Microsoft is adding a full Azure Active Directory Premium P1 licence to its Microsoft 365 business subscription even as it aims the rebrandogun at its product line.
The move will be welcomed by customers tiring of having to navigate the company's often byzantine licensing plans as workers decamp to dining tables and bring all manner of unmentionables into the corporate environment.
Microsoft Business 365 has had a subset of the Azure Active Directory toys available to subscribers for some time, but getting access to the good stuff has required flinging yet more cash into Redmond's coffers. While a self-service reset function and multi-factor authentication are all well and good, other premium functions, such as Cloud App Discovery, are also handy for businesses faced with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) demands and a jump in homeworking.
As well as tracking the cloud applications in use by employees (and potentially spaffing confidential corporate data), the P1 licence also gives access to the AAD Application Proxy, an agent to enable access to on-premises apps without opening up the network and passwordless authentication, which Microsoft has been banging on about for a while now.
Password protection is also bumped up in the premium world as well as self-service bitlocker recovery.
Microsoft's plan is to "help small and mid-sized businesses transition to secure remote work"; the Microsoft 365 Business subscription is, after all, aimed at businesses with less than 300 employees. Having to spank more cash per user to get the premium P1 tooling is a pain, assuming an administrator is even able to deal with the maze of Microsoft licensing rules.
P2 licensing features are not included at the moment, and include extras such as additional identity protection tools.
The news comes hot on the heels of Microsoft's plans to rebrand its subscriptions in light of the decision to baffle consumers with the abandonment of the "Office" name in favour of "Microsoft".
The newly verboten "O" word has also been dropped from business subscriptions (with effect from 21 April). Office 365 Business Essentials will become Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Office 365 Business Premium will become Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business will become Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus will both become Microsoft 365 Apps. So, not confusing at all.
New customers will get the features in the next few weeks, while existing customers will see their toys "in the coming months". ®