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Microsoft announces new subscription options for Windows 10, debuts Surface as a service

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Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is currently taking place in Toronto and is already home to some interesting announcements. The company has unveiled some all new subscription options for Windows 10 and Surface for Businesses — two of its more important offerings.

Before taking a look at the actual changes, lets consider the reasons Microsoft has given for introducing them along with their timing. There has of late, been a huge increase in the amount of data being transferred from one place to another. Along with the issues associated with the large data, also come security concerns.

However, all these concerns — which Microsoft is attributing as due to a digital revolution — also require solutions and as the world’s leading PC manufacturer, Microsoft is only too happy to oblige — particularly since solutions also translate into more opportunities for the company.

As per a blog post by the company,

We will help enable digital transformation by delivering more personal computing across Windows and our devices. With this next wave of computing, all new opportunities are available for our partners – across Windows, Surface, Surface Hub, and Microsoft HoloLens.

And the timing ofcourse couldnt be better. Notice the focus laid on its partners. The WPC is its largest partner conference of the year, one that brings together over 15,000 attendees from around the globe, including a significant number of its resellers. As is to be expected, Microsoft’s announcement seek to make its resellers much more effective and the services they provide, much more attractive to customers.

So moving to the announcements themselves, the first one has to do with security — a rapidly growing concern in recent times as most of our data is shifting to computers. The data is not the only reason though, recent times have also seen a rapid increase in the number of incidences involving virtual crime.

While enterprise customers have access to top notch security by virtue of agreements with IT firms, there are a whole lot of small to mid-sized businesses operating in sectors like healthcare, legal and financial services that are also in need of robust security systems to face the rapidly growing threat posed by hacker, cyber terrorists and criminals. Well, Microsoft is looking to provide them exactly that at a minimal cost.

Today, we are announcing Windows 10 Enterprise E3 in CSP. Starting this fall, businesses can get enterprise-grade security and management capabilities at just $7 a seat per month for the first time through the Cloud Solution Provider channel.

So basically, Microsoft is providing its CSP partners with the ability to offer companies subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition as part of a managed service offering. The move will let companies with limited resources get the best in IT services, which along with the security and licensing part will also be managed by the partner actually providing them — for a modest charge ofcourse.

So along with the usual channels, companies will also be able to get hold of the boosted enterprise version with all the associated advantages of better security, easier scaling et cetra, through the partners. Available to them will be Windows 10, Office 365, Dynamics Azure and CRM on a per user, per month offering through a single channel, making the whole affair significantly cost effective for smaller to medium companies.

Windows 10 Enterprise continues to be available throughout regular licensing programs and is part of our newly-announced suites Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5 launching later this year.

Next up is the Surface as a service program which will grant distributors the ability to sell Surface as a Service. Under this, Microsoft authorized Surface Distributors will be able to offer Surface devices through a managed service offering to all of our resellers and customers. The program has been initially piloted in Europe, but is likely to go global soon.

What’s more, resellers and customers will also be able to get hold of Microsoft’s cloud services, Office 365, Windows 10, and relevant ISV software through its authorized distributors. With this, the company hopes to boost sales in the niche, which has already grown nearly fourfold in terms of revenue.

Next up is the expansion of Microsoft’s Surface Multi-National Purchasing Program to include CDW, Insight, SHI and Zones in the list of its distributors. These firms can now provide customers with Surface devices and accessories, thus promising to increase their reach and allow enterprises to purchase them in a more streamlined manor.

The next announcement is even more important as Microsoft said that it was teaming up IBM and Booz Allen Hamilton to deliver industry specific solutions to our shared customers. What that means is that enterprises that are shared customers will be able to purchase Surface devices that have been pre-customizes while keeping their specific needs in mind.

Microsoft actually did something of the kind with Dell last year, and since then has received multiple requests from customers, to create tailored solutions that digitize workflow across their core business processes. And with its latest partnerships, it will be able to comply and cater to these demands.

IBM will draw on their data and analytics expertise to create new industry-specific solutions for the financial services and consumer packaged goods sectors that take advantage of the unique capabilities of Surface devices.Booz Allen Hamilton will develop scalable and more secure solutions for Governments, the Public Sector and Healthcare.

The partnership should certainly snag it more customers looking for customized solutions for their processes.

Finally, Microsoft also touched upon HoloLens as the future solution for a wide variety of situations. The company said that the device was already bringing important changes to processes by bringing mixed reality into the equation. The company touted several examples such as Volvo, which is using them in its manufacturing processes, how medical students learn at universities like Case Western Reserve etc.

And its not all work and no play. The devices are also finding significant traction in the sports industry. An interesting example is of the PGA tournament, which is using them for a variety of purposes such as for fans to use the Windows 10 Tournament Companion app to track tournament data in real-time to get deeper insights on the game.

Speaking on the topic, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President and CIO Steve Evans said,

Microsoft HoloLens is an amazing tool for golf course design and for planning major eventson each course. It is an incredibleopportunity for players and caddies to plan their attack on a course, visually identifying the best tee-off locations and hazards and reviewing how they played each hole after theround is complete. Finally, a shared HoloLens experience provides valuable coaching for a class of golfers to learn how to approach different courses and scenarios.

An interesting nugget of fact Microsoft also mentioned was that the folks over at PGA are rapidly shifting to Windows 10. Apparently, over 60% percent systems have already made the transition with the remaining expected to do so by the end of summer.

This goes to show that its various services are helping each other along. After all, if Microsoft wants to reach its goal of 1 billion devices running windows 10 — its around  350 million atm — its going to need to make more and more enterprises to make the switch. Well, these custom solutions and mixed reality based innovations and all the rest are going to help it do just that.

A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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