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Microsoft Corp. has announced the initial phase of its business-channel expansion plans for the Surface family of tablets, along with AppsForSurface – a new Surface application-development program for independent software vendors (ISVs). Previously, Microsoft Surface media and business tablets were available only from Microsoft retail stores and from major online resellers.

As part of its measured and phased approach to the growth of the Surface business, Microsoft announced the Microsoft Devices Program, which allows customers to purchase Surface and commercial services through authorized resellers. The two-tier program establishes Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data as inaugural device-authorized distributors to sell Surface to a newly designated group of device-authorized commercial resellers. Today, these resellers include CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, PC Connection, PCM, SHI International, Softchoice, Softmart and Zones.

In addition to offering Microsoft’s extended warranty and accidental damage, resellers bring a variety of value-added services to the Surface family such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection. During the next few months, Microsoft will work to authorize commercial distributors and resellers in more countries.

AppsForSurface, a new ISV program that provides devices and funding for Surface-specific business applications, addresses the growing demand for Surface enterprise applications. Current program participants include Airstrip, Citrix, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Sage.

In June, Microsoft announced a one-time offer for Surface RT starting at $199 for qualifying educational institutes running until the end of August in 26 countries, valid for all K–12 schools and universities purchasing direct from Microsoft. In the coming days, Microsoft will expand this offer into the commercial channel starting with authorized Surface resellers in the United States. Microsoft has a long tradition of delivering high-quality solutions for education, and this offer is intended to get Surface in the hands of even more educators and students.

Tags: Microsoft, Surface, Windows 8, Windows RT, Business

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