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Microsoft Announces the Surface 4 'Enterprise Bundle'

In preparation for what it hopes is a larger corporate demand for the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft today announced what it's calling the "Enterprise Bundle," which includes the newest Surface device, keyboard and a warranty only available to large enterprises (those purchasing thousands of units). The announcement comes in advance of next week's general release of its new crop of Windows 10 devices, notably the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book laptops and Lumia phones

The warranty program, called Complete for Enterprise, will allow IT to pool devices, so if one exceeds the two-replacement limit, it can still be eligible. Also in situations where an organization has an unbootable system but doesn't want to send it back because it has sensitive data on the drive, they can destroy the device.

Microsoft also disclosed the early corporate adopters for its Surface Pro 4 in an effort to demonstrate current demand by large enterprises for its new devices. "This is the most anticipated device for enterprises in years," said Brian Eskridge, senior director for Surface, in an interview. "The response we've seen for the Surface Pro 4 is by far going to be the fastest Surface adopted by businesses ever."

Granted it's only the sixth launch of a Surface and the first in nearly a year and a half but until last year's release of the much-refined Surface Pro 3, it was questionable whether Microsoft's tablet PCs would ever be widely adopted by enterprises.

A unit of Berkshire Hathaway is among the first of 10 large enterprises that Microsoft is revealing today have ordered the Surface Pro 4, mostly on spec. Berkshire Hathaway Automotive has already started replacing older Windows desktops and laptops with Surface Pro 3 devices and now plans to continue its refresh with the Surface Pro 4.

David Austin, Berkshire Hathaway Automotive's CTO, wasn't sure offhand how many units it will ultimately roll out but he said it would be several hundred per month as part of its refresh of older PCs. "We no longer order PCs for our end users," Austin said in response to an e-mail. "This is our one-size-fits-all device. This provides a more seamless experience for the employees and guests."

Asked why Berkshire chose Windows 10 tablets over iPads or Android-based devices, Austin said familiarity with Window and security, in particular, were key reasons. "We know how to secure, patch, and control access on a Windows device," Austin said. Nevertheless, Berkshire is not rolling out Universal Windows 10 apps.  Instead it will be using standard HTML 5 apps in most cases, according to Austin. In addition to the Surface Pro 4s, he said Berkshire will provide the new Surface Book, Microsoft's first-ever laptop that is also slated for release next week, for power users.

Besides Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, Microsoft today said those ordering Surface Pro 4s include BNY Mellon, Carlyle Group, Clifford Chance, Covana, The Global Fund, Land 'O Lakes, USI Insurance and Wessanen. Also three universities in the U.K, have placed orders: Brighton College, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Central Lancashire.

For Microsoft, the Surface business has gone from a black eye for the company to one of its fastest growing businesses. Since revamping its devices business and rolling out the Surface Pro 3 last year, it has grown to a $3.6 billion business for the 2015 fiscal year. It appears Microsoft has even higher hopes for the new Surface Pro 4. And if the Surface Book becomes a runaway hit, that'll surely be gravy.

Is your organization considering Microsoft's newest hardware?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/20/2015 at 2:52 PM


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