Cloud Platform Release Announcements for August 19, 2015

This is a blog post of a new ongoing series of consolidated updates from the Cloud Platform team.


In today’s mobile first, cloud first world, Microsoft provides the technologies and tools to enable enterprises to embrace a cloud culture. Our differentiated innovations, comprehensive mobile solutions and developer tools help all of our customers realize the true potential of the cloud first era.


You expect cloud-speed innovation from us, and we’re delivering across the breadth of our Cloud Platform product portfolio. Below is a consolidated list of our latest releases to help you stay current, with links to additional details if you’d like more information. In this update:

  • Microsoft Delivers Next Windows Server 2016 Preview with Containers and Software-Defined Datacenter Updates
  • System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 3
  • Microsoft Intune service update
  • New MSDN Benefit: Power BI Pro
  • New MSDN Benefit: eDevTech SmartOffice4TFS and inteGREAT4TFS
  • Power BI Mandrill content pack
  • Row-Level Security for Azure SQL Database generally available
  • Analytics Platform System (APS) Appliance Update 4 general availability

Microsoft Delivers Next Windows Server 2016 Preview with Containers and Software-Defined Datacenter Updates

Today, in our third Technical Preview of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016, we are releasing the first public preview Windows Server Containers to bring these benefits to our customers. We are also continuing to introduce other features, including new Nano Server functionality and software-defined datacenter enhancements to help you build a solid foundation for modern applications and services.

Windows Server Containers create a highly agile Windows Server environment to enable you to build modern applications faster and easily move through the DevOps process, bringing these benefits to millions of Windows developers familiar with technologies such as .NET, ASP.NET, and PowerShell for the first time. Today’s announcement delivers on the promise we made last October in partnership with Docker Inc., the fast-growing open platform for distributed applications, to offer container and DevOps benefits to Linux and Windows Server users alike. Windows Server Containers are now part of the Docker open source project. These containers can be deployed and managed either using PowerShell or the Docker client.

Our latest preview of Windows Server 2016 also includes exciting new software-defined datacenter features, extending the functionality of our leading operating system and application platform. Key updates you can expect to see include:

  • Enhanced Nano Server functionality: We have added a new Emergency Management Console so you can view and fix networking configuration directly from the Nano Server console, and a new PowerShell script allows you to create a Nano Azure VM.
  • Simplified software-defined networking: We are delivering a scalable network controller, for centralized network configuration as well as a software load balancer for high availability and performance.
  • Extended security: Shielded VMs, which enable isolation between the underlying host and virtual machines, help protect resources in shared environments. Now you can test creation of a shielded VM from a signed template, along with other aspects of the shielded VM functionality.
  • Management: System Center feature enhancements make it easier for you to manage virtualized environments including support for rolling upgrades, shielded VM’s and guarded host support, and automated maintenance windows.

To learn more about the Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 Technical Preview 3, and our investments in containers, check out Mike Neil’s announcement blog.

System Center Configuration Manager Technical Preview 3

Today, we announced the availability of System Center Configuration Manager and Endpoint Protection Technical Preview 3. This third technical preview provides you with a glimpse of even more functionality that will be released in Q4 of this calendar year, bringing with it full support for client deployment, upgrade, and management of Windows 10. New features available in Technical Preview 3 include the deployment of required applications to Windows 10 devices managed via on-premises mobile device management (MDM), cluster-aware settings, high availability support with SQL Server 2014 AlwaysOn Availability Groups, and ability to run software update cleanup tasks.  For more details on this Technical Preview, read the blog post on the ConfigMgr team blog.

Microsoft Intune service update

New Microsoft Intune features and enhancements will be released over the coming week. Building on the Intune management capabilities for Windows 10 that were announced in May, this service update adds support for creating and deploying Windows 10 configuration policies and VPN profiles using new Windows 10-specific templates. Additionally, as detailed on the Active Directory team blog, you can now automatically enroll Windows 10 devices into Intune device management using Azure Active Directory Join.

In addition to these new Windows 10 management capabilities, this Intune service update delivers several other features and enhancements, such as multi-identity support for OneDrive app on Android, deployment of certificates in .pfx format, conditional access for domain-joined Windows PCs, user-specific terms and conditions, management of the Activation Lock feature for iOS, support for custom VPN profiles for iOS, and more. To learn more about this service update, check out the August 20 blog post on the Intune blog.

New MSDN Benefit: Power BI Pro

Starting August 11, 2015, Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN* and MSDN Platforms subscribers have access to Power BI Pro as part of their MSDN subscription benefits. Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics service that enables anyone to visualize and analyze data with greater speed, efficiency, and understanding. It connects users to a broad range of live data through easy-to-use dashboards, provides interactive reports, and delivers compelling visualizations that bring data to life.

More information on Power BI Pro is available on http://powerbi.microsoft.com/. To activate the benefit, go to the MSDN My Account page and click Activate.

*Includes subscriptions acquired through retail, volume licensing, BizSpark, MPN, and MCT.

New MSDN Benefit: eDevTech SmartOffice4TFS and inteGREAT4TFS

Starting August 11, 2015, Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN subscribers* have access to an exclusive benefit provided by eDevTech, a top Visual Studio Partner in the Agile Requirements Management space. Subscribers will receive a perpetual license to SmartOffice4TFS and inteGREAT4TFS plug-in’s for Team Foundation Server, plus one year of free upgrades and community support – a value of $2,000. This benefit is available for registration through August 11, 2016.

SmartOffice4TFS gets everyone working with the same information by quickly and easily synchronizing work items – including requirements, defects, and more – using Office apps together with TFS and VS Online. Meanwhile, inteGREAT4TFS is a comprehensive requirements suite that help you manage your projects efficiently, including project baselining and simulation capabilities.

More information on eDevTech is available on http://modernrequirements.com/. To activate the benefit, go to the MSDN My Account page and click Register and Download.

*Includes subscriptions acquired through retail, volume licensing, and MPN.

Power BI Mandrill content pack

Power BI continues to make it easier for users to connect to their data, providing pre-built solutions for popular services as part of the Power BI experience. We now have added the content pack for MandrillMandrill is an email infrastructure service developed by MailChimp that lets one analyze one’s email campaigns from a wide variety of information. With the Power BI Mandrill content pack, one can quickly connect to Mandrill data and immediately gain insights into one’s newsletter or marketing campaign. This content includes an out-of-box dashboard, a set of reports and a curated data set to explore and provide details such as one’s delivery performance and tag information. Getting started with data visualization and analysis has never been easier, for additional information visit the Power BI blog.

Row-Level Security for Azure SQL Database generally available

Row-Level Security for Azure SQL Database is a programmable security feature customers can implement in databases for fine-grained access control over rows in a table. This helps you determine which users can access what data. It also allows more flexibility and data protection when multiple users or applications need access to different records in the same database tables. Row-Level Security can help organizations more easily meet their internal or industry compliance policies. Row-Level Security management takes place at the database level and can leverage familiar tools such as SQL Server Management Studio or SQL Server Data Tools for setup and maintenance. For more information, please visit the Row-Level Security documentation webpage.

Analytics Platform System (APS) Appliance Update 4 general availability

We are pleased to announce the general availability of Appliance Update 4 for the Microsoft Analytics Platform System. APS is a pre-built, Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) data warehouse appliance that is enterprise-ready for Big Data. It is configurable with a dedicated region for Hadoop, and also supports Windows Azure HDInsight to enable new modern data warehouse scenarios. The APS big data capability is powered by PolyBase, an integrated technology that allows customers to utilize the skillset that they have developed in TSQL for querying and managing data in Hadoop platforms.

This update delivers several new capabilities and features, including support for Cloudera 5.1 and Hortonworks Data Platform 2.1 and 2.2, partial aggregate pushdowns into Hadoop, and greater T-SQL compatibility to reduce migration friction from SQL SMP to APS. The HP APS appliance has updated to the HP ProLiant DL360 Gen9 Server, with 2x Intel Haswell Processors and HP500 switches.

APS hardware partners Dell, HP and Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT) will ship APS with AU4 this summer. Specific shipping dates will vary depending on the hardware partner’s factory process.