Earlier today Microsoft wrapped up their second Vision keynote at their annual Worldwide Partner Conference and while yesterday's keynote talked about transformation using big data, virtual reality and Microsoft's cloud based offerings through Azure.

Today's keynote placed a lot more focus on Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Windows 10 and also contained one more HoloLens demo that showed of an experience being built by the Professional Golfers Association.

There was also a long list of news and product announcements throughout today's session and one of them promise to generate some speculation about consumer subscriptions to Windows 10. More on that later today over on the Supersite: Windows.

Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's Executive VP for Cloud and Enterprise, started off the keynote talking about Microsoft Azure and during the course of his portion of the session shared the following announcements:

Azure SQL Data Warehouse

With the general availability of the Azure SQL Data Warehouse, we are delivering the true promise of cloud elasticity to data warehousing. It is a fully managed DW as a Service that you can provision in minutes and scale up to 60 times larger in seconds. With a few clicks in the Azure Portal, you can launch a data warehouse, and start analyzing or querying data at the scale of hundreds of terabytes. Our architecture separates compute and storage so that you can independently scale them, and use just the right amount of each at any given time. A very unique pause feature allows you to suspend compute in seconds and resume when needed while your data remains intact in Azure storage. And SQL Data Warehouse offers an availability SLA of 99.9% – the only public cloud data warehouse service that offers an availability SLA to customers.

Windows Server 2016 Launching at Microsoft Ignite this Fall

Windows Server 2016 is the cloud-ready operating system that delivers new layers of security and Azure-inspired innovation for the applications and infrastructure that power your business. New capabilities will help you:

  • Increase security and reduce business risk with multiple layers of protection built into the operating system.
  • Evolve your datacenter to save money and gain flexibility with software-defined datacenter technologies inspired by Microsoft Azure.
  • Innovate faster with an application platform optimized for the applications you run today, as well as the cloud-native apps of tomorrow.

Technical Preview 5 is our final preview prior to launch and is feature complete, so download it today and try out all the new features in Windows Server 2016. Deploy, manage and secure Windows Server 2016 with the upcoming release of System Center 2016.

Microsoft Dynamics Now Served from Microsoft Cloud in Canada

Today in Canada we’re excited to announce another leap forward in our journey to delivering intelligent customer engagement in Canada with the general availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online served from our new local datacentre regions in Toronto and Quebec City. Dynamics CRM Online joins Microsoft Azure and Office 365 in providing Canadian organizations and partners with the most complete cloud, featuring the same industry-leading levels of security, privacy, control, compliance, and transparency that define the trusted Microsoft Cloud globally.

Azure Solutions Portal Launched

More than a set of cloud services, Azure solutions are designed for you and your business. Get your applications up and running faster. Scale as much as you need, when you need it. And get the same level of performance and security that organizations like GE Healthcare, 3M, and Rolls-Royce already trust.

Next up on the keynote stage was Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft's Corporate VP for Office, where he talked about Office 365's momentum with 70 million people using the service each month plus partner opportunities as the service recently marked its 5th anniversary since its launch.

The first big piece of news shared by Koenigsbauer was that Facebook has decided to move its 13,000 employees around the world to Office 365 as their productivity and collaboration software suite. When asked why his company made the move, Facebook's CIO Tim Campos, said it was because "Microsoft was cool again" but I am sure the capabilities of Office 365 had an impact on that decision as well.

Also announced today was the Skype Operations Framework (SOF) for Skype for Business:

The Skype Operations Framework (SOF) is a comprehensive guide and toolset for implementing and managing a reliable, cost-effective communications service based on Skype for Business. It covers the entire customer lifecycle, including planning, deployment, adoption, and operations. It is a multi-faceted approach to the successful deployment of Skype for Business, incorporating four key elements that have customer success firmly at the center.

  • The SOF framework provides a standardized approach to successfully plan, deliver and operate Skype for Business by incorporating practical guidance, tools, assets and recommended practices.
  • The SOF readiness via Skype Academy provides targeted training to educate customers and partners on Skype for Business products, services and best practices, while providing theoretical training along with internship and guided deployment opportunities to apply learnings to real-world customer engagements.
  • SOF provides the foundation for customers and partners to accelerate their Skype for Business Online journey. We are providing the delivery methodology in SOF to guide customers and partners on when and how to use the tools and assets. This is a major benefit for many who in the past have had to work out how to navigate the deployment journey on their own, investing significant time and effort to develop their own delivery methodology from the ground up. Customers and Partners can now build their own delivery capabilities using the SOF delivery methodology as the foundation.

In other Office 365 related announcements at WPC16, the Skype for Business coverage for PSTN Conferencing is now available in 92 countries around the world with Venezuela, Uruguay, Vietnam and Kenya being added in the past month. Plus, PSTN Calling is now available in the United Kingdom and United States and will provide inbound, outbound calling, voicemail, phone numbers and calling plans.

Also, Office 365 customers who use Skype Meeting Broadcast services will be seeing a preview later this year to test out automatic translation and transcription of broadcast meetings.

The final presenter on stage for today's keynote was Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's Corporate VP for the Windows and Devices Group, where he announced three key programs for partners and SMBs.

Announcing New Subscription Options for Windows 10 and Surface for Businesses

Today, we are announcing Windows 10 Enterprise E3 in CSP. Starting this fall, businesses can get enterprise-grade security and management capabilities at just $7 a seat per month for the first time through the Cloud Solution Provider channel.

CSP partners will be able to provide a subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition as part of a managed service offering, which is ideal for businesses who do not have dedicated IT resources or limited IT staff, and want their licensing and IT needs managed by a trusted and experienced partner.

Windows 10 Enterprise continues to be available through our regular licensing programs and is part of our newly-announced suites Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5 launching later this year.

Surface Enterprise Initiative Expands to Meet Evolving Business Mobility Needs

Today we are expanding the Surface Enterprise Initiative with a set of new partnerships and programs that will empower our customers to transform the way their people and the organizations work.

"Many of our clients have requested mobile solutions for Surfaces that are tailored to their business needs,” said Murray Mitchell, global leader, Microsoft Services at IBM. “IBM will design Surface solutions that allow financial services and CPG employees to tap in to their company’s information on-the-go. We’ll apply experience of over 20 years as a Microsoft strategic partner to ensure the mobile apps blend with our client’s existing infrastructures creating dynamic, new mobile experiences uniquely suited to the needs of their employees. IBM is a recognized leader in enterprise computing, sitting at the center of a broad ecosystem of partners who, like Microsoft, aim to meet the needs of this market."

Similarly, we are seeing strong demand for Surface within government and the public sector in general. Earlier this year, we announced that Surface has met the strict security and interoperability requirements to be fully certified for the U.S. Department of Defense. Today we are taking the next step in meeting the needs of Public Sector organizations with our new partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton.

“Our goal is to deliver secure, end-to-end solutions to solve unique client challenges,” said Walton Smith, Booz Allen Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Solutions. “Our partnership with Microsoft relationship will give our clients access to solutions built with the powerful and portable Surface devices and with the most secure and high-performing operating system available today, Windows 10.”

In addition, we’re happy to announce new programs to give business customers of all sizes added flexibility to purchase and deploy Surfaces – and to provide new opportunities to our partners. We’re introducing Surface as a Service, where our Cloud Solution Providers (who are also Surface Authorized Distributors) can now offer Surface devices through a managed service offering to all of our resellers and customers, alongside managed cloud services, Office 365, Windows 10, and relevant ISV software. This new offering faster device refresh, more flexible purchasing options, and ensures customers can have the latest Surface devices that evolve with the best Windows and Office have to offer. We launched this program with ALSO, a leading CSP out of Europe, and look forward to working with other partners to expand this program globally.

Likewise, we want to provide more purchasing options for our global customers. We are announcing our new Surface Multi-National Purchasing Program and authorizing four resellers – CDW, Insight, SHI and Zones – to provide multi-national customers Surface devices and accessories. This gives enterprise customers a more streamlined path for getting Surface on company-wide standards lists and for cross-country adoption for line of business scenarios. Additional resellers wishing to join the program should contact their local Partner Sales Executive.

There was a mention of the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update, scheduled for release on 02 August, with a couple of security demos of Windows Hello and other security features. There was also a wild demo of inking by Bryan Roper as he destroyed a Bridgestone tire onstage and then documented the damage through a touch enabled app.

Today there were a lot news and announcements in the keynote and tomorrow will be the Day 3 keynote but that talk will not be so focused on new products and services but on partner opportunities within the Microsoft ecosystem.

Check out the on demand replay of all of the WPC16 keynotes so far and the various news announcements from the event at http://news.microsoft.com/wpc2016/

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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