Windows 10, Office 365 and EMS Bundled into Microsoft 365

Today’s topics include Windows 10, Office 365 and EMS being bundled into Microsoft 365; the IRS warning tax professionals about phishing attack risks; vendors now able to order Microsoft Azure stack hybrid cloud systems; and Oculus once again cutting the price of its Rift VR headset.

Microsoft has launched new one-stop solutions bundles for businesses that rely on the company's software and cloud offerings for their end-user computing.

During the Microsoft Ignite conference in Washington, D.C., this week, the software giant announced Microsoft 365, a new licensing option that includes the Windows 10 operating system, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, the company's cloud-based mobile device and application management product. Microsoft 365 will be available in two flavors, Enterprise for large organizations and Business for the small and medium-size business set.

If it all sounds familiar, that's because Microsoft launched a similar bundled licensing option called Secure Productive Enterprise last fall. In fact, Microsoft 365 Enterprise replaces Secure Productive Enterprise. Pricing will start at $20 per user per month for Microsoft 365 Business when Microsoft releases the bundles in the fall.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is warning tax professionals about the continuing threat of phishing emails that aim to steal information about clients. The IRS said that in the first five months of 2017 there were 177 reports from tax firms or professionals of thefts of information of "thousands" of clients.

Data thefts from tax professionals are still occurring, with the IRS noting that it is receiving three to five data theft reports a week, with the primary attack vector being phishing emails.

The IRS warns that the phishing emails appear to be coming from customers or companies known to the tax professionals.

The wait is nearly over. The Azure Stack software and hardware bundles that enable customers to essentially run a little piece of the Azure cloud within their own data centers is now available to order, Microsoft announced July 10 during its Inspire conference.

Scheduled to ship in September, Azure Stack will be available as part of integrated system packages from server makers, including Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo. Cisco and Huawei will join these IT systems providers later.

Earlier this year, Cisco announced it would offer Azure Stack on its Unified Computing System converged infrastructure platform with a target date sometime in the third quarter of this year.

Facebook-owned Oculus has for the second time this year reduced the price of its Rift virtual reality headset and its Touch controllers, offering the Rift in a special summer deal for $399 with the hand controllers included at no extra charge.

The company announced the special limited time pricing in a July 10 blog post touting its "Summer of Rift," saying it is dropping the price to encourage more users to try the systems.

When the Rift VR headset began shipping in March 2016, it sold for $599. The Touch hand controllers later were offered for $199, bringing the total package to $798.The Rift is equipped with dual active-matrix organic LED displays that let users explore virtual worlds with the device.