Microsoft last night shared all the details about Windows 10 version 21H1, which is the, the next version / ok update to Windows 10 which will be formerly released at sometime late spring.
As expected, this update is another minor update just like 20H2 was back in October 2020 and this will actually be the first time since Microsoft shifted to a bi-annual release cycle that the “Spring” update for Windows 10 is a just a minor one. This means there won’t be any new major feature additions (as the October 2020 Update was the previous year).
If you are a WindowsInsider in the beta channel, you can get Windows 10 version 21H1 today.
How to download it
To download it, you’ll need to go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and then choose to download and install the 21H1, which is build number 19043.844 (KB4601382). The installation process is quick (my Surface Go took about 15 minutes) and its a similar upgrade path/patch experience from version 2004 to 20H2.
What will 21H1 bring?
Windows 10, version 21H1 brings with it a new set of features that are designed to improve security, remote access and quality. “The are focused on the core experiences that customers have told us they’re relying on most right now,” explained John Cable, Vice President, Program Management, Windows Servicing and Delivery.
New features in Windows 10 version 21H1 include multi-camera support for Windows Hello, which allows users of PC/laptop with an integrated camera to use an external camera (hello certified) for authentication and sign-in. This update also brings performance improvements for Windows Defender Application Guard as well as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating, the latter getting support for more remote work scenarios.
There’s also a usual long list of big fixes and minor cosmetic updates as you’d expect.
Windows 10 version 21H1 will be available for non-insiders “later in the first half of this calendar year,” John Cable said , and we should get a final release date in the next week or so.
You can get this today of you are a WindowsInsider in the Beta channel. It is optional.
Microsoft today (4th Feb 2021) announced Microsoft Viva, (not sure i love the name) a new employee experience platform that aims to bring tools for employee engagement, learning, wellbeing, and knowledge discovery into a single and unified place – Teams.
The Employee eXperience Platforms (EXP) is said to be a market worth more than $300 billion but is fragmented with lots of different several services, infrastructure, and tools which are in the main dis-jointed and non-integrated. With Viva, Microsoft is planning to address this “problem” through the creation of a unified experience built on Microsoft 365 and Teams along with an eco-system of partners working together for a connected and familiar experience.
Microsoft Viva is made up of 4 key elements:
Viva Learning makes training and professional development opportunities more discoverable and accessible in the flow of work. It aggregates all the learning resources available to an organisation in one place, including content from LinkedIn Learning; Microsoft Learn; third-party providers including Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight and edX; as well as an organisation’s own content library. From traditional learning courses to microlearning content, users can discover, share, assign and track a wide variety of learning as a natural part of the workday.
The Viva Learning app is now available in private preview and starting later this year Viva Learning will offer integrations with leading learning management systems, including Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba and SAP SuccessFactors.
Viva Insights gives individuals, managers and leaders personalized and actionable insights that help everyone in an organisation thrive. Personal experiences and insights, visible only to the employee, help individuals protect time for regular breaks, focused work, and learning, as well as strengthen relationships with their colleagues. Managers and leaders can see trends at team and organization level, as well as recommendations to better balance productivity and wellbeing. The insights are aggregated and deidentified by default to maintain personal privacy. In addition, a new dashboard allows organizations to combine employee feedback from LinkedIn’s Glint with collaboration data from Viva Insights, enabling leaders to more accurately identify where teams may be struggling, proactively adjust work norms, and then quantify the impact of those changes over time. In addition to using data and signals from Microsoft apps, customers will also be able to incorporate data from third-party services like Zoom, Slack, Workday and SAP SuccessFactors.
The Viva Insights app in Teams and the new Glint and Viva Insights dashboard are now available in public preview.
Viva Topics delivers a knowledge discovery experience that helps people connect to information and experts across the company. Using AI to reason over a customer’s Microsoft 365 data, and with the ability to integrate knowledge from a variety of third-party services such as ServiceNow and Salesforce, Viva Topics automatically surfaces topic cards within conversations and documents across Microsoft 365 and Teams. Clicking on a card opens a topic page with related documents, conversations, videos, and people.
Viva Topics is now generally available as an add-on to Microsoft 365 commercial plans.
Viva Connections provides a personalised gateway to your digital workplace where employees can access internal communications and company resources like policies and benefits and participate in communities like employee resource groups, all from a single customizable app in Microsoft Teams.
The Connections app for Teams will be available on desktop in public preview the first half of 2021 with a mobile app coming later this year.
Microsoft have said that a global network of services partners. starting with Accenture, Avanade, PwC and EY will provide consulting and advisory services to help customers optimize their existing employee experience investments by bringing them together with Microsoft Viva.
To find our more
Information above provided by Microsoft. To find out more, search for #MSFTVIVA – “combining collaboration, well-bring and learning”
You might think that for a global organisation like Microsoft, that this is just a number, but what is significant is that this amounts to a 40% year-over-year jump in the security and compliancepart of Microsoft which means that Security and Compliance now makes up circa 7% of their total revenue for the previous year to date.
In a statement at the earnings report, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella said “We waited in some sense until this milestone to show the depth, the breadth, the span of what we are doing.” …”there is a lot of work ahead, but we are investing very heavily because guess what? You know 10 years from now we’ll still be talking about it as technology becomes even [a deeper part] of our lives in our society in all critical industries.”
Satya went on to say in the announcement that “What we have built is very helpful in times of crisis and there is a big crisis right now, but you need to sort of obviously build all of this over a period of years if not decades and then sustain it through not just product innovation, but also I would say, practice every day.”
Back in December 2020, Microsoft’s were the forerunner and lead investigator in the uncovering and closing of the massive global SolarWinds cyber-attack which hit private companies like cybersecurity company FireEye, many leading FTSE 100 organisations as well as UK, US, and other global government agencies (even Microsoft themself were affected).
Microsoft we the “defenders that other defenders were turning to” Microsoft said, they “were working with FireEye and across the public sector and private sector coming together”.
Zero Trust is more important than ever.
Part of Microsoft’s ability to respond to the SolarWinds hack has to do with what the tech and sec industry refers to as a “zero trust” approach to security. This means an organisation needs to continuously adopt an “assume breach” mindset and authenticate and validate access continuously. This is similar in some respects to fight against Covid19 of “assume you are infected”.
For anyone still sceptical about Microsoft as a security player, there is no doubting the giant that they have become. There are of course many “best of breed” products out there to protect against certain services or pillars, but what Microsoft has done well, really well is to have built a “best of suite” which spans not just across Azure and Microsoft 365 but also across pretty much any cloud, hybrid or on-premises apps and services a business uses.
Microsoft’s investment clearly goes far further than just having a good security portfolio, which is substantial when you look at technologies like Microsoft Defender, Sentinel or Azure Active Directory, but it is their ability to take these services, integrate them into all their products and infuse more AI and data signals (almost 7 Trillion a day) than anyone else.
Working from home adds to companies’ security needs
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced many companies to change how they work and think about work, with their employees now working from home either temporarily or (in many cases) for the foreseeable future in some capacity at least.
This has of course introduced and opened the way for new attack vectors for cyber hackers because the physical layers of security (in person identification and swipe card access for example into buildings), perimeter network security (such as network access control), and the fact that we probably only used “managed devices” meant that IT had a good awareness and grip on control of things like malware or odd user/network activity.
Working remotely changes this for most. When working remotely at home (unless only via a secured VDI), employees are running on their own network (and they aren’t sec admins) often in a false sense of security because “no one will hack my home“, often preventing or inhibiting IT to monitor them without changing their approach and toolsets.
For most (especially if using shared or personal devices), it doesn’t take much for just one person to download malware on their computer at home, then accidentally send that malware to your company’s systems or file shares when they next connect to the network to update a spreadsheet or send a report.
“Security must be built in at every single point and can no longer be an afterthought. “There needs to be a real different approach to creating a cybersecurity solution for customers,” Satya Nadella said.
According to Microsoft, they now protect more than 400,000 customers across 120 countries, including 90 Fortune 100 companies. Microsoft currently categorise their security offerings into four pillars:
This milestone figure of $10 billion comes from the security-related revenue generated by services including Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, Intune, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Office 365, Microsoft Cloud App Security, Microsoft Information and Governance, Azure Sentinel, Azure Monitoring, and Azure Information Protection.