Yet More Changes to Microsoft’s Firstline Worker SKUs

By Kevin Glunt

Director of Client Services – Microsoft, NPI

August 05, 2020

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When it comes to the evolution of Microsoft’s Firstline Worker offerings, it’s been quite a journey. First came the K1/K2 offering. The “K” was short for “kiosk” and provided users with limited functionality for Exchange email, Skype and SharePoint. In mid-2017, the K2 was retired, and the K1 was renamed to Office 365 F1. Microsoft recognized the changing needs of its target user base, whom it referred to as Firstline Workers, and so arrived the “F” in O365 F1. Microsoft was also seeking to solve a nagging problem with its customer base: the capabilities of the E3 Suite were too much and too costly for too many users and their employers.

This change was just a setup for the introduction later that year of Microsoft 365 F1. It was “a new offering that brought together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security to deliver a complete, intelligent solution to empower all workers.” At the time, Microsoft said, “Firstline Workers comprise the majority of our global workforce. Numbering two billion people worldwide, they are the people behind the counter, on the phone, in the clinics, on the shop floor, and in the field. They are often the first to engage customers, the first to represent a company’s brand, and the first to see products and services in action. They form the backbone of many of the world’s largest industries, and without them, the ambitions of many organizations could not be brought to life.”

Microsoft’s reason for targeting this subset of users and customers is justifiable – firstline workers do comprise a large portion of the global workforce and represent significant revenue potential. As such, the company continues to reveal more changes and advancements in this area. In May of this year, Microsoft renamed Office 365 F1 to Office 365 F3, and added two new SKUs: Microsoft 365 F1 and Microsoft 365 F3.

The Advantages and Limitations of Microsoft’s New Firstline Worker SKUs

Microsoft describes the SKUs as follows:

Microsoft 365 F1: provides the foundation of a secure and connected experience for Firstline Workers. It includes products like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Yammer, Stream, and Enterprise Security + Management.

Microsoft 365 F3: adds capabilities included from Microsoft 365 F1 to enhance worker productivity and innovation.

With these changes, Microsoft has finally incorporated two of its mainstay products: Enterprise Mobility Suite and Windows. While certainly adding capabilities, Microsoft has rounded out its Office 365 offerings with offerings that fit a wide variety of expense budgets along with the capability needs of a company’s diverse workforce.

While Office 365 F1 and Microsoft 365 F1 retail at $4 per user per month, Microsoft 365 F3 retails for $10 per user per month. The SKU captures a much larger piece of customer revenue while still allowing for an alternative to the Microsoft 365 E3 which retails for $32. For Microsoft’s customers, it is now possible to capture a large amount of savings with a move to Microsoft 365 F3 or F1, but only after a detailed review of the workforce and their capability needs.

Is there a catch? For some customers, the answer is yes. Microsoft has added some specific limitations on user eligibility for each of the F-SKUs. For example, the user may not be assigned a dedicated device, which is defined as a computing device used for work with a 10.1-inch screen or larger, used by the user more than 60 percent of the user’s total work time during any 90-day period. Talk about some very specific fine print to consider before purchasing!

Ultimately, the new Firstline Worker SKUs provide companies with more choices to efficiently deploy only the necessary capabilities to its workforce and thus reduce costs considerably. Prior to adding the F1 SKUs to the portfolio or reducing user capabilities by eliminating subscriptions to the E3 Suites, NPI advises customers take a calculated approach to understand the limitations and usage rights. If you have questions, let NPI know. Our Microsoft licensing experts specialize in helping clients understand their licensing options and guiding them through the selection of the most cost-effective SKUs for their organizational needs and IT requirements.