Last week, Microsoft held the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta. This post is a collection of observations and inferences from what Microsoft announced or the data that was presented in various sessions. With an event the size of Ignite, this should not be seen as an attempt to be comprehensive. These are simply my observations of some items I saw as significant.
Windows 10 continues to see strong adoption. It is actually ahead of the Windows 7 adoption rate. Microsoft announced that the “active monthly device” count for Windows 10 is now above 400 million devices. This continues to support the strong adoption, though that does include consumer as well as commercial devices. In the commercial space, companies are actively planning for and migrating to Windows 10, although, as expected, that rate of adoption is not as fast as in the consumer market due to both caution and the planning necessary to ensure there are no business disruptions due to application compatibility issues.
Microsoft did have data specific to commercial installations for Office 365. That number has reached 70 million installations, which does NOT include consumer installs. This continues to indicate both a strong service and strong adoption of that service by companies of all sizes. The ease of installation combined with ease of maintenance compared to a traditional on-premises Exchange installation will continue to drive this number higher.
During the keynote on Monday, Microsoft made two announcements that were widely expected regarding the general availability of both Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016. Both should now be available for download from the Microsoft Volume License site. It will be interesting to watch the adoption of both these products grow over the coming months.
Microsoft also announced that Azure Information Protection will be generally available the first week of October. This service continues the path started with Azure Rights Management Service. Azure Information Protection provides the ability to Classify and Label data either automatically or manually to protect a company from either accidental or intentional misuse. For example, it is possible to have credit card data automatically recognized in a document — and classified as confidential. Then, based on that classification, a company policy can be enforced to not allow that data to leave the company. There are significant opportunities related to managing the data lifecycle that can be controlled with Azure Information Protection.
Microsoft demonstrated a new version of the Microsoft Intune portal that will be available in early 2017. This portal will mark the transition to an Azure based portal. The “Azure Intune Portal” will help address the multiple portals currently used for managing O365 and EMS. Because it is Azure-based, this will also allow PowerShell to be utilized for easier and more scalable management and configuration.
Microsoft noted an interesting thing about the call volume for the releases of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). With the latest release of SCCM last November, Microsoft moved to a four-month release cadence for the product. Despite this rapid release cadence, they have actually seen a downtick in call volume for the product. This speaks very highly to the stability of the product, as well as for the quality control of the release cycles.
Microsoft also showed data points pointing to very solid adoption of the SCCM Current Branch servicing model which started last November when it began releasing monthly technical preview releases of SCCM labeled according to year and month of release. For example, the initial release was in November 2015 and was versioned as v1511. Every four months or so, they have designated one of the Technical Preview releases as the new “Current Branch” release, which is determined to be stable enough for corporate production deployment. The data presented at Ignite showed that only 20 percent of SCCM installs are still on the original v1511 version. The February 2016 release (v1602) accounts for 29 percent of installs, while a full 50 percent of all installs are on the latest Current Branch release (v1606). This speaks to a VERY strong confidence in the servicing model. It should also be noted that these installations of SCCM at the server level are managing over 40 million clients.
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