By Peter K. Han, Microsoft Vice President of US OEM

imageIt’s amazing how different and diverse the workplace looks compared to what it looked like even 10 years ago. More modern businesses are operating outside of physical company walls. Remote working programs are being implemented at even the most traditional of businesses. And some businesses residing within fixed office environments find they need very specific IT solutions to optimally deliver their services—if only someone would build those solutions.

These modern workforce realities are an incredible chance for you to innovate and sell. Workers who conduct much of their business in non-office locations, or whose workplaces impose extreme device use conditions, are prime customers for custom IT solutions and devices. I’m excited about conversations I’ve had with our OEM partners about their plans for creating form factors powered by the new Windows to capitalize on these opportunities.

Windows 8.1 has enabled PC manufacturers to create a host of new device styles precisely aligned to the unique work requirements of certain industries, including meeting regulatory specifications or enabling offsite collaboration. Some of these include:

  • Rugged devices – those working in manufacturing and field operations often are the hardest on their devices, and while cases have been developed to help serve these fields the internals inside are still fragile. New completely ruggedized tablets and laptops allow these workers to avoid downtime from costly PC mishaps.
  • Clean-environment devices – one area new technologies have the opportunity to make the greatest impact is healthcare. However, operating in a clean environment dedicated to reducing the spread of germs has not historically been the easiest task for PCs moving from room to room. However, OEM partners have developed tablets which are fully-sealed to ensure compliance with infection control protocols while still utilizing the touch capabilities of Windows 8.1.
  • Education-ready – school districts updating their computer hardware have new standards to meet for the devices used for student assessment-taking under the Common Core standards initiative. OEM partners have developed devices that not only meet the minimum requirements but go above and beyond to enhance the learning environment.
  • Ultra-portables – workers on the go have a unique set of needs from their devices. Lightweight, long battery life, compact, and yet powerful enough to do the tasks asked of them are all challenges face by PC makers. The new convertible devices enabled by Windows 8.1 feature the latest power-sipping processors and pair together compact devices with detachable keyboards for easy portability without losing productivity.

The potential for customizing devices for specialized work needs seems almost limitless. But my experience with the innovators in our community tells me that there are many more to come to market in the near future, and I’d like you to think about how you can participate in this growth opportunity.

I encourage you to keep an eye out for additional information, insights, and resources from me on the topic of industry-specific design, manufacturing, and sales.

imageDo you have customers who could perform their jobs even better with custom form factors? Chances are you do, and I’d love to hear how you plan to meet their needs. Follow me on Twitter @PeterHanMSFT to share your ideas.