Microsoft Launches 'Try and Buy' Program for Pricey Surface Hub

Microsoft announces new purchasing options, including a 30-day trial period that allows potential users to try out the digital whiteboard and teleconferencing system.

surface hub

IT buyers evaluating Surface Hub, Microsoft's all-in-one digital whiteboard and teleconferencing solution, now have more buying options.

With prices starting at $8,999 for the 55-inch version of the device, and reaching a stratospheric $21,999 for the 84-inch model, it's reasonable for businesses to want to carefully evaluate the Surface Hub before they devote a significant portion of their hardware budgets to the multipurpose device.

This week during the ISE 2017 AV and integrated systems conference in Amsterdam, Microsoft unveiled new ways to help potential customers outfit their conference rooms with the Windows 10- and Office-powered system.

Calin Turcanu, senior director of Surface Marketing at Microsoft, took the wraps off the new Surface Hub Try & Buy Program. "Beginning Feb. 15, resellers across the U.S., U.K., Europe and Asia will provide their customers with Hubs for 30 days before requiring a commitment to purchase a larger set of devices," he wrote in a blog post.

More than 20 resellers are participating in the program, including video collaboration specialist Whitlock in the U.S. and CDW in the U.K.

Building on last year's Surface as a Service Program, Microsoft kicked off a new Surface Hub subscription offering. Surface as a Service allows customers lease Surface devices along with Windows 10, Office 365 and cloud services. Now customers can acquire the Surface Hub in a similar manner, rolling initial investment and configuration costs into the agreement, added Turcanu.

The new procurement options may help Microsoft maintain the Surface Hub's momentum in the enterprise.

According to the company, demand for the hardware has far exceeded its expectations. By the end of 2016, Microsoft shipped the devices to 2,000 customers across 24 markets, with an average deal size of 50 units. One unnamed car maker ordered 1,500 units.

Like the Surface Hub's customer base, its app ecosystem is also growing.

Although the device can run any Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, some are particularly well suited to its touch and pen-based input. These include AutoCAD 360 from AutoDesk and of course, Microsoft's own Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Power BI.

New Surface Hub-specific apps are trickling into the market, including Bullclip, an app that enables teams to collaborate on documents, schematics and drawings. A new update Stormboard enables whiteboard sessions that support simultaneous input from multiple Surface Hub users.

"Stormboard users could always collaborate in real-time, but the sketching component was limited to one user at one time," explained Turcanu. "Today's release lets unlimited users in unlimited locations on any device draw together to help turn their ideas into action."

Microsoft also announced an expansion of its Surface Multi-National Purchasing Program. The reseller program helps multinational customers to streamline the cross-border Surface device buying process.

Before this week, the program primarily catered to U.S.-based companies, but now companies with European headquarters can contract with area resellers, namely ATEA, Bechtle and Computacenter.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...