Microsoft adds a new Microsoft 365 firstline worker plan to its line-up

Microsoft is rebranding M365 F1 to F3 and adding a new lesser-featured F1 option.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is rolling out as of April 1, 2020, a new, low-end version of Microsoft 365 for firstline workers. The new F1 plan will cost $4 per user per month

Firstline workers are deskless workers. They are employees who often are in service-worker, customer-facing jobs. And they are one of customer segments key to Microsoft's plan to try to grow its Office 365/Microsoft 365 user base.  

As Microsoft made public today, the current Microsoft 365 F1 plan is being renamed to Microsoft 365 F3. The new F3 will cost $10 per user per month and include all the same features in the new F1 plan, plus a numbr of additional ones. The new F3 will include Windows 10 E3, Windows Virtual Desktop rights and Office Mobile apps, as well as 2 GB each of OneDrive for Business Storage and Exchange email.

The current M365 F1 plan includes Windows Enterprise E3, Office Mobile apps, OneDrive and Exchange mail and more, with some enterprise limitations. The existing F1 plan doesn't include Office 365 ProPlus; only allowed users to participate in but not initiate a Teams meetings, for example.

To me, it looks like existing Microsoft 365 F1 users who are paying $4 per user per month will have to pay $10 per user per month under the new F3 for many of the same features. I've asked Microsoft whether it will make any provisions for those currently using F1 who now will need to pay for F3. No word back so far. All Microsoft's documentation currently says is: "Existing customers will receive a message about this new plan in the Admin Message Center or from their Microsoft Partner" and nothing about the price change.

Update (5:30 p.m. ET): My suppositions were all mixed up. Microsoft actually offers an Office 365 F1 plan ($4 per user per month) and an M365 F1 plan which currently costs $10 per user per month. So when Microsoft moves its current M365 F1 users to Microsoft 365 F3, there will be no change in price. The new F1 plan with fewer features will cost $4 per user per month. Microsoft's official statement from a spokesperson:

"We are introducing a new entry level plan for Firstline Workers. This new offer will extend our Microsoft 365 Enterprise SKU plan and slot below the existing Microsoft 365 F1 SKU in market today (priced at $10 per user per month). The availability of this new plan will correspond with a repositioning the existing 'F1' plan to 'F3.'  We will then introduce the new offer as 'Microsoft 365 F1' (priced at $4 per user per month). Existing 'F1' customers will see their licensing renamed to 'F3' and no customer is paying more for existing value.

Update No. 2: Microsoft is advising customers that the name change from F1 to F3 will happen on March 24. Office 365 F1 also will get a name change to Office 365 F3. "SKU numbers will remain the same; only SKU name and description will change," says the official communique. Users don't need to take any action, Microsoft says. (Thanks to Carl Knecht, who is @rialtus on Twitter, for the information.)

Earlier this month, Directions on Microsoft (subscription required) noted a use rights change around Microsoft 365 F1. Analysts there noted under the new rules, Windows-related use rights in F1 were "nearly identical" to those in M365 E3. Directions on Microsoft analyst Wes Miller tweeted on March 1 that Microsoft was making some changes to F1 that were part of the March product terms. As a result of those changes, M365 F1 will include rights to use prior versions, rights to access VDI and the ability to use KMS activation, Miller tweeted.

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