, financial, government, healthcare, manufacturing, media and communications, retail, and nonprofit. As you can see, as Microsoft continues to expand in these specific verticals, you’re going to have a lot more features.
If you look at Dynamics, you have specific plugins and accelerators. Easy to just pop it in, for example, what’s important to you as a nonprofit, it makes all those settings really nice and easy. I know that us at Pax8, we’re continuing to try to verticalize as well, making sure that you have all the resources you guys need.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Thank you for that. Next question I’m going to pass to you, Diana.
What activation and resources Pax8 is going to be providing for Microsoft Canada partners and what that’s going to look like in the future this year?
Speaker 1: As you know that Pax8 is not new to Canada. Even though our team is based in the US side, for the past few years, we have been helping organizations and partners in the Canadian side to grow their business, really improve their profitability. But starting January of 2021, we started to have people actually sitting in Canada. We have our state director in Montreal, Mariane Louvet. We have our [channel account managers and cloud generation specialist. Plus myself, I’m in Toronto. So, we are growing definitely our presence in Canada in terms of people.
And now in terms of program, for sure. This year we launched multiple Azure programs to support partners who are starting their Azure business in Canada and they do not really know where to start, how to start, what are the capabilities and the skills that they need to learn. We also have all the promotions and the programs that we have in US extended into Canada. But also stay tuned for so much more and more people to support our partners in the Canadian region.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Very exciting. Growing globally here at Pax8 with Canada is the start –
Kristin Fehrenbach: Glowing, growing, all of that.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Glowing and growing. Super pumped start to this week. Now Joshua, our partners are really curious about this dyslexic functionality that you just spoke about. They’re wanting you to lean in a little bit more and provide a little bit more meat to those potatoes.
Can you explain more about Immersive Reader?
Joshua Dunham: Immersive Reader is going to be a very powerful tool. It is built into the Word application and the online version of Word as well. Basically, what it does is it kind of removes all the distractions from a webpage. It’s also built into Edge browser too. So even if you’re browsing online within Edge, you’ll see a beautiful little icon of a book opened up in the browser. If you click that, it’s actually going to launch that webpage into Immersive Reader.
Now some of the tools built into Immersive Reader are just focusing on the words. It allows you to increase or decrease the word size. It allows you to focus. Instead of showing just one page, it’ll actually go to one line. And there’s a reading option. You can even change the voice commands, so it could be a male voice, a female voice, or my favorite is the robotic voice. And you can also change the volume.
So again, it’s all about de-stigmatizing reading challenges. It allows you to read at your own pace. And what I love about it, especially in the classroom, is that if everyone’s using Immersive Reader, there’s not going to be anyone being pointed out asking, “Oh, why can’t you read? Why aren’t you’re reading as fast?” Again, de-stigmatizing, making it okay to say, “You know what? I have dyslexia. I’m going to own it, but I’m going to utilize Microsoft tools to increase my reading and build confidence in public speaking.” I use Immersive Reader myself.
I also really love that you can color code it. So you can color code nouns, verbs, adjectives, and assign color. And you’re probably asking, “Well, Joshua, what if I am colorblind or I can’t see certain colors?” That is an amazing question. They also label nouns, verbs, and adjectives. So, we’re not just reliant on colors to identify different words. They are looking at a total broadband spectrum of what dyslexia is and how you can work with it. What’s amazing too is that whether you have an iPhone or an Android, Immersive Reader is built in as well. So even if you are traveling and you have a book, you can take a picture of it, open it up in Immersive Reader on your phone and utilize those same applications. So, when you talk about accessibility, it’s all right here in the palm of your hands. I would say go in and check it out. It’s a really powerful tool that’s really transforming the industry from grades, I’m going to say, K all the way to my age. I’m not going to give away my age.
The stigma is being removed around dyslexia and dysgraphia. It’s because we’re all talking about it. And I think what’s really powerful is Pax8 and Microsoft and all of you advocating for individuals with any kind of disability and really showing them that Microsoft is putting forth the effort, the energy, into building out amazing tools that can support all of you.
One thing I might add to that as well, if you’re ever working with ISVs and you want to incorporate Immersive Reader into your own applications, Microsoft makes that available to you. There’s lots of tools for cognitive services. And Immersive Reader is one of them that you can use to make your own applications accessible as well. And even with Power Platform. I mean, think about Power Apps and making an accessible experience for everyone. If you’re helping customers on that journey, you can integrate Immersive Reader and accessibility controls inline by default in the applications that you create. There’s a lot of power that automatically comes into Microsoft’s applications, but if you want to build your own and you want to increase your capabilities and what your application infrastructure includes as well for accessibility, Microsoft makes its tools available for everyone to take advantage of. Really awesome stuff.
Joshua Dunham: One thing I want to say too — it’s free. Which is really powerful.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Huge. All right, we’re getting down to the final countdown. 10 minutes. Don’t forget to get in your final questions as we wrap up in these final 10 minutes. Alex, you got another question coming through for you.
What is Microsoft’s Intelligent Security Association? Can you go a little bit more in depth on what this is?
Alex Heilman: The Microsoft Intelligence Security Association has been around for maybe about a year or so. The program has continued to evolve and there’s a lot more inductees into that platform. Basically, for ISVs and MSPs who are supporting the best in security practices, both deploying environments for customers or creating custom solutions for Microsoft products, you can become a part of the Microsoft Intelligence Security Association. Kind of the same way that with Advanced Specializations, you get a differentiated badge and your own portal and page, so that customers and individuals who are wanting to partner with you as an organization know that you have that capability by default. This works in a similar way. It’s a website and portal to search through capabilities, what products are supported, what conversations you can step into as an advisor or an ISV who’s actually building these solutions that meet the best of security standards and practices.
Zero-trust is obviously going to be a big one. And that was a big change that they talked about relating to the Intelligence Security Association, that they want partners who are building solutions and they want ISVs who are building solutions and supporting solutions to be hyper-focused on zero-trust as it’s not just the product that you buy. You don’t buy a zero-trust product. It is a methodology. It is a model that you apply to all of your applications and your services and your approach internally with your IT strategy. And so, the Microsoft Intelligence Security Association is a great way to achieve that level of security and compliance for your customers.
For notes on being actually involved with it, that is a direct Microsoft conversation that you’ll need to have, but there are lots of resources that are available to understand more about what the program is, what types of solutions that partners are creating that are funneled through this program. But as the threat landscape and security needs continue to change, this kind of team organization or association that Microsoft has is the cutting edge across all Microsoft products and services.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Love that. We’ve got another question coming in – Tara, I’m going to pass this one to you.
What’s your favorite feature of the Dynamics 365 nonprofit accelerator that might be the most impactful to an NPO or NGO?
Tara Bauerschlag: I can explain what I use Dynamics for right now. We have built out apps specifically around Power Apps and Power Automate. And it’s amazing for my budgeting tools understanding what the teams are asking for within that budget. It’s incredibly helpful in really trying to build out a business process around Dynamics.
Ryan Hawkinson: I’d add onto that, because one of the things that’s amazing with the nonprofit accelerator is being able to take these NGOs and these nonprofit organizations and give them amazing tools in their digital transformation without breaking the bank. You can go in. You can deploy these amazing apps. And then if you want to, you can expand on them. You can build your own custom apps with them and really empower them, and again, without breaking the bank, which is a huge thing for these nonprofits. And not to mention, Dynamics itself even has some licensing deals to help get these organizations started.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Awesome. And the MBF app, I will say that we built internally. Absolutely amazing. All right. One more question coming in. This one I’m going to pass to you, Kristen.
Will Pax8 have any offerings in regards to new features and tools and how to structure them to meet compliance regulations, such as HIPAA? Or would partners have to directly work with Microsoft for this?
Kristin Fehrenbach: When you think of Pax8, when you want a Wingman, we are here to support you. We have so many resources that we are working to push out. We’ve got programs, playbooks, and guides to make sure that you are secure, because how many times did we talk about security this week, guys? Exactly. We will make sure that we are secure. We’re going to have the guides. And you’re going to be able to partner directly with your Pax8 account team to make sure that you have everything you need. Absolutely.
Lyndsey Hoffman: And there’s another one coming through. Alex, I’m going to pass this to you. You’ve got our partners pumped on the Windows 365 experience.
When can our partners order Windows 365?
Alex Heilman: Windows 365 is really exciting! And one of the key things about it is that it will be generally available, not through CSP. This is a key one. Not through CSP. We’re still waiting for details on when that will be available through the Pax8 partner experience. But when it’s available just for customers to take advantage and purchase through their own tenant – August 2 is the day for that. So, you’re not having to waiting four months to get Windows 365. August 2 is when it becomes GA. And that’s for Windows 10 based environments. Windows 11 is coming later this year. But in terms of its involvement in CSP program, Pax8 is still waiting to hear that from Microsoft to understand those details. But customers can start deploying it and having it active inside of their tenants starting August 2.
Lyndsey Hoffman: Well, I want to say thank you to every single one of you guys in the room, as well as all of you all. This was an absolutely amazing and engaging audience today.
Your Source for Everything Microsoft.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to check out all of the key Inspire updates that came from the Pax8 team of Inspire insiders, make sure to check our Microsoft Inspire 2021 resource page with session recap videos, as well as our Day 1 and Day 2 recap blogs.
Also, don’t forget to register for our upcoming events – you can find this team at our Mission Briefings and Microsoft Bootcamps. And, lastly, don’t forget to schedule a call with your Pax8 account rep. Thank you all so much for being along this journey with us this week.