Buying Microsoft Surfaces in bulk: More hints in the fine print

Buying Microsoft Surfaces in bulk: More hints in the fine print

Summary: Microsoft's channel partners are unearthing more details about Microsoft's volume-purchasing program for its Surface RTs and Pros.

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As I blogged yesterday, Microsoft has started allowing business customers to buy Surfaces in bulk, via a new Surface Commercial Order page.

Yesterday, Microsoft officials declined to provide any details about the volume-ordering program. However, on  March 20, I received a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson about the program:

“Commercial customers interested in Surface can visit www.surface.com to place orders for Surface RT and Surface Pro. We will continue to take a measured and phased approach to provide customers and partners with the best experience possible. We are, and always have been, committed to the channel, and you can expect to hear from us on that front when have more to share.”

Beyond that statement, the Surface team still isn't talking about the new volume program.

Fortunately, a few of the company's partners have looked into the program and discovered some interesting tidbits. I've included a few screen shots (below) from one Microsoft partner showing what's on the new site.

Microsoft's reseller partners are quite interested in this bulk-ordering capacity, as many of them have been hoping Microsoft might permit them to buy Surfaces (especially the Pros) at a discount and resell them to customers, bundled with various services. So far, the Surface team has not allowed this and, instead, has continued to rely on the retail channel and Microsoft's own stores as the distribution vehicle for Surface RTs and Pros. I've heard a rumor Microsoft might allow its partners to start selling Surfaces as of this July, but company execs aren't saying that publicly.

The new Surface Commercial Order site, from those who've checked into it, is definitely aimed at Microsoft volume-licensing customers. Those looking to buy in bulk are required to provide the name of their Microsoft representative. They also can opt to provide their premier account number, enterprise agreement number and/or volume license number when ordering.

surfacebulkorder1

As far as pricing goes, no discounted prices are listed on the site. The prices listed are the same estimated retail prices that customers pay currently. (The three-year service plan, the one new addition, is listed as $150 for Surface RTs and $200 for Pros.) One would assume volume purchases would entail volume discounts. (Maybe these are applied at the end of the purchase process? Update: A couple individuals who tried ordering say no. There are no discounts applied.)

surfacebulkorder2

Also: For customers in countries other than the U.S. and Canada hoping to use the Commercial Order site to get around Microsoft's current geographic-distribution limitations, you're out of luck. Only those in the U.S. and Canada are allowed for now to buy Surface Pros through the site. And only those customers in countries where the Surface RT has been cleared for distribution can buy Surface RTs in bulk through the site.

One last point worth noting about Microsoft and its Surface strategy. I've seen more than a few Microsoft customers, partners and company watchers claim that Microsoft is now positioning Surface RTs as consumer-focused devices and Surface Pros as business-focused devices. This is not actually the case.

surfaceforbiz


On Microsoft's own Surface business page, both Surface RTs and Pros are listed as being options for business users. The Surface Commercial Order site makes this clear, as well, given that it provides a way for large/volume licensing customers to buy both RTs and Pros.

Topics: Microsoft Surface, IT Priorities, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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88 comments
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  • Looks like ...

    ... Microsoft have started to get to grips with the volume manufacturing capabilities required to churn out enough devices to open-up sales in new markets and via new channels.
    bitcrazed
    • So surface is....

      ...unleashed on the market and sales executives, marketers, managers and team leaders would have mobile devices on there hands that would allow them not only to consume content, but also create and edit content on the move. If you were a manager and, for example, did not have time to prepare your staffs objectives and appraisal, once you get Surface, there would not be an excuse to say that you did not have the time to do it.

      And if you were a project manager, making presentations or taking notes in a meeting, you now have an access to a device that would allow you do all these without hesitation.

      So surface is not for dancing, but also for work and education! Good days for Surface are to come.
      Wonder.man
      • surface fail

        The surface is the latest example of Microsoft's inability to innovate. It's laughable how inept they are at innovation. Google probably comes up with more innovation on any/every given day then MS does in a year. MS only responds to the innovation of others, as they have done for many years. They copy and replicate everyone around them, but by the time they do, it's already old news. Things are different now. They are still the biggest boy on the playground, but their 3rd grade approach isn't cutting it with the high school crowd anymore and everybody can see that the 3rd grader might be a little slow in the head. Microsoft reminds me of the Brady movie where every design by Mike Brady was the same 70's look regardless of place or time. Only the Brady movie was funny, MS is just a pathetic factory of sadness. It's like someone stupid has been who keeps trying to get the crowd going on a joke that was only funny 20 years ago. Sad and pathetic.
        Henrique Dourado
        • Poor Henrique

          This post is the latest example of Henrique Dourado inability to think innovatively. It's laughable how inept he is at innovation. Loverock probably comes up with more innovative posts on any/every given day then Henrique Dourado does in a year. Henrique Dourado only responds to MS stories of others, as he has done for many months. He posts links of any MS youtube video around him, but by the time he does, it's already old news. Things aren’t any different now. He is still the smallest boy on the playground, but his 3rd grade approach isn't cutting it with the grown up crowd anymore and everybody can see that the 3rd grader might be a little slow in the head. Henrique Dourado reminds me of the Brady movie where every post by Mike Brady was the same 70's feel regardless of place or time. Only the Brady movie was funny, Henrique Dourado is just a pathetic factory of sadness. It's like someone stupid who has been who keeps trying to get the crowd going on a joke that was only funny 20 years ago. Sad and pathetic.

          Yup. That about sums it up. ;)
          William Farrel
          • William Farrel

            William Farrel I love you too

            kkk
            Henrique Dourado
        • You need to examine the number of IP that Microsott has, versus all others,

          and chances are that, you'll notice that Microsoft has more IP than Google and Apple combined. Innovation is reflected in the number of patents that a company owns, and, whether created within or acquired, wont make a difference, since, both Google and Apple have done the same.

          If you actually believe any of the junk you posted, then you need to go back to school to learn what innovation is really about.
          adornoe
          • Not necessarily

            Eastman Kodak has lots of patents. But the company is selling their IP to sustain themselves.
            ww3
          • Re: You need to examine the number of IP that Microsott has, versus all oth

            And yet you look at the billions it has had to pay out in patent settlements, which seems to completely dwarf the small potatoes it has been able to squeeze out by leaning on others to license its own patents, and it's clear that Microsoft's "intellectual property" just isn't that valuable.

            Otherwise it wouldn't be on the losing end of the whole patent-protection racket.
            ldo17
        • Please ...

          ... point me at the tablets with covers that have built-in keyboards to allow those tablets to be used for content creation as well as consumption. And point me at tablets with built-in kickstands. And point me at any other OS with an equally comprehensive and consistent live-updating tile-based UI.

          While you're at it, please point me at an OS from a search website vendor that is clearly has a GREAT many similarities with Apple's 'grid of static icons' iOS UI, which rests atop an OS that was largely created by others and an app platform that was created by Sun without correctly licensing said platform.
          bitcrazed
          • All those tablets with those features

            Are known as iPad/Android accessories, which the cost of device + accessory < SurFAIL.
            Non-Euclidean
          • You respond about accessories?

            And nothing about the early naughties static icon interface that is simply lacking innovation and is really getting old, which Google flat out copied icon for icon from Apple who originally copied xerox and later on anyone that they could ("We shamelessly Steal great technology").
            You may not like the tiles because you are tied to the past, but those who want to move forward with their tablet can do are embracing windows 8.
            xuniL_z
          • Kickstands?

            A kickstand is innovative? You must jest. You don't think Apple or Samsung gave a kickstand consideration? They likely deep-sixed the idea because its a dumb idea for a device that will mostly be hand-held or placed in a lap, because it i something that could easily break or warp if such a device fell off a lap or table with it extended, etc. Tablets shouldn't need tables to operate. I look at a Surface and my immediate impression is it is a glorified laptop with an urgent need for a power outlet.
            davidlfoster
          • Not quite innovation

            The keyboard in cover was an accessory available for the Palm device and later the BB Playbook. The angled stand is available in several of the Palm devices and the Playbook so, no Microsoft simply borrowed the idea.

            As for the tile concept, IBM incorporated it in Lotus Notes ver 5.0.1 in something like 1989 as its standard desktop interface and is still contained in the latest version, though not as the default.

            I think the tablet is the successor to the Palm TX, etc. more so than the pc. Also, the emergence of the direction of locking into Google as a new defacto suite of services seems to not be dissimilar to what Lotus was designing Notes to be before the internet was around and now is trying to accommodate.

            As for the cloud, it is no different than the old server system I used except I used cable to the server and terminals to access it. As the cloud concept develops, I can see something like Chrome making sense. Nothing more than a terminal with a gui rather than prompt. No need for more than a fast communications port, video port, etc., but not the need for large storage or processing power. A smartphone with a dock having hd video port, hq audio, keyboard and either faster wifi or data with better plans. The dock could contain tv and radio tuners, hdmi, and other connection ability, maybe connectivity to a Pi like low cost computer for local processing if advantageous.

            I am not a techie or engineer but with the current technology and developing systems, I think we can reengineer the computer to be what what so many companies have contributed towards but only in fragments as things evolve.

            As for working without the dock, I've seen a few persons with the 5" phones and they seem unwieldy in use. Maybe only a matter of getting used to them but, they'd not fit into a man's shirt pocket that for me set the target maximum size. Belt clips, etc. may be okay but these seem not to be the trend or at least for the phones I looked at a couple of months ago. Not to be sexist but not sure if the is something similar to a man's shirt pocket on woman's clothing.

            Sorry to go off topic but, there is so much slamming going on with almost nothing positive as to developments and direction with meaning nor recognition that much of what is being touted as new is merely updates of earlier concepts. Maybe the wrong group but, possibly we could come together and think about the future and where we could go with it.

            Imagine the merging of hollography, 3-d,.and google glasses. Games, presentations, cad, video, and so many other things could be done and monitors eliminated. The phone itself could be radicalized. Think about the future without television, cable, retail music, movies on mediums, all just streamed. Yes, I know this will kill industries like cable companies, require major business model changes by networks, but, it ks both foreseeable and doable. The companies are now experimenting with the fragments that one day possibly change our lives. New homes will have the sitting room that evolved to the living room and created the family room change the family room into the entertainment room. Where you walk in pop the phone into a dock and can sit and watch with friends the release of the newest blockbuster. Holdover? The popcorn and hot nacho machines.

            Long live the future and forward thinking.
            BrianLevyEsq
        • Not a single

          fact to back up your rant.
          Kunal Nanda
        • Henrique Fail

          Seriously....Sad and pathetic? Let's be clear on innovation. Apples innovation died with Jobs and Google's innovation strategy is to throw as much crap on the walls to see what sticks. I like Microsoft's market and customer lead innovation. The fact is that I've owned every iPad ever created and the Surface RT is a far more useful than any of my iPads. I just got the Surface Pro and I have to tell you that no tablet device even comes close. Microsoft is back in a huge way with Windows 8, Office 365 and the other cloud and on-prem solutions.
          adamloughran
    • Seems Likely

      Though, another possibility is that they accelerated this program because the consumer demand did not match expectations.
      DannyO_0x98
  • You would think...

    You would think Microsoft would make it a little bit easier to get these Surfaces into people's hands. If I were the one making decisions, I would've loosened the reigns a little and allowed as many (trusted) resellers as possible and not only give a healthy discount to bulk purchases but also wag that deal under the noses of large customers.
    jhnnybgood
    • Agreed

      They must have some plan in mind, but honestly, I still think they should have come in around $399 - $425 to start.

      When you're the new product on the block, you have to offer some incentive to get people to buy what they don't know as opposed to buying what they do know.

      People will pass up something that would have done exactly what they needed as they don't know enough about it, in lue of something they know they can finagle to do pretty much everything the need it to do given that both products cost the same.

      Lower the price and some may see the savings as worth that risk.
      William Farrel
      • I can tell you a bit about "the plan"

        We have a great tiled OS, everybody will buy it…oh no…nobody buys it…but at least everybody will buy our nice RT tablet….hold on…nobody buys that either….oh no…but wait, they may want the “workstation type tablet”…wait, wait, wait a bit more, create some artificial shortages just to be sure…oh no, nobody buys the Pro tablet either...let’s try selling them in bulk to the business. These guys buy anything if you discount it enough….

        WE ARE HERE….

        INTSERT PLAN C, PLAN D, PLAN X here…

        Skip into the future…Final outcome: Windows 8 is a failure, Windows RT is a failure, Windows Pro is a failure…reboot Windows, reboot mobile strategy, reboot Ballmer.
        mil7
        • Wrong

          Go play with your iToys, you know nothing about computers.
          cyang00