In an attempt to steal some of spotlight away from Apple's expected announcement of a larger iPad Pro tablet on Sept. 9, Microsoft announced this week that it is partnering with Dell to sell its Surface Pro tablets to the enterprise market.
In the Sept. 8 announcement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted, "Today’s expanded partnership with Dell represents a bold step forward as we marry amazing devices, such as Surface Pro, with enterprise-class service and support."
In other words, they are countering the recent Apple and IBM effort to sell into the enterprise with some of their own partnerships. Microsoft has not had a great track record of selling hardware into the enterprise.
Dell already has relationships with many different enterprises, whether through direct sales or IT services. In addition, the Microsoft agreement gives Dell the ability to upsell businesses with different services.
"Surface Pro devices sold through Dell will include the option of Dell Services, including Dell Hardware Warranty, ProSupport with Accidental Damage Service, and Configuration and Deployment Services," according to Microsoft.
Dell seemed a bit giddy about all of this.
In its announcement of the deal, Dell noted:
Beginning early October 2015, we will be selling Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Pro accessories through our North America sales organization, and rolling out to other regions starting in early 2016. No other PC maker is doing anything like this with Microsoft.
Well, not quite true.
HP was also included in this Surface Enterprise Initiative effort.
We are excited to announce that as part of the Surface Enterprise Initiative with Microsoft, we will be offering the Surface Pro 3 through the HP direct sales force. Independently, we will also be offering a new set of HP Care Packs designed specifically to help customers to plan, configure, deploy and manage in enterprise environments. We also plan to offer some mobility workflow transformation tools and services that will be available next year.
So, HP sees this as another platform for it to leverage its own portfolio of service plans. HP, as well as Dell, has its own hardware to sell, but the company seems to be responding to perceived desires within the enterprise market for a one-stop solution that provides hardware and the support for that hardware on one purchase order.
[Check out our comparison of Microsoft's Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3.]
There was also a third component of Microsoft's business push, one that looks to get Windows 10 into the hands of more business buyers.
Microsoft announced that Accenture and Avanade have also been named part of the same initiative. Neither company will be reselling Surface hardware, but the Avanade joint venture with Microsoft has built apps for Windows enterprise customers.
The Surface Enterprise Initiative is a way for Microsoft to make up with its own customers for its past actions in creating hardware in the first place. At the time, the company was seen as alienating those who provided Microsoft with much revenue by loading its software onto their hardware.
This initiative gives space to Dell and HP to leverage their existing enterprise relationships into purchases that involve more than anything Microsoft can provide by itself.