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Microsoft Enhances Surface Enterprise Program

Microsoft aims to accelerate enterprise adoption of Windows 10 and Surface Pro 4 with additions to its Surface Enterprise program.
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Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 is in the spotlight Tuesday as the company announces new initiatives to broaden enterprise adoption of its upgraded hybrid device and Windows 10 operating system.

Redmond is announcing two additions to its Surface Enterprise Initiative, a program announced in September to help businesses navigate the process of buying and implementing Surfaces for employees. It also has plans to expand its current number of resellers.

While the commercial response for Surface Pro 4 has been positive, "almost equally important for business is the infrastructure for managing thousands of devices," said Brian Eskridge, senior manager of Microsoft's Windows and Devices group, in a briefing with InformationWeek.

[Inside the new Surface Book: take a closer look.]

An evaluation of enterprise Surface customer feedback revealed two key demands, said Cyril Belikoff, the group's senior director. These included better service for enterprise needs and a greater number of resellers, including small and local businesses.

The first of these demands is being addressed with Microsoft Complete for Enterprise, a service package including device support and warranty that will ship with the Surface and keyboard for business customers via commercial resellers.

There are four components in the Microsoft Complete for Enterprise bundle:

  • Claim pooling: Ability to pool warranty claims by business as opposed to individual devices. Claims can be used for as long as the company still has claims remaining, meaning "typically, they will not run out of claims," said Belikoff.
  • Replacement claims for non-bootable devices: for companies with devices containing sensitive data that requires a device to be wiped or a hard drive to be destroyed before the product is returned under warranty.
  • Next-day air: This applies to all device replacements as part of the enterprise package. 
  • Onboarding center: Works with IT departments within the first 30 days to set up the warranty process and train employees in using the device and Windows 10.

Microsoft is also introducing a trade-in program to boost Surface adoption. Customers can hand in their old devices and apply the product's value towards a new Surface Pro 4.

"Many customers have told us that they want to upgrade to Surface and Windows 10, but have invested in devices and need to maximize the value they receive from those assets," wrote Belikoff in a blog post on the news. The trade-in program is not a limited-time promotional offer, but an evergreen program for enterprise customers.

The bundle and trade-in option will be available starting in early January, in alignment with businesses' usual purchasing plans. Initially both will only apply to the Surface Pro 4. However, Microsoft plans to expand the program to other devices, eventually. 

In another effort to ramp up Surface Pro and Windows 10 adoption, Microsoft is broadening its number of resellers to nearly 5,000 outlets across 30 markets. This is an increase from a few hundred resellers across 20 markets, as announced at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July.

The recent expansion stems from a demand among several enterprise customers (several small to medium businesses, educational institutions, and state and local governments) to purchase devices from local outlets they normally support.

One month after it released Windows 10 to the public, Microsoft reported the OS had been downloaded on 75 million PCs and 1.5 million enterprise devices. Adoption had increased to 110 million by early October; more than 8 million of those were business PCs.

Redmond aspires to have Windows 10 running on one billion devices by 2018, three years after its initial launch date of July 29, 2015. Enterprise devices will play a key part in achieving this goal, especially as the PC market lags.