A day ahead of Apple's expected launch of new iPads for business users, Microsoft is out to show that it has an established and growing business presence with its Surface Pro tablets.
On September 8, Microsoft announced that Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Avanade/Accenture all will be reselling its Surface Pro tablets, and supplementing them with enterprise-grade services and apps.
These vendors are the first three participants in Microsoft's new Surface Enterprise Initiative, which is focused on furthering business adoption of Surfaces running Windows 10. More partners may be coming, Microsoft officials said.
Dell will begin offering the Surface Pros and related accessories, including docking stations, covers and pens, to its customers in the US and Canada in early October. Dell will sell the Surface Pro tablets alongside its own Venue Pro and Latitude tablets, which are also aimed at business users. Later this year, Dell will also sell Surfaces via its Dell.com/Work site.
In early 2016, Dell will start selling Surface tablets in the remaining 28 markets worldwide where the tablets are currently sold.
In addition to selling the Surface Pro hardware, Dell also will offer tablet customers the option to purchase additional Dell Services, including Dell Hardware Warranty (up to four years), ProSupport with Accidental Damage Service, and Configuration and Deployment Services. Dell launched ProSupport Plus, a service plan that covers PCs and tablets and aims to use predictive monitoring to head off and resolve issues, in February 2015.
Specifics about HP's plans and timing are still to come.
Consultancy Accenture and its Avanade joint venture with Microsoft already have built hundreds of apps for Windows enterprise customers, said Brian Hall, Microsoft's general manager for Surface. Microsoft is counting on Accenture to help build more universal apps for Windows 10 for business users, he said.
Microsoft announced in July that it was expanding the number of distributors authorized to carry its Surface tablets from a few hundred to a couple of thousand.
It's not just availability of the hardware that has been a limiting factor for some business users. Enterprise customers also have "a certain level of expectations of support," Hall said, including things like 24/7 service-level agreements and multinational sales support across geographies. That's where these new Surface Enterprise Initiative partners will come into play, he said.
Microsoft executives also reiterated as part of today's announcements that Microsoft has more business-focused features and services coming for Windows 10. The Enterprise Data Protection technology that's aimed at helping stem data leaks is on track for this fall, as are Passport secure authentication and Windows Store for business, which will provide business users with a way to distribute their own apps to their employees.
Microsoft plans to roll out these business-focused features to its Windows Insiders as part of coming test builds of Windows 10 "Threshold 2" later this month, officials said.
This story originally posted as "Dell, HP to resell Microsoft's Surface Pro tablets" on ZDNet.