Monthly Archives: November 2018

  • Newest Office 2019 and Office 365 Editions Announced

    office 2019 devices

    Microsoft recently announced the new release of Office 2019 as well as its continued commitment for on-premise versions beyond this latest release in recognition that its customers are in different places regarding cloud service adoption. New features have been adapted to the on-premise version of Office 2019 including some offered in Office 365 through the on-premise version will not be eligible for monthly updates.

    Office 2019 will include a wide range of new features for content development, project development, task management, and other common uses. Primary applications such as PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and Outlook have all received improvements which users will find highly beneficial. Microsoft Office 2019 also included improved inking features across all apps such as roaming pencil case, pressure sensitivity, and tilt effects for a natural feel within document development.

    Presentations have become an important feature of business activity and PowerPoint remains at the forefront of this type of content development. New cinematic presentation features have been added to PowerPoint named Morph and Zoom. Morph is a transition feature while Zoom delivers greater organizing control for presentation slides. The roaming pencil case is also an important new feature for PowerPoint.

    Meanwhile, Excel now boasts powerful new data analysis with new formulas and charts as well as new connectors. Additionally, this latest version of Excel provides funnel charts, 2D maps, and timelines along with the ability to publish to PowerBI, the power Microsoft business analytics solution for data visualization and connection to hundreds of data sources. There are enhancements to PowerQuery as well as improvements to PowerPivot.

    Content management and development in Word and Outlook now include new learning tools like read aloud and text spacing. Within Word, focus mode brings content forward and reduces distraction so documents can be created, edited and completed without delay. Additionally, Word also features:

    • Text-to-Speech
    • Learning tools for captions and audio features
    • The inking improvements previously mentioned
    • Accessibility improvements

    Outlook's focused inbox moves less important messages out of the way and brings priority email to the forefront for faster response. Outlook with Office 365 now includes a Groups feature while updated contact cards are available in both versions.

    For users of OneNote, Microsoft now includes this application with Windows 10 rather than Office so the latest version is available already. For anyone preferring OneNote 2016, it remains as part of a volume installation with the Office Deployment Tool. Mac users will experience no difference with OneNote which is offered with the Office 2019 version for the OS or can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store.

    Click-to-run (C2R) was first used with Office 2013 as a modernized deployment technology which has been used to update office across millions of worldwide devices. However, Click-to-run (C2R) is now available in all client application formats. With C2R, customers will experience all the advantages which other office versions provide including:

    • Consistent security updates
    • Currently updated apps when installed
    • Reduced network latency with the Windows 10 download optimization technology

    Customers interested in an upgrade path to Office 365 ProPlus will now find the option easier to achieve. Older MSI-based formats will no longer be supported with C2R but other features remain available:

    • Volume activation
    • Group Policy management,
    • Control over updates
    • Support for System Center Configuration Manager

    Related updates to server technologies as pertains to Office such as Exchange Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2019, SharePoint Server 2019, and Project Server 2019 will soon be available.

    Customers not yet ready for the cloud will find Office 2019 to be a valuable asset to which Microsoft is committed. Since various customers are at different points in the adoption of cloud services, Office will remain an important part of on-premise application products offered.

    Also, there are some feature differences between Office 365 and Office 2019, including creativity features such as Editor in Word, tap in Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Additional creativity features in Office 365 are Designer in PowerPoint, Researcher in Word along with Ideas and Data Types in Excel.

    Additionally, Office 365 powers real-time collaboration across the ever-important Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications for faster creation, editing, and publication of critical content. It must be noted that real-time collaboration is also available in Word 2019 but only with the use of SharePoint Online.

    Remember these points and considerations about new Office application developments:

    • Commercial volume licenses for customers are available for Office 2019 immediately.
    • Office 2019 is also available for consumer and commercial use immediately within the US with releases to some countries pending.
    • Certain features, such as OneNote, are only available in Mac while it is already available Windows 10.
    • Other features may only be in use for Windows versions of Office 2019.
    • Additional security features such as Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), message encryption, Office Enterprise Protection and sensitivity labels for Office Apps are included in Office 365 (in some cases, access to additional subscriptions like Exchange Online and ATP may be necessary while others may not yet be available in the Office 365 ProPlus edition).

    To learn more about the newest developments in Office 2019 and Office 365, contact our experts at Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • The Latest Improvements and Changes with Windows Server 2019

    licensing for windows server 2016

    Windows Server 2019 was released earlier this year and, with it, there are a number of new features to be considered. This new server OS provides the latest benefits from Microsoft for companies in need of upgrading physical servers as well as taking advantage of improvements for security, application environments and more. Here's a look at what is new and improved.

    The desktop experience is available again in the 2019 version whereas it was not in the server versions 1709, 1803 or 1809. Similar to the 2016 version, the 2019 version offers an option during setup between Server Core and Desktop Experience installation.

    Microsoft has developed a new feature for predictive analytics named System Insights in Windows Server 2019. This new function provides machine-learning for local analysis of system data in order to offer fine-tuning of a server with predictive analysis based on performance counters and events. These insights create an opportunity to reduce expenses from issues surrounding server deployments.

    Hybrid Cloud optional features are now included in Server Core installations for improved application compatibility. Using Server Core App Compatibility feature on demand (FOD) creates a subset of binaries from Desktop Experience for improved functional compatibility for the leaner installation option and is available on a separate ISO which can be added to the Server Core installation.

    Microsoft included a number of security improvements:  

    • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) & ATP Exploit Guard with improved Application Control are new developments which protect against memory and kernel level attacks. Advanced Threat Protection can both suppress and terminate malicious files and processes. Meanwhile, Exploit Guard uses its components to lock down a device from numerous attacks while blocking common malware intrusion attacks. Four components of the Exploit Guard work cohesively for best use of resources between security and productivity.
    1. Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) is a set of controls which block lateral movement of suspicious code including ransomware.
    2. Network protection uses Windows Defender SmartScreen and negates exposure to untrusted hosts and IP addresses used in web-based attacks.
    3. Controlled folder access cordons off important data from ransomware attacks by blocking suspicious processes.
    4. Exploit protection provides Microsoft customers with the ability to enable at a set of mitigations against exploits for increased protection.

    Microsoft also added default Code Integrity (CI) policies to the Windows Defender Application Control for improved ease of use over the original version released with Windows Server 2016.

    • Security improvements also arrived with Software Defined Networking (SDN). This enhanced group of features improves running workloads on both cloud-based services and on-premise environments. SDN arrived with Windows Server 2016 but now includes encrypted networks for virtual machines, firewall auditing, virtual network peering and egress metering (for monitoring data transfers outside of secure networks)
    • Shielded VM'S with branch office improvements, troubleshooting improvements & Linux support.
    1. Branch office improvements now provide shielded VM's with options for intermittent connectivity with fallback HGS and offline mode. The fallback includes options for alternate sets of URLs for Hyper-V connectivity while offline mode provides the ability to start shielded VMs even if HGS is unavailable (the VM must already have previously started and experienced no configuration changes).
    2. Additionally, troubleshooting for shielded virtual machines is improved with VMConnect Enhanced Session Mode and PowerShell Direct, both of which assist with lost network connectivity of VMs. Once enabled, these support features require no configuration when in use on a Hyper-V host running Windows Server version 1803 or later.
    3. For customers running in mixed-OS environments, Windows Server 2019 now supports an operation of a variety of popular Linux versions inside shielded VMs.
    • HTTP/2 has been introduced for more web security and includes the following:
    1. Connection improvements for uninterrupted encrypted browsing over coalesced connections.
    2. Upgrades to cipher suite negotiation which provides ease of deployment and corrections to connection failures.
    3. More throughput with a new TCP congestion provider using Cubic.

    Storage improvements were not overlooked by Microsoft with Windows Server 2019:

    • Storage Migration Service is a new feature which migrates servers to newer versions of Windows Server with ease. A graphical tool enables easy management of migrations through inventories which can then be shifted to newer server versions, even optionally migrating server names for the transition of apps that do not interrupt user experience.
    • Storage Spaces Direct includes improvements to deduplication and compression of ReFS volumes, native support for persistent memory, nested resiliency for dual-node, hyper-converged infrastructures, Windows Admin Center support, scaling for up to 4 PB in a cluster and much more.
    • Storage Replica is now available on Windows Server 2019 Standard Edition while a new feature named Test Failover can mount destination storage for validation of replicas. There are also improvements to replica log performance and additional Windows Admin Center support.
    • Failover Clustering improvements have been made to cluster sets, Azure-aware clusters, migrations of cross-domain clusters, cluster infrastructure with support for Storage Spaces Direct, cluster hardening. Additionally, failover cluster dropped usage of NTLM authentication.

    Microsoft included application platform improvements with an eye toward the following:

    • Windows server 2019 now provides support for running Linux-based containers which will provide both flexibility to application developers and consistency to the host container environment.
    • Now included on Windows server 2019 are computing, networking and storage improvements to support Kubernetes. With other improvements to container networking, Windows Server 2019 creates a resilient, enhanced platform performance with the latest networking plugins. New workload deployments via Kubernetes includes network security support that protects Linux and Windows containers.
    • Other container improvements include:
    1. Microsoft addressed numerous limitations of prior Windows server editions with an improved integrated identity which provides a more reliable authentication experience
    2. Application compatibility where applications based in Windows are easier than ever to organize into containers, especially when considering the core server installation. Additionally, API dependent applications now have a third image available.
    3. Issues with startup times, size on disk and download sizes for base container images have also been improved for speedier workflows.
    4. Accessing the containers extension in the Windows admin center public feed provides experience improvements to container management and performance.
    • Encrypted networks also experienced changes for the better. Now virtual network traffic between VMs will communicate when designated as encryption enabled using Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) which will prevent security breaches by anyone with access to a physical network.
    • Performance for VM workloads has always been a concern and Microsoft has addressed these for improved network performance. New features such as Receive Segment Coalescing in vSwitch and Dynamic Virtual Machine Multi-Queue allow for vastly improved provisioning of VM hosts while decreasing operation and maintenance costs even with an increase of host density.
    • A new network congestion control provider was designed which will yield automatic improvements to applications and users. Low extra delay background transport (LEDBAT) addresses bandwidth concerns especially for use in deploying large updates to avoid impact on customer services.
    • Windows time service got an update in the latest version of Windows Server with the inclusion of a true UTC-compliant leap second support via a newly designed time protocol entitled Precision Time Protocol.
    • The aforementioned Software Defined Networking (SDN) received a boost with high-performance SDN gateways. UI deployments using the Windows Admin Center extension provides deployment and management capability
    • Microsoft also took a step forward by harnessing the power of Hyper-V with improvements to throughput as well as the low latency of persistent memory in VM's. The new persistent memory support for Hyper-V VMs jolts performance with drastic reductions of memory latency issues in database transactions.

    Microsoft stepped forward once again with the release of Windows Server 2019 by addressing a wide range of issues and amid fast-changing technology developments. The changes, improvements and new features over Windows Server 2016 make this latest server version a tantalizing wealth of reasons for upgrading.

    To learn more about Windows Server 2019, contact our experts at Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.

  • Windows Server 2016 VM Licensing Considerations

    remote desktop licensing

    As recently as the releases of Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2014 and Windows Server 2014 R2, the Standard and Enterprise editions have been licensed much the same way by Microsoft by counting CPU's. However, with Windows Server 2016, while there is no difference with these previous versions in regard to editions, licensing changed.

    With regard to licensing, the change with Windows Server 2016, as with a number of other products, Microsoft has shifted from licensing based on the number of processors to the number of cores for a more accurate accounting. This is a big shift from the previous editions of Windows Server and applies to both Standard and Datacenter versions.

    Additionally, with the arrival of Windows Server 2016 previous feature parity is no longer available. Earlier versions of Windows Server operating systems basically included the same available features with the exclusion of VM licensing. Below is a quick list of categories and further information regarding availability between these two main editions.

    Windows Server 2016 edition Licensing model CAL requirements Pricing Open NL ERP (USD)
    Datacenter Core-based Windows Server CAL $6,155
    Standard Core-based Windows Server CAL $882

    With this newer licensing model, Microsoft has also changed somewhat with regard to licensing VM's. Again, the cores must be licensed but the number of VM's will vary based on the edition and cores to be licensed. Licensing rights for Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition only provides for all physical cores in the server to be licensed and includes only 2 OSE's or Hyper-V containers. In the instance of additional OSE's or Hyper-V containers, Microsoft allows for multiple licenses to be assigned to the same cores.

    And here's a summary of features for the affected levels of VM support:

    Feature Datacenter Standard
    OSEs / Windows Server containers with Hyper-V isolation Unlimited 2
    Windows Server containers without Hyper-V isolation Unlimited Unlimited
    Shielded Virtual Machines

    That table gives you a thumbnail of how the new licensing model affects VM's and their licensing. Standard has minimum limits and shielded VMs cannot be used. Here's a full explanation:

    • When all physical cores on a server are licensed, with a minimum of 8 cores per physical processor and a minimum of 16 core licenses per server.
    • Datacenter provides rights to use unlimited Operating System Environments (OSEs) or Hyper-V containers and Windows Server containers on the licensed server.
    • Standard provides rights to use up to two Operating System Environments (OSEs) or Hyper-V containers and unlimited Windows Server containers on the licensed server.
    • For each additional 1 or 2 VM's in a Standard OS edition, all the physical cores in the server must be licensed again.

    When considering core-based licensing, Windows Server and System Center 2016 are licensed by physical cores, not virtual cores. Therefore, customers need only to inventory and license the physical cores on their processors.

    Windows Server 2016 will support nested virtualization where a VM runs inside a VM.

    Windows Server 2016 Datacenter licensing allows for unlimited virtualization and so would easily cover this scenario. Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition licensing is designed for no-to-low-virtualization scenarios and supports up to two virtual machines. A virtual machine running inside a virtual machine counts as two virtual machines from a licensing perspective so any additionally nested VMs would require additional licensing of all cores on the physical server.  

    What does it all mean? Microsoft licensing for the Standard edition provides for two VM's to be licensed at a minimum. For more VM's to be hosted, additional licenses must be purchased. With the Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2016, an unlimited number of VM's are licensed. This means you should be prepared to license additional VM's on standard if you need more than two of them but that may still be cheaper than a licensed server for Datacenter. In fact, you may be able to add more than a few depending on the capacity of the server. However, remember the licensing is by cores so a high-end server will be licensed accordingly and Datacenter may end up being the best choice, especially for those servers used for VM farms.

    To understand licensing for Standard even more, here's a description of what you'll need when adding additional VM's on server with a Standard server OS. Even if you have as few as eight cores on the physical server, you must license for the minimum of sixteen. That means if you want an additional VM on the server beyond the 2 allowed, you must license for the minimum of sixteen cores again on that server, but you get rights to 2 more VM's. Also, when considering core licensing and VM's with the Standard Edition, if you have 4 processors on the server, the same conditions apply. You will be licensing the minimum of 32 cores for each 2 VM's you want to run on Standard edition. This can be cheaper but it bears checking the pricing and considering the growth of your VM environment over time since the Datacenter Edition may be the better option over time.

    Licensing for Windows Server 2016 and hosted VM's requires extra considerations. It's well worth gaining a thorough understanding of requirements for core licensing, especially with the Standard edition of Windows Server 2016. To learn more about Microsoft Windows Server 2016 licensing, contact our experts at - Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products