At Inspire, its partner conference in Washington today, Microsoft unveiled a new set of commercial offerings under the brand Microsoft 365. The confusingly named line is supposed to “empower all companies and all workers,” but it’s really just another way for the company to package, and for its partners to sell, Windows 10, Office 365, and related enterprise mobility and security offerings.
In typical Microsoft fashion, there are two versions (so far) of Microsoft 365: Enterprise and Business. The former will be available for purchase on August 1 and the latter will hit public preview on August 2 (and will become generally available worldwide “in the fall of 2017”). Microsoft 365 Enterprise pricing will vary based on the plan “and other factors” (contact your account manager) while Microsoft 365 Business will be priced at US $20 per user, per month.
Microsoft 365 Enterprise succeeds Microsoft’s Secure Productive Enterprise offering and includes Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Microsoft 365 Business is designed to give small- to medium-sized businesses “a complete productivity and security solution” and includes Office 365 Business Premium, security and management features for Office apps and Windows 10 devices, and a centralized console for deploying and securing devices and users.
The pitch for Microsoft 365 is simple: It will make the company’s partners more money. Here is how Microsoft puts it:
Microsoft 365 represents a new and more cohesive approach to how Microsoft goes to market with our commercial offerings, and reflects the shift our partners and our mutual customers are making — from viewing productivity, security and device management as individual workloads, to seeking a comprehensive approach to secure productivity. Microsoft 365 is great for partners, too. It represents a significant opportunity to increase deal size, differentiate their offerings, and grow their managed services revenue.
At the same time, Microsoft also unveiled a new program for independent software vendors (ISVs). Called ISV Cloud Embed, the program lets Microsoft’s partners purchase core Dynamics 365, Power BI, Power Apps, and Microsoft Flow capabilities as embeddable “building blocks” at discounts of up to 50 percent:
- Dynamics 365 Embedded — rapidly create business applications tailored to specific industries or regions without starting from scratch
- Microsoft Flow Embedded — enable ISVs to offer the ability to allow power users and information workers to add and customize workflows to automate business processes as part of their application
- PowerApps Embedded — provide an easy extensibility model for your application that can be delivered in the browser or in a mobile application
- Power BI Embedded — allows users to easily embed fully interactive reports and dashboards. Partners will be able to transact this offering through CSP, as part of ISV Cloud Embed.
ISVs have been using Power BI Embedded to add business analytics capabilities to their applications for about a year already. Just as partners currently build their apps on Microsoft Azure, they can use Microsoft’s business applications platform to add sales automation, service line, and operational backend functionality to their own apps. The company didn’t share exactly when it will be extending the number of higher-level services available as embeddable building blocks, saying merely “later this year.”
The hope is that partners will have lower costs and development overhead thanks to leaning on Microsoft’s engineering resources. Microsoft Azure partners can host their apps on Azure and then extend their functionality with capabilities from ISV Cloud Embed services.
Speaking of Azure, Microsoft today also announced that Azure Stack is now ready to order.