Why I can’t stop using Windows 365 CloudPC

I wanted to share my personal experience of using Windows 365 Cloud PC as my main device for the past 4 weeks since getting access to this as part of our partner internal use rights!

In short, I was using this both to test it out, but also because my new laptop had not arrived so I was left with the option to re-image an old one or repurpose our “home” laptop and use it as a gateway to Windows 365 – I chose the latter.

Four weeks later, using Windows 365 every day as main device, I simply can’t and don’t want to give it up. Even though I now have my brand new and awesome Surface Pro 9 device – I still haven’t get turned this on and am still choosing to use our seven year old Surface Laptop running Windows 10 (it won’t run Windows 11) with Windows 365 Cloud PC.

Why I love Windows 365

I keep asking myself the same question – why Windows 365 Cloud PC when I have a nice new Surface Pro to use. Well – Windows 365 Cloud PC gives me a seamless, secure, responsive, and flexible experience on the same device that I (and the family) share do everything else on – it’s essentially now become two devices in one and the experience is amazing – both for corporate use and for home use with out compromising anywhere!

It’s also great to have in your pocket when you bring the wrong device to work!

Here are some of the reasons why I love Windows 365 Cloud PC and how it is totally changing my perception on Cloud Computing.

  • Seamless experience: With Windows 365 Cloud PC, I can access my Windows 11 Enterprise Corporate Managed Desktop instantly on my personal device (or from any other device), anytime and anywhere I need to. I don’t have to worry about syncing files, installing apps, or using web apps.
  • Secure and Compliant: When traveling about, I also don’t have to worry about compromising my personal and work experiences, compromising corporate security or risk having any company data leak onto my personal device or stol n from dodgy WiFi hotspots. With Windows 365, my dideicated Cloud PC is in the Microsoft Cloud – ready for me to use at any time.
  • Connecting from almost anything: I can switch from my personal laptop to my phone (I can use Samsung DEX on a TV) or even access via my Xbox via the Edge Browser. Where ever I resume from – me session is exactly where I left off.
  • Responsive performance: Windows 365 Cloud PC is fast and smooth. I can run multiple apps, browse the web, and stream videos without any lag or stutter. This means the lowest spec device can perform like a powerhouse. The best part is that I don’t have to worry about the physical condition of my device, because the heavy computing work is done on the Microsoft Cloud.
  • Lightening fast Internet speed always since my Cloud PC is in Azure, I get superfast access to the web and my cloud apps regardless of the speed my physical device is using.
  • Flexible: Windows 365 Cloud PC is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a service that can cater to different sized organisations and needs of each user.

Here’s a quote from myself about how Windows 365 Cloud PC improved my productivity and efficiency:

Windows 365 Cloud PC is a game-changer for me. It allows me to work from anywhere, on any device, with the same performance and functionality as a physical PC. I can easily switch between tasks, collaborate with others, and access my files and apps in the cloud. I literally have my corporate desktop with me on any device at anytime, wherever I go.

Pricing and Licensing

OK… So take a seat as on the surface the cost of Microsoft 365 can look expensive.

Firstly, Microsoft offers two subscription models, Windows 365 Business for smaller businesses and Windows 365 Enterprise for larger ones.

Prices are per user, per month subscription based and range from £26 per user per month for the base model (2CPU/4GB RAM/64GB HDD) but can be as much as £146 a month for a powerhouse configuration of 8 CPU/32GB RAM/512HDD.

Both models share the same range of features and provide thirteen Cloud PC configurations to choose from to blend the right spec with the right person and role of Cloud PC within the organisation. Here is the full range of specifications:

Image (C) Microsoft.

Unlike virtual apps and shared/pooled desktops (such as Azure Virtual Desktop), with Windows 365, each user gets a dedicated corporate Cloud PC, meaning it will run all the apps they need to use.

IT managers dream…

Managed by Intune: Like physical PCs, Windows 365 Cloud PC is managed from Intune. IT can Configure auto patch, install and schedule apps, use Autopilot for zero touch provisioning, reset and reissue devices, up size (upgrade) and down grade the specification on the fly. Intune provides details stats on performace, usage and even makes recommendations on down or up sizing of the PC based on usage and performace

Smooth Migrations: IT can choose between Windows 10 and Windows 11 (or make both available to users). This can also be helpful as a migration and training method to prepare users for Windows 11. IT can also choose to give users local admin control (or not) and can even allow users to reset their Cloud PC devices themselves.

Good bye to hardware failures: Since Windows 365 runs in the cloud, there’s no hardware to go wrong. If a users physical laptop (or TV, xbox, phone etc) fails, nothing is lost.. They can resume on a new/different device and session continues where they left of… Even the cursor stays in the sale place!

The downsides?

To be honest, from a user experience there aren’t many, unless you are working where there is no or poor internet access. Writing this, I am sat in Nero on “free wireless”, knowing my connection is secure and I’m accessing my Corporate Device through an encrypted connection, with no data leaking between the host (personal PC) and my corporate device.

The price tag can be “off putting” but the ROI is high when you take into account carbon reduction (runs in Microsoft carbon neutral data centres), cost of hardware, repairs, re imaging, recycling, replacement every 3 years, and costs due to lost or stolen devices. Do the maths…

Cloud PC is not for every one… You’ll find great use cases and bad ones.. Such as contractors, new starters, remote and over seas staff, developers, finance and other specific roles. I cover use cases in a separate blog post…

Note: Offline Access is coming for Windows 365

Free to try for 30 days

Organisations interested in trying out Windows 365 Cloud PC, can speak to their Microsoft Partner and obtain a free 30-day trial, or buy a subscription from Microsoft 365 admin centre.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog about Windows 365 Cloud PC.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

Intro and demo of Microsoft Copilot Studio

Copilot Studio Logo

Microsoft has recently unveiled the introduction of its new Copilot Studio platform, aiming to empower Microsoft 365 organisations to build their own generative artificial intelligence (AI) ‘copilot’ assistants.

Announced at Microsoft Ignite 2023 this month, Copilot Studio was officially announced alongside a plethora of other updates (and new Copilots), as part of their ongoing efforts to enhance and expand artificial intelligence capabilities across their core product offerings.

With Copilot Studio, users will be able to efficiently create, test, and deploy independent copilots and custom GPTs, providing them with a seamless experience in harnessing the potential of AI technology.

Copilot Studio exposes a full end-to-end lifecycle for customisations and standalone copilots within a single pane of glass meaning you can build, deploy, analyse, and manage all from within the same Web experience….and since it’s a software as a service (SaaS), everything you create is live instantly.

Jared Spataro | Head of Modern Work & Bus Apps | Microsoft.

The announcement of Microsoft Copilot Studio follows the roll-out of a similar DIY copilot creation platform from OpenAI last week called GPT Store. Copilot essentially replaces Power Virtual Agents and is available to try now.

What does Microsoft Copilot Studio do?

Microsoft Copilot Studio leverages low-code, no code and provides a web-based platform that completely transforms the way Microsoft 365 customers users approach application development and extension. Of course, one of the key advantages of Copilot Studio is its seamless integration with the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem and the Microsoft Graph – enabling developers to easily leverage existing data and tools within their organisation, streamlining the development process and maximising productivity. Copilot Studio, like Power Platform is designed for professional developers or users new to AI application development – providing a comprehensive set of tools and resources to support your journey.

Copilot Studio makes it easy to design and prototype AI applications and offers a wide range of templates and pre-built components, empowering even non-technical users to create innovative solutions.

Copilot Studio also brings robust testing capabilities, including integrated debugging tools and simulation environments to help developers easily identify and address any issues before deploying their applications.

Once the AI app is built and tested, Copilot Studio provides a simple deployment process. It provides seamless integration with Microsoft 365 services that allow IT to publish the application to your Microsoft 365 cloud environment or share it with specific users or teams.

How to build your first Copilot in Copilot Studio (follow along).

Once you have signed up for a trial of copilot (it’s in preview), getting started is easy. To login, simply go to Microsoft Copilot Studio

Step 1: Build my Copilot. The easiest way to start is to follow the wizard and point Copilot Studio at a website. For this example, I have used my children’s school.

There are advanced options which include the ability to dive straight into existing data sets and experiences that you have created in Power Platform, but for simplicity, I am following the wizard.

Step 2: Explore the interface: From here you can then see the options expand. You can go straight to the Generative AI Chatbot and start to test it based on the website you have linked it too, or start looking at the options below which include the ability to:

  • Create Custom Topics for your Copilot.
  • Create Plugins and Actions to connect to data that is outside the website.
  • Extend the Microsoft 365 Copilot with data connectors and plugins to your other data.

Step 3: Customise the Generative AI settings: I’m going to click on the “Go to Generative AI” and customise the “sensitivity” of Copilot (I have set mine to medium). I can also further customisations such as adding additional websites for indexing or even upload specific files. The Generative AI model uses the Azure Open AI service. Here I have added another website to index.

Step 4: Testing my Copilot. I can now quickly test my Copilot out by asking a question. In this example I am going to ask it about the schools in the Academy Trust and then dig a little more into the school he attends.

Step 5: Adding Custom Topics: By default, you don’t have much control over the data that comes with the generative answers. This is where topics come into play. These allow you to add in specific topics that you want the bots to be able to speak or answer that have not come automatically from the data, websites, databases or documents you have connected in.

Step 6: Publishing your Copilot: To Publish your Copilot, you have a few options. You can publish to a website (either your own or one can be created for you), to Teams or other locations. To do this, you first need to navigate to Settings –> Channels and choose where you wish to publish your Copilot. For this example, I have chosen a Demo Website.

Once you’ve done that (you can pick multiple), head on over Publish menu on the left and publish your Copilot. You then get a link to test your Copilot. Here is mine below in a simple demo website.

There we go – a very simple first look at the potential of Microsoft Copilot Studio. Next time we will explore a little more. Have a play and look at the potential and possibilities.

How can I try Copilot Studio?

Copilot Studio is available to try now and will be available to all Microsoft 365 customers who have a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license.


Copilot Studio should bring the same ease of use to Gen AI apps as Power Platform did for apps, virtual agents and flow. It’s central hub, intuitive design tools, robust testing capabilities, and simple yet powerful deployment options aim to help accelerate and simplify the design, build, testing and deployment of custom AI applications.

By providing users with the tools to develop their own copilots, Microsoft is fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration. Copilot Studio opens up countless possibilities for businesses, researchers, and developers alike. Whether it’s creating intelligent chatbots, generating realistic text, or automating repetitive tasks, the potential applications of GPTs are limitless.

Similar to its counterpart GPT Store, Copilot Studio puts the power of AI into the hands of those who seek to harness its capabilities. It offers a user-friendly interface that streamlines the process of building custom GPT models and applications. This accessibility ensures that individuals with various levels of technical expertise can participate in this exciting field, expanding the boundaries of what is possible with language-based AI.

The demo build example is a simple first step into building Gen AI led chatbots and copilots using websites and other data sources. This is simple to test and try.

Copilot coming to Windows 10

At Ignite 2023 last week, which was heavily centred about AI and Microsoft Copilot which is going to showing itself in pretty much every OS, app and service in the next twelve months, Microsoft also announced that Copilot in Windows (which is in preview on Windows 11) will also be coming soon to Windows 10…. And if you are in Insider you can get it now.

Copilot (preview) in Windows 10

Copilot in Windows 10 is about inclusion.

Microsoft have said that they are revisiting their approach to Windows 10 and will be “making additional investments to make sure everyone can get the maximum value from their Windows PC including Copilot in Windows.”

Whilst the migration effort from organisation to shift to Windows 11 continues as rapid pace, there is still hundreds of millions of devices out there (partuckaurly in the consumer world) that are still running or not able to run Windows 11 due to age or incompatible hardware (see below).

Microsoft have said that Copilot in Windows will be available in the coming weeks for Windows Insiders on Windows 10 in the Release Preview Channel for eligible. This requires those devices to be patched and running Windows 10, version 22H2. It will come to commerical customers first.

Once testing and feedback is complete (the role of the Windows Insider community and the product group), Copilot in Windows will then be rolled out more broadly to consumer level devices running Windows 10 the Home and Pro (version 22H2). This roll out of Copilot in Windows for non-managed Home and Pro devices will be via the controlled feature rollout (CFR).

When will Windows 10 get Copilot?

For supported versions of Windows 10 22H2, with Enterprise, Pro or Education editions that are managed by organisations will get for information when the updates are ready. This will be when the initial testing phase is complete.

Windows 10 users enrolled in the Windows Insider Program can get this now… So head over to Windows Update and download it now.

What are the hardware requirements for Copilot in Windows?

For Windows 10 devices to support Copilot, the following minimum hardware requirements exist.

  • Memory: 4GB minimum
  • Display Adapter: 720p minimum resolution

Microsoft put a safeguard hold on your device receiving Copilot if they detect an issue, such as an application incompatibility until further testing with more devices (part of their app assure policy) have been tested and the issue resolved.


There has been huge demand and moans from users that can’t or haven’t been able to move to Windows 11 and with Copilot front and centre of everything a Microsoft it’s great to see it here.

Personally, I love that Copilot is coming to older devices. We have a could of older devices in the family household and whilst they are happily using a Bing Chat (Copilot in Edge), giving older (but perfectly happy devices) a new lease of life with Copilot is welcomed….

P. S – About the AI created title image

I’m getting more impressed by Bing Image Creator every day. What prompt did I use?

“Create me an image showing Windows 10 with Copilot and AI. Make it look like Windows 10 getting a new lease of life!”

I love the image and especially the R2D2 theme it added…..

Microsoft Ignite 2023: A new family of Copilots announced.

At Day One of Microsoft Ignite 2023 yesterday [Microsoft Ignite is Microsoft’s annual conference for IT techies, leaders and business decision makers, which is being held digitally and in-person at Seattle this week], the word Copilot certainly dominated almost every session (even those that weren’t specifically focussed on Copilot!).

The dominant themes of the event so far, has been around the role of generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) in transforming businesses and empowering users.

With so many Copilots being announced since March this year (Microsoft 365 Copilot, Bing Chat, Security Copilot, GitHub Copilot etc.,) Microsoft used Ignite standardise the Copilot branding. Microsoft promoted the concept of a single “Microsoft Copilot” experience that works across all their apps and services, as well as a new Copilot Studio to allow organisations to build their own Copilots with “One experience across work and life“.

Copilot logo | Image (c) Microsoft

Whilst the branding made sense from a brand perspective, not all Copilots are the same which will no doubt make it difficult for many to understand – the previous names (whilst they did not roll of the tounge) were, IMO, easier to understand.

There are multiple different Microsoft Copilots. And GitHub Copilot and the Copilots used in Windows or Microsoft 365 apps have little in common and in some cases are trained on different LLMs to perform their core functions. Microsoft 365 Copilot is vastly different to Bing Chat for example – both are now simply called “Copilot”.

This blog attempts to summarise the key announcements and insights about the new Copilots from Microsoft Ignite 2023.

Recap: What is a Copilot?

In case you’ve been asleep for the past 8 months, “Copilot” is an AI assistant that helps users with specific tasks or scenarios, such as writing code, creating presentations, searching the web, or chatting with customers. In short, a Copilot can provide suggestions, recommendations, insights, or take in-app actions based on the user’s context, preferences, and goals. Copilot can also learn from the user’s feedback and behavior to improve its performance and relevance over time.

Microsoft has been developing and deploying Copilots across its product line since the start of the year and at Ignite 2023, they announced plans for a load more Copilots – some of which are now in preview, whilst others are still “to come”. Remember these will also be different and serve different purposes but will all fall under the new unified Copilot branding.

Microsoft have also launched a new and adaptive Copilot Website which will adapt to your experience dependent on your license entitlement. This can be found at https://copilot.microsoft.com


We know how Microsoft like to name, rename, and then revert again (they did with Intune recently) so I wouldn’t be surprised if a different (or original) naming convention appears in the coming months!

Welcome to the new Copilots

Microsoft announced a bunch of new Copilots at Ignite 2023 which I have summarised below. I’ll share more updates on these are they move into preview or when I attend more of the live sessions.

  • Microsoft Copilot Studio: This is what will allow organisation to be build their own copilot and plug-ins using similar low-code tool as customers that use Power Platform will be familiar. This will allow organisations to build their own Copilots that can integrate their own data and back-end with the Microsoft eco system and Microsoft Graph. Copilot Studio can also work with OpenAI’s newly announced GPTs. Copilot Studio will be included within Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 licenses (aka Microsoft 365 Copilot).
  • Microsoft Copilot Dashboard: This is public preview now and has been designed to help organisations that have got Microsoft 365 Copilot Licenses. This will help IT better analyse usage across apps and measure the impact on productivity that Copilot provides. Microsoft also said that organisations with Viva Insights will also get enhanced dashboard capabilities around how Copilot is helping them be productive and manage time.
  • Copilot for Service: This new Copilot connect is designed to connect Microsoft Office applications with third-party CRM and Contact-Center solutions. This will have a $50 pupm price tag, but will include a Microsoft 365 Copilot license, and will be generally available sometime early 2024. There will be a public preview in December.
  • Copilot for Azure: Annouced and already in preview – Copilot for Azure is designed to help Azure customers with designing, operating, optimising and troubleshooting their Azure workloads, infrastrucutre and applications.
  • Copilot for Fabric: This was originally announced back in May 2023 and includes several new AI assistants across the platform such as Power Automate. Each one will use the underlying Fabric analytics platform but will be designed for a different Fabric “experience” This is in preview now.
  • Copilot for Cosmos DB: This is essentially about helping developer write “NoSQL” queries. It will be embedded into the Cosmos DB Data Explorer and is a free tool for developers.
  • Copilot for Viva: This was orginally announced back in April this year. These are going into Public Preview in stages over the next few months for each tool within the Viva Suite.
  • Copilot for Loop: Loop is a new collaborative work space that lets you share workspaces, pages and compents of conent across difereince apps and services. The went into General Availability yesterday and it too is getting it’s own Copilot. The license for this is included within the Microsoft 365 Copilot license.

A new single website for all your Copilots – see above.

What are the differences and similarities among the Copilots?

While Microsoft wants to promote the idea of a single “Microsoft Copilot” experience that works across its software and services, the reality is that each Copilot has a different license, is trained on different data models (LLMs), performs different functions, and has also have different security and data permissions.

For example, GitHub Copilot, which helps users write code in various programming languages, is powered by OpenAI’s Codex model, which is trained on billions of lines of public code. GitHub Copilot is available as a technical preview for GitHub users who sign up for the waitlist. It is free for open source projects and personal use, but requires a paid subscription for commercial use.

On the other hand, Microsoft 365 Copilot, includes Copilot for PowerPoint, which can helps people create, update and innovate presentations from different data sources across Microsoft 365. It is powered by Microsoft’s “business ready” GPT-4 model, which is private to an organiation (no data leakage) and is grounded in your organisations Microsoft 365 Graph data. It also has access to the a large corpus of text from the web and other sources and can search the internet. PowerPoint Copilot is part of Microsoft 365 Copilot . PowerPoint will also have access to the Open AI DALLE-3 image creator.

Another example is Bing Chat (Consumer version), which helps users chat with Bing and get answers, information, or entertainment. Bing Chat is powered by Microsoft’s own Turing-NLG model and Chat-GPT4, which is trained on a large corpus of text from the web and other sources. Bing Chat is available as a free service for anyone who visits Bing.com or uses the Bing app. It does not include data protection or compliance features.

On the other hand, Bing Chat Enterprise, which helps users chat with their organisation’s data and apps. This is powered by the same , is powered by the same ChatGPT4 model and Turing-NLG model as Bing Chat, but does include data protection and compliance so it can bve used safely within an orhanistion without risk of data leakage. Bing Chat Enterprise is available as a paid service for Microsoft 365 subscribers and is included in Microsoft 365 F3, E3, E5, A3/A5 (faculty only), Business Standard and Business Premium plans.

As you can see, there are significant differences among the Copilots in terms of their data sources, functions, security, and licensing. However, there are also some similarities and commonalities among them.

For example, most of the Copilots use natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) techniques to understand and communicate with the user. Most of the Copilots also use reinforcement learning and active learning methods to learn from the user’s feedback and behaviour, and improve their performance and relevance over time. Most of the Copilots also use a similar user interface and interaction model, where the user can type or speak to the Copilot, and the Copilot can provide suggestions, recommendations, insights, or actions in a conversational manner.

What are the benefits and challenges of using Copilots?

Copilots will no doubt bring many benefits for users and organisations on a scale we are only just begining to image.

Microsoft shared some data from their latest work tend index report (link here) that Early adoptors of Copilot said users don’t want to go back to working without it with 77% saying they don’t want to give it up.

  • Saving time and effort: Copilots can help users complete tasks faster and easier, by providing guidance, assistance, or automation. For example, GitHub Copilot can help users write code faster and with fewer errors, by suggesting code snippets or completing code blocks. PowerPoint Copilot can help users create presentations faster and with more impact, by suggesting layouts, designs, or content.
  • Enhancing productivity and creativity: Copilots can help users achieve more and better outcomes, by providing insights, feedback, or inspiration. For example, Excel Copilot can help users analyze and visualize data better, by suggesting formulas, charts, or tables. Word Copilot can help users write and edit documents better, by suggesting words, phrases, or paragraphs.
  • Enabling learning and discovery: Copilots can help users learn new skills and discover new information, by providing explanations, examples, or resources. For example, Power BI Copilot can help users learn how to use Power BI better, by providing tutorials, tips, or best practices. Bing Chat can help users discover new facts, trivia, or entertainment, by providing answers, information, or fun.
Data from Microsoft Nov 23 Work Trend Index image (c) Microsoft

However, using Copilots brings about challenges and risks – some real, some perceived – such as:

  • Trusting and verifying: Since Copilots work on the available data, that can “make mistakes” or provide inaccurate or inappropriate suggestions, recommendations, insights, or actions, due to the limitations or biases of their data, models, or algorithms. Organisations need to provide training to users and make sure they understand the need to verify and review any content generated by Generative AI in order to be able to trust and verify the Copilots’ outputs. This may include checking their sources, methods, or evidence. People can also, and should be encouraged to provide feedback and corrections to the Copilots, by rating, reviewing, or reporting their outputs.
  • Protecting and complying: There are concerns that these Copilots “could” access or expose sensitive or confidential data or information, due to the nature or scope of their tasks or scenarios. Copilot in fact, operates under the context of the person using it so t has the same level of access than it’s “pilot” has. Organisations will need to review their data security and compliance policies to ensure the right permissions, controls and protections are in place. Copilot wont break these polcies but may well expose weaknesses in them. Organisations need to review data sharing polcies such as Data Loss Prevention to prevent confidential data leaving the organisation that Copilot has created. Employees need to need to be re-educated on this in many cases to ensure they understand how to use the various Copilots and how they work with your organisational data, the language models and the web. Users may also need to be aware of the Copilots’ privacy and security policies, by reading, understanding, and agreeing to their terms and conditions.
  • Balancing and controlling: Another concern of using AI tools is that these Copilots may “influence” or affect the user’s decisions or actions, due to the power or authority of their suggestions, recommendations, insights, or actions. Users need to be able to balance and control the Copilots’ impacts, by applying critical thinking, judgment, or ethics. Users also need to be able to choose and customize the Copilots’ settings and preferences, by adjusting their levels, modes, or options. You can read Microsoft’s guidance on Responsible AI here.


GenAI is going to be infused into every tool and product Microsoft has and with Copilot Studio, organisations will be able to build their own plug-ins, connectors or deicated Copilots for every business need. 2024 will be the year all these annoucements really come into fruiotion. Its gonna be a roller coaster.

Copilot (what ever flavour) is still in preview or new and many will be looking to see real life ROI and drive organisational pilots to help.

Read more.

Meet “Meet” in Teams

“Discover, prepare, and recap your meetings in one place with the Meet App in Microsoft Teams”.

If you haven’t seen or used the new Meet app in Teams you are missing a trick. It’s pretty new and I only discovered it recently, but it’s a really simple and intuitive way to see and manage all your Teams meetings past and future. Here’s what it is and how it works.

The Meet App in Teams. Image (c) Microsoft

Meet is an app available in the new Microsoft Teams experience that centralises all your common meeting preparation and catch-up activities, helping to enhance meeting efficiency by simplifying the prep work and reducing time spent reviewing missed meetings. Meet provides a single view of upcoming meetings as well as
recent past meetings, and enables quick discovery of meeting content like chats, files, agendas, shared documents, and meeting recap.

Meet helps you to prepare for, participate in, and follow up on your online meetings more efficiently and effectively.

With Meet, you are able to access all your meeting-related content in one place, such as chats, files, agendas, shared documents, meeting recap and transcriptions and more. You can also view all your upcoming and recent past meetings in a single view, and easily join or rejoin them with a single one click.

Meet also integrates with other features of the new Teams app, such as PowerPoint Live, Microsoft Whiteboard, and the new Loop AI-generated meeting notes, to enhance your meeting experience and productivity.

How do get the Meet App?

The Meet App is a native Microsoft app for Teams but needs to be added by your IT admin or added manually yourself (assuming you are allowed to do so).

From here, click on the three dots in the left-hand menu and type “Meet”. You’ll see the app listed and from simply click the icon and select “pin”.

Pinning the new Meet app.

Note: To start using Meet, you need to switch to the new Teams app, which is now generally available for Windows and Mac users, the web, and also in public preview for Windows 365, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and government cloud customers.

See Meet in action

The video below, courtesy of Microsoft, shows a walk through of how it works.

Microsoft YouTube summary of Meet in Teams

Hope you find this useful. I love it and wish it was a default installed experience.

What do you think…?

Be a meeting Ninja with Scheduling Polls in Outlook.

Microsoft has replaced the legacy FindTime plug in for Outlook with a new native experience called “Scheduling Polls” which is now built directly into Outlook on desktop and the web experience.

Information regarding the end of support for FindTime can be found in the Message Centre article MC688929

Introducing Outlook Scheduling Polls

Scheduling Poll (which replaces a similar tool called FindTime) is now available to all users of Outlook on the Web and Mac. It is available to Classic Outlook for Windows users in Current Channel, Monthly Enterprise Channel, and Semi-Annual Enterprise Preview. It will become available to Classic Outlook users on the Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel in January 2024, and to the Semi-Annual Extended Channel in June 2024.

Users who do not have access to Scheduling Poll yet can either switch to the Current Channel, Monthly Enterprise Channel, or Semi-Annual Enterprise Preview in Classic Outlook for Windows; or they can use Outlook on the Web to create polls.

Creating and using Scheduling Polls

Using Meeting Polls is really simple. You need to be using the Outlook Desktop app or Outlook on the web, and it’s not currently available on mobile devices but hoping that will change as I create lots of meetings on the go!

Step 1: Start with an email message

We start a new Scheduling Poll from an email (not from Calendar). For example we might start with an email to a team of people (or it could be reply) and instead of asking for or suggesting a list of dates “that work”, we simply click on the Scheduling Poll button on the Toolbar as shown below.

I’d advise adding the people you need to the email message before clicking on the button.

Step 2: Create the Scheduling Poll

Try to ensure you have added the people you need to the email before you click the “New Scheduling Poll” button. You can add them later, but it makes the process a little slicker.

Once you click the “New Scheduling Poll” button, you’ll be presented with a new side-bar screen with some options within it.

From here, you can choose the meeting duration (default is 30mins), and then you’ll see availability of your “invited” attendees, based on calendar availability at the time of creating your poll.

You can see below, that there is availability on the 13th Nov but limited availability on the 14th November. You can also look as far out as you need to, but Scheduling Polls will help you find suitable dates.

Using Meeting Polls within Outlook
Scheduling Poll side bar in Outlook (picking options).

When you have finished picking the best dates for you (you are the organiser after all), you can click the “Next” button.

You are then presented with the ability to customise the meeting poll including:-

  • Meeting Location: For example Boardroom, Nero Coffee etc or online (via Teams).
  • Schedule with attendees reach consensus: This means once everyone has voted on a date that everyone can do, Outlook will automatically schedule the meeting
  • Hold Selected Dates on my calendar: Means the options you offered get blocked until the meeting is scheduled – in case someone books you first.
  • Notify me about poll update: Means you get an email notification when someone votes.
  • Lock Poll for attendees: Means attendees can’t suggest alternative dates.

When you are happy with the options (the ones below are default), you can click Create Poll.

Step 3: Send the Scheduling Poll

You can then check your email body and simply send the email with the poll attached. You can also if you need to add other people at this point which can also include external attendees such as customers or partners from other organisations.

Once everyone has voted on the meeting and a common time is agreed, Outlook will schedule the meeting for you and free up and “blocked” time.

Step 4: Editing or Viewing your Polls

You can get back to your polls at anytime to update them, cancel them or review the status of the voting, before and after the meeting is scheduled. You can do this from the email with the poll it or from the “Scheduling Poll” button in Outlook.

You’ll see that from here, you can do things like:

  • Send a reminder – this emails all attendees to remind them to vote (I use this a lot)
  • Cancel the poll – this cancels the poll and frees up your diary again
  • Add or Remove attendees – perhaps some one emails you and asks you invite someone
  • Update your preferred times – just like attendees you can pick a time you “prefer”

Responding to a Scheduling Poll as another person.

Any one receiving a Scheduling Poll will see the following within their email when the poll is sent. This is the email sent in the previous step and invites each requested attendee to vote.

Image showing the meeting poll email as received by a user.
Scheduling Poll email received from meeting organiser.

Each requested attendee then, simply needs to click on the vote button and choose the times they prefer, can attend or cannot attend. At the time of voting, the scheduling tool updates availability options based on their Outlook Calendar.

Depending on the options chosen by the meeting organiser (host), they can also see how others voted and can request a different date and even add additional attendees. These settings are controlled by the meeting organiser.

When everyone has voted the meeting is automatically scheduled. It not everyone votes, the meeting organiser can choose to schedule the meeting based on their own choice.

Voting on a meeting Scheduling Poll in Outlook.
Voting on a meeting Scheduling Poll in Outlook

Forcing the meeting to be scheduled.

Every time an attendee votes, (depending on the options you chose), you’ll receive an email notification like that below. This also includes the current status of everyone else that has voted (you’ll see here that 3 of the 4 attendees have voted).

I have the choice to wait until everyone has voted and the meeting get’s arranged for me, or if there are certain attendees that have not voted, I can choose to go with the majority and just book the meeting.

To do this I simply need to

  • Click on “view all your polls” to go see all my meeting schedules .
  • Select the meeting I want to schedule.
  • Decide if I want to send a final reminder.
  • Update the meeting time options or attendees
  • Schedule the meeting I think is best.
Choosing to schedule a meeting in Outlook Scheduling Polls
Choosing to force the meeting to be scheduled.

Once this is done, the meeting is scheduled and an invite sent to every user.

Attendees still need to accept or decline the meeting as usual.

That’s it – an overview and guide on using Scheduling Polls in Outlook.

You’re missing a trick not using Surface and Pen in meetings

Taking notes on Surface

As a Chief Technology Officer, I meet with a lot of clients, partners, and executives within our customer base. I have often found the clicker clatter on a keyboard (taking notes) in a meeting off putting and acutely aware that it can look like I’m not paying attention or catching up on emails. Sorry to say, I do get the same impression sometimes of others in meetings (it’s like having your camera off in meetings!).

Taking notes and actions in meetings

But….often, if we are using a laptop to take notes looks like we are not paying attention, then ways the alternative?

It amazes me (at a technologist) that “most” people still resource to scraps of paper which they shove in their bag or at best a neat company (or vendor freebie) paper notebook. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you should never write on paper, but there’s a much better way… Stay with me here!

Picture of a notebook with notes

We take notes for a few reasons…

  • To be clear of our actions during the meeting or workshop
  • To jot down the names and roles of people in the meeting
  • To summarise key points and
  • To of course take notes that we will later use for following up on, or to look back at in a week or month or so.

Using a physical notebook to take notes can causes admin and security headaches.

  • I need to hope I do not misplace my book and know where it is and how to find the notes I took in ink. This not only means my notes are gone but others may have access to stuff I capture (which could be confidential).
  • I need to write up my notes and type them into OneNote, Outlook, or CRM system.
  • I may need to search for something in the notes and can’t remember exactly what book it’s in or what I’m looking for.

That’s where the Surface with pen and ink comes in (yes, I am aware you replace this with an iPad or other tablet and pen), but my key message here is why not to use scraps or paper, or even a traditional clamshell notebook for typing notes.

Inking on Surface Pro

Note taking is best with Surface and Pen

Here are some reasons I can’t imagine using anything other than Surface with pen and ink for client and team meetings:

  1. Perception and Focus: It looks like I am paying attention, taking notes on the meeting at hand and not doing emails or something else.
  2. You remember more: This is true. research shows that when we write notes down than when we type them
  3. It’s a natural Writing Experience: Using a Surface Pro (or Surface Go) with Surface Pen provides a natural writing experience that feels like writing on paper. I can write notes, draw diagrams, underline things, and even cut and paste text etc and then highlight or scribble all over it. It’s just like using pen and paper and has so many other benefits.
  4. Realtime Collaboration: If I am with other teammates, I can use the features in Microsoft OneNote and collaborate in real-time. Using a shared OneNote, I can write and draw on the screen, and my colleagues can see my work in real-time and add their notes to it. This makes it easy to brainstorm and collaborate on ideas. Alternatively, I can keep my notes as “my notes”.
  5. Efficient Notetaking: Using Surface with Pen makes note-taking more efficient and saves me time later.  I can choose to leave my notes as digital ink (this means I can search the text later without converting it to text), or I can have apps like OneNote convert my handwriting into text which then makes it easy for me to copy and paste into emails, CRM systems or anything else. Using OneNote, I can also easily organise my notes into folders and different notebooks.
  6. Professional Experience and Appearance: As a technologist, working on Surface with pen and ink looks professional and sleek. I find it’s a great way to make a good impression on clients and colleagues and helps us promote the use of the best devices of business on the market.
  7. Secure yet accessible: Since my notes are digital (in my case in OneNote), I can access them securely anywhere from any device whenever i need them. I don’t need to worry about losing my notes, not being able to find content or having to ask others to “send me their notes”. If I lose my device or get a new one, my notes are securely stored in the cloud.

Best Surface devices to use

With the exception of the Surface Laptop Go, all Surface devices support touch, pen and ink, however for the optimum inking/writing experience you don’t want to be trying to write on a clamshell type laptop. As such I’d suggest either the

Surface Studio Laptop, Surface Pro or Surface Go devices.


Anything other than Surface + Pen + OneNote is a compromise in a meeting where I need to take notes. It provides a natural writing experience, makes it easier for me to come back to my notes, search for notes later and keeps them safe and secure.

Using Surface devices with ink and touch is also a superior experience and looks professional too. No more tatty notebooks, no more typing loudly on a keyboard with a screen between you and your customers or colleagues or boss.

As always, I welcome your views and comments….

Some useful links

Cisco go Beyond Expectation with huge upgrade to partner incentive program at 2023 Partner Summit.

At Cisco’s 2023 Partner Summit this week, Cisco annouced a massive shakeup in their partner incentive programme. I my experience (and from the partners I work with), this makes Cisco’s incentive programme really stand out as top in class, in terms of where and how partners are rewarded.

In short, this new Partner Incentive is based-on three areas.

  • Rebates for one-time sales deals.
  • Incentives for recurring business.
  • Additional rebates for driving customer value services such as driving adoption and increasing subscription volumes (seats).

Inventives aligned to Cloud

Cisco said that they are transforming the partner program to align with its transition to more software and services-based offerings.

The new Cisco Partner Incentive programme is designed to reward partners for selling Cisco hardware, software and as-a-service solutions by aligning the rebates paid, based on total contract value, customer adoption and growth of the subscriptions they have bought. This will help ensure Cisco partners work more closely with their customers (as against one off deals) to ensure their customers buy it, use it and grow it, rather than just focusing on selling product.

This is a similar approach that longer standing cloud vendors such as Microsoft use to drive usage and adoption of their products and services.

The Cisco Partner Incentive is the biggest change we’ve made to partner incentives in more than a decade and is the capstone on the Cisco partner programme evolution started in 2020.

Marc Surplus |VP partner programs|Cisco

The new icentives will also better support their partners to acquiring new logos, for up selling additional cisco products and services and for cross selling into other accounts. Partner that offer and upsell “Cisco Powered Managed Services” will also receive increased rebates.

Skills Shortages driving Managed Service Demand

Cisco estimates that the managed services market for its products is worth $161 billion, and expects 46% of its sales to be sold as a managed service by 2027.

More and more organisations are turning to trusted Cisco Partners to look after support and maintaining their technology and help drive adoption of technologies to increase ROI and usage across their organisations.

New Specialisations to differentiate the top partners

To help partners differentiate in the market and demonstrate their expertise, Cisco is also introducing up to six new solution specialisations within the next nine months. These will cover areas such as cloud, security, collaboration, IoT, data center and enterprise networking.

Cisco is also enhancing its partner experience platform (known as PXP) with new features which include as a new sustainability estimator, that will enable partners to calculate and present their customers with environmental and cost benefits of modernising their IT hardware with the latest technology. This will made available only to environmental sustainability specialised partners.

Cisco is also introducing new Partner Advanced Support for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) along with guided access to API integrations that build on MSPs’ existing services and integrate into their operation and support services platforms such as Service Now.

New partner program starts H2 2024

The new Cisco Partner Incentive is expected to begin in the second half of 2024, and will replace the existing Value Incentive Program (VIP) and VIP Annuity.

Designed for everybody to wins

Cisco says the new incentive will provide more predictability and profitability for partners, as well as more value for customers. This is great news for partners like us (Cisilion) as it helps us drive more value for customers, while keeping prices for product and services low in an ever more competitive landscape.

Rewarding partners for growth and adoption of Cisco products helps ensure customer leverage maximum value and ROI of their investment, ensures partners continue to add value and that Cisco (hopefully) retain and grow their market share across their extensive product portfolio.

Rob Quickenden | CTO | Cisilion.

Microsoft Authenticator now protects against “MFA Bombing” .

The Microsoft Authenticator is getting a backend upgrade in which it now be able suppresses risky sign notifications in an attempt to mitigate against “MFA fatigue” caused by this new attack tactic called MFA bombing. As a big internal advocate of passwordless within my own organisation this is great news…

What is MFA Bombing

“MFA Bombing”, is an attack method in which attackers continually try to logon from unfamiliar locations causing an influx of MFA prompts aimed to truck the user to click accept and allow the sign in since they get sick of dismissing notifications. This is known as MFA bombing attacks.

Microsoft say that this new policy should address the root cause of this growing security breach method.

How Microsoft Authenticator protects against MFA Bombing

In response to this, Microsoft’s Authenticator app will now automatically suppress notifications that come from “risky signins” based on number matching, a MFA method that requires users to verify their identity by entering a numerical code displayed on the screen.

This is aimed to protect users that use the “approve only method” but acts on any method used. Microsoft will now suppress Authenticator notifications when a request is deemed to pose potential risks, such as when the request originates from an unfamiliar location or is exhibiting other anomalies such as repetitive requests (or bombing).

We now suppress Authenticator notifications when a request displays potential risks, such as when it originates from an unfamiliar location or is exhibiting other anomalies. This approach significantly reduces user inconvenience by eliminating irrelevant authentication prompts.


With this feature, and in the event of a login request that looks risky, the standard notification will not be sent to the users device via the authenticator app. Instead, the user (or attacker) will receive a notification on screen (where they are trying to logon) and be told to “Open your Authenticator app and enter the number shown to sign in,”.

When the user opens the Authenticator App, the request will be available for the user and they can sign in…..

Since no notification will be shown on the users mobile authenticator app, if the request was not made by the user, no notification will be displayed so the request will time out.

This significantly reduces user inconvenience by eliminating irrelevant and known risky authentication prompts.

Microsoft recommend “number matching”

Whilst these additional protections are great, it’s recommended that organisations look to implement number matching (if not enabled by default) to enhances the security of the sign-in process by requiring users to enter a sequence of numbers that are displayed on the sign-in screen when approving an MFA request in the Authenticator app. This has a number of immediate benefits over simple approve/deny options including:

  • It prevents accidental approvals by making sure that you are aware of the sign-in request and have access to the sign-in screen.
  • It defends against MFA fatigue attacks, which are spamming attempts to trick people into approving access requests by sending you multiple notifications.
  • It provides an additional layer of security by verifying that the device or app that generates the numbers is the same as the one that receives the approval request.

The implementation of number matching, is a grest way forward and has been extremely successfully in preventing attackers that engaging in MFA fatigue / bombing attacks.

Combined with the new suppression technology for known attacks , Microsoft say that this change has already prevented more than 6 million MFA notifications since September 2023.

Number matching in MFA is available for the Microsoft Authenticator app and can be enabled by IT admins for different scenarios, such as multifactor authentication, self-service password reset, combined registration, AD FS adapter, and NPS extension.

Windows 11 2023 Update (23H2) is now available.

Last month, Microsoft rolled out the moment 4 update to Windows 11 22H2 which included loads of new AI features as well as a Windows Copilot.

I cover this in more detail in a previous post.

Today, Microsoft have started offering Windows 11 version 23H2 as an optional update. This includes all the new AI features that rolled out to users in 22H2.

What’s in Windows 11 23H2?

The new features included in this update being all the new AI features including Windows Copilot which is now pinned to your Taskbar by default. You also get all the new inbox updates including AI powered additions to the Snipping Tool, Paint, and Quick Settings.

How to get Windows 11 23H2 update

Since this is an optional update, you need to head over to Settings-> Windows Update and ensure that the “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available” toggle is set to on.

You can the check for updates and should see “Windows 11, version 23H2” appear in your Windows Update downloads list for download.

If you are already running Windows 11 22H2, this update may not be available straight way but Microsoft will he making this available shortly.

Windows 11 release rings and support cycles

Microsoft has a 6 monthly core version update model for Windows. This means that the support cycle for Windows 11 version 23H2 will be supported for 24 months starting November 1 for Home and Professional users, and 36 months organisations running Enterprise and Education versions of Windows 11.

To find out more about the new features included in 22H2 and 23H2 check out my post below.


Microsoft 365 Copilot – what makes good AI “prompts”

Microsoft 365 Copilot was released to GA today with a minimum price tag of three hundred licenses at $30 US dollars per user per month [around $108k minimum].

My last blog covered the potential ROI of using Gen AI tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot, but it’s also worth remembering that Copilot also exists (for free) today inside Bing Chat and Windows 11 (if you are running the latest 22H2 or 23H1 release rings).

Organisations looking to move quickly and get onboard with Copilot have work to do to get their data in shape, educate and train users and find and test the use cases within their organisations to determine if and where Copilot will add most value.

Once deployed (and this goes with any Gen AI tool to be honest), the areas your adoption specialists, training and AI success units will be wanting to be focussing on with employees is how to get Copilot to do what you ask in the most efficient way. We call this “prompting”. This blog introduces the concept, shares some tips, and tricks we (Cisilion), have picked up on the way.

The way we interface with Generative AI is very different to the way we use search engines (which are typically based on key word searches). Generative AI has the ability to really understand what you are asking for and how you want the information you ask for presented. It takes a bit of time to get used to and refine and the more you use it, then better the output and the easier and faster you get to your end result.

The Perfect AI Prompt?

Prompts are how you ask your Copilot (whether Microsoft 365, Windows, or Bing) to do something for you. This could be creating, summarising, comparing, editing, or transforming content. Prompts are “conversations”, using plain but clear language and providing the relevant information, background, ask and context of the request – just like you would if you were asking a human assistant.

Writing good prompts is the key to unlocking the power and potential of generative AI tools like Microsoft 365 Copilot.


In short a prompt has three parts.

  • Telling Copilot what you want – for example creating, editing, summarising etc.
  • Including the right prompt ingredients – for example what you need and why.
  • Keeping the conversation going to fine tune your request and get the content you need.

Telling Copilot what you need

This may sound obvious, but we often find many people do not appreciate or understand just how particular and precise you can be with these tools. When we run workshops, I often ask the audience to use Bing Chat to create an output with the minimum number of prompts. What i typically see is people “talk” to AI like they talk to their smart speaker, typically asking a simple open question about the weather, train times, or a fact [or in my case my kids ask it for a rude joke or a silly song…or worse].

Working with Generative AI should be seen as similar to working with a person. As such, the more ambiguous the request, tone and language is, the more likely it is that the response you get from Copilot won’t be what you need or expected.

For example, a prompt such as “please analyse this spreadsheet of customer spend and provide insights into the most frequently bought products and services our customer buy for a meeting I have with the leadership team about product and service performance will give Copilot a lot more content and context about what you need work to do with that please analyze this dataset and summarize the results. A prompt that simply asks “summarise this information for me” – clearly misses the conext and framing of what the information is required for.

Include the right prompt “ingredients”

In order to the get the best response from your prompts, it is also important to focus on some of the key elements that will impact the type of response you get from Copilot. In short this is about setting the right goal and the right context along with which data source of information you want to use and you expectations of the output.

  • The Goal refers to what response you want to get from Copilot
  • The Context refers to why you need it and who or what is involved
  • The Source refers to which information source(s) or examples Copilot should you
  • The Expectations refer to how you want Copilot to respond to your request.

Here’s how that fits together into a “good prompt”…

Keeping the conversation going

Since Copilot uses the concepts of turns with regards the prompts you use, you can tweak, fine tune or ask further questions based on the information generated and information you feed it. Whilst Copilot will not learn from your data, it keeps the conversation active until you finish meaning you can refine your requests. This helps you collaborate with Copilot like you would a person. You ask for more information, to present data in a different way or simple change the language or tone of the response.

Examples based on the above could include:

In short – When creating a prompt, think of it as if you were talking to a helpful colleague – there no need to worry about the order, formatting, or structure – the goal is to keep it conversational.

General Do’s and Don’ts

Finally, there are some wider tips and guidance to help ensure you get the best from these conversational input methods. In short, the do’s a don’ts can, be summarised as.

Be clear and specific with your ask. tell it how you want the response or output generated. A draft, bullet points, in Word or in PowerPoint for example.Be vague or ambiguous. Use concise and unambiguous language. If you want something in a certain way – tell it what you want.
Give examples to help Copilot do what you want. If there is a previous document or table you want, state it. If you want something in a certain style, ask. Use slang words, jargon, or informal language. The Lange models Copilot uses are well trained but may miss interpret acronyms, slang words and jargon and therefore give random results.
Provide details that help Copilot do what you ask. Give as much background to what you are asking as possible – just like you would to a human assistant. Set the context and ask clearly. Give conflicting information or ask Copilot to compare or contrast unrelated data or something that is a bad example of what you need. Keep the responses clear and concise and use additional prompts to refine if necessary.
Use turns (these are additional prompts) to tweak and refine your response. If you don’t like something or want something expanded or changed – simple, ask. Change topics without starting over. The best way to end a conversation and start over is to either write “new task” or click the new conversation button.
Feedback to IT. Copilot is only as good as the data and information it has access to. If you are not getting the right response, it may be because you don’t have access to the right data or that the data is out of wrong. Check the data source Copilot refers you to with IT or the document owner. Take what Copilot produces as fact without checking first. Copilot is only as good as the data and information it has access to. If you are not getting the right response, it may be because you don’t have access to the right data or that the data is out of wrong. Check the data source Copilot refers you to with IT or the document owner.
Examples of Good and Bad AI Prompts