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Microsoft is leasing Surface tablet and software bundles to businesses

Last month, Microsoft quietly launched a program for individuals to lease its Surface detachable tablets to small businesses so they could use top-line machines without a lot of up-front cost. Today they’re rolling out a more ambitious plan that takes a page out of the SaaS playbook, letting partners rent out the devices alongside the tech giant’s more popular office software.

As part of their Surface as a Service initiative, authorized third parties will offer the tablets along with Microsoft cloud services, Windows 365, Windows 10 and other ISV software. Unlike last month’s small business-focused membership program, the tech giant wants more options to broaden its appeal to both the SMB and enterprise markets. Microsoft has already launched the program with ALSO, a cloud solutions provider in Europe, and will roll out globally as they secure similar partnerships, according to the company’s post.

It will be interesting whether Microsoft expands the concept to its other hardware products. It might suit game consoles’ iterative release schedule: lease an Xbox One now, automatically upgrade to the slimmer Xbox One Sas it comes out and then get boosted to the Xbox successor Project Scorpiowhen it’s expected to launch at the end of 2017. While we may not see the tech giant try to push Windows phones, the company has shown itself willing to sacrifice profits by using bundle sales to get hardware in new hands.