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Microsoft Hotfix Software Assurance Benefit Changes

Changes affecting Software Assurance benefits, App-V deployments, Exchange Online Unified Messaging and even Microsoft Office and Nano Server are appearing in random locations across Microsoft sites.

SA and Extended Hotfix Support
One change concerns the extended hotfix support benefit included in Software Assurance (SA) coverage. It went away as of this month for new SA enrollments. That detail is explained on page 6 of the Microsoft July Volume Licensing "Product Terms" document, as follows:

The Extended Hotfix Support benefit is no longer included in SA. This change will not affect Customers who have active SA coverage prior to July 1, 2017.

That's seemingly a big change. It was spotted this month in blog posts by the Licensing School, a U.K. consultancy that covers Microsoft licensing.

Cloud Service Provider Virtualization Option
Microsoft takes away things, but it gives back, too, sometimes. It announced this month that certain Windows 10 Enterprise edition users will have optional virtualization use rights from cloud service providers (CSPs), starting on Sept. 6, 2017. At that time, they'll be able to use Windows 10 hosted on virtual machines, either from Microsoft Azure or from qualified CSP partners.

he option applies to some Windows 10 Enterprise E3 users, but Microsoft is also adding a "new Windows 10 Enterprise VDA offering" to extend virtualization use rights on "non-Windows Pro devices." In addition, Microsoft plans to add virtualization use rights to Windows 10 Enterprise E5 licensing so that those users will have the option as well.

Virtualization use rights also are coming to users of Secure Productive Enterprise licensing (renamed "Microsoft 365 Enterprise"). They will "automatically receive Windows 10 virtualization use rights at no extra cost," according to Microsoft's announcement.

App-V Package Restriction
Another seemingly out-of-the-blue change concerns the ability to create volume licensing App-V packages of Office 2016. It's no longer supported. IT pro and TechNet forum moderator Simon Dettling casually noted this limitation in a blog post on the topic.

The restriction on the volume licensing side is perhaps better known as a restriction on the "perpetual licensing" version of the product, known as Office 2016 Professional Plus, explained Rob Helm, managing vice president at the Directions on Microsoft independent consultancy, in a Twitter post. The change was confirmed in a Microsoft TechNet forum page by moderator Ethan Hua, who indicated that the scenario is blocked when using the Office 2016 Deployment Tool (ODT):

I have confirmed this with the product group, currently Office 2016 is not supported as App-V Package.Volume license SKUs are blocked in the ODT with the /packager switch.
If volume license should be used, you have to install it classical via MSI.
Sorry for the inconvenience.

This detail, if announced at all by Microsoft, wasn't too prominent. Microsoft did announce last year that it was limiting App-V and UE-V support on Windows 10 Pro with the "anniversary update," as well as ending their development for older Windows systems. In April, Microsoft had announced that perpetual-license Office editions would lose the ability to connect to Office 365 services, starting on Oct. 13, 2020.

Exchange Online Unified Messaging
Today, Microsoft announced that it will be ending support for "the use of Session Border Controllers (SBC) to connect 3rd Party PBX systems to Exchange Online Unified Messaging (UM)." Support will end in July of next year.

The Exchange Online UM feature is a way of bringing voicemail and e-mail into Outlook, according to a TechNet article. Apparently, few organizations have been using Session Border Controllers with Exchange Online UM to connect to PBX systems. Microsoft's announcement claimed that "only a small number of customers are affected by this change." The announcement offered four options for organizations to use instead. Microsoft made this change to "provide a higher quality of service for voicemail," the announcement indicated.

Nano Server for Containers Only
Nano Server, Microsoft's minimal footprint deployment option for Windows Server 2016, is getting scaled down. Soon organizations will only be able to use it for hosting containers, which is Nano Server's only role now. It's just for use by software developers to spin up software builds without conflicts. It's not for running production workloads. This new and more limited role for Nano Server is already taking effect in Windows Server 2016 build 16237, which Microsoft released last week to its Windows Insider Program testers.

Microsoft had explained the Nano Server change last month, but the details may have been buried in its announcement. Microsoft was a bit more explicit in an MSDN blog post today.

The changes mean that Nano Server, from the most recent update, will no longer be able to implement Server infrastructure roles. It can no longer, for example, run IIS or DNS in your environments like it could at from the earliest Technical Previews right up until the RTM version. What administrators in particular need to understand is that this update is gearing Nano Server to be more focused on applications and the Dev lifecycle, allowing your environments to be more adaptable and capable of change.

Name Changes
Microsoft said a lot during its Inspire event last week for partners. See the extensive Inspire coverage at 1105 Media's sister site, Redmond Channel Partner. One highlight was a marketing shift and name change for Secure Productive Enterprise licensing. It's now called "Microsoft 365."

A lesser name change is that Microsoft has renamed its Office 365 Kiosk product. It's now called "Office 365 F1" for "first-line" workers. The obscure change was noted in this Licensing School blog post.

 

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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