New Tools

If you want to know just how dramatically the world has changed over the last few months, consider how your opinion on working from home has changed since March. Remote work used to be an option that was nice to have if you needed it or if you were getting some extra things done over the weekend—but I don’t think any of us ever anticipated that mastering every nuance of working from home in a climate like this was going to be a critical part of our long-term success.

The challenges of the work-from-home necessitated by COVID-19 will never be forgotten by anyone, especially in our IT community where 100-hour weeks were necessary to make sure everyone else could continue working 40. Here at Microsoft, we’ve probably seen every possible challenge from every industry and point on the map, and we are committed to partnering with you as we all navigate this “new normal” and keep working to ensure the continuity of your business at a time when there’s no precedent to guide us.

As you’ve shared your challenges with us, we have been hard at work to find the answers that technology can provide. Whether it’s enabling remote meetings and collaboration, provisioning and managing remote devices, ensuring the data that’s no longer confined to your network remains secure and compliant, using low-code tools and platforms to rapidly build new business applications, or addressing the latest COVID-19-related threatswe have built solutions and developed the guidance your organization needs to help you make the most of this new environment. I recommend you check out the full set of assets we’ve complied on the Microsoft Together site.

Over the last two months, there has been heavy usage of Microsoft Teams for online meetings, group chat, file sharing, and more—and this has led to an unprecedented spike in active usage that we’ve worked around the clock (quite literally) to support. Today we announced new features to enhance the meetings experience for organizations and schools. For those of you using Teams, we have resources to help you with best practices and tips, wherever you are in your Teams adoption journey. You can access those resources and see what else is new in this Tech Community blog.

Enabling your users to work from anywhere, regardless of the industry you’re in, requires a level of confidence and control over how users access information across different device endpoints and networks. To make this easier for you, today I’m happy to announce several improvements to our products, including:

Also, we invite you to tune into our Fireside Chat today at 7 AM Pacific, during which Alysa Taylor (Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Business Applications & Global Industry), Bret Arsenault (Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Chief Information Security Officer), and I will answer your questions, share best practices, and provide guidance to help you during this challenging time. If you can’t join us live, you can watch the replay here.

Enabling you with a virtualized desktop for remote work with Windows Virtual Desktop

Many of our customers have turned to the power of desktop and app virtualization to empower their remote workers on any device. Windows Virtual Desktop uses the scale and power of the Azure global footprint and network to enable a secure remote app and/or desktop experience wherever your users are.

Today I’m happy to announce that we’ve made some significant updates to help to make it easier for you:

You can read more about these new Windows Virtual Desktop features in a Microsoft 365 blog I wrote together with Julia White today. In addition, for a robust set of videos from the Windows Virtual Desktop engineering team demoing step-by-step deployments with all this new functionality and more, watch the Virtual Event content.

New features to help you to manage and secure your endpoints remotely

Securing remote work starts with a strong identity foundation. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) enables your remote workers to find and access the apps they need from anywhere without compromising security. Many of our customers use Azure AD Conditional Access policies and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to secure access to their resources aligned with the principles of Zero Trust, and enable remote collaboration with external users with B2B collaboration capabilities.

Today, we’re extending the ability to use Azure AD single sign-on (SSO) with as many cloud applications as you’d like across all pricing tiers, including Azure AD Free. This means any Microsoft customer using a subscription of a commercial online service can connect all their cloud applications to Azure AD for single sign-on, and protect this access with multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a security default at no extra cost. We are also introducing several new features to make it easier for IT administrators to secure and manage access. You can learn more in the Azure AD blog authored by Alex Simons.

With Microsoft Endpoint Manager, we’ve done a lot to help ensure that your people can access information and services securely from almost any device. For broader endpoint management, across your apps and devices, we’ve improved the integration between Configuration Manager and the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center in Azure. You can try the new Endpoint Manager portal yourself at

Other new features include:

Improve employee and technology experiences with Productivity Score preview

Remaining productive in this new remote work-centric world can be challenging on many levels. Employees are using new tools to collaborate, meet, and communicate, while needing to securely work anywhere. Enabling this requires a powerful and consistent technology experience. As an IT Pro, you’re responsible for ensuring both the employee and technology experience. Productivity Score can help by delivering visibility into how your organization is working, insights to improve productivity, and recommendations actionable in Microsoft 365 to fix issues and impart helpful changes.

Available in preview, Productivity Score is an analytics solution that measures employee and technology experiences versus benchmarks and your own business goals. These goals are flexible and personal to your organization, making it a key tool to maximize your IT investments as you adjust to new remote workstyles and needs now, and in the future, when onsite work begins to restart.

Based on feedback from our initial November announcement at Ignite 2019, we are moving beyond providing tenant-level information and can now give you more granular insights in critical categories, including:

At Ignite, we also talked about how technology is critical to productivity. Today we are adding to Productivity Score, insights on how endpoints and your network contribute to your organizational productivity. The Network Connectivity category provides visibility into which worksite locations have network challenges that may inhibit access to critical workloads such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and in the future, Microsoft Teams.

Endpoint Analytics helps you measure and improve one of my favorite things—time to productivity. In other words, the time it takes someone to get up and running. Lag time leaves your employees waiting—and unproductive. For example, people are surprised when I share that my managed device cold boots in under 15 seconds with all the security and policy controls applied. I strongly believe this can be achieved in any environment and I want to help you get there. Endpoint Analytics can help by identifying policies or hardware issues that may be slowing down devices in your estate, and proactively make changes without the need to disrupt end users or generate a help desk ticket.

To learn more about what’s new with Productivity Score, check out this Tech Community blog.

Investing in resources to help you through this time

We also understand that there’s never been a more important time to ensure you are securing and governing your most critical data. Check out today’s Microsoft Security blog from Alym Rayani as he shares some new research and product innovation that will help you to more easily secure and govern your most critical assets.

We understand what a challenging time this is for you—both professionally and personally. We remain committed to innovating in ways that will make your job easier and help you empower your people to be productive and secure in this new world of work. For more information and detailed guidance around empowering your employees, securing your environment, and more, check out the COVID-19 Remote Work resources page.