Microsoft Ignite for IT Pros: All the Products that Reached General Availability

The Microsoft Ignite online event kicked off on Tuesday, and it brings a bunch of product updates for IT pros that are now reaching "general availability" (GA, or commercial release).

Microsoft's voluminous "Book of News" publication, available here, is the source for these GA announcements. The Book's sections, containing additional info, are referenced below.

Windows 365 and Windows 11 Features at GA
Some Windows 11 features used with the Windows 365 Business Edition desktop-as-a-service solution reached GA status (Section 4.5.2). They include virtual Trusted Platform Module chip support, Microsoft Teams and Office optimizations, and tooling for transitioning to Windows 11.

Also at GA for Windows 365 users is the ability to get reports on Cloud PC stats in the Endpoint Analytics module within Microsoft Endpoint Manager. The kind of stats available include user sign-in times, as well as network connection speeds and service reliability based on a user's location.

Microsoft had tried to claim last month that Windows 11 was at the GA stage for use with the Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop services. However, a crucial element, called "Trusted Launch," which is needed to provide security for those services, was still at the preview stage. It's not clear if that circumstance changed or not.

Microsoft Teams GA Features
Microsoft Teams Admin Center portal users can now search for any function within the portal, a feature that reached GA.

Microsoft also added an App Discovery Tool improvement in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center portal that makes it easier to find applications. It's done via "better organization of apps into categories." It's also easier to request apps (Section 4.2.6).

Also at GA is retention and deletion policies for private Teams channels, which IT pros can set up using the Microsoft Records Management tool (Section 7.5.1).

Microsoft Viva Learning GA
Microsoft Viva Learning reached GA status (Section 4.3.2). Microsoft Viva is Microsoft's employee experience platform, with four applications that surface in Microsoft Teams. The only other app in the Viva suite to reach GA status is Viva Topics. Other apps, presumably at preview, include Viva Connections and Viva Insights.

A fifth Viva app, based on Microsoft's acquisition will be coming sometime next year, and Microsoft promised that Viva suite buyers will get access to it.

"Customers who purchase the Microsoft Viva suite will get access to future value, including when it becomes generally available in the Microsoft Cloud over the next year," the Book of News explained.

Windows Update for Business Deployment Service and Intune Integration
Newly rolling out this month will be the integration of the Windows Update for Business Deployment Service into Microsoft Intune, which is Microsoft's client device and app management solution (Section 4.5.1).

Microsoft had announced its new Windows Update for Business Deployment Service back in March, which was expected to arrive sometime in the first half of this year. The service works with Microsoft Endpoint Manager and is said to give IT pros greater control over when Windows operating system quality updates and feature updates arrive, plus controls over firmware and driver updates. The Intune support is apparently a new addition to the service.

Test Base for Microsoft 365 GA
Test Base for Microsoft 365 reached GA this month (Section 4.5.1). It's an Azure service that lets "independent software vendors (ISVs), enterprise partners and organizations" test their applications against Windows client and server OS versions.

A few capabilities in Test Base for Microsoft 365 also were described as reaching GA status. It now supports Windows Server 2022 app testing. Users can now test "e-mail alerts and notifications." It also has a video recording capability to enable "faster debugging and root causes analysis."

Universal Print Support for Excel for Web
The ability to print using the Excel for Web application and Microsoft's Universal Print service will reach GA status by the end of this year (Section 4.5.1).

Universal Print is Microsoft's service for organizations that promises to dispense with having to maintain and update print servers. Microsoft commercially released it in March. It requires the use of Azure Active Directory-joined client devices and E3- or E5-type licensing. IT pros also have to oversee print quantities and purchase so-called Add-On Packs, when needed, according to a fairly nuanced and complex scheme.

Microsoft Edge on Linux GA
The Microsoft Edge browser is now described as being at the GA stage for the stable channel (Section 5.1.1).

"Microsoft Edge can now be found throughout the full complement of major platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux," the "Book of News" explained. 

Azure Confidential Computing and Trusted Launch GA
Trusted Launch for Azure Generation-2 virtual machines with virtual Trusted Platform Modules and Secure Boot protections has reached the GA stage for the Confidential Computing service (Section 7.1.4). Confidential Computing is an Azure service that adds security protections for Azure workloads at the compute stage.

Trusted Launch is Microsoft's name for various security protections. It encompasses Secure Boot to ward off rootkits, the virtual Trusted Platform Module and virtualization-based security for Azure Generation-2 virtual machines.

Microsoft Azure Conditional Access Features at GA
A number of new Azure Conditional Access features reached the GA stage.

Conditional Access device filters reached GA. It lets IT pros set conditional access polices for specific devices or for device groups.

Detections for anomalous tokens and token issuers reached GA. These feature additions to the Conditional Access service will "flag suspicious activities related to token-based authentication," Microsoft explained.

The Continuous Access Evaluation feature for the Conditional Access service will reach GA "by the end of 2021." This feature monitors access sessions and will enforce security policies if it detects "a critical security event."

A risk data extensibility feature in the Conditional Access service reached GA, which lets organizations export data to "third-party SIEMs." The data can be used to "track trends" and "identify compromises."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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