Microsoft Inspire 2021 Highlights

By Lucy Wright

Last week was the annual Microsoft Inspire event, the largest Microsoft partner event of the year. This time, as in 2020, the event was online, but it was still jam packed with exciting announcements, exclusive updates and sneak peeks at some of the newest and upcoming Microsoft technologies.

There’s always plenty of hype around the event, and with good reason; partners are treated to exclusive insights, presentations from some of Microsoft’s most senior and innovative people and can be first to hear about updates to Microsoft solutions and new releases. And of course, pass on the benefits of these to our customers when they are realised.

We've rounded up our highlights of this year's event to give you a preview of what you can expect from Microsoft in the next year. 

Windows 11

One of the key themes of this year’s event was, unsurprisingly, remote working. Throughout 2020, those of us in industries that could worked from home. But as we transition into a world with a better grip on Covid-19, many of us are now returning to the office, if only for a couple of days a week, creating a hybrid working scenario that is new to nearly all businesses. Windows 11 will play an essential part in enabling businesses to not only adapt to but thrive in the hybrid working environment.

In the session 'Windows 11: Learn about the exciting new version of Windows that is designed for hybrid work', Melissa Grant, Director, Windows Enterprise Marketing and Adi Hariharan, Director, Windows Pro Marketing, gave an overview of Microsoft 11 and how it can be used to make hybrid working a success.

Microsoft research has shown that 73% of the global workforce want more flexible remote work options. But at the same time, 67% say they want more in-person collaboration. It’s a paradox that is hard to navigate not only for staff but those people running organisations.

Windows 11, Microsoft’s newest version of Windows has been designed specifically with hybrid working in mind, helping to solve the paradox.

Melissa told us that Windows 11 was “bloomed from the chaos of the Covid world” and it’s been deigned to empower users “like never before”. It harnesses the full power of everything Microsoft has to offer and is their most intuitive operating system (OS) yet.

Windows 11 simultaneously reduces barriers to collaboration while having enhanced security that means it's incredibly safe to use on any device and location. It's been designed around five key areas to be: productive, collaborative, consistent, secure and offer choice. What more could you want from your OS?! 

Microsoft has wanted to keep the familiarity of Windows 10, especially for those organisations that have only just migrated from Windows 7 to Windows 10, but give new, powerful and intuitive features that make collaboration easier and allow people to be more productive than ever. 

On the collaboration front, there's some great new features in Teams like instantly sharing any app or window from the taskbar instead of within Teams, so there's no fumbling about and your flow isn't interrupted. There's also cool new features like automatic blurring when someone walks past, muting from the taskbar instead of within Teams and intelligent noise isolation that will stop background noise and distractions instantly and automatically during meetings. All this combines to make the shared experience even better. 

New features for productivity include a more streamlined user interface, quick access tools, snapping and grouping together windows on your desktop, and a choice of input methods including touch, pen and voice. All the new features and the interface itself has been designed to perfectly strike the balance between "meaningful innovation and familiarity." 

And for IT teams, Microsoft has ensured consistency in the deployment, servicing, support and management of Windows 11 and 10, so IT teams can easily transition to managing the new OS. This approach also respects the investment made by customers in Windows versions before 11.

Microsoft Cloud for sustainability

In the session, 'Harnessing digital solutions to win in a net-zero sustainable future', Lucas Joppa, Microsoft's Chief Environmental Officer, spoke about the role of Microsoft and specifically, the cloud in a creating a sustainable future. 

Digital solutions will be incredibly important in achieving a net zero carbon economy, and sustainable future. Lucas pointed out that it’s a “planet sized challenge”, but one that Microsoft is equipped to deal with head on.

If you're just starting your sustainability journey, you need to first of all understand your footprint, and then take the steps needed to reduce it and transform your business with sustainability in mind. Because, as Lucas pointed out "you can't manage what you can't measure." And Microsoft has developed an innovative solution to help businesses do that. 

The Microsoft Cloud for sustainability is a new platform that gives organisations accurate, comprehensive and an increasingly real-time view of their environment and emissions.

Organisations that use it can track and report emissions across the value chain and use these reports to find the most impactful and efficient environmental impact reduction strategies for their organisation.

Businesses will have the opportunity to extend this all the way from data level to the experience level, with climate risk analytics, financial services, and energy supply and demand management, as well as with industry-agnostic solutions for carbon accounting in any organisation.

It means that, no matter what industry you are in, organisations can transform their sustainability and environmental impact through innovative solutions that also drive business outcomes.

Security 

The final key theme that stood out for us was security.

In the presentation 'Accelerate customer transformation with cloud security solutions from Microsoft', Adwait Joshi, Microsoft's Director of Cloud Security, explained that we’re in an era of transformation when it comes to security, and that digital cloud security is playing a key role.

The average enterprise-level business consumes more than a thousand cloud services at any time, so it’s no wonder security is a top concern for most of them.

According to Joshi, your top considerations when it comes to cloud security right now should be:

  • Strengthening the cloud security posture
  • Protecting your cloud workloads from threats
  • Securing the network
  • Implementing identity-based controls
  • Discovering and controlling SaaS apps
  • Secure development and deployment of apps

The recent and rapid adoption of cloud services means that cloud security is high on the list of organisations' priorities. Businesses want and need comprehensive cloud security, that extends across environments and apps. Microsoft cloud security solutions protect across IaaS, PaaS and SaaS environments and extend to Azure, Multicloud services and Hybrid. And when it comes to keeping track of, understanding and improving your security posture, Microsoft's Secure Score in the Azure Security Centre dashboard is your best friend. Secure Score monitors all your resources and measures them against best practices and industry standards to calculate your score. That score is an indicator of the risk in your environment; and the higher your score, the more secure your environment, and the lower identified risk. From this security posture baseline, you're in a position to improve your security using the Microsoft tech to help you do that.

For more information on how Core can help your business deploy the newest Microsoft technologies and see real value from your investment, contact us today. 

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