Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise

Formerly Office 365 ProPlus

Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise

Formerly Office 365 ProPlus

Microsoft's Loop collaboration app reaches preview, gets the 'Copilot' AI treatment
Microsoft's long-promised Loop collaboration app, which is getting an AI infusion via the Microsoft 365 Copilot technology, is now available in public preview.
Screen shot of Microsoft Loop app showing menu selections

In 2021, Microsoft announced plans to build yet another collaboration app called Loop. But it wasn't until today, March 22, that this competitor to Notion, hit public preview.

"Loop" is the branding that Microsoft is using for many, but not all, of its Fluid Framework collaboration technologies. Fluid Framework enables fast coauthoring and compound documents that include elements that are synched in near real-time. Microsoft already has been delivering Loop components in Outlook (for both Windows and the web) and Teams.

The Loop app can be used both as a standalone app/canvas, as well as in the form of an embeddable pages that can be built into Microsoft apps like Outlook, Teams, OneNote, Word for the web and Whiteboard, officials have said. The Loop app basically functions as a kind of project manager built around a common workspace. Users can build Loop pages using templates or by dragging blocks of content into their workspaces where they can collectively chat, comment, edit and keep on top of tasks and to-dos. SharePoint provides the underlying storage and collaboration platform for the Loop app, officials said.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft also is adding its Microsoft 365 Copilot AI assistant technology to Loop, officials disclosed today. Users will be able to use prompts such as "create," "brainstorm," "blueprint" and "describe" or use their own words to get specific, customized suggestions. While the Loop app itself is in public preview as of today, the Copilot in Loop capability is in private preview only.

To test-drive the Loop app public preview, users can go to the Loop home page to access it on the web. Or they can download the mobile versions of the app for Android and iOS, but currently for work accounts only. As Microsoft officials noted in a message in the Microsoft 365 admin center earlier this month, the Loop app is off by default in public preview, so it won't be available in organizations unless IT specifically enables it. The preview does not yet meet all of Microsoft's compliance capabilities, as eDiscovery, Sensitivity labeling and other features are not yet enabled. Microsoft officials said they will provide a list of what's coming when in future roadmap updates.

A company spokesperson said that Microsoft has "nothing to share at this time" about when Microsoft plans to make the Loop app generally available. Officials also are not yet talking about packaging, licensing or pricing for the Loop app.

Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services' Days Are Numbered: Here's Why
Microsoft has not made an official announcement that Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is on its way out, but increasingly signs are pointing that way.
logos for Microsoft's Office apps swirling around the new M365 logo

While Microsoft has not announced an end-of-support date for its Remote Desktop Services (RDS) role for Windows Server, its demise looks increasingly likely. Even though RDS will remain supported until at least 2026, Microsoft is adding more licensing restrictions and limitations to RDS — in some cases boldly, and in others, more quietly.

Customers use the RDS role to provide virtual or session desktops to remote users. Many use RDS to host virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in their own datacenters or through third-party hosting.

These days, Microsoft's preferred solution for these kinds of tasks is its own hosted service, Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Microsoft only enables multi-session editions of Windows client on AVD, not RDS. Multi-session support allows customers to host VDI with fewer resources, and without access to multi-session editions of Windows client, Windows Server is the only multi-session option for in RDS. But Microsoft is limiting support for Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise on Windows Server, which affects on-premises RDS customers directly.

Windows Server 2022 was not supported at all by Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (the former Office 365 ProPlus suite) when it was initially released, and Windows Server 2019 and 2016 are supported only until October 2025. In October 2022, after numerous customer complaints, Microsoft relented and agreed that Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise will be supported on Windows Server 2022 through October 2026, which is the end of Mainstream support for Windows Server 2022. It's anyone's guess if Microsoft will continue to support Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise on future versions of Windows Server, but RDS customers shouldn't plan on it. Microsoft wants customers to use AVD for remote desktops running Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise.

Unlike AVD, RDS can be used in fully disconnected scenarios like remote worksites, does not require an Azure subscription, and can be deployed in third-party clouds -- which likely explains, at least in part, why Microsoft is trying to move customers away from RDS.

Microsoft is planning to continue to offer support for RDS at least until 2026, but customers should avoid future and longer-term investments in RDS, as all signs indicate its days are numbered.

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Users of Excel Power Query features may need additional components installed before June 1, 2023, depending on which Excel version they use.

The Copilot brand is being applied to multiple services; however, Copilot is not a single technology or cohesive toolset, and customers should evaluate each Copilot feature separately.

Chart summarizes differences among desktop clients from Microsoft for Exchange Server and Exchange Online.

Illustration shows a chart of components included in the Microsoft 365 Developer Program sandbox, compared with a full E5 subscription.

Participation in the Microsoft 365 Developer Program entitles users to create a full Microsoft 365 E5 sandbox environment for testing and development.

In a reversal of Microsoft’s previous support policy, Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, the subscription-based suite of Office applications, will be supported for use on Windows Server 2022, for a time.

Support for running most versions of Office applications on Windows Server will end by Oct. 2025, pushing organizations to Microsoft services for hosted session-based virtual desktops.