Microsoft Inspire 2023: The Biggest News In AI, Copilots, Azure

Microsoft Inspire 2023 included news on Azure, AI, copilots, Teams, Outlook, Power Platform and more.

Pricing for Microsoft 365 Copilot. A rebranded Microsoft program with three times the investment. And a $100 million investment in a new Azure Innovate offering.

These are among the biggest announcements to come out of Microsoft’s annual partner-focused Inspire event this year.

Inspire 2023 runs from Tuesday to Wednesday online.

[RELATED: Microsoft Build 2023: The Biggest News On Copilots, AI, Windows, Security ]

Microsoft Inspire 2023 AI News

Solution providers and other partner business types have proven essential to Microsoft bringing AI to market and getting more Azure customers, according to the vendor.

More than 9,400 customers use Azure OpenAI Service, making it the fastest growing Azure service in the technology’s history. And 9,100 partners transact on Azure AI. More than 2,300 of those partners transact on Azure OpenAI, according to Microsoft. Partners have also activated thousands of customers on core Azure migration and modernization scenarios.

Some of the other big announcements from Inspire 2023 are:

*And an enterprise option for Bing Chat

*A new SAP collaboration

*More solutions partner designations

*Multiparty private offers in the Microsoft commercial marketplace

Read on for more of the biggest announcements out of Inspire 2023.

M365 Copilot Pricing

Microsoft has released pricing information for Microsoft 365 Copilot, which brings generative AI to the vendor’s popular productivity applications including Word, Teams and Excel.

Once the copilot is GA, it will cost $30 a user a month for purchasers of Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium licenses, according to the vendor.

The copilot combines business data from documents, emails, calendar, chats, meetings and contacts with working context to deliver actionable responses to user queries.

Working context includes the meeting a user is in, emails exchanged on a topic and the chats the user had last week.

Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program

The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program – unveiled in October – has been rechristened the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program in a reflection of how important AI technology is for Microsoft and its partners’ futures.

Solution providers in MCPP have automatically been moved into the new program, saving partners any transition work, according to Microsoft. Partners also maintain

existing benefits and designations.

The Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program unites onboarding, skilling, go-to-market, incentives and co-selling resources for partners of all business models and maturity, according to the vendor.

And for those fearing a pause in Microsoft’s investment in the industrial metaverse, the vendor announced that an offering is part of the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program. The solutions partner designations-aligned offering is expected to hit public preview in early 2024.

Azure Migrate and Modernize

Microsoft has rebranded and extended its Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP) into Azure Migrate and Modernize, which adds assessments, more partner incentives and support for additional workloads, according to the vendor.

Part of the expansion is increased capacity and capability across the Azure portfolio, with new workloads such as high performance computing (HPC), Oracle, Linux, SAP and mainframe migrations, according to Microsoft.

The offering also supports Windows Server and SQL Server secure migrations and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

The goal of Azure Migrate and Modernize is to help ease customer transitions to the cloud. Azure Migrate has discovery, assessment, business case analysis and planning capabilities. Users can receive Microsoft-led delivery for rehost migrations. This promises to speed up and decrease the cost of migration, according to Microsoft.

For partners, the offering promises to increase deal velocity and reduce time-to-value with pre- to post-sales funding, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft has also tripled its investment to increase the scale and availability of Azure Migrate and Modernize and introduce a new offering – Azure Innovate.

Azure Innovate

Microsoft’s tripled investment in Azure Migrate and Modernize comes with a $100 million investment for Azure Innovate, a new offering with the goal of helping partners and customers infuse AI into applications, experiences, advanced analytics and custom cloud native app building, according to the vendor.

Azure Innovate – and Azure Migrate and Modernize – work together to help users’ end-to-end cloud journey on Azure, whether migrating for a secure and AI-ready foundation or building a copilot, according to Microsoft.

Partners can leverage Azure Innovate for planning, deployment, guided assistance for exploring and designing capabilities, using pilots and proofs of concept (PoCs), assessments for app modernization and analytics migration and modernization resources, among other tasks.

Partners can receive assistance deploying their own AI copilot with their data, according to Microsoft.

As with Azure Migrate and Modernize, Azure Innovate promises to increase deal velocity and reduce time-to-value with pre- to post-sales funding for partners, according to Microsoft.

More AI Offerings For Partners

Microsoft announced a series of AI-focused offerings and benefits meant to help partners adopt the technology and deliver it to customers.

Among these offerings are new “Era of AI” marketing campaigns in a box. The campaigns come with marketing assets to help solution providers with ready-to-share campaigns or to boost providers’ own demand-generation campaigns.

And just ahead of Inspire, Microsoft introduced a Build and Modernize AI Apps with Microsoft Azure specialization for solution providers to prove their prowess to customers.

This specialization is meant for partners with skills in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Cosmos DB and AI. Specialization recipients get special co-sell benefits.

More than 200 partners already met the prerequisites for the Build and Modernize AI Apps with Microsoft Azure specialization at launch, according to the vendor. The specialization brings the total of these technical badges to 31.

A new AI Transformation Playbook promises partners help with building an AI practice with

guidance on skilling, innovating, marketing and selling, according to Microsoft.

Bing Chat Enterprise

Microsoft has announced a Bing Chat Enterprise option for businesses interested in the AI tool but concerned about company data protection.

Information going into and coming out of Bing Chat Enterprise remains protected, according to Microsoft. The tool is in preview for Microsoft 365 E5, E3, Business Premium and Business Standard at no additional cost.

A standalone Bing Chat Enterprise subscription for $5 per user per month will come “in the future,” according to Microsoft.

More Azure Tools Access

Azure Arc-enabled extended security updates are now in preview. These updates are meant for users who can’t meet the October end of support date for Windows Server 2012/R2, which prompts users to turn to the free Azure extended security updates or purchase the updates for on-premises deployments, according to Microsoft.

Azure Arc users can buy and deploy the updates on-premises or in multi-cloud environments from the Azure portal.

Azure Boost is in preview, offering select users a new system for offloading virtualization processes usually performed by the hypervisor and host operating system (OS).

Users can leverage next-generation hardware infrastructure to deliver new levels of performance and security for workloads, according to Microsoft.

Azure Active Directory support for Azure Files REST (REpresentational State Transfer) API is now GA, allowing users to share level read and write access to file shares with improved security.

Microsoft also promises that this is an easier way to store account access key authorization, according to the vendor.

More AI Access

Microsoft launched a preview of Vector Search in Azure Cognitive search. Adding vector search to apps promises to generate personalized responses in natural language, deliver product recommendations and identify data patterns, among other actions.

The capability promises hybrid retrieval and sophisticated reranking, according to Microsoft.

A Whisper Model for transcribing and translating audio content and producing high-quality batch transcriptions at scale is “coming soon” to Azure OpenAI Service and Azure AI Speech, according to Microsoft.

Speaking of Azure AI Speech, the offering has a new GA feature called custom neural voice and a public preview of real-time diarization.

And Microsoft Fabric is in public preview with a free trial for partners. The offering is meant to unite an organization’s data and analytics into a single, AI-powered platform purpose-built for unifying data estates, building AI models and responsibly expanding access to insights, according to the vendor.

Fabric integrates Microsoft technology such as Azure Data Factory, Microsoft Power BI and Azure Synapse with newer wares such as Data Activator.

And Microsoft Power BI Copilot is in private preview. The generative AI tool aims to leverage customer data for faster insight sharing.

Developer Tool Updates

Microsoft Dev Box has gone GA. The virtualized offering allows developers to spin up self-service workstations preconfigured for their tasks. The developers can maintain centralized management to maximize security and compliance, according to Microsoft.

GitHub Advanced Security for Azure DevOps is now in public preview, but the offering already saw more than 200 customers join the waitlist in one week. GitHub Advanced Security protects codebases and apps running in Azure from threats, according to Microsoft.

New SAP Collaboration

Microsoft 365 Copilot, Copilot for Microsoft Viva Learning and Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service have a new integration with SAP SuccessFactors.

The goal is a better experience for how organizations attract, retain and skill their people. This builds upon Microsoft’s strategic SAP partnership to move customers to SAP S/4 HANA by the 2027 end-of-support milestone.

Introducing AIM

AIM – not the instant messenger, but an acronym for Accelerate, Innovate, Move – is a method for moving critical processes to the cloud and AI-enabled productivity, according to Microsoft.

Qualified users receive access to a dedicated team of migration advisors, assessments, investment offers, tools and migration support.

Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics SL, and Dynamics 365 Business Central on-premises are among the on-premises business applications covered by AIM, according to the vendor.

Solution providers can start with an AIM Assessment to find business value, expected outcomes, key steps and dependencies for a move from on-premises to the cloud, according to Microsoft.

AIM gives partners more tools and guidance for the Success by Design systematic approach for cloud deployments. Among the tools is the Dynamics 365 Implementation Portal, FastTrack product and service architects from Microsoft and new project quality advisory services, according to the vendor.

AIM Modernization Centers are available for solution providers to access tools, assessments, and expert migration guidance. Microsoft’s goal with these centers is to save solution providers migration work so they can focus on business outcomes, according to the vendor.

New ‘Solutions Partners’ Designations

Building on the post-Gold and Silver era of Microsoft partner badging, the vendor announced more designations for what it calls “solutions partners.”

The Training Services designation is for learning partners who grow others’ skills and capacity. A Support Services designation coming this fiscal year is meant to identify partners with support capabilities and demonstrated customer success in the area. The designation is in public preview for now, according to Microsoft.

And designations for independent software vendors (ISVs) are expected this fiscal year for the Microsoft Cloud and industry clouds, according to the vendor.

Multiparty Private Offers

Multiparty private offers are now available with the goal of encouraging partners to work together to sell customized deals through the Microsoft commercial marketplace, according to the vendor.

Microsoft has positioned its online marketplace as a potential way for software and service partners to thrive in a worsening economy in the U.S. Larger enterprises make annual consumption commitments against their cloud spend for better cost prediction and control – something partners can use to their advantage, Jake Swenson, Microsoft’s vice president of commercial marketplace, told CRN in a recent interview.

“Now your SIs [system integrators] or your resellers or your distis [distributors] have an opportunity to say, ‘Look I‘ve got an ISV offer. I have a Microsoft customer. I have my services or my value-add to the equation that can be packaged and transacted in this way that’s convenient for the customer and that has positive economic terms for everybody involved,’” he said at the time.

Sales Copilot Goes GA

Sales Copilot is now GA, according to Microsoft. Users can get the generative AI tool as a standalone subscription and included as part of customers’ existing Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise and Premium licenses at no additional cost.

This copilot is meant to help sellers increase productivity and personalize customer interactions to close more deals, according to the vendor. Sellers can access the copilot in Outlook, Teams or Dynamics 365 Sales. It also connects to third-party systems including Salesforce.

Sellers can use CRM task automation, auto-generated emails and meeting summaries to save time and see real-time top opportunities and customer opportunity summaries. The copilot also generates contextualized email drafts based on Outlook and CRM data.

More than 10,000 Microsoft sellers have used the copilot, with 85 percent of surveyed sellers reporting that they completed one or more tasks faster and 70 percent saying that the copilot improved productivity.

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

On Sept. 1, a new Dynamics 365 Customer Insights offering will become GA, according to Microsoft.

The offering promises to speed up seller decisionmaking and get more personal with customers. Customer Insights is a customer data platform and customer journey orchestration tool in one, according to Microsoft.

Customer Insights subscribers gained previews for new capabilities during Insight. A natural language option allows sellers to orchestrate contextually relevant customer journeys across marketing, sales and service. And users can style emails, forms and event registration pages to match brand guidelines with natural language for better consistency.

Power Updates

On Aug. 1, Microsoft makes an AI-enabled Power Automate Process Mining tool GA to all channels and updates pricing.

This tools promises businesses more ways to optimize their processes, save costs and discover

opportunities to run more efficient operations, according to Microsoft. Out-of-box templates can help users drive powerful business process insights from cloud flows in Power Automate, Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents, Azure DevOps, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Durable Functions and Azure Bot Framework.

Pricing and name changes on Aug. 1 include:

*The “Power Automate Attended RPA per user” license renamed to “Power Automate Premium”

*The price reduced from $40 per user per month to $15 per user per month

*Power Automate Premium will continue to include both unlimited cloud flows (DPA) and unlimited desktop flows (RPA) in attended mode as well as entitlements to Power Automate Process Mining

* Existing “Power Automate Attended RPA per user” license users should reach out to Microsoft

representatives for details about the new pricing offer

*A new “Power Automate Process” license promises customers access to an automation bot for unattended desktop automation (RPA) or to run business critical processes that need to be accessed by unlimited users in an organization

*Compared to the legacy Power Automate Per Flow plan, users pay $150 instead of $500

*“Power Automate Process Mining add-on” is a capacity-based license that becomes available for purchase at $5,000 per tenant per month with entitlements of 100 GB process mning data storage.

*Organizations can subscribe to the new Power Automate Premium license, but the add on provides additional capacity to solve higher volume use cases for greater business needs

*“Power Apps per user” license is renamed to “Power Apps Premium,” but no service plans changes are coming – the license name will automatically update in Microsoft Agreements on Aug. 1

Power Automate Process Mining works with other systems of record such as SAP, according to Microsoft.

The tool captures rich visual process maps, analyzes end-to-end processes with AI-powered root cause analysis and unlocks hierarchical views with interactive drill downs, according to the vendor.

Users can leverage key performance indicators (KPIs) and filter options to find inefficiencies and automation opportunities. Users can even set up notifications in Teams or Outlook when KPIs are not met.

The tool brings ongoing monitoring and process deviations identification capabilities to help with implemented process optimizations. Users can continuously analyze and improve to achieve the most efficient processes, according to the vendor.

Windows 365 News

Microsoft made Windows 365 Frontline GA, giving users the ability to give Windows operating system (OS) power and security to shift and part-time workers.

Windows 365 Frontline gives users the right number of cloud PCs for the number of active users they have at any given time, according to Microsoft.

Combined with Windows 365 Boot, in preview, users can log into cloud PCs and switch with the physical desktop experience, according to the vendor. Health care, retail, call center and workers in other industries can move between physical and the cloud without starting work over.

ISV Success

Microsoft made its ISV Success program GA and extended the benefits package.

ISV Success, part of the AI Cloud Partner Program, gives ISVs access to product and cloud benefits, demonstration and sandbox environments, technical consults and sales and marketing benefits for published applications to help accelerate deals, according to Microsoft.

ISV Success participants get access to GitHub Copilot at the end of 2023. This copilot acts as an AI-enabled paired programmer and suggests lines of code to programmers to speed up the process.

GitHub Copilot writes 46 percent of code for developers who use it and enables developers to code up to 55 percent faster, according to Microsoft.