Microsoft Ignite is taking place in Orlando this week. As expected, there have been numerous announcements that will have wide-ranging impacts on the industry going forward. As I did last year for Ignite 2016, this post is a collection of observations and my thoughts on what some of this means for the industry. This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive post on everything covered at Ignite. These are simply my thoughts on items that I saw as being significant.

System Center Configuration Manager

Twenty-five years ago, Microsoft kicked off a project code-named “Hermes” that was the precursor to what has grown into System Center Configuration Manager. To a great degree, Project Hermes helped direct what the client management industry would grow into. And to that point, Configuration Manager is now used to manage 75 percent of all enterprise PCs! Just as impressive, the number of what Microsoft refers to as “monthly active users” is growing by over a million devices each week.

Configuration Manager Current Branch is currently used by companies around the world to manage 100,000,000 (yes, 100 million) active monthly devices. This product has been and will continue to be exceptionally strong.

Windows 10

Continuing the trend from last year, Windows 10 is still seeing strong adoption. Microsoft had several new announcements regarding Windows 10. They announced a “bridge” to enable comanagement of a Windows 10 device by both Intune and Configuration Manager. Essentially, a Windows 10 device will be able to simultaneously join on-premises Active Directory (and be managed by Configuration Manager) and join Azure Active Directory (and be managed by Intune). This will enable companies to gradually test out migrating to a modern management approach. There are currently limited items that can be managed in this way (primarily compliance and update policies), but I would expect this to expand over time. The comanagement bridge will be available with the Fall Creators Update. More information on this can be found in this blog post by Microsoft’s Brad Anderson. Two new versions of Microsoft 365 were introduced this week.

  • Microsoft 365 Education will include Windows 10, Office 365 for Education, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Minecraft Education Edition.
  • Microsoft 365 F1 is geared toward customer service workers (i.e. first-line workers) and will include Windows 10, Office 365 F1 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. A complete rundown of this edition can be found in this blog post by Microsoft’s Bryan Goode.

Finally, Microsoft also announced OEM support for Windows AutoPilot. AutoPilot launched in July to provide a method of self-service deployment of new Windows 10 devices. At launch time, Windows AutoPilot was available to pilot on Microsoft Surface devices with the idea that other OEMs, distributors and resellers would be able to join in later. This week Microsoft announced that Lenovo, HP, Panasonic, Fujitsu and Toshiba will begin supporting Windows AutoPilot on new Windows 10 devices in early 2018. This will be a significant development to enable easy self-service deployment of new devices shipped directly from an OEM, distributor or reseller.

Enterprise Mobility + Security

Microsoft has added the ability to deploy and execute PowerShell scripts on Windows 10 devices using Microsoft Intune. This is done through the new Microsoft Intune Management Extension, which is installed automatically on Azure AD joined devices. This is a hugely powerful new functionality.

Microsoft announced a new partnership with Jamf “to provide an automated compliance management solution for Mac devices accessing applications set up with Azure AD authentication.” This blog post describes this capability, and Microsoft’s Brad Anderson will be speaking at a Jamf event in the coming weeks.

Azure AD Pass Through Authentication is now generally available. This enables a company to utilize Azure AD for single sign-on while keeping passwords within their corporate boundary. Additionally, it is now possible to use Duo, RSA or Trusona for two-step verification.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft announced that there will be another version of Microsoft Office named Office 2019 that is scheduled for the second half of 2018. This will be a “perpetual” version of Office (in contrast to the subscription to Office 365). I am honestly surprised by this announcement. Given the success of Office 365, I was not sure if they would release another non-subscription version of Office.

Other Notable Announcements

There were also several other announcements I saw that were significant, but I simply wasn’t able to spend a lot of time digging into them for this blog post.

Microsoft SQL 2017 will be able to run on not just Windows but also on Linux and Docker for the first time. That is a pretty big deal.

Azure Stack is now available for purchase through Dell EMS, Lenovo and HP Enterprise. This is Microsoft’s hybrid cloud solution that was announced at Ignite 2016.

Skype for Business will eventually be replaced by Microsoft Teams. There had been rumors of this recently, but it was interesting to see this announced at Ignite. Microsoft Teams is a pretty recent product, but it has seen strong adoption. There are a lot of features that will need to be added to Teams for this vision to become reality. More info on this announcement is available in this blog post from Microsoft.

Lastly, Microsoft announced several new or upcoming additions to OneDrive for Business. One of the bigger ones, in my opinion, is the ability for a user to do a self-service recovery of their entire OneDrive in the event of a ransomware, corruption, mass delete or other similar scenarios. There were several other OneDrive announcements that you can read about in this blog post. Some of the highlights include:

  • The OneDrive Sync Client will now be included in Office for Mac.
  • Customers will be able to use their own encryption key through Service Level Encryption.
  • You will soon be able to share externally without the need for a Microsoft Account.
  • Support for offline synchronization of DRM/IRM libraries

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