28 February 2021
Surface Pro 7 removable SSD
Microsoft Surface SSD spares available for the first time
Microsoft has announced the availability of SSD spares for commercial Surface Pro 7 customers, initially US only. For those not aware, the SSD on the previous Surface Pro is not replaceable (it is soldered to the motherboard). The Surface Pro 7 introduced removable SSDs which was also first released on the Surface Pro X and the Surface Laptop 3. To date, only the Surface Pro 7 has upgrade spares available, and while 3rd party SSDs can work, Microsoft does not recommend or support 3rd party options.
Lenovo refreshed devices with taller screens making a debut
Lenovo has refreshed its cost-conscious (L-series), flagship business (T-series), portable workstations (P-series) and ultraportable (X series) devices with options for Intel 11th generation and AMD Ryzen 5000 processors. For us, the most interesting update is the move to 16:10 aspect ratio screens from 16:9 screens. for the X-Series. This reflects a general trend moving to taller screens. 16:10 screens are about 10% taller than the same width 16:9 screen, and 3:2 screens (seen on Surface devices for example) which are about 19% taller. The extra height provides a big benefit to users of productivity apps.
February Technical Preview for Configuration Manager released
The February 2021 Technical Preview for Configuration Manager has been released. Improvements include collection relationships viewer, PowerBI report templates sharing, CMG BitLocker features, Query Previews, and TLS security features for WSUS.
Smartphone sales continue to decline
Global smartphone sales for Q4 2020 declined 5% with Apple regaining the top spot since 2016. Year on year growth declined by 12.5%. While not explicitly stated, the declines are no doubt related to both COVID impact and also smartphone saturation.
Deploy 3rd party Microsoft 365 apps from Microsoft 365 admin centre (not to be confused with Microsoft Endpoint Manager)
Microsoft has released the capability to manage and deploy 3rd party Microsoft 365 Apps in the Microsoft 365 admin center (i.e. 3rd party plugins for Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams, etc.). This effectively integrates the Microsoft AppSource marketplace into the Microsoft 365 admin centre. To our surprise, this feature deploys 3rd party apps to your existing Office Applications independently to other deployment techniques (i.e it does not depend on Intune enrollment or a Configuration Manager client). The supporting documentation does not describe how the update mechanism works so we have a question with Microsoft. Irrespective, we can only see this being of use to smaller organisations without enterprise deployment tools.
Book the diary for Microsoft Ignite sessions
The Microsoft Ignite conference is back next week from the 2nd to 4th of March. See this post for an overview of the sessions covering Windows and devices along with registration details.