Microsoft Inspire 2022: The Biggest Announcements

The Microsoft Digital Contact Center and updates to Teams and Viva were among the big announcements at Inspire 2022.

Microsoft Inspire 2022 started today, with the tech giant announcing a new contact center platform using Nuance technology, enhancements to Teams and Viva plus a new partner program for space-focused businesses.

The partner-focused event, which goes from Tuesday to Wednesday online, comes amid a time of great change for the Microsoft partner program. Microsoft partners have had to make business and systems adjustments while navigating new customer demand for cloud and collaborative technology.

This year, Microsoft has rolled out controversial partner program changes – including a 20 percent premium on monthly commitments to Microsoft 365 and other popular software packages and a partner capability score to determine who qualifies as a “solutions partner.”

In May, channel chief Rodney Clark left the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant. And days before Inspire, Microsoft named its new “chief partner officer,” Nicole Dezen.


What Microsoft Announced At Inspire 2022

Unlike other tech conferences, which have returned in person or done a mix of live and online events, Microsoft held Inspire entirely online as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19.

Microsoft boasts one of the largest and most diverse partner programs in IT – 400,000 partners employing 22 million people worldwide, according to the company.

What follows are some of the biggest announcements at Inspire 2022.

Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform

Microsoft unveiled its Digital Contact Center Platform during Inspire.

The new offering combines technology from Teams, Azure and other portfolio products with newly acquired voice-to-text company Nuance.

The platform brings in artificial intelligence (AI) to power self-service and live customer engagements, collaborative experiences with live and virtual agents, business process automation, fraud prevention and advanced telephony, according to Microsoft.

Technology from Nuance improves the conversational AI, security and automation capabilities with the goal of resolving customers’ issues faster and with more personalized service. Contact centers can also offer targeted incentives to improve customer loyalty and upsell opportunities for more revenue, according to Microsoft.

The platform uses AI and Microsoft’s Context IQ feature to anticipate customer requests and predict intent, according to Microsoft. Customers are protected with integrated biometric identification, authentication and fraud prevention. Users also receive customer journey analytics to improve experiences.

Teams Connect Shared Channels

Microsoft has made the Teams Connect Shared Channels feature generally available. The tech giant had announced a preview for shared channels in the fall.

This feature allows Teams users to “collaborate with people inside and outside your organization in one shared space where everyone can work, chat, meet, share, co-author files, and develop apps together,” according to the tech giant.

Teams Connect allows for collaboration among multiple organizations and enables Teams users to chat with people outside the work network with a personal account.

At Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Teams Connect an identity security effort.

Microsoft’s “trust fabric” is “what makes experiences like Teams Connect possible today,” Nadella said. “With Teams Connect, powered by our identity platform, you can establish seamless, secure and trusted collaboration across organizational boundaries in a matter of minutes.”

Excel Live

Microsoft introduced Excel Live during Inspire. This feature allows users of the Excel spreadsheets application to “collaborate on workbooks in real time in Teams meetings.”

Excel Live builds upon the Live Share in Teams feature announced at Microsoft’s Build conference in May. Live Share allows users to collaborate within a Teams meeting window.

Independent software vendors (ISVs) and developers can also build applications for Live Share with new Teams software development kit (SDK) extensions.

Video Clip And Collaborative Annotations

A new feature called video clip allows users to record, send and view short videos in Teams chat.

Users can “capture your video and then deliver your message at the tap of a button,” according to Microsoft. “Your recipient can play it back at their convenience.”

Microsoft has made its collaborative annotations feature generally available, according to the tech giant.

With this feature, all Teams meeting participants can “draw, type, and react on top of content shared in a meeting using the rich toolset of Microsoft Whiteboard.”

Viva Goals

A new feature for the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform will become generally available Aug. 1, according to Microsoft.

Viva Goals “is a goal setting and management solution that aligns teams to your organization’s strategic priorities to drive results,” according to the tech giant.

Although Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has long touted Teams as a revenue generator for the tech giant, during Microsoft’s April quarterly earnings call he highlighted Viva as a member of the “new growth engines to meet the demands of hybrid work.”

Viva Engage

Microsoft used Inspire to announce a new Teams application called Viva Engage.

Viva Engage “brings consumer-like social networking to the workplace, building on the strength of Yammer to build community, spark engagement and grow personal networks, right in the flow of work,” according to Microsoft.

Company executives and supervisors can share news, answer questions and have conversations with employees through Engage. The goal is to “build community and connection, along with providing tools for personal expression,” according to Microsoft.

Azure Migration And Modernization Program Updates

Microsoft reported that more than 500 partners are enrolled in its Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP) across applications, data and infrastructure.

The tech giant used Inspire to announce up to 2.5 times larger incentives for Windows Server and SQL Server migrations, a new effort for Microsoft sales organizations to locally allocate incentives for their areas and give partners more opportunities, updated best practices for the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and Azure Well Architected Framework (WAF) and new Azure Migrate capabilities.

Among the new Azure Migrate capabilities is the option for ISVs to integrate their own intellectual property, according to Microsoft.

In the fall, Microsoft announced new support for security, Azure Arc, SAP environment migrations to Azure and Red Hat OpenShift environment migration to Azure as part of investment in AMMP.

ISV Success Program

Microsoft has added new benefits to its ISV Success Program to help independent software vendors (ISVs) build applications and publish them to Microsoft’s commercial marketplace and plans to announce industry designations for ISVs.

The program is in preview and set for broad availability in fall. ISVs can use the program to access cloud sandboxes, developer tooling, technical resources, business resources and other offerings.

Participants can access nearly $128,000 in benefits related to software production, according to Microsoft.

In addition to the program, Microsoft has updated its commercial marketplace to make margin sharing generally available and announced a partnership with to help ISVs reach Microsoft customers.

The industry designations will come later this year, according to Microsoft. The designations are based on performance with customers, technical maturity and customer success. The first designations will be for health care, retail and financial services.

Azure Space Partner Community Launched

Microsoft launched Azure Space in October 2020 and used Inspire this week to announce a dedicated Azure Space Partner Community with exclusive access to technical support and scaling services.

Members of the Space Partner Community include Nokia, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Airbus, SpaceX, Kratos and others.

The space partners ecosystem includes space operators, manufacturers, systems integrators, ISVs, data providers and others, according to Microsoft. Their capabilities range from connectivity to earth observation and include ground infrastructure, virtualization, data processing, analytics and more.

Community members will receive Azure Space training, a quarterly roadmap and ability to influence it and private preview programs, among other offerings. Members receive Microsoft first-party product integration and add-ins with Teams, Power BI and other productivity tools, Azure Marketplace onboarding support and other help, according to Microsoft.

Azure credits, sponsored accounts and volume discounts are available for an Azure Consumption Commitment. Members can participate in Enterprise Agreement programs such as Licensed Service Providers and Azure Online Services Government to qualify for rebates, and they can receive credits for competencies and partner marketing benefits, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty

Microsoft used Inspire to announce its Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, designed for the government sector.

The goal is to allow public sector customers to build and transform workloads in the Microsoft Cloud while meeting compliance, security and policy requirements, according to Microsoft. Customers get cloud-powered resiliency, security, scale and capabilities plus control over data, residency and transparency.

The announcement comes amid investment from Microsoft in industry-focused cloud packages of software and tools, including clouds for health care, manufacturing and nonprofits.