Microsoft touts Surface Laptop 4 as remote working tool

14 Apr 2021

Surface Laptop 4. Image: Microsoft

The company is focusing heavily on specs for improved audio and video meetings as it tries to woo more users to Teams.

With the launch of its new Surface Laptop 4, Microsoft is not shying away from the evolving ways that people work.

While touting all of the device’s specs from chips to touchscreens, Microsoft was keen to point out how the device’s various features will interact with Teams, its workplace messaging and video-conferencing platform, in helping people “to adapt to new ways of working”.

There is a particular focus on the quality of the laptop’s webcam and microphones for better video calls. Microsoft said its HD front-facing camera and microphone will ensure users come “through loud and clear” during virtual meetings.

It has also launched new external hardware products like headphones, webcams and a USB-C speaker that it is promoting for use with Teams “as people adapt to a spectrum of unique work environments”.

In a first, the new laptop also gives customers a choice between Intel or AMD chips. Meanwhile, the company said the device comes with integrated hardware, firmware, software and identity protection for enhanced security.

Microsoft is trying to create a robust package of hardware and software with its laptops and workplace tools like Teams and Viva.

Teams competes with Slack and Zoom for workplace communications and, much like those products, it has seen a sharp increase in usage over the last 12 months or so as workers stayed out of offices. The service has more than 115m daily active users, according to the company in one of its recent quarterly earnings reports.

Microsoft’s overtures on the Surface device as a secure and high-quality tool for home or remote working shouldn’t come as a surprise.

In a recent study, Microsoft found that more than 70pc of workers want to see some kind of flexible remote working arrangements to remain the norm after the pandemic. With 65pc saying they need in-person meetings as well, hybrid work environments are likely to become more common, with workers mixing between offices, home and remote locations.

Devices like laptops “need to be versatile to work in different environments and be highly secure,” according to Microsoft.

“The data is clear: extreme flexibility and hybrid work will define the post-pandemic workplace,” it said in its study.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin