How Windows is powering the future of hybrid work in Asia

Brand-new developments for Microsoft Windows in management, security, productivity and collaboration deliver tools and tech that make hybrid work, work

Microsoft has announced new developments for Windows 11 and Windows 365 for commercial customers in the areas of management, security, productivity and collaboration, designed to enable enterprises to successfully operate a hybrid workforce.

This comes as more and more companies embrace the hybrid working model even as employees return to the office on the back of easing COVID-19 restrictions across most of the region. The majority (60%) of APAC companies intend to retain hybrid working arrangements, according to CBRE’s latest survey.

"Over the past two years, work has changed dramatically,” says Panos Panay, EVP, Chief Product Officer, Microsoft, with most employees wanting “flexible and remote options to stay”.

Technology is front and centre of the hybrid working push

With hybrid working comes increased use of technology, which not only means an increase in cyberthreats, which are now at an all-time high, but also a challenge for IT managers to empower their workforces with new tech experiences and ensure they can not only do their work efficiently but also collaborate effectively.

“Over the last two years, the organisations that thrived were those that embraced digital transformation,” says Panos. "At Microsoft, it's our responsibility to deliver tools and technologies that make hybrid work, work for our customers.”

As such, the tech giant has updated Windows to ensure its stays forefront of technology and experiences and empower organisations to embrace whatever comes next. “Windows 11 and Windows 365 are ready to take us all into the next era of hybrid work,” says Panos, “offering organisations the most secure, manageable, and productive Windows experience on the planet”.

Enter Windows 11, the operating system for hybrid work. Windows 11 is built on a compatible and familiar foundation that's easy for IT to manage, and is designed “to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving cyber landscape and equipped with experiences that help employees do their best work”.

Cybersecurity top concern for businesses amid hybrid working

Cybersecurity issues and risks top the list of concerns for business decision-makers in the year ahead, new data from Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index reveals.

Unsurprising when you consider that businesses are now exposed to more and increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, with almost three in four (73%) of APAC companies seeing an increase in the number of disruptive attacks from August 2020 to August 2021, according to the 2021 EY Global Information Security Survey.

To help organisations meet the new security challenges of the hybrid workplace, Microsoft Windows 11 features built-in chip-to-cloud protection. Users will benefit from layers of tightly integrated hardware and software protection – including deep partnerships with device and silicon manufacturers to elevate security against multiple attack vectors.

Devices need to be more secure than ever from phishing, weak credentials, malware, ransomware, data loss and the serious risk of hardware attacks if a device is stolen. Windows helps provide that by targeting and disrupting the techniques used by ransomware and other large scale cyberattacks.

Windows 11 is introducing two powerful new features that strike against the most common cyberattack techniques: Phishing and targeted malware. New in Windows 11 is enhanced phishing detection and protection built into Windows with Microsoft Defender SmartScreen, to help protect users from phishing attacks by identifying and alerting users when they are entering their Microsoft credentials into a malicious application or hacked website. Smart App Control uses code signing alongside Microsoft's powerful artificial intelligence models to ensure that only trusted applications are run, blocking one of the largest attack vectors on Windows by-default.

Creating a more inclusive, accessible, and intelligent hybrid workplace

But that’s not all. To help make hybrid work more accessible and inclusive, Microsoft is introducing new features Focus Sessions, system-wide Live Captions, and Voice Access, which empowers everyone, including people with disabilities, to do more.

Focus Sessions make it easier for information workers, and people with ADHD, to build healthy digital habits and be more productive. System-wide Live Captions in Windows 11 make it easier for everyone, including those hard of hearing or deaf and language learners, to understand spoken content; and Voice Access makes it possible for everyone, including those with limited mobility and with repetitive stress injuries, to control their device and dictate content using their voice.

To further improve the meeting and collaboration experience, Microsoft is also introducing new intelligent meeting features for Windows 11 powered by AI. Users can connect with each other through their devices and with new features like Voice clarity, Automatic framing, Portrait background blur and Eye contact making the experience more personal.

Flexibility to use Windows on a personal device, and remote help

Windows 365 is also getting an update to further facilitate hybrid working. Microsoft is extending the Windows experience to the cloud (Windows 365 Enterprise edition) giving organisations the flexibility to provide an incredible Windows experience on a corporate device or personal device, all managed in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Through Endpoint Manager, IT can manage Windows 365 Cloud PCs alongside their physical PCs.

Also coming to Windows 11 is application management for Microsoft Edge to provide more flexibility in how and where employees work, enabling employees to securely access company resources from the personal Windows device, while maintaining security and privacy.

Microsoft is also launching remote help. The first of its premium endpoint management add-on to Endpoint Manager Remote that addresses a major need for hybrid work, by safely helping employees with their day-to-day IT needs with secured, helpdesk-to-user connections no matter where they work.

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