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Microsoft targets firstline workers with new 365 offerings, AI-powered Bing search, better security

At the 2017 Microsoft Ignite conference, CEO Satya Nadella announced changes to Microsoft 365, new Windows 10 S devices, and Bing for Business.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a host of new software, device, and security options at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando on Monday.

Microsoft 365 is coming to firstline workers worldwide, along with less expensive Windows 10 S devices, Nadella said. These workers--including sales associates, medical staff, customer service professionals, and factory workers--make up 2 billion members of the workforce globally. These workers often serve as the first point of contact between a business and its customers, or are directly involved in making products and delivering services.

"They form the backbone of many of the world's largest industries but have been largely left behind in digital transformation," according to a press release. "We believe there is tremendous opportunity to empower these workers to promote growth, spark innovation and accelerate an organization's success in the digital age."

Microsoft 365 F1 brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security to maximize the impact of the firstline worker. It includes purpose-built capabilities that help build community, train and upskill employees, digitize business processes, deliver real-time expertise, and minimize risk and cost.

SEE: Securing Windows policy (Tech Pro Research)

New capabilities in Microsoft 365 F1 include updates to Windows 10 that improve the deployment and management of remote devices, along with capabilities for configuring locked down, single purpose experiences. Another update is coming to Microsoft StaffHub, an app that helps firstline workers manage their schedules.

Microsoft also announced a new range of Microsoft 365-powered devices, including new commercial Windows 10 S devices from HP, Lenovo, and Fujitsu. These devices will start at $275, and will be available later this year. These devices "will enable self-service deployment, simplified management and a reduced total cost of ownership for businesses," according to the press release.

The company also announced the rollout of Microsoft 365 Education for schools, which will include all of the same features as F1, plus Minecraft: Education Edition.

Microsoft 365 first rolled out in July, and now boasts 1 million monthly active users, the company said in a recent press meeting. The combination of Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security allows businesses to deploy a complete productivity suite without the typical piecemeal integration of separate systems and applications. It also allows businesses to implement the collaboration and productivity suite quickly and at a low cost, TechRepublic's Mark Kaelin wrote.

Microsoft also made several other key software and hardware announcements:

  • Skype for Business will migrate to Microsoft Teams over time, to make Teams the default hub for group work in Office 365, including chat, voice, and video capabilities.
  • Smarter searching is on the way, as Microsoft taps artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to deliver more relevant search results throughout Microsoft 365.
  • Bing for Business is also coming in the near future, and will use AI and Microsoft Graph to deliver more relevant search results on company data, people, documents, and locations, along with public web search results, to save time and increase productivity.
  • Microsoft 365's Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) features will get improvements, including enhanced anti-phishing abilities, expanded protection to SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Microsoft Teams, as well as integration between cloud and on-premises identity threat detection capabilities, Microsoft announced.
  • Along with Surface, in January 2018, HP and Lenovo will support Windows Autopilot by providing device IDs to companies on certain orders--allowing users to easily set up new devices that come complete with company configuration and apps ready to go. This removes the need for IT to touch the device or manage updates in person, according to the press release.
Image: iStockphoto/jejim

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