Windows Virtual Desktop Public Preview

Microsoft announce that Windows Virtual Desktop is now in public preview.

This new Azure service will allow customers to run Windows 7, Windows 10 or Windows Server desktops and provide free Extended Security Updates for customers choosing Windows 7.

Customers will already be licensed for the client desktops if they have Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E5, Windows 10 E3/E5 or Windows VDA licences, and for Windows Server desktops if they’ve got RDS CALs. Reserved Instances may also be used to optimise costs for the infrastructure.

This site (http://bit.ly/2HPbqo2) has all the information as well as a video that gives an excellent overview of the service.

System Center 2019 Feature Updates

System Center 2019 is generally available and there’s more detail added to the original announcement about the frequency of feature updates.

System Center 2019 moves to the Long Term Servicing Channel but new features are delivered every six months during the mainstream support windows via Update Rollup releases for which you don’t need Software Assurance.

Customers will be eligible to move to System Center 2019 from the previous LTSC release (System Center 2016) as well as the last two Semi-Annual Channel releases (1801 and 1807).

Find the article here: http://bit.ly/2T7YfQN.

Home Use Program FAQ

There’s an updated FAQ on the Home Use Program with two main items of interest.

Firstly, the number of qualifying Office 365/Microsoft 365 licences that education or non-profit customers need is reduced to 2,000 to match the requirements for commercial or government customers.

Secondly, there are instructions added for IT administrators to manage the HUP benefit through the Microsoft Store for Business.

Find the FAQ here: http://bit.ly/2Y45JrL.

General Availability of System Center 2019

Microsoft announce the General Availability of System Center 2019 with no changes to the licensing or pricing.

There will no longer be Semi-Annual Channel releases, but new features will be delivered through Update Rollups. Note that System Center Configuration Manager will continue with a current branch release cadence of three times per year.

Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2T7YfQN.

Azure Marketplace offerings available through the CSP

Microsoft announce that ISVs can now choose to make their Azure Marketplace offerings available through the CSP channel, so that CSP partners will be able to sell these solutions alongside the regular Azure services.

Partners will transact SaaS Subscriptions through Partner Center, and Azure resources such as VM or container images through the Azure Management Portal.

Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2JefMam, where you’ll also find an updated CSP Operations Guide.

General Availability of Azure DevOps Server

Microsoft announce the General Availability of Azure DevOps Server; this is the latest version of the product you may know better by its previous name of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server.

There are no changes to the licensing of this new version and you can buy Server and CAL licences through a Volume Licensing agreement.

Alternatively, Visual Studio standard subscriptions include rights to the Server licence and one User CAL, and all users licensed for Azure DevOps Services have CAL rights too.

You can find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2FgTv7U, along with confirmation that Azure SQL Database can now be used with Azure DevOps Server in an Azure virtual machine.

Windows 7 Extended Security Updates

Microsoft announce that Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 will be available for purchase starting 1 April, 2019.

This is where you’ll find the announcement: http://bit.ly/2THC3SZ, along with a link to download some FAQs.

If you’re interested in some facts and figures around running older software then this infographic is worth a look: http://bit.ly/2TcV7TU, and there’s a customisable sales guide for partners who want to help customers transition to a modern desktop with Microsoft 365 here: http://bit.ly/2Y3Ymk3.

Windows and SQL Server End of Support FAQ

Windows and SQL Server reach the end of mainstream support in July 2019 (SQL) and January 2020 (Windows). Customers who want to continue to run 2008/2008 R2 workloads will have the option of purchasing Extended Security Updates from 1 March, 2019.

There’s a new FAQ from Microsoft which is useful, and if you don’t want to read all 57 questions then focus on question  9 (pricing details), 34 (options for hosted environments), and 37 (how these ESUs will be delivered).

Find this FAQ in the Core Infrastructure section of our Licensing Guides emporium: http://bit.ly/MSLicensingGuides, and add it to your weekend reading list.

Comparing Microsoft 365 Plans

For a detailed comparison of what’s in each of the Microsoft 365 E3, E5 and F1 plans, this site is useful: http://bit.ly/2t8ckU2.

It’s right up-to-date with the recent inclusion of MyAnalytics in all plans, the merging of Office 365 Cloud App Security into Microsoft Cloud App Security, and the combining of Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection and Threat Intelligence into Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Plan 2.