In November 2017, Microsoft introduced a new cloud product: Microsoft 365. As if the current branding of Microsoft’s cloud 365 offerings weren’t confusing enough, along comes Microsoft 365.
What sets Microsoft 365 apart from the other 365 cloud offers is the bundle of services included in the offer. First and foremost is Azure Active Directory (AAD). The Microsoft 365 product bundle stakes out Microsoft’s future vision of not only cloud computing, but also of Microsoft’s path forward past desktop operating systems and applications. Microsoft 365 powered by AAD provides the first and only cloud based security and authentication system that can work over most mobile and desktop systems. Since AAD uses Microsoft’s InTune cloud offer, Microsoft 365 provides the first generation of unified security management across mobile and desktop operating systems. I would categorize the technology as first generation Microsoft technology, where it normally takes Microsoft three generations to get it right. This three generation cycle will probably be completed in a record time of less than 24 months.
The key to making it work is AAD’s ability to manage Windows desktops like Active Directory. Using Windows 10 upgraded with the Creator’s Upgrade, AAD has the ability to be the single-sign-on (SSO) source for users. The Microsoft 365 cloud license includes AAD, Exchange Online, Office Pro for up to five devices, and Windows 10 Enterprise. Microsoft is heavily pushing the concept that any computer running Windows 7 or above can run Windows 10. They may be right, but doing an in-place upgrade is tricky at best and a disaster at worst. For our clients wanting to try Microsoft 365, we are recommending either replacing their computers or at least installing a new Solid State Drive to improve performance and deliver Windows 10.
Microsoft 365 is designed for clients who want to get rid of their servers and move everything to the cloud. With Microsoft providing AAD to manage and control security, Microsoft 365 provides businesses the ability to control end points so that they can monitor and protect business data. As you plan for the end of life for Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7, Microsoft 365 must be seriously considered.