Every year, Ignite spotlights the developments that are relevant to Microsoft’s partner network, and big announcements are pretty much expected. We’re excited to give you a summary of the most notable innovations here.

Microsoft Teams.

One of the most important tools to enable hybrid working, Microsoft Teams was a prime candidate for some new features, which Microsoft has been churning out at a very fast pace. Here are some of the most interesting ones:

  • Microsoft Mesh: Microsoft is set to enhance Teams with VR capabilities and holoportation coming soon! With people increasingly tired of virtual meetings during a long stretch of socially distanced work, Microsoft introduces an all new way of virtual collaboration. Mesh for Microsoft Teams adds personal avatars that can interact in virtual rooms for a more engaging experience,

    joining the likes of Cisco and Facebook in an endeavour to make our workplace look like something you might play on a Nintendo Wii, except you’re actually working. Unlike Cisco and Facebook, however, Microsoft wants avatars to work without the need for additional hardware, so you can simply move about without wearing a VR or AR headset. Although Microsoft does note that working with a mixed-reality headset such as its own Hololens will also be possible. Microsoft has also picked up on the term “metaverse” to describe a virtual world in which we can engage with others. In concrete terms, this means that organisations can build their very own virtual space in which employees can mix and mingle, collaborate on projects and experience the same water cooler encounters that spark innovation.
  • Teams Connect (Shared Channels): Similar to Private Channels, Teams Connect enables external stakeholders to join specific Teams channels without actually being on the team. They can then even find the team/channel within their own Teams environment so there’s no need for them to switch back and forth between tenants.

Check out the Microsoft blog to discover everything that’s new in Teams. We are particularly excited about raised hands, the virtual green room, chat with self, and the new Q&A options.

Microsoft PowerPoint.

OK, you may be wondering why we mention a separate update about PowerPoint, but there’s two things we have to get out: One is Recording Studio, and the other is Cameo. Instead of just moving through a deck of slides, the latter allows you to embed a Teams camera stream into your PowerPoint presentation. You can make your camera feed appear anywhere on the slide or take layout recommendations for an optimal viewer experience.

Microsoft Loop.

A new Office application introduced today, Microsoft Loop takes the company’s vision of a Fluid Framework one step further, enabling people to collaborate on content such as tables or graphs in sync and across different Office applications. For instance, if you create a table in Outlook, this is instantly updated when someone else plugs it into a Word document and adds information there. So far, we’ve only seen this trialled in Office Online.

Microsoft has announced that they will share more on Loop in the coming months. For now, we can expect to see Loop components available in Teams, Outlook, OneNote and other Microsoft 365 applications later this month.

Microsoft Defender for Business.

Of course, Ignite was also the platform to announce a plethora of security updates. Microsoft very obviously takes security very seriously across the board, promising to invest 20 billion dollars (around 17 billion euros) in global security R&D over the next five years.

Defender has been in Microsoft’s security lineup for a good while now. Now the company is adding a product specifically tailored to SMEs with up to 300 users, called Microsoft Defender for Business.

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

AVD is a cloud-based workspace giving employees access to digital desktops and applications from anywhere and on any device. Microsoft has now introduced a number of new features and updates designed to simplify secure deployment, management and expansion of the cloud workspace. 

  • Windows 11 support, VDI and multi-session host images can be applied. You can choose between an image with or without Microsoft 365. 
  • RDP Shortpath creates a secure, direct connection between the client and host reducing gateway dependencies and increasing availability. 
  • Autoscale enables resources to scale in line with actual usage, helping you cut costs while making sure you never run out of the resources you need. This functionality is built into the Azure portal. 

Find out more on Azure Virtual Desktop.

Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition.

Windows Server 2022 has been available for use since August 2021. Windows Server 2022 Azure Edition for Azure Public and Azure Stack HCI is now getting an update to unlock new capabilities such as Automanage.

Automanage adds new functionality such as hybrid networking capabilities, hotfixing without reboot, and secure access to file servers. Automanage profiles mean best practices are always applied and ARC support is enabled.

Find out more on Windows Server 2022 Datacenter.

Azure virtual machine update.

The virtual machines selector makes it easy to identify the right VM with simple questionnaires that guide you along the way and help you find the ideal type of VM and storage based on your workload, OS and software, or deployment region.

Discover the Microsoft Azure VM selector.


New VM types.

Ignite introduced the next generation of virtual machines. The new Dv5 and Ev5 Azure VMs are available with a choice of Intel and AMD processors Microsoft recommends customers switch to these new VM types as they offer a better price performance ratio compared to previous versions by up to 15%.

Find out more on the new Azure virtual machines.

Windows Admin Center (WAC).

WAC is Microsoft’s web-based solution for hybrid management, monitoring and configuration of your Windows server environment on premise, on Azure Stack HCI, or Azure Public. The latest version, v2110, is available for download and supports Windows 11, Server 2022, as well as the new version of Azure Stack HCI 21H2.

The most important features and updates include:

  • Performance and security enhancements: A front and back end have received an overhaul, resulting in noticeably better performance and security.
  • Virtual machine management: WAC has received a speed boost and is now almost twice as fast.
  • Processor compatibility: It is now possible to mix and match different processor sets in the cluster.
  • New virtual hard disk (VHD): A new and improved flow is available to create a new VHD.
  • Automatic licence activation on Windows Server when creating a new VM: This is an optional feature in Azure Stack HCI that you can use to activate Windows Server via your Azure subscription.

Find out more on Windows Admin Center Version 2110.

Azure Stack HCI.

The new 21H2 feature update is now available! Last week we were able to take it for a spin in our demo environment and we are truly excited about the things it has to offer. It’s Microsoft’s declared goal to bring the all the most popular public-cloud capabilities to this on-prem HCI for the best hybrid experience. Here are the top announcements:

  • Azure Virtual Desktop for Stack HCI: Up until now, it was only possible to provide Windows 10 and 11 multi-session workplaces in Azure Public. This is now history as hosts can now land on your own HCI hardware.
  • AKS: Get the Azure Public experience within your own environment with easy management, better security and hybrid capabilities.
  • ARC: The cluster is automatically set up for ARC functionality so you can easily configure and manage Azure services and benefit from even better integration with the Azure portal. For example, it’s possible to create VMs in your HCI environment via the Azure Public portal.
  • Windows Server licenses via Azure (AVMA): This option gives you a fast and easy way to pay for licences via your Azure subscription.

Find out more about Azure Stack HCI.

Azure ARC.

Azure ARC enables the centralised management of hybrid and multi-cloud services, providing extensive management and Azure capabilities outside the Azure Public environment.

Microsoft also announced that it will be possible to establish a connection with VMware Vsphere,

meaning you not only have transparency into your local Vsphere environments and the ability to create VMs from the central Azure Public portal, but you can even start, stop and modify VMs, too, such as add a disk or network card. This is ideal for developers and application managers.

For a detailed overview of the various scenarios that are possible with Azure ARC, take a look at Azure Arc Jumpstart.

Need help with solutions such as Windows 365, Azure Virtual Desktop, Azure Stack HCI or ARC? Or have you read our blog or have any questions you would like to ask us? Tim and Gino would love to help you. Or take a look at our Microsoft page.

Tim ter Haar

Cloud Consultant

Phone: +31 40 760 2868

Gino van Essen

Cloud Consultant

Phone: +31 40 250 9045

Tim ter Haar

Cloud Consultant

Phone: +31 40 760 2868

Gino van Essen

Cloud Consultant

Phone: +31 40 250 9045