First Microsoft turned Office into software-as-a-service. It's currently transforming Windows into Windows-as-a-service. And now it's decided that its Surface Pro typoslab should become Surface-as-a-service, to help businesses buy more of the hybrid machines.
Surface-as-a-Service, or "Surface Membership" to use its proper name, lets you choose from Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 and Surface 4 hardware. An online configurator lets you design the machines you want (complete with keyboards and pens) and choose a 18, 24 or 30 month membership plan.
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Joining the club also gets you Microsoft's Complete for Business Extended Service Plan with Accidental Damage Protection, complete with three or four years accidental damage protection that sees Microsoft sort you out if you drop a Surface device or spill liquids on it.
Members also get phone support, “One-on-one personal training” in Microsoft stores and are promised “In-store discounts on future purchases of hardware, software, and more”.
Microsoft stores are hard to find outside the USA, so the Memberships are only on offer there for the time being. But Microsoft keeps making noises about wanting more stores in more places, so this store-centric membership plan has the potential to expand.
PC-makers are reportedly less than thrilled that Microsoft has gone head to head with them by making hardware. With Surface Membership, Redmond is now having a go at the leasing programs that some use as a way to milk a little extra coin from customers. In a shrinking PC market, it seems it is every manufacturer for themselves. ®