In transitioning from a traditional big box software service company, it seems that Microsoft has taken a liking to the new world of monthly and annual servicing practices that offer a more stable financial structure in an ever-shifting technology industry. Microsoft’s so keen on the idea, in fact, that not only has the company shifted its flagship productivity suite Office from being a purchase to a consumer-manageable subscriptions service, but the company is also putting its first-class hardware up for a similar business model.
A little over a month ago, Microsoft introduced its Surface as a Service business plan. While on the surface (pun intended) the program mimicked other hardware strategies put into place by competitors such as Apple and Samsung to offer a continual stream of products to its customers on an annual basis, Microsoft’s strategy was a bit varied in its implementation. Instead of aiming at the admittedly niche market of consumers who are likely to adopt the Surface hardware, Microsoft seemed to be aiming its new financing service at businesses who could and would deploy magnitude more devices to its workforce.
The details on Microsoft’s new hardware finance service for the Surface line of devices has been relatively scant, until now. Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet managed to uncover some additional details regarding ‘Microsoft’s Surface as a Service' leasing program and how the company intends for it to unfold.
While the broad strokes cover Surface as a Service being a monthly lease plan designed to bring certain Surface devices, accessories, software, service and support to business customers, Foley also dug up some details on who will be authorized resellers, month length of leasing contracts and bundling options.
Who can and will sell
The first CSP to be authorized to sell Surface as a Surface was ALSO, which, as part of its "Workplace as a Service Solutions" program will offer Surfaces with Office 365 and other proprietary software, plus financing. Distributor Ingram Micro announced earlier this month it also would be offering Surface as a Service in the U.K.
How long are leasing contracts
Users can choose 12-, 24- or 36-month Surface leasing contracts. Each bundle is configured for the customer with a mix of devices, software and support. At a minimum, all bundles include Office 365, a Surface device and accessories and a monthly bill.
Here's what is eligible for inclusion in a Surface as a Service Bundle: Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, Surface accessories, Office 365, Windows 10, ISV software, Customer support service. Microsoft Complete for Enterprise also is available to customers through Microsoft commercial resellers and can be included in a Surface as a Service offering.
Other details include the legalize of pricing being dependent on components, the length of subscription and regional currency. Foley also clears up what could be a potential confusion between the differences of Microsoft’s Surface Membership Program and the new Surface as a Service offering.
Beyond the clear regional lock-in that Microsoft’s Surface Membership Program inherently suffers from as being a US-only service obtain via its retail presence in North America, it would seem that Surface as a Service is a broader intended to offer greater customization to more businesses. Surface as a Service is done through authorized resellers and available globally.
As Microsoft continues to make end roads with its Surface line of devices and attempts to establish its Surface as a Service program, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that in the future, offices could replace aging Dell and HP tower desktops with more svelte and mobile options such as a Surface Pro 4. Let us know in the comments if your business is considering one of Microsoft's leasing programs.