Why Big Businesses Are Lapping Up Microsoft's Surface Pro 4

Usually, businesses are the last to adopt any kind of new gadget, given that they actually rely on laptops, tablets and smartphones to make money and can’t risk any first-day adoption glitches. Not so with the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft’s upcoming laptop-tablet hybrid.

According to Microsoft, a few big names are already starting to order the newfangled device for their employees.

“The Surface Pro 4 sweet spot is, ‘I want a tablet, but need a laptop,” says Microsoft Director of Surface Cyril Belikoff.

Today, Microsoft is announcing that Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, the car dealership arm of Warren Buffett’s legendary corporate holding company, has already ordered Surface Pro 4 tablets for their employees — and 12 other companies, including USI Insurance and the Land O’ Lakes dairy giant, have done the same.

Microsoft isn’t giving out any specific numbers for unit sales, but it said that all of these deals are in the hundreds to thousands of units. Belikoff says that the Surface Pro 4 is the fastest-adopted Surface device in the enterprise. Now it wants to keep the momentum going, with this news and a slew of other announcements.

Why Surface for business?

Microsoft’s sales pitch is simple: The Surface Pro 4 is a good-looking, light, touchscreen tablet that also runs every piece of Windows software from Windows 7 onwards.

So if you’re a doctor, you can take your old apps that have traditionally been tied to the PC in the office, and now bring them out to your patients.

There’s a reason the tablet portion of Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Book laptop is called the “clipboard.” Because the Surface tablets come with the Surface Pen stylus, it can be used for note-taking, right alongside the old-school apps.

Those Berkshire Hathaway Automotive employees, for example, will be using it as a laptop at their desks, but as a tablet when they’re with customers. Using the Surface Pro 4 as a tablet lets them show off how good their new car would look with extra features and different colours, thus closing the time to sale.

With the world slowly waking up to the potential of a tablet in the workplace, Microsoft made a series of additional announcements that are designed to remove a businesses’ resistances to the Surface Pro 4, one by one, and get them on board.

Microsoft’s resellers are key

Microsoft said there are 5,000 resellers across the United States helping get the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book laptop into the hands of businesspeople, joining big names like Dell and HP that have been doing the same.

It’s a crucial stat. Lots of businesses around the world depend on these resellers, also called “value-added resellers” or “VARs,” to help them buy and deploy new technology like the Surface Pro 4.

So if resellers love what Microsoft is up to, it gives the Surface Pro 4 a lot more potential customers. And given that Microsoft says that it only had a “few hundred” Surface resellers as recently as July, the fact that 5,000 resellers are now on board suggested resellers are warming up to the idea.

Of course, not everyone is on board: Lenovo recently declined to resell the Surface Pro 3, saying that the gadget competed too directly with its own line of tablets and laptops.

Extending the warranty

And if that isn’t enough, Microsoft also announced a couple of new programs to support Surfaces in the workplace:

Previously, Microsoft’s enterprise warranty plans gave a certain limit of warranty repairs per user, and you’d have to pay for overages.

A new Microsoft Complete for Enterprise warranty plan lets a company pool together all of the warranty claims they buy from Microsoft, instead of setting a hard limit per Surface device.

So if your CEO keeps dropping his Surface Pro 4, but everyone else is more careful, the CEO can just keep sending it in for repairs and counting it against the corporate total. Plus, with this new plan, it will come via next-day air.

Microsoft is also letting enterprises trade in their older Surface Pro tablets towards the new hotness, the exact same way that a consumer might do at Best Buy. This is an ongoing program, not a promotion, and intended to help enterprises if and when they want to upgrade their fleets of Surface Pros, outside their normal buying cycle.

All of this boils down to one idea: Microsoft really wants Surface Pro tablets in the workplace. And it’s going to figure out all the reasons why businesses wouldn’t buy one, and then it’s going to fix them, one by one.

Reistance is futile.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider Australia


    Woah, I had a comment removed for saying the article was lacking content and read more like a press release?!?

      Hi Poita. Criticism is always welcomed, but your comment bordered on aggressive - you accused the whole story of being an advertisement which is false.

        I would say the headline is a bit over the top. A few business in the US and "hundreds of thousands" of units does not represent "lapping it up" when these devices number in the tens of millions in business (I'm thinking globally here). I would also question the deals MS did with these companies to get these out there and be able to put out a press release like this.

          Hi there,

          Thank you for commenting.

          My view is that the companies often look what other organisations are doing for guidance in terms of technology adoption, so it's not completely irrational to look at these deals as an indication that there will be more interest from businesses in the Surface Pro 4.

          Also, given the product isn't even out yet and it's already getting orders in the hundreds of thousands, it's an indication that these businesses are pretty eager for the device so, to me, "lapping it up" is acceptable.

          We will keep your feedback in mind for future articles!

          Hope this helps.



          Kato said '"hundreds of thousands" of units does not represent "lapping it up" when these devices number in the tens of millions in business'. Whilst that may be true of installed units, when it comes to purchasing, "hundreds of thousands" in a month (which is about how long SPro 4 has been available, is in fact quite significant. My workstation, for example, is probably four years old and it's not the oldest machine in our department by a long way. So if they can keep selling "hundreds of thousands" every month for a few years, they'll have the lion's share of those "tens of millions" of machines that are out there today.

    I love the idea of having a tablet that uses the same programs as my laptop and not the (usually) watered down app version of it. Such a good idea!

    Surprised these things are so popular with business users. They're horrible to use on planes due to the stand falling off the back of the tray table.

      Which is easily countered by leaning the screen against the seat back and not using the stand at all. That's the advantage Surface has over laptops - a grippy fabric base (back of the TypeCover) instead of slippery metal or plastic. That said, don't most tray tables have a fiddle (raised edge to stop things sliding off)?

      Maybe it's time to think outside the box. Rest the tablet on the front seat and forget the kickstand. I do this and it works pretty well for me.

    The quote is actually that each deal is in the, "hundreds to thousands". That's a bit different.

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