Author(s): Raghu Gopal
This week at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Microsoft announced a new subscription package for its Surface computing platform. The programme provides enterprise users with access to bundles of hardware, software and services, including Surface tablets running Windows 10, a subscription to Office 365 and managed cloud services.
Surface has been growing beyond its consumer origins over the past several years and is increasing its penetration in many major corporations, complementing or even displacing traditional laptops.
The Surface-as-a-service plan isn't Microsoft's first effort to boost Surface's status as a legitimate business tool. Last year, it announced the Surface Enterprise Initiative, partnering with Dell and HP to sell the Surface through their distribution channels. This week, it added IBM and Booz Allen Hamilton to the partnership as so-called Surface solution integrators. IBM will deliver industry-specific solutions for the financial services and consumer packaged goods sectors; Booz Allen Hamilton will focus on offerings for government, the public sector and healthcare.
In addition, Microsoft has expanded its Surface Multi-National Purchasing Program, adding CDW, Insight, SHI, and Zones as resellers that can offer their enterprise customers Surface devices and accessories.
Microsoft also introduced what it calls Windows 10 Enterprise E3 in the Cloud Solution Provider. This is a programme to accelerate upgrades to Windows 10. Microsoft will charge businesses a monthly fee of $7 per seat to use Windows 10. It is hoping that a Windows 10 Enterprise subscription option might prompt an upgrade among businesses that are still running older versions of Windows. Many organisations have not been persuaded by Microsoft's free upgrade to Windows 10, which is expected to end on 29 July.
With these Surface-friendly programmes, Microsoft is tempting businesses both large and small to become Surface users. Microsoft says its new initiatives will enable enterprise customers to benefit from access to the latest hardware through faster device refresh cycles. The new initiative comes close on the heels of the launch of the Surface Membership Plan, which allows small businesses to buy Surface hardware on a monthly payment.
Two-in-one devices like the Surface are not just gaining sales within enterprises but also growing respect from corporate IT departments. Workers see the benefits of carrying a device which can transform depending on the task at hand. Surface is no longer just another piece of hardware but a modern package deal for computing power. Microsoft sees a future purpose in Surface.