Satya Nadella on stage at Inspire 2017
During his day one keynote, Satya Nadella introduced Microsoft 365 to the Inspire 2017 audience gathered in Washington, D.C PHOTO: Microsoft

Satya Nadella sent out a strong message on day one of Microsoft Inspire, the Microsoft partner conference taking place July 9 to July 13 in Washington, D.C.: unity and cloud.

The message is nothing new for Nadella: it echoes the Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge mantra he introduced at the Build Developer Conference in May. And while this vision still applies to mobile, mobile is now wrapped up in the user experience which will span all devices. 

So when Nadella unveiled Microsoft 365 yesterday, we got our first peek at how this mantra would work in practice.

Microsoft 365 is not a misprint. As part of its unity drive, Microsoft is introducing a new product family that combines Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility and Security.

A 'Fundamental Shift'

If that sounds like a lot of functionality for anything other than the largest enterprises, Microsoft had the same idea. The Redmond, Wash.-based company will offer the solution at two different levels: Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Business.

Both combine Office 365 and Windows 10 in a single license with security and mobility features included. The Business edition, at $20 per seat, per month targets small-to-medium sized businesses, while the Enterprise edition has variable pricing for organizations of 300 seats and above. Microsoft 365 Enterprise will be available for purchase Aug. 1 in two editions: E3 and E5, and the Business edition will be released in preview on Aug. 2 with general availability scheduled for fall 2017.

While Nadella introduced Microsoft 365 in his keynote, he left it to Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Office 365 Client Apps and Services, to fill in the gaps in a blog post.

Microsoft 365 “represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers’ needs.”

The workplace is transforming, he added, and it’s not just due to digital transformation.

“The workplace is transforming — from changing employee expectations, to more diverse and globally distributed teams, to an increasingly complex threat landscape," the post continued.

“From these trends, we are seeing a new culture of work emerging. Our customers are telling us they are looking to empower their people with innovative technology to embrace this modern culture of work.”

Designing for the 'Modern Culture of Work'

Microsoft is in an ideal position to do that. While Google’s productivity-focused G Suite has gained some enterprise traction, with close to six million monthly users, Office 365 is in a near-unassailable position with an estimated 120 million monthly users.

However, Microsoft 365 goes beyond the traditional offerings included in Office 365 plans. On top of those capabilities, users have the option to work with ink, voice and touch as well as apps and services — it's a universal toolkit for teamwork that provides employees with a choice in how they connect, share and communicate.

Administrative oversight is baked in, through a centralized IT console through which admins can manage identity access, as well as provide mobile device management by using integrated services such as Microsoft Azure Active Directory.

Business 365 also includes some extra fire-power for digital marketing including:

  • Microsoft Connections: A new email marketing service
  • Microsoft Listings: An easy way to publish content on websites
  • Microsoft Invoicing: An invoice creation app

Day one was packed with other announcements, including the release of Azure Stack and updates to Dynamics 365, so stay tuned for further announcements as they emerge.