21 February 2021

Surface Hub 2. Source: Microsoft.

Windows 10, version 21H1, released for early adopters

The next version of Windows 10, version 21H1, has started release to earlier adopters via the Windows Insider program. The update will be delivered using the same technology for monthly updates, so long as upgrading from version 2004 of 20H2. There are limited new features from what we can see so far.

Next version of Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) arriving later this year

Microsoft has announced the next release of Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) will arrive in the second half of this year. LTSC is targeted at devices that need to have minimal change and do not benefit from regular feature updates; for example manufacturing floor devices, or process control network devices. A significant change in the Windows LSTC release is a reduction on the support lifecycle from 10 years to 5 years, except for IoT Enterprise which will retain 10 years of support.

The first Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) version of Office is coming in April

To align with the Windows 10 LTSC release, there is also the first LTSC version of Office on the way along with Office 2021 (not to be confused with Microsoft Apps, previously called Office ProPlus, the subscription-based version of Office). Office LTSC, as with Office 2021, uses non-subscription device-based licensing. A commercial preview is targeted for April. Before Office LTSC, the recommendation for Office installations on Windows LTSC devices was the non-subscription based Office Professional (or Office Professional Plus). It is unclear exactly what the difference between Office LTSC and Office 2021 will be.

Device-based subscription version of Microsoft Apps available at last!

Welcome news to those using subscription version of Office with shared user computer activation. Device-based subscription is now available! Importantly with no need for users to have an Azure AD identity.

Extend subscription version of Office licence revalidation period to 180 days

Microsoft has released an option to extend the licence revalidation period for Microsoft Apps (subscription version of Microsoft Office). To date, Microsoft Apps needed a connection to the Internet every 30 days to maintain full functionality. This can now be extended to 180 days if need be.

Intel’s new CEO starts day 1

Intel’s new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, officially started work on the 16th of February replacing Bob Swan. The new CEO leaves the role of CEO of VMWare, with previous roles at EMC as COO, and over 30 years at Intel where he started his career. Bloomberg reports that the Intel Board was keen “the board decided it wanted a person with more of a technology background rather than finance” (Mr Gelsinger was previously CTO of Intel, Mr Swan was previously the CFO of Intel). The change comes at a time where Intel has lost market leadership and suffered various processor development delays.

Business case ideas for the Surface Hub, sort of…

Microsoft has commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact study for Surface Hub. Surface Hub provides a merging of Microsoft Teams with interactive whiteboard type functionality. The study presents an astonishing ROI of over 300%. The ROI is driven by savings in “post meeting tasks”, “avoided printing costs”, and “avoided meeting space” with the major contributor coming from “sales improvements”. I’m not sure any of these calculations would meet the hurdle of a rigorous business case, but they may assist in providing some ideas.