Announcing new Power Platform capabilities at Microsoft Ignite

This year at Microsoft Ignite, we are announcing a set of new capabilities across Power Platform that enable business users (Citizen Developers), business analysts, IT admins, and professional developers to build and deliver applications faster and more cost-effectively.

Today we’re announcing:

  • Microsoft Power Automate Desktop is now available for all Windows 10 users at no cost, providing a RPA solution to automate tasks across any application. 
  • Microsoft Power Fx, a low code, open-source programming language across the Power Platform.  
  • New and enhanced governance, security, and administration capabilities to enable IT professionals to safely manage and scale the growth of low-code solutions within the organization. 
  • Next generation of Power BI Premium. Power BI Premium Per User will be generally available on April 2nd for $20 per user, per month. We are introducing a new Autoscale option with pay-as-you-go, and improved utilization metrics.
  • New AI capabilities in Power Virtual Agents enable bots to automatically learn and improve over time

Be sure to watch our featured sessions—What’s next for the Microsoft Power Platform and Driving a Data Culture with Power BI for a deep dive into these capabilities, as well the news story and featured session for Dynamics 365 for a comprehensive view of innovation across Microsoft Business Applications that can drive innovation and customer excellence across the organization.

Democratizing RPA with Power Automate Desktop for Windows 10

Since first introducing RPA in Microsoft Power Automate at Ignite in 2019, hundreds of thousands of organizations have adopted Power Automate and are now automating billions of actions each month. In 2020, we introduced Power Automate Desktopwhich extended automation capabilities in Power Automate to on-premises processes and local desktop tasks.  

Today, we are continuing this momentum by announcing that Power Automate Desktop, which offers RPA capabilities that easily automate time-consuming manual work, will be available to Windows 10 users at no additional cost. Windows 10 users can harness the power of low-code RPA by downloading Power Automate Desktop today, and it will be included in Windows Insider Preview builds in the coming weeks.

Power Automate Desktop for Windows 10 provides a RPA solution to automate tasks across one’s favorite applications, such as SharePoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, and many third-party business apps.

A user-friendly web and desktop recorder capture steps in an automation and a visual drag-and-drop designer organizes flows logically. Users can get started with more than 370 prebuilt actions that connect to many different applications.​ The simple authoring interface makes it easy for anyone to get started; for example, fields can be prepopulated with values based on previous steps to make the authoring experience easier.​

Read our deep dive into Power Automate Desktop for Windows 10 on the Power Automate blog, which also details a new limited-time offer for the Power Automate per user plan with attended RPA.  Anyone using Windows 10 candownload Power Automate Desktop today and follow steps in the Introduction to desktop flows to get started.   

Power Fx: an open-source low code language for everyone 

Today we are announcing Microsoft Power Fx, an open-source language based on Microsoft Excel for expressing logic in low code.

The future of programming is open, and Microsoft has led the way with a deep commitment to open source in projects such as C# and Typescript. Until now, however, there has not been a modern language for low code that is accessible to citizen developers, openly extensible by professionals, and broadly available across many tools. 

Power Fx brings the familiarity of Microsoft Excel functions—used by hundreds of millions of information workers—to low-code app development and workflow automation. Anyone with Excel skills will now be able to express advanced logic and work with data in a broad range of low-code tools. Already the formula language for Power Apps, Microsoft Power Fx will expand across Dataverse, Power Virtual Agents, and Power Automate to bring even more consistency to the Power Platform experience.  

And most importantly, Power Fx will be open. We will make the language available for open-source contribution by the broader community on GitHub. We’ll also continue to expand the developer tooling available to work with the language, giving professionals the flexibility to work with their favorite tools like Visual Studio and GitHub while rapidly delivering sophisticated solutions in low code. 

Power Fx will create a foundation from which business, citizen developers, and professional developers can communicate, collaborate, and collectively solve their organization’s greatest challenges with the Microsoft Power Platform.   

Learn more about Microsoft Power Fx on the Power Apps blog.  

Enhanced manageability and governance for IT pros 

A key aspect to driving accelerated innovation thru low code is great collaboration between the business and IT. By creating guardrails for data access and resource creation the business IT will help empower the business to go help serve themselves resting assured company data is governed and protected. In this way low-code platforms can help IT Professionals in collaboration with the business can deliver more business value faster and with greater efficiency, while also meeting security and compliance needs. 

Today at Ignite, we are announcing new and enhanced governance and administration capabilities to enable IT professionals to manage and scale the growth of low-code solutions within the organization. 

Detailed in this deep dive post, new governance capabilities enable fine-grained Data Loss Prevention, including tenant isolation, ability to control data access at connector action level, custom connector enhancements, and data exfiltration controls.

New out-of-box, tenant-wide analytics provide visibility and oversight across all apps and flows to track overall usage, identify top maker trends, and review sharing details for key Power Platform resources.

These enhancements provide the ability to manage and scale the growth of low code with industry security and data controls, in an interface that makes it easy to manage. As adoption of low code continues to grow, IT governance and administration capabilities for Power Platform ensure Chief Information Security Officer and IT leaders allow citizen development and fusion teams to flourish and remove technical debt and adoption blockers in their organizations.

Read more about these new and enhanced manageability and governance capabilities 

Announcing Power BI Premium Per User GA and Premium Gen2 with Autoscale

Power BI empowers every business user and business analyst to get amazing insights with AI-infused experiences. With Power BI Premium, we enable business analysts to not only analyze and visualize their data but also build an end-to-end data platform through drag and drop experiences. Everything from ingesting and transforming data at scale, to building automated machine learning models, and analyzing massive volumes of data is now possible for our millions of business analysts. 

By bringing capabilities that were previously only available to professional data engineers in IT organizations to analysts, we accelerate time to value, and we put more power in the hands of business. With the centralized administration, governance, and security capabilities in Power BI—IT always has full visibility and control. This balance between business and IT is one of the reasons why the world’s largest organizations are increasingly standardizing on Power BI and moving away from expensive, legacy, BI products. 

Today we are announcing that, after three months in preview, Power BI Premium Per User will become generally available on April 2, 2021, at a price of $20 per user, per month. For customers who already have a Power BI Pro license either purchased standalone or through E5, the price will be just an additional $10 per user, per month. Power BI Premium Per User is based on the new Power BI Premium Gen2 architecture which provides improved performance and lower TCO. 

We are also announcing new features to the public preview of Power BI Premium.  This update includes Autoscale, which automatically adds a vCore to Premium capacity when utilization peaks and removes it when no longer needed.  These cores can be charged to an Azure pay-as-you-go account. It also includes utilization metrics that provide consistent and reliable cost-management. These features will be rolling out to all regions through this week.

Learn more about Power BI Premium and the new capabilities on the Power BI blog. 

New security capabilities in Power BI 

With Power BI, customers bring their critical business data to the cloud in order to empower every individual and every team in their organization to make better decisions with data. Securing and protecting their data is extremely important, especially in a world of remote work. Traditional approaches to securing data such as RLS, OLS, and permissions-based access are necessary but not sufficient.  

A few weeks ago, we announced new and enhanced security capabilities for Microsoft Power BI to ensure the highest levels of data security while bringing data insights to everyone across the organization. As detailed in a new Microsoft Power BI security whitepaper, our point of view is that data security should no longer just be about BI and its data permissions. Rather, it should be part of an integrated data security strategy that promotes the free flow of analytics in support of the creation of a sustainable data culture, while at the same time ensuring secure usage everywhere. 

Power BI delivers security using a multi-layer, integrated model that leverages the same security stack in Microsoft Azure that government agencies and institutions around the world now depend on. Additionally, Power BI also integrates with existing data protection tools in Microsoft 365. The combination of this strategy allows Power BI to: 

  • Ensure your data is secure in Microsoft Cloud. 
  • Help you secure your data when it is being used. 
  • Help you govern your data. 

New AI capabilities in Power Virtual Agents

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents enables anyone to create powerful chatbots using an intuitive, no-code graphical interface without the need for data scientists or developers. At Microsoft Ignite, we are introducing a set of AI capabilities that allow bots to learn and improve over time without any maker intervention and investments that allow AI to guide makers to improve their bots.

These improvements include AI-driven NL learning that allows the bot to automatically learn from user conversations and improve its natural language understanding and AI-driven personalization capabilities that allow bots to seamlessly use the details the system already has—such as a zip code or address—in future chats with the same user to automatically personalize the conversation.  Additionally, we’re adding a new topic suggestion feature that helps bot authors discover new topics to build based on the conversations users are having with the bot. Finally, we’re adding AI-driven topic tuning capabilities that help bot authors improve topic triggering and help the bot ask fewer clarifying questions.

Read about all the new AI capabilities headed to Power Virtual Agents starting in March 2021.  

Catch the next wave of Business Applications updates

In addition to the Dynamics 365 capabilities announced today, these solutions join hundreds of new capabilities that will be released between April 2021 and September 2021.

You’ll learn about many of these updates over the next few days at Microsoft Ignite, so sure to check out the full line-up of Power Platform sessions and connect with your global community in the Connection Zone. To get started, check out these featured sessions:

Enjoy the show.