Microsoft sets it target on ChromeOS with Windows 11SE devices from just $249

Microsoft has launched a new edition of Windows 11 designed specifically for schools.

Windows 11 SE (built for education)

Windows 11 SE will ship exclusively on low-cost laptops that are built for the classroom which currently have good popularity with adoption of low cost Chromebooks, particuarly in the US.

It’s OK.. It’s not another Windows “S Mode”

Windows 11 SE has been designed for schools and is more akinned to the abandoned Windows 10X than it is Windows S Mode, which didn’t do well in education due to the limitations of only being able to install apps from the Microsoft Store.

Windows 11 SE will only be available on new low-cost devices and only for schools and education customers. As you’d expect, Windows 11 SE has been naturally, optimised for the core lifeblood Microsoft apps like Edge, Teams, Office, and their cloud-based services, but does allow use of any app including services and apps like Zoom, Google Chrome etc.

Windows 11 SE also supports third-party apps, including Zoom and Chrome, because we want to give schools the choice to use what works best for them,” says Paige Johnson, head of Microsoft’s education marketing.

Paige Johnson | Head of Microsoft Marketing Edu

Management and Apps

IT will be in control of what apps get installed by default and what can be installed and devices can be managed to silently update outside of schools hours. Device management and control is naturally provided by Microsoft Device Manager (formerly Intune).

Windows 11 SE doesn’t allow access to the  Microsoft Store, since it will be down to IT to decide which apps get installed on Windows 11 SE devices. Microsoft will share a list of all supported popular school apps (which I haven’t seen published as yet).

Refined with schools by students and teachers

Microsoft say that they have spent the past 18 months or so working with schools ( teachers and students and IT) to get feedback on what is needed for education. This input and feedback has led to some education specific features such as apps always launching in full screen as well as some of the more advanced layouts and desktop controls like Snap Layouts have also been disabled and replaced instead by a single mode that just let’s students organise apps side by side. Widgets are also off as these were seen distracting to students in testing.

Simple side by side view in Windows 11 SE
(C) Microsoft.

In order to try to convince more schools to use Microsoft Edge over Google Chrome, the option yo accept Chrome extensions will be on by default. Edge is built on chromium which means schools that use Chrome today will be able to continue to use their favourite Chrome extensions in Edge.

Leverages the Power of Microsoft 365

Windows 11 SE uses OneDrive as its default document store and also is configured with offline support to make it easier for students to use Windows 11 SE laptops offline or in areas of the school where they isn’t WiFi for example.

OneNote is also extremely popular and powerful tool and is also installed and configured by default. OneNote for education as some really powerful teacher and student co authoring and class book features so it makes sense that they are putting this in the default build.

Hardware Options

Windows 11 SE will only be available on dedicated low-cost laptops that are sold to schools or education institutions.

This week, Microsoft annouced the launch of its new Surface Laptop SE, which sets the baseline for Windows 11 SE powered devices.

Starting at just $249, the base model ships with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, and an 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) screen.  Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, and other are also planning to launch Windows 11 SE laptops in the coming months.

You can read more about the Surface Laptop SE here.

Cisco’s new Enterprise Agreement is great for partners and customers

I feel I must congratulate Cisco on the annoucement of their new partner and customer centric Enterprise Agreement.

Simple and Inclusive

This looks and feels like one of the simplest yet powerful subscription based licensing programmes in the channel… at a time when “other” major vendors seem to be struggling to get a model right that is fair and offers value to both customer and partners regardless of size.

Consistent across their solution portfolio

When fully available in early 2022, Cisco will make their full portfolio of services available through a single agreement rather than the current multiple EAs with different terms, rules and portals they have today. Instead the EA will cover all five of Cisco’s solution areas – application infrastructure, networking infrastructure, collaboration, security and services.

Helps make it easy for customer to buy solutions across the stack

This new EA will dramatically simplify purchasing and selling as it creates one program and one experience for everything Cisco do and aligned to their product portfolio.

For example, Cisco has been beating the drum hard with the concept of “full stack observability”, which is growing in importance in this multi-cloud centric, highly mobile and hybrid world.

To make this a reality, customers, need to buy products across multiple technology and solution stacks, including services like AppDynamnics, ThousandEyes, Intersight etc., but this new should make it much easier for partners to sell and for customers to buy.

#cisco #collaboration #ciscopartner #security #partners #customers #subscription is getting a huge AI powered overhaul

Microsoft are releasing a huge overhaul and new look for the (and the office app) experience.  This will make it even easier to find all the content associated with you and your teams, simplify and enhance the search experience and bring all your apps, tasks, templates and actions together in one place.

New experience

AI Overhaul

The main thing you notice first off is how much more simple and intuitive the pages now look.

Microsoft goal here has been to put you and your most important work at the forefront of the experience. The power of Microsoft 365 will anticipate which files (and people) are most important to your work at a given moment based on your habits and routines, the docs or projects you are working on, the activity happening within them and what you need to do to accomplish your work.

On the left pane, is a familiar navigation pane where users can quickly get to things like the new My Content page and Create Pages making it simple and easy to search for or create new content across Microsoft 365. As new fluid components like Loop (also annouced last week), these will also surface themselves here.

Home page updates includes new or overhauled sections around providing:

  • Recommended Actions
  • Quick Access
  • My Content
  • Creating content

Recommended Actions

Recommended actions analyse and bring together anything that needs (or may need) your attention or action. From here you can jump into your upcoming meeting, add (or complete) a To-Do or Planner task, reply to recent comments in documents, and see potential actions you have discussed in an email.

In addition to the Recommended Actions on the home page, you can also find content actions in line on any of the content lists within by clicking on the “triple dot” menu.

Quick Access

The Quick Access section let’s your easily collaborate on content by Sharing via Teams or booking time to review content with your team or manger. This section is all about helping you jump into and review content that’s important to you.  This content can be viewed as either a list or adaptive cards for a more visual layout depending on your preference.

Microsoft have made it really easy to filter this content by recently opened content, content you have shared with others, content around a particular topic, or person and group and even your favourite content.

My Content

Here you can view all your content and again view it by recently opened, shared, and favourites or custom filters to find what you need. As with quick access, you can leverage the powerful filters to quickly find the content you need.

As above, you can easily filter by type of document, activity and time and unlike most searches there no need to set a number of results as it the results like just adapts as you scroll.

The power and depth of search filters is very extensive and even contains specific filters like document you are @mentioned in or where an action was assigned.

You also have the ability to browse by People and Meetings. When you click on People for example you can view an easy to digest card view of people and documents that have been shared. When you click on Meetings, you can find all meeting content like recordings, shared documents or adaptive components, notes, and chat from your previous meetings.

Microsoft have also added some cool quick access tools, for example you can convert docs to PDF, Share docs straight into  Teams, Add things to your Calendar, and Add to To Do lists.

Creating content

This update makes it easier than ever to create new content across all the Office suite. As well as being able to create new blank documents, users can so create content using an extensive set of new tools and templates. Everything from surveys and brainstorming sessions, Power BI reporting dashboards, project plans and dynamic presentations. IT can also customise the templates to allow employees to have quick access to templates from your organisations  branded content by having all corporate templates in one place central place.

Availability and Release

At Ignite last week, Microsoft said this new experience would start rolling out in the coming  weeks to insiders and then targeted release channels before making its way to everyone BY January 2022.

You can watch a video from Ignite on the new experience here.

What is Microsoft Loop?

At Microsoft’s semi annual Ignite conference this week, they announced a new productivity tool designed to make it easier than ever for teams to think, plan and create together across each and every Microsoft 365 app and service.

Microsoft Loop

Loop is a new app that brings together a new extensible and flexible canvas with load of adaptive /fluid components that can be moved freely and stay in sync across all the Microsoft 365 apps and services. Loop has been born to help boost productivity across the hybrid workplace at a time most workspaces look set to be ever more distributed.

Microsoft Loop

Loop is actually made up of the following key components.

  • Loop components
  • Loop pages
  • Loop workspace
  • Loop App (coming later)

Loop components

These are essentially then version 2.0 of the “Fluid components” Microsoft have in apps like Teams and SharePoint today. These components will allow users to more easily collaborate and work together across chats, emails, meetings, files, documents or Loop pages. These components can be simple – like  lists, tables, notes and tasks or more complex – like records from Microsoft Dynamics 365. There are a bunch of new components coming too including things like Live voting, status trackers and progress reports and developers will be able to build and sell their own.

Loop Pages

These are the flexible canvases that users use to bring together and organise all of their Loop components as well as the space in which they pull in or link other useful stuff such as files, Web links and other data relevant to their loop topic. These pages are the collaborative space (think Microsoft Whiteboard and OneNote on steroids). Microsoft say that the Loop Pages are optimised to help teams think and work together but can also start small grow as ideas, projects and teams grow and change.

Loop Workspace

These are shared spaces that allow teams to see and group everything that is important to project or team. Workspaces are there to make it quick and easy for teams to catch up and see what everyone else in the team is working on as well as to react/comment and contribute to others members  ideas. These workspaces allow people to collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously so work can get done whenever inspiration requires it and with whomever they are working with (or alone).


Microsoft say that some Loop components will start to roll out across Microsoft 365 apps such as Teams, Outlook and OneNote later this year but have also said that they will share more information about the availability of the Microsoft Loop app by early 2022.

Want to know more?

I don’t have any personal hands on experience of Loop as yet so adding a link to a hands-on video by a tech friend of mine Darrel.

First impressions by Darrel as a Service

You can see more of his reviews here:

Microsoft announces first party Contact Centre Solution within “Dynamics 365 Customer Service”

Today at Ignite, Microsoft has announced “voice channel for Dynamics 365 Customer Service”. This basically means that “Dynamics 365 Customer Service” is expanding to become a first party Contact Centre solution.

In the official Microsoft Blog, they said that with the addition of the “voice channel”, in Dynamics 365 Customer Service will enable:

  • A consistent, 360-degree view of the customer across all channels, allowing agents to quickly understand the full customer journey so customers never have to repeat themselves.
  • An intelligent, conversational Power Virtual Agent that can be used as an interactive voice response (IVR) for the voice channel and versatile enough to be used as a chatbot for SMS, live chat, and social messaging channels.
  • AI-based routing of incoming calls to the best-skilled agent, consistent with all other channels.
  • Increased collaboration with other agents and subject matter experts globally using embedded Microsoft Teams to resolve issues faster.

As with the rest of the Dynamics suite, Microsoft say that “AI is infused throughout our first-party voice channel to enrich the customer and agent experience by automating routine tasks and offering insights and recommendations to increase the agent’s focus on the customer”. This includes

Real-time transcription eliminates the need for agents to take notes. Now the agent can refer to what the customer has said without having to ask the customer to repeat information.
Live sentiment analysis provides a pulse on customer emotions throughout the call so agents can deliver a more empathetic experience.
Proactive, AI-driven recommendations for similar cases and knowledge articles help agents resolve customer issues faster.
Real-time translation of transcripts gives agents assisting customers in different regions and across multiple languages added confidence of seeing the conversation in their native language.

  • Real-time transcription eliminates the need for agents to take notes. Now the agent can refer to what the customer has said without having to ask the customer to repeat information.
  • Live sentiment analysis provides a pulse on customer emotions throughout the call so agents can deliver a more empathetic experience.
  • Proactive, AI-driven recommendations for similar cases and knowledge articles help agents resolve customer issues faster.
  • Real-time translation of transcripts gives agents assisting customers in different regions and across multiple languages added confidence of seeing the conversation in their native language.

What about third-party contact centres?

Microsoft have stated, that whilst they now “offer” a first-party SaaS contact centre within Dynamics Customer Service, they have also stated that they will continue to actively support other contact center providers and integrations with Dynamics 365.

Microsoft said, “We continue to support integrations with key partners such as Five9, Genesys, NICE, Solgari, Tenfold, Vonage and others who are building connectors to enable their voice solutions within Dynamics 365 Customer Service“.


I haven’t seen any information on pricing of the voice services for Dynamics Customer Service yet but presume this will build on the Azure Communication Services and be priced accordingly?


The new Dynamics 365 Customer Service with voice channel is available for trial right now, by following the link below.