What we might see in Windows 11 during 2022

2021 saw the release of Windows 11 and Microsoft moving to a twice annual update model (outside of security and critical updates).

As we close out 2021 around the world and welcome in 2022, I wanted to share my list of things that I hope may come to Windows 11 this year.

If you haven’t made the move to Windows 11 yet and have not seen it, then in summary, other than a pretty major UI change, Windows 11 really refines a lot of what’s good about Windows 10 without compromising too many of its strengths, adds new functionality to enhance productivity and brings the OS up to date in terms of design, leading edge security baselines and performance.

Like Windows 10, the OS will be reguarly serviced and Microsoft have already confirmed that the next major update to Windows 11 will ship in the second half of 2022. As usual, Windows Insiders will be at the front of the line, testing and feeding back through the development phase as usual.

Below is a summary of some of the top changes to Windows 11 I’m hoping to see in 2022.

What I hope to see in 2022

I will keep this based on what is either public knowledge (Insider MVPs have strict NDAs so we can’t share anything told or shared under NDA).

1. Finishing the build…

22H2 will most likely see Microsoft continue to “finish” off the OS with the features, fixes and changes that either didn’t make it into the initial release or have been niggles/annoyances fed back by the user community via blogs, tweets and the formal Windows feedback hub. Much of these niggles at the top of the feedback lists are associated with finally delivery a consistent system wide dark mode across the OS including to legacy UI components, performance issues around WinUI and the return of the missing functionality, especially those centred around the start menu and Taskbar (like drag and drop).

2. Make the Widgets more useful

Widgets in Windows 11 seemed a really promising concept, but so far have failed to really add anything useful to the OS. They have lots of potential though I think.

Since live tiles in Windows are no more with Windows 11 (which I do kinda miss), Widgets, are essentially auto-updating tiles which reside within a hidden tray that slides out from the left side of the screen when you tap or click on the Widgets button. It builds on the weather/news taskbar app that shipped in Windows 10 21H1.

Within the Widgets is a Top Stories module that shows a selection of six stories from different news outlets like BBC, the Express, The Mirror, and more. Unfortunately it seems more like a never-ending stream of mainly irrelevant stories from different media outlets around the world. These can be personalised broadly by filtering th news from a list of interest topics that Microsoft provide.

The idea of being able to quickly pull up a Widget to monitor CPU performance, jot down a note or add something to a to-do list is pretty useful, so it’s annoying that this aspect of the OS feels so unfinished and rushed. Hopefully it will change and I think allowing users more control over the content and news sources and allowing third party apps like Spotify etc, Widgets would make widgets a really useful part of Windows 11.

From the feedback I have seen via Feedback Hub, Microsoft is likley to give the widget panel some much needed attention in 2022 (especially since the latest Insider Dev build broke widgets entirely).

3. Release the Android App Support

Other than for Windows Insiders in the USA, one of the flagship features annouced at the launch of Windows 11, Android App support has still not been released so I expect this to make its way to everyone in version update 22H2.

This is important since it was a significant part of Microsoft’s marketing plan around the annoucement of Windows 11. Microsoft showed a native Android version of Tiktok running on the same Windows desktop as Excel during the official unveiling of Windows 11 in June 2021.

Like many, I remain skepticle as to how this will materialise, whether it will live up to hype and if people will use it. It will also be interesting to see if it will be limited to apps from the Amazon App Store (a much more limited. Set of apps to the wider Google Play store).

In short, I think that if Microsoft wants to convince more comsumers to migrate to Windows 11, they needs to deliver this native Android app support sooner rather than later.

4. “Inbox” App Refreshes

Windows Insiders have seen some of the native ‘in-box’ apps updated in recent builds, such as MS Paint and Notepad and others are likley to get the modern Windows 11 UI updates such as media player, sound recorder etc. The native Mail & Calendar apps are also expected to be replaced with Microsoft’s new lightweight Outlook client in 2022.

5. More love for Windows on ARM

Windows on ARM (for devices like the Surface Pro X) seems to have been a bit neglected since Windows 11s launch, and we haven’t seen truck loads of ARM powered laptops hit the market.

Microsoft are due to release a formal devkit for ARM in 2022, in time for the next Surface Pro X which will likely ship with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx G3 chip. If Microsoft are serious about the future of ARM then 2022 is the year to make it a thing…as it still feels a little like an ‘experiment’.

What’s your top 5?

This is just my top five from a core functionality perspective. There are other little niggles as always with anything new and everyone has and is entitled to their view an opinion.

What ever you like, don’t like, love or hate, make sure you use the feedback hub in Windows 11 to tell the engineering team. As a Windows Insider MVP, I can tell that the Windows engineering team really do care and what to hear your feedback. It’s hard to make an OS that delivers everything to everyone (over a billion users), but that’s the goal so keep the feedback coming.


Finally… Happy new year everyone.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 “Hands on” Review

SurfaceDuo

Santa was kind this year and allowed me to get my hands on a Surface Duo 2. Before I drive into the formal review, I’d like to summarise by saying that Surface Duo 2, whilst very much similar and samey is much better and more refined better than the original Duo. Whilst a Dual Screen may not be for everyone, it’s different and is great once you to adapt to it.

IMO, having two screens available will (once you get used to it) leave you wondering how you ever made do with just one before. It’s a convenience and multitasking experience that once you get used to is hard to let go of.

The Duo certainly get’s attention and is simply an awesome blend of Surface and Android then this device is worth every penny or cent.

The original Surface Duo was released in 2020 and whilst a thing of beauty (it looked gorgeous, was pretty responsive and a real “wow piece”, it lacked (for most) some key things such as NFC, and decent cameras which stopped me for replacing my daily driver (a Samsung S20) for the Duo.

The Surface Duo 2

Surface Duo 2 is simply the most beautiful bit of mobile technology I have ever set eyes on. It is a work of art, the Picasso of devices, and you just want to touch it and use it. The original Duo only came in a white (Glacier) , but the Duo 2 adds another colour option of black (called Obsidian) which is also stunning.

As I said in the intro, having two screens available to you (once you get used to it) will leave you wondering how you ever made do with just one before. It’s a convenience and multitasking experience that once you get used to is hard to let go of.

Surface Duo 2 is simply the most beautiful bit of mobile technology I have ever set eyes on.

Under the hood, Microsoft have given us a flagship mobile chipset (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888), 2 beautiful screens, NFC, fast charging, the latest Bluetooth, 8GB of RAM and updated cameras (both on the front and in a new 3-camera cluster on the rear). There’s also a glance bar on the sides to see notifications. These hardware improvements have enabled me to use the Surface Duo 2 as my day-to-day device, which the original Duo fell short of.

Yes it is bigger than my “old” Samsung S20 Ultra, but it does feel ok in my pocket (now that my Surface Bumpers have arrived).  Unlike the original, the Surface Duo 2 arrived with Android 11 waiting to be installed which, combined with the updated guts makes it feel super fast and responsive with no noticeable lag. 

One week in and I haven’t experienced any major quirks, and my only annoyance is that the battery is still not as good as I would have hoped (more on that later) but then I have been using it (ok, showing it off) a lot and of course the Duo has to power two screens.

Design and Feel

The Surface Duo 2 feels more polished than the Surface Duo does. It still looks every bit Surface Duo, Microsoft have clearly listened to feedback and made a number of key refinements over the first generation.

Surface Duo 2 (left) vs Surface Duo (right)

One of the most noticeable changes (you can’t miss it), is the camera bump on the back of the device. Microsoft have added a powerful triple-lens camera setup (there was no rear camera in the original Duo), which means the cameras do protrude from the back of the device (like with most phones). This was a slight concern to me when I first started using the device, mainly because it’s so noticeable compared to the original Duo!  The cameras are surrounded with a tough plastic material, which extends beyond the glass back of the camera. This means that camera lenses are not in direct contact with the back of the left side of the device when it closes. Its does stick out though and you can’t help think “I hope I dont damage it”.

With Duo 2, Microsoft has also addressed one of the most annoying things about the original Duo which was that you had to open the device just to check the time or see if you had any notifications – a problem you don’t get with single screen phones. Surface Duo 2 has notification displays (called the Glance bar) that wraps around the edge of the device and are activated with a simple tap of the unlock button to show the time or a missed notification.

The Screen(s)

Like the original Surface Duo, the Duo 2’s selling point and USP is centred around the dual-screen design.

Two screens make every day tasks so much easier. Everything from reading an eBook across two screens feels more natural, whilst being on. Teams Call and making notes in OneNote on another is simple a fluid. Another great example is when you are reading and email or on a web page with links. With dual screens, clicking a link means these can open on the second screen to read later. As I have said a few times now, having two screens at your disposal massively changes the ways in which you can multitasking on your device.

The displays themselves are simply beautiful and clear. Like many other aspects of the Surface Duo 2, the screens have been upgraded too. The original Duo had two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays with a 1,350 x 1,800 resolution, which “combined” into an equivalent single 8.1 display with a 1,800 x 2,700 resolution.

With Surface Duo 2, there are two 5.8-inch displays, which open up to a “combined” 8.3 inch single screen. Each display gives 1,344 x 1,899, which with a combined resolution of 2,688 x 1,892.

Each display on the Duo 2 has a 90Hz refresh rate and up to 800 nits of brightness. Duo 2 can also deliver over 87% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut which is actually slightly better than the Surface Laptop Studio, a device designed specifically for art and graphics focussed tasks.

Gesture support for the Surface Duo 2 is unchanged from the original. This is good becuase it works well, allowing for example, for you to swipe up and drag towards the middle of the two displays to have an app span both screens. Additionally, most Microsoft apps (and a few third party ones), take full advantage of the dual displays on the Surface Duo. I find apps like Outlook most useful on a dual screen whereby you can have your email list and your current emails side by side which makes scanning through and responding to email much easier and similar to what you’d expect on a Windows/Mac desktop app.

Surface Duo 2 (left) vs Surface Duo (right)

Microsoft Teams is another app that leverages the full potential of the dual screen capability of the Surface Duo. With Teams on a Surface Duo, you can have chat open on one display, with your video call open on the other which makes the  mobile Teams experience much more aligned to how we tend to use apps and multitask in a Teams meeting. The Amazon Kindle app is good example of a non Microsoft app that has also been optimised for dual screen devices.

The launcher screen (which is the home screen  UI) even allows you to group and launch apps side by side as I have shown in the example below from my original Surface Duo device.

App grouping on Surface Duo

The hinge mechanism on the Surface Duo 2 is the same as on the original Duo. It’s slick and smooth with just enough resistance to prevent it opening by accident and once open, it stays open and in place.

The Camera(s)

When you are paying this kind of money for a flagship phone, you expect decent cameras, and this was one area the original Surface Duo fell short. Whilst I’d day that Surface Duo is not really aimed at the average iPhone or Samsung S series customer, if you are going to use it as your primary device (whether that is work, personal or both), you don’t want to have to carry a second camera around just to be able to take good photos.

The Surface Duo 2 has two cameras, a 12MP front facing camera, and a triple-lens camera on the back which encompasses a 12MP wide lens, a 12 MP telephoto lens and a 16MP Ultra-Wide angle lens.

The camera bump does mean, however that you can no longer fold the device back completely but it’s a small price to pay for awesome cameras.

The image below is one I took while visiting Kew Gardens in London over the Xmas break.

Image Captured With Surface Duo 2

If you’ve seen or used the original Duo, you will notice the photo quality is a huge improvement from the original and was one my biggest disappointments.

Specifications and Performance

With Surface Duo 2, Microsoft have put a decent flagship chipset inside. The original device, while  an innovative bit of technology, struggled IMO to grab the attention needed because the chipset components used weren’t at the specification the device or the price-tag commanded.

This time, Microsoft have got it right – and includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset, a leap ahead of the Snapdragon 855 which makes up the guts of the original model. RAM in the Surface Duo 2, has increased from 6GB to 8GB, but this is lower in comparison to what other vendors are heading for with their top end devices. Highend Samsung devices for example, now ship with 12GB.

Does it matter? Well, it may not be a RAM related  thing,  but I’ve read reviews from others seeing performance issues with Duo 2 where the phone gets “stuck” in a the camera app when taking lots of photos, or more precisely when switching from camera to another app and back again. I have not seen this myself yet but it’s something I’ll be on the look out for.

So far though, from my week of use, the Surface Duo 2 works and performs extremely well. I am comparing most of the day to day use with my previous daily device (the Samsung Galaxy S20) and it is at least on par with this, but far more fun to use. 

Battery Life

Like all mobile phone makers, battery life gets close attention, and the published numbers are never (in true day-to-day life) accurate.

Microsoft claim “up to 15.5 hours of video playback and 28 hours of talk time”, which definitely sounds impressive. Here’s how the Duo 2 performed for me over Christmas Day and Boxing day….

Though out these two days, I took lots of photos and videos of the kids, family and friends, did a fair bit of web browsing, WhatsApp messaging and general “showing off” of the device, and it did fall short of Microsoft’s claims but faired better than I actually thought it would…

The Surface Duo 2 lasted 11.5hrs before the battery got to the critical 10% level. I didn’t try it with single screen only (why would I), but in essence I’d say it performed about as well as my 1 year old Samsung S20. I think I will still need to bring a battery charger with me for a full day out (fortunately the Duo 2 does support fast charging).

Gaming…..

Another big use case of the Duo is gaming, after all this is a device made by the same company that built the Xbox and of course they have recently just released their Xbox Cloud Gaming service. With Surface Duo, You can play games using the second screen as a controller or you can stream console games using an Xbox controller.

Pricing

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is available to buy (at time of writing) from £1,349 – which gets you the base/standard configuration with the Snapdragon 888 chipset, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. For another £150 you can get the 256GB version and there’s also a version with 512GB RAM if you really need that much!

Unlike the original device, Surface Duo 2 doesn’t come with the Bumper case that is designed to protect it from falls and knocks – the first thing I did was spend another £38 on one in an attempt to keep it looking new and shiny. Many may not see this as a big deal, as the sides of the Surface Duo 2 are a more rugged plastic this time but its an expensive device so the bumper is the least it deserves to keep it looking pretty.

Yes, Surface Duo 2 is an expensive device, but it’s more competitive with the phones around it. As an example, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 costs £1,599, which is slightly more expensive than the same spec Surface Duo 2.

Any annoyances?

Just a few…

  1. The Microsoft Launcher needs updating. It’s far out of date compared to the Standalone version you can run on any other android phone and other a couple of dual app launching shortcuts, lacks features of the standalone launcher.
  2. The size of the camera bump (mainly its noticeable since the device is so thin) is overwhelming at first but when you use it you soon forget how good the cameras are (especially compared to the Duo 1).
  3. Touch response is an issue at times on the Surface Duo 2 as it was on the original and an area of the software that Microsoft really needs to work on. Hopefully the upcoming Android 12 update and promised updates will address this.
  4. Apps optimised for dual screens are few and far between. It’s a shame that not nearly enough app developers take advantage of the capabilities and flexibility of using dual screen technology effectively. This is not limited to Surface Duo of course – there simply aren’t that many of these type of devices in the market today.

Would I recommend?

In short Yes

Being a Surface Fan and Windows MVP, I am always going to say yes!!! but in all honestly, the Surface Duo 2 is a truly unique and beautiful device that delivers a really solid solution for IT professionals, senior managers or tech enthusiasts.

Surface Duo 2 addresses all the short comings of the original and is a device that allows you to replace your daily driver.

Just like the Surface line up for business, Surface Duo 2 hits the professional market spot well. If you are an IT enthusiast, love the Surface Brand and want a device that stands out from the crowd, delivers a powerful and unique experience over the run-of-the-mill iPhone or Samsung devices out there then this a device that will not disappoint.

2022 will celebrate 10 years of Surface

2022 will see Microsoft celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Surface. The first device launching in October 2012 with the Surface RT followed shortly after by the Surface Pro (I still have a working one in my office somewhere too).

Microsoft Surface Go 3 Review

Surface Go 3

Being a big fan of the Surface Family, and being a fan of the Surface Go 2 LTE for traveling and working on the go, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Surface Go 3 and put it through a days work!

Introducing the Surface Go 3

The Surface Go 3 is essentially an under the hood upgrade to last years’ Surface Go 2. Internally, the entry-level Pentium Gold 4425Y processor has been replaced with a Pentium Gold 6500Y chip, while the higher end model (the one I have been evaluating) has had its Core m3-8100Y chip replaced with a 10th-gen Core i3-10100Y chip. Being 10th-gen is key as this means it will run and support Windows 11 which the Surface Go 2 family will not (officially anyway).

Surface Go 3
Surface Go 3

While not a power horse (and not designed to be), the Surface Go 3 is still the cheapest, smallest and lightest Windows 11 Surface device from Microsoft that gives you the full experience of Surface including Surface pen support, 10-point multi-touch and Windows Hello camera.

Same Quality Look and Feel

The Surface Go 3, looks almost identical to the Surface Go 2 which is no bad thing. There are rumours and “leaks” online that a black version is also coming very soon which will be nice as I am a fan of the Surface Pro X which I have in Black and feels a little more “Professional” in my opinion.

A year on, the Surface Go still looks modern, but the screen bezels, which are 13mm at the top and 12mm at the sides, are wide by modern standards and again I’m surprised these weren’t made a bit smaller. Surface is very popular in schools and one of the reasons for the larger bezels is to help with screen grip and reduce accidental tapping on the screen or so we are told!

The size of the Surface Go 3 is 245 x 175 x 8.3mm and weight is 544grams. The screen is the same 10.5inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS screen and the body is high quality, solid magnesium body, complete with “any angle” kickstand, single USB-C port, Surface Connect Port and, headphone jack port.

Specifications, Speeds and Feeds!

As with the Surface Go 2 before it, the spec sheet is only half the story and it is easy to dismiss the Surface Go range due to its specification when comparing to the big brother devices like the Surface Pro 7 or 8. Whilst I would have liked to see a “little more grunt” under the hood, the Surface Go, is, however, in my opinion, a great bit of modern workplace kit and deserves serious consideration when looking at future 2-in-1 purchases for both home and work – depending on the use case of course. Here’s the headlines:

  • Core Spec: The base model features just 64GB eMMC and 4GB RAM with no pen or keyboard. The higher end version (I really wouldn’t bother with the lower end one unless on a real tight budget) is built with a Intel Core i3 10th Gen/128GB SDD and 8GB RAM.
  • Battery: The Surface Go 3 improves on the battery life of the Go 2 and delivers 9hrs 31mins according to benchmark data. My own personal tests delivered me just over 8hrs of constant use with a blue tooth mouse and the Type Cover Keyboard attached, connected via wireless and with me in and out of Teams calls, Outlook and usual office type apps. That’s not bad considering the battery is only a little larger than the Surface Go 2’s (28Wh versus 27Wh) but not as good as Apple manage with their iPads.
  • Wireless: comms in the Surface Go 3 has been extend to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 which is powered by the Intel AX200 card, and there is also an NFC radio inside too. The LTE version also ships with Fast 4G support either in physical SIM or eSIM.
  • Keyboard: The Surface Type Cover keyboard is rightly regarded as a design classic and something that has been copied, cloned and built upon my most other OEM vendors. The Surface Type Cover keyboard is sleek, easy to type on, and very light and even has a backlight. Unlike the majority of it’s “clones”, it also has a trackpad for the full-on “mini laptop” experience.
  • Front Facing Webcam: The Webcam on the Surface Go is 5MP and is exceptionally good quality. The picture and video quality is crisp and colours are vibrant and low light support is good too. The camera also supports video recording at 30fps / 1080p. Generally the cameras on Surface devices are always fantastic – and the Go 3 is no exception. Combined with the highly effective microphone array, makes the Surface Go 3 ideal for videoconferencing apps like Teams (or WebEx or Zoom). The webcam also supports Windows Hello facial recognition.
  • Rear Camera: At the back of the device is average quality flash-less, 8MP camera that, like the front facing webcam, can shoot 1080p 30fps video. Quality is good and clear and great for school field trips etc.

Cost

Surface Go 3 starts from £369 (£30 cheaper than the Go 2) and as always with Surface devices, specification options, regional variations, promotions and volume, and accessories all affect the end price.

Note: Surface Go doesn’t ship by default with a Pen or the Type Cover Keyboard which to me are what makes a Surface a Surface.

Without these promos the price for commercial organisations is around:

ModelTypical Price (inc. VAT)
Surface Go 3: Pentium Gold/4GB/64GB eMMC [no extras]£369
Surface Go 3: Pentium Gold/8GB/128GB SD [no extras]£499
Surface Go 3: Intel i3/ 8GB / 128GB SSD [no extras] £569
Surface Go 3: Intel i3/ 8 GB / 128GB [plus Pen and Type Keyboard]£740 [ish]
Surface Go 3 Consumer Pricing Table

Summary

Stay clear of the entry-level Surface Go 3. Yes, it is very cost effective, lovely to look and great if you just want to do web browsing type activities or use it for the occasional film or word doc etc.

If you are going Surface Go, go for the Core i3 model with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD and dont forget the keyboard.

Finally bear in mind the use case. I love the Surface Go family but as a secondary device to my primary and not as a daily driver. They are great for school use – my 7 y/o uses my old Surface Go 2 for school work and loves it as its a “proper” laptop, runs Windows and he can use the pen to make “things come to life!”. I also work with many commercial organisations that use Surface Go for front-line staff due to the light-weight build, LTE options and good battery life.

Microsoft Teams gets support for “Loop components

Teams Loop Components

Microsoft has rolled out an update for Microsoft Teams that brings the first set of “fluid” Loop Components. This has the ability to further innovate and disrupt the way people collaborate with their colleagues and perform daily tasks.

The update now introduces functionality from Microsoft Loop, a new set of fluid controls designed to further streamline the way people collaborate and cooperate on tasks in real-time. Loop brings about “portable components” that synchronise across the various aspects of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

As per this new blog post, “Loop components have now arrived for Microsoft Teams, unlocking a variety of opportunities to streamline workflows, as well as minimizing the number of apps workers are required to juggle“.

With Loop components, rather than share an entire document for co-authoring and collaboration through Office 365, users can instead post a specific paragraph, data table or list of actions into a Teams channel, where all members are able to view, edit and manipulate the content and see any changes and interaction in real-time. With Loop components, this content remains up-to-date wherever else the components have been deployed – which may be within a Loop page, Word document or PowerPoint presentation.

GIF showing Loop Components in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Loop Components within Microsoft Teams

What is Loop?

Loop was first unveiled at Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference in November, and is made up of three elements: components, pages and workspaces.

Loop workspaces are shared spaces that contain everything relevant to a specific project. Loop pages, meanwhile, are described as “flexible canvases” where users can organise their various loop components and draw in files, links or data.

At the announcement, Microsoft said that “For years, the established patterns of work were clear. Communication took place via email and content creation was mostly documents, spreadsheets and presentations,”

In the last 18 months, the world has changed, and we have adapted to a new working environment where people had to complement traditional communication tools and in-person collaboration with alternative solutions. But we need to go further. That is why we are reimagining Office, adding new apps to respond to new opportunities, and making Office a universal, interactive canvas.”

Loop components have the potential to change the way remote and hybrid workers collaborate with their teams, and colleagues in a significant way. Microsoft say that additional components are expected to be announced at Microsoft Build next year by both Microsoft and third party application providers which will provide more seamless and collaborative ways to collaborate across the apps and services.


I wrote a blog on the Loop announcement previously, which you can read here.

Microsoft SIP gateway service let’s you use legacy SIP phones with Teams

Microsoft’s SIP gateway service was officially released as of today today. This means organisations can now repurpose a wide range of ‘old’ SIP phones and use them with #MicrosoftTeams helping to reduce TCO of Teams Voice Migrations and drive value out of legacy hardware.

The new SIP Gateway Service (which has been in private preview for a few months) is a solution that enables core Teams calling functionality on compatible SIP phones including many from Cisco, Poly, Yealink and AudioCodes.

Microsoft SIP gateway

Breathing life into legacy handsets

The SIP Gateway supports the following core Teams calling functionality:

  • Inbound and outbound calls
  • Call transfer
  • Meeting dial-in and dial-out
  • Device level based “do not disturb”
  • Voicemail with message waiting

The SIP Gateway Service is FREE

Microsoft are making the SIP Gateway service for free, and any user can use the SIP Gateway so long as they meet the following requirements.

  • Licensed for Teams Phone via Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E5 or a standalone license.
  • Enabled for PSTN, which means a phone number in Teams assigned via Calling Plan, a Direct Routing or Carrier Connect (calling via third party apps not supported)
  • Common Area devices licensed via Common Area Phone license.

For the best experiece Teams Phones are recommended

In the official Microsoft Teams blog, Microsoft reminds us that while their SIP Gateway and Skype for Business 3PIP Gateway services provide valuable flexibility for organisations wishing to sweat their legacy SIP phone investments, Teams phone devices provide the most complete Teams experience.

What devices are supported

These are the currently supported phones (at time of writing).

  • Cisco IP Phones (6821,7800 series, 8800 series)
  • Poly SIP Phones (VVX 100,200, 300, 400, 500, 600 etc.)
  • Yealink Phones (T20, T30 T40 and T50 series)
  • AudioCodes HD 400 series

Note: for Cisco, organisations need to license the MPP firmware for each SIP phone


You can read the full annoucement here:

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/enable-core-microsoft-teams-calling-functionality-on-compatible/ba-p/3030196

Microsoft adds “Defender” to more of their Security Products Names

Microsoft Security Logo

As a continuation of Microsoft’s standardisation and integration of their security products across Microsoft 365 and Azure, several other products have now “completed” the name change branding to “Defender” in line with others which moved across earlier this year.

This is the currently “Defender” line up as of Dec 2021.

Previous NameNew Name
Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS)Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps
Microsoft Threat ProtectionMicrosoft 365 Defender
Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat ProtectionMicrosoft Defender for Endpoint
Office 365 Advanced Threat ProtectionMicrosoft Defender for Office 365
Azure Advanced Threat ProtectionMicrosoft Defender for Identity
Azure Defender for IoTMicrosoft Defender for IoT
Azure SentinelMicrosoft Sentinel
Azure Security Center + Azure DefenderMicrosoft Defender for Cloud
Azure Defender for StorageMicrosoft Defender for Storage
Name changes for Microsoft Security Products – Dec 2021

Microsoft’s comprehensive and extensive range of security products and suites are designed to protect organisations from threats across devices, identities, apps, email, data, and cloud workloads.

Microsoft Sentinel is a cloud-native SIEM tool;
Microsoft 365 Defender provides XDR capabilities for end-user environments (email, documents, identity, apps, and endpoint); and
Microsoft Defender for Cloud provides XDR capabilities for infrastructure and multi-cloud platforms including virtual machines, databases, containers, and IoT.

How to show multi time zones in the Windows Taskbar

Windows 11, has the ability to display multiple clocks in the Taskbar. This can be useful in many situations, for example, if you work or communicate regularly with people in different time zones across the world.

Windows 11 can help here as it allows you to display up to two additional clocks from different time zones within the the Notification Center calendar. Here’s how to configure it.

Adding additional Time Zones to the Notification Centre

To add additional time zones to the calendar fly out in Windows 11 you need to follow these simple steps.

  • Open Settings
  • Click on Time & Language
  • Click the Date & Time on the right-hand side
  • Navigate to Related Links and click the Additional clocks setting

This then opens a legacy Windows Applet where you enter the additional times zones you’d like along with a friendly name like the example below.

Time Zone Settings in Windows 11

Once you complete the steps, and click Apply or OK, the clock will now appear in the Notification Center (or when you press Windows key + N).

How to add multiple time zone clocks on Windows 11
To add another time zone clock on the Notification Center calendar, use these steps:

Windows Calendar Flyout showing multiple time zones

Microsoft Teams Phone System SLAs is now 99.99% and financially backed

Microsoft has updated the SLAs for Teams Calling Plans, Phone System, and PSTN Audio Conferencing to four nines / 99.99%.

This reflects the continuous work Microsoft are doing in the background to provide the very best quality, reliability, availability and calling experiences. Microsoft say in their blog that “while it’s natural to do a simple comparison of SLAs throughout the industry, there’s richer story about the new SLAs for Teams Phone that goes beyond the nines”.

SLA goes beyond just phone systen

The Microsoft Teams SLA is actually made up of multiple Microsoft Teams components which are defined separately in the SLA;

  • Microsoft Teams (the core service) that includes chat, calling, meetings etc.
  • Calling Plans, Phone System, auto attendant service and PSTN Audio Conferencing
  • Voice Quality (if impacted by Microsoft network and not your own LAN/WiFi)

In this update, Calling Plans, Phone System, and Audio Conferencing have risen from the previous 99.9% to 99.99%. Voice quality SLA remains at 99.9% (which is about 44 minutes a year) and in line with the core Microsoft 365 SLA.

Financially Backed

When any of these metrics fall below 99.99% in a given month, Microsoft calculates the total downtime and pay-out service credit based on length of incident (in minutes) multiplied by the number of users potentially impacted by the incident or outage and provide monthly service credit back at up to 100%.

Here’s how Microsoft calculates SLA’s for Teams Voice:

Note; This SLA does not cover outages caused by a failure of third-party software, equipment, or services not controlled by Microsoft, or Microsoft software not being run by Microsoft as part of the service (e.g. third-party PBX solutions integrated into Teams). This also excludes Carrier Connect services so its important to check the SLAs with your provider (if you have one).

Read the full SLA

https://www.microsoft.com/licensing/docs/view/Service-Level-Agreements-SLA-for-Online-Services?s=09