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Microsoft Expands Surface Device Distribution

Microsoft announced increased market availability of its lightweight Surface Laptop and Surface Pro devices today, as well as its Surface Studio desktop computer.

Last month, Microsoft hosted a New York City education event to announce its new Surface Laptop device, which runs the new Windows 10 S operating system designed for students or others wanting a more locked-down environment. Windows 10 S has some similarities to Google Chrome OS for Chromebooks in that some things are fixed, and the OS keeps things up to date automatically for the user, which is conceived as optimal from a security standpoint.

For instance, Windows 10 S provides access only to Windows Store applications, which have been vetted for security (the OS does not run older Win32 apps). It runs Bing as the default search engine (other search engines are accessible via saved tabs, though). Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer is the only permitted browser on Windows 10 S, so browser choice is restricted.

Windows 10 S may not be the top choice for organizations as the OS doesn't support domain joins with local Active Directory, although Azure Active Directory use is permitted (see "Windows 10 S Resources" support here). While the Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S, it's still possible to upgrade the OS on the machine to Windows 10 Pro, which does support domain joins to Azure AD and will run Win32 apps.

It's possible for Surface Laptop users to make the switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for free until Dec. 31, 2017. Thereafter, it'll cost about $49 to make that switch.

Surface Laptop Market Expansion
The Surface Laptop and Surface Pro devices are currently available in 25 markets worldwide. The Surface Laptop, available in four color options, will be expanding to 17 new markets in "the coming months," according to Microsoft's announcement. The new markets will be "Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, HK, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the UK."

Surface Laptops come with an option to get a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal with 1TB of OneDrive storage space, but the software has to be activated within 180 days of activating Windows. This Office 365 Personal offer will end on Oct. 15, 2017.

Eventually, Surface Laptop Windows 10 S users are expected to use so-called "Office on Windows Store" applications, which are currently at the preview stage. Windows 10 S users can run Office on Windows Store applications during the preview period using Office 365 Personal, Office 365 Home, Office 365 Education Plus and Office 365 Education E5 editions. When out of preview, Office on Windows Store apps for Windows 10 S will be supported on Office Home & Student 2016 and Office Home & Business 2016 editions, too.

Surface Pro and Surface Studio Expansion
The Surface Pro device runs the Windows 10 Pro OS. Its outstanding feature is a promised 13.5 hours of battery life (the Surface Laptop is said to get 14.5 hours). The Surface Pro also features a more responsive Surface Pen tool. Surface Pro models with support for LTE high-speed wireless access will be "coming later this year."

Surface Studio, Microsoft's big-screened device aimed at graphic designers, is getting a market expansion. In addition to being available in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the Surface Studio is arriving today in "Austria, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK."

Today, Microsoft initiated a limited-time $850 device upgrade offer that's available through Microsoft Store retail outlets in the United States or Canada for individuals willing to trade in qualifying Surface Pro devices. The offer also applies to individuals trading in Apple MacBooks or iPads, according to the announcement. This trade-in offer will end on July 31, 2017.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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