Windows 10 Ultra-Slim, Sub-$300 Laptops Target Customer-Service Workers

Microsoft yesterday unveiled new devices and cloud-based services aimed at what it says is an underserved global market: the estimated 2 billion "firstline workers" who deal with customers or patients as part of their daily job routines. The announcements came out of the Microsoft Ignite developer conference in Orlando, which runs from Sept. 25-29.

Powered by Windows 10 S, a light-weight version of the Windows 10 operating system launched by Microsoft in May, the firstline-focused lineup of four new ultra-slim laptops from different manufacturers will be priced at $349 and under, and are set to hit the market later this year.

In addition to the laptops, Microsoft is also targeting firstline workers with a new enterprise plan called Microsoft 365 F1. Combining the cloud-based features currently offered by Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, the new plan is designed to maximize worker impact, help with on-the-job training, and enable easier communication and collaboration, Microsoft said.

'Appetite for Tech-Led Reform'

According to a survey commissioned by Microsoft Australia and release today, a majority of the 1,390 firstline workers questioned agreed that technology, automation, and digital transformation will help them perform better in the future. However, only 21 percent said they were currently involved in the digital transformation efforts of their workplaces, while another 33 percent said they weren't but would like to be.

"While there's clear appetite for technology-led reform across all employee categories, the survey reveals that firstline workers -- the very people who engage with customers directly -- feel they are largely underused in many digital transformation projects," Microsoft said in a statement about the survey.

"As rote work is increasingly performed by machines, human interaction and knowledge-based expertise will become more important to firstline workers," Ian Heard, Microsoft Australia's general manager for digital workplace & collaboration, added in...

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