Microsoft: hybrid work, guideline for the new Surface range

INTERVIEW // Jean-Christophe Dupuy, Director of the Surface-Business division at Microsoft France, looks back on how the Surface range has integrated the shift from work to a hybrid mode into its products.

The number of days worked in the office each week has, unsurprisingly, drastically dropped around the world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a McKinsey study, a majority of workers (52%) would now like to be able to adopt a hybrid way of working – which combines work from home or a third place, and work in the office -, against only 30% before the pandemic. The rate of workers wishing to work full-time at their desks fell from 62% to 37%, while the rate of people wishing to work 100% remotely increased slightly, from 8% to 11%.

Faced with these observations, companies must adapt their IT equipment. An issue taken into account by Microsoft, which recently launched six new products and four new accessories within its Surface range, clearly designed for this hybrid way of working. All accompanied by dedicated services. Jean-Christophe Dupuy, Director of the Surface-Business division at Microsoft France, returns with Digital on the way in which the range has integrated this change, which affects all businesses into its products.

Microsoft Surface

Jean-Christophe Dupuy, Director of the Surface – Business division at Microsoft France.

DIGITALS – At Surface, what was the difficulty in developing new products during a pandemic, especially with the shortage of components?

JEAN-CHRISTOPHE DUPUY – We are touched like everyone else. The subject of components is fairly comprehensive. It is not necessarily related to IT, but also to many industries that will use the same components. Typically, the fact that there is a renaissance in the automotive market that is moving more and more towards the electric car and therefore puts digital interfaces in cars, because that goes with the concept, the components used in the dashboards are similar or the same as those found in the manufacture of our machines. There is a disruption of markets that are growing faster than expected for certain components, but also a supply chain which must start again, and it is of great complexity.

We realize that, ultimately, we can be dependent on a component manufactured by a supplier. So the challenge is not to make new machines that will consume, it is rather to know whether in these new machines, we will avoid using this component which we know that, in the next 24 months, there will be may have a supply problem.

How could this affect the new Surface line?

In the new cover type [claviers détachables, NDLR] of the Surface Pro 8 and the Pro X, for example, we have changed some components precisely to avoid having these problems.

How have the new hybrid working habits translated into the new Surface ranges in terms of security, audiovisual tools, weight, screen size?

We have taken into account the improvement in the performance of the batteries, the quality of the cameras which increases each time, the speakers, the weight indeed. The Surface Laptop 4, released in April 2021, is quite emblematic of the equation: it is light, the battery lasts a long time, I have perfect sound quality, it is very powerful … We also have LTE versions of some machines, which allows you to be completely autonomous if you go to a remote corner: I take my Surface Pro X, the latest generation of which is LTE, and I can work quietly from my lost chalet.

Was the market already tending towards hybrid work before the pandemic?

Absoutely. It has accelerated, for example, on the Pro X range, where we have a part of artificial intelligence on the Qualcomm chip which makes that your gaze is recalculated in relation to your interlocutor, so your eyes look at it even if you don’t. don’t look at him. This is part of this effort of inclusion.

Then there is also the question of all the people who do not necessarily go to the office to receive a new machine. There, we’re using Azure, Microsoft 365, and we can use a feature called Autopilot, which is in a subset of Microsoft 365 called Endpoint Manager. Thanks to a machine key placed on the machine when it is produced in the factory and the fact that this key is provisioned with the identity of the company in Azure Active Directory, the person receives the new machine at home by mail, and its alias is automatically ready.

Then, we have a whole security component with first a cloud layer, like part E5, which represents the highest levels of security for us. Other products on the market do quite the same thing, but we have a particularity: we manufacture our Bios ourselves. [programme qui effectue les premières opérations lors de la mise sous tension de l’appareil, NDLR], who is UEFI [Unified extensible firmware interface, NDLR].

What we sell is the administration of the machines. With the integration of Microsoft 365, if for example we sell a customer 3000 machines but, on these machines, there are 1000 for which he wants the camera to be deactivated, we can unplug them via Azure to reconnect them more late. We do not sell hardware, but everything that will optimize the use of all our cloud services.

What place does Teams now occupy in your strategy as a collaborative platform, when we see that other platforms like Slack or Zoom have seen their use increase tenfold since the start of the pandemic?

Teams gets richer almost every day. We have optimized it according to our products. Typically, with the Surface Pro X, which was announced a new version without LTE to be able to make the product more affordable, it is a Teams optimized for Qualcomm processors. Teams has an evolution that integrates more and more features that we will find elsewhere on the Microsoft platform. For example, we see a lot of integrations between the Dynamics offer, and therefore our CRM, Power Platform, ERP, and Teams offers. A salesperson can be in Teams and have their CRM there, for example. It is also a platform that wants to be agnostic.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is an office tool for collaborative work that allows you to edit documents as a team and communicate with your employees via the integrated messaging service.

  • Downloads:
  • Release date :
  • Author :
    Microsoft Corporation
  • Licence :
    Free license
  • Categories:

    Communication – Productivity

  • Operating system :

    Android, Linux, Online service All Internet browsers, Windows 32 bits – XP / Vista / 7/8/10/11, Windows 64 bits – XP / Vista / 7/8/10/11, iOS iPhone / iPad, macOS

Regarding the Surface Duo, the first version of which left our teams unsatisfied, is it a smartphone, a tablet or something else? How do you see her at Surface?

It is the most versatile of the Surface. In the axes of work of the Surface range, there is something very important for us: the frontline workers [travailleurs en première ligne, NDLR]. Casually, there are 2 billion on Earth: it goes from the handler to the emergency doctor in the hospital, it is not only the field agent as one can imagine it. These are people in total mobility who need a device on which they have the right information, but at the same time not a device that takes their hand. A doctor, for example, has a gown and needs to be able to put a device in it and do things with both hands.

What is not easy with a tablet …

Yes, even with an eight inch tablet it doesn’t fit. The Surface Duo 2, today, responds to many criticisms that there had been on version 1. It is a Surface where we wondered how far we can go in productivity with two screens. For example, you can link two applications, such as Outlook on one side and Teams on the other. They are not quite the same uses and the two applications are put on each screen, which allows to have an immediate global vision. It’s basic use, but the goal is to be productive with two screens. It’s true that it’s also a phone, now with a well-functioning camera.

Now that Samsung is offering successful folding devices, isn’t the Surface Duo too late?

Without challenger Samsung’s device is not the same use. When you open the Samsung device, it is the extension of a screen, with ultimately the same use on a larger screen. What we want to promote is the development of applications that take advantage of the two screens, because our brains are like that. I have Outlook on the left where I see my emails, I see the email I open on the right but always the emails I receive on the left, it is very simple to use but can only be done with the Duo.

You also launched the Surface Laptop Studio, clearly aimed at creatives. What place do these occupy today in Surface’s strategy?

It is also intended for architects who use AutoCAD [logiciel de dessin assisté par ordinateur, NDLR] for example, which is very greedy in memory and in processor, to the engineers… For us, it is the replacement of the Book range. This market exists, we have had some success with these populations with these machines. For us, it’s about saying that the innovation is there, it’s not a Book 4, or a Book 3 with a more powerful graphics card. It’s something that allows you to do everything that Book 3 did, but with a studio part where you can draw directly. We had a little challenge on the Book, where you could remove the screen, but suddenly lost the power of the GPU. We had a much weaker autonomy. Now we don’t have that problem.

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