Microsoft is serious about turning its Windows-powered, laptop-replacing Surface Pro 4 tablet into the go-to mobile productivity solution for enterprises.
Last month, the company raised eyebrows by announcing that Dell and Hewlett-Packard would resell the Surface Pro 3 to business customers, right alongside their own Windows tablets and two-in-one PCs. The move, part of the Surface Enterprise Initiative, is aimed at accelerating the adoption of Surface tablets among organizations that buy technology in bulk.
"Our global enterprise customers have asked us to match the Surface Pro 3 and Windows 10 experience with enterprise-grade support and services—and our partnerships like this one with Dell will do just that," remarked Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a Sept. 8 announcement.
Today, Microsoft announced a big expansion of the program. First, businesses can now acquire Surface hardware for their workers from thousands of resellers, according to Cyril Belikoff, senior director of Microsoft Surface.
"We are happy to announce that since we initiated expansion, we've made great progress on that commitment, and our network of business resellers now numbers around 5,000 across the 30 global markets where Surface is available to our business customers," Belikoff wrote in a blog post. "Achieving this breadth and reach is important because this allows us to make Surface and Windows 10 available to more customers than ever before."
New Surface Enterprise Initiative perks include a permanent Surface trade-in program.
"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," stated Belikoff. Customers are issued credits for used laptops, tablets and phones, which can be used toward Surface devices.
Dubbed simply the Business Device Trade-in Program, it provides 24-hour quotes, secure device wipe and prepaid shipping labels to speed the process. The program is being rolled out to 14 countries over the next few weeks: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Canada, followed later by Australia, France, Germany and the U.K.
In 2016, the software giant is kicking off Microsoft Complete for Enterprise, a new warranty and service offering for enterprises.
The program will enable customers to pool warranty claims by company instead of individual devices and make warranty claims on non-bootable devices. The program will also entitle customers with next-day air delivery in the U.S. and similarly fast shipping options in other markets. Finally, a new on-boarding center "will assist IT staff to get set up with warranty and support processes as well as provide online training for their employees to get productive as fast as possible," Belikoff said.
The Surface Pro 4 is off to a strong start, said Belikoff. Ten new business customers and three schools have committed to buying the new hardware before it's officially available. Early adopters include AstraZeneca, Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, BNY Mellon, Land 'O Lakes and the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K.