Businesses need more unified, simplified technology to make the most of digital transformation, according to Microsoft. So the company is rolling out Microsoft 365, a new offering that combines existing cloud-based tools for computing, productivity, mobility, and security.

Announced during the annual Microsoft Inspire partner conference, which kicked off yesterday in Washington, DC, Microsoft 365 will be available in two packages: Microsoft 365 Enterprise for large business users, and Microsoft 365 Business for small to medium-size businesses.

Bringing together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, Microsoft 365 "represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers' needs for a modern workplace," according to Microsoft.

The company also unveiled several other new offerings during the first full day of Inspire, including the coming support for virtualization for some Windows 10 business subscribers, new Azure Stack capabilities for hybrid cloud deployments, and new services and support for Surface partners.

'A More Cohesive Approach'

Microsoft 365 is "a more cohesive approach and reflects the shift our partners and our mutual customers are making -- from viewing productivity, security and device management as individual workloads to seeking a comprehensive approach to secure productivity, Judson Althoff, executive vice president for worldwide commercial business, wrote this morning on the Microsoft blog. For Microsoft's partners, it also "represents a significant opportunity to increase deal size, differentiate offerings, and grow their managed services revenue," he added.

Available for purchase starting Aug. 1, Microsoft 365 Enterprise will be available in two different plans: Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5. Both will offer cloud-based IT, productivity and security tools that are also backed by advanced capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. In addition, E5 will offer "the latest and most advanced innovations in security, compliance, analytics, and collaboration," according to Matt Barlow, corporate vice president for the Windows & Devices Group.

Aimed at smaller business users, Microsoft 365 Business will come with the business premium version of Office 365, upgrade rights for Windows 10, Office and Windows 10 security and management tools, and a centralized console for IT management. It will be available as a public preview starting Aug. 2.

Introducing Azure Stack Integration

Another new offering integrates new capabilities into Microsoft's cloud-based Azure Stack in collaboration with hardware partners Dell EMC, HPE, and Lenovo.

"Azure Stack is an extension of Azure, thereby enabling a truly consistent hybrid cloud platform," said Mike Neil, corporate vice president for Azure infrastructure and management. "An integrated systems-based delivery model ensures that you can focus on what matters to your business (i.e., your applications), while also enabling us to deliver Azure innovation to you faster."

Writing on the Azure blog, Neil said the new Azure offerings include Microsoft certification for systems from Dell EMC, HPE, and Lenovo. Those companies expect to begin shipping their first Azure Stack integrated systems starting in September, but pre-ordering is available now.

In the meantime, Azure Stack software will be available via both pay-as-you-use and capacity-based pricing models. Microsoft today also released a downloadable version of its Azure Stack Development Kit for developers who want to test the offering and build trial applications for Azure-integrated deployments.

Microsoft today also announced two new opportunities for partners in its Microsoft Surface program, the launch of a Mixed Reality Partner Program, and previews of three new applications for Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business users: a Microsoft Listings email marketing service, a Microsoft Connections publishing service, and Microsoft Invoicing.