Microsoft is working to help businesses drive digital transformation at its annual Worldwide Partner Conference, held this week in Toronto.
The event kicked off July 11 with a morning keynote during which CEO Satya Nadella put the spotlight on a new partnership with General Electric. The two companies plan to make GE's Predix, a platform and operating system for the industrial internet, available on Microsoft Azure.
On the second day of keynotes, Microsoft announced significant updates and new partnerships related to Windows 10 and Surface to its enterprise audience. The July 12 news will expand the offerings available to enterprise users.
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Microsoft will offer new subscription service options for Windows 10 and Surface to enterprise users. It reports that more than 96% of its business customers are actively piloting the new OS, which is running on 350 million active devices at last count.
Security is a core component to Windows 10 and one Microsoft is relying on to attract new users. Cyber-security threats cost an average of $12 million per incident, the company reports, and there are more than 56 million small to mid-sized businesses in the US that could benefit from stronger security features.
To broaden the enterprise user base for Windows 10, Microsoft is offering the new Windows 10 Enterprise E3 via its Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Channel. The idea is to help organizations with few IT staff, or no dedicated IT resources, with licensing and IT needs.
CSP partners will be able to offer a subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition as part of a managed service offering. Their business customers can buy Microsoft's "full IT stack," which includes Office 365, Windows 10, CRM, and Dynamics.
Microsoft highlights features including stronger security and the option to have devices configured and managed by a partner with experience in Windows 10 and cloud deployments. Customers also have a lower up-front cost and an option to upgrade from Windows 10 Pro without rebooting.
Windows 10 Enterprise E3 will be available starting this fall. It will cost $7 per user per month.
Microsoft is also launching the Surface as a Service Program and Surface Multi-National Purchasing Program. These beginnings are an expansion of the Surface Enterprise Initiative launched last year to boost Surface use and Windows 10 adoption in the enterprise.
As part of Surface as a Service, CSPs who are also Surface Authorized Distributors can sell Surface devices to all resellers and customers along with Windows 10, Office 365, and managed cloud services. The idea is to provide faster device refresh and more flexible buying options.
With the Surface Multi-National Purchasing Program, Microsoft has authorized four resellers (CDW, SHI, Insight, and Zones) to offer Surface devices and accessories to multinational customers.
As part of the Surface Enterprise Initiative expansion, Microsoft is teaming up with IBM and Booz Allen Hamilton to create industry-specific solutions for Windows 10 on Surface.
IBM plans to use its analytics and enterprise app background to build software for companies in the financial services and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. It plans to address the specific challenges in each industry and work with Microsoft to create products that will help businesses become more mobile, while they blend their existing infrastructure with Universal Windows apps.
For example, one of IBM's apps will put Microsoft Power BI on the Surface to give companies the data they need to optimize how employees' time is being used. The app will display data in visualized diagrams and reports, so employees can make better staffing decisions.
Similarly, Booz Allen Hamilton will create secure solutions for companies in government, the public sector, and healthcare. Businesses in these verticals have specific needs in terms of app security and compatibility, a challenge it aims to meet.