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New Microsoft Surface Financing Plans for SMBs

Microsoft is replacing its Surface Membership program for small and medium-sized businesses with a new plan that offers additional features and services, the company announced this week.

The new Surface Plus for Business program allows customers to mix Surface devices under a single membership plan, finance devices with flexible terms, access Office 365 for a flat, per-user monthly fee and more.

The plan is available to both new and existing U.S. customers at Microsoft Stores or through the online store. We’re checking to see if an associated partner program offer is in the making.

Microsoft also rolled out a consumer version of the plan called Surface Plus that offers payment plans, device upgrades, service, support and technical assistance.

Surface Business Plan Details

With Surface Plus for Business, SMBs can mix and match Surface devices under a single agreement. For the first time, they can finance the 55-inch Surface Hub touch-screen collaboration device, in addition to the Surface Pro tablet/laptop hybrid, the student-focused Surface Laptop, the high-end Surface Book laptop and the Surface Studio PC.

Office 365 for Business will be available to plan customers for an additional $8.25 per user per month.

Financing will be available in 18, 24 or 30-month periods, with upgrades available in 12 months on 18-month plans and in 18 months on 24-month plans. The number of devices can be reduced or expanded mid-term.

For customers with approved credit, interest-free financing is available for 24 months. After that, interest climbs to 19.99 percent.

The plan also offers the Microsoft Complete for Business extended service plan with accidental damage protection.

Microsoft’s strategy, it would appear, is to boost sales of the devices by making them more affordable and accessible, while also appealing to consumer and business desires to have the latest devices without paying full price every time an upgraded model is released.

Apple launched its similar iPhone Upgrade Program for consumers in 2015, offering customers the latest iPhone model each year, along with AppleCare+ coverage, spread over monthly payments.

Surface Ups and Downs

When the Surface launched five years ago, sales were dismal. Rather than giving up, Microsoft forged on, expanding the line because it believed the concept of a tablet/laptop hybrid would catch on.

Sales eventually began to take off. And although sales still lag behind Apple’s Mac and iPad lines, the Microsoft products have been widely praised by critics for their design and innovation.

After years of growth, however, Surface faced another snag this year. In its third-quarter earnings, Microsoft reported a 26 percent year-over-year decline in revenues for the devices.

Microsoft attributed the decline to increased competition in the laptop/tablet hybrid market. When Q3 results were released in April, at least two Surface models had not been updated in two years.

Microsoft has since released the student-focused Surface Laptop to compete with the MacBook. It remains to be seen how that — along with new consumer and business plans — will impact Surface sales.

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