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Microsoft Targets Google and Apple in Schools With 'Surface Plus' Hardware Subscription Program (geekwire.com) 51

An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft is launching a new subscription program for buying Surface computers and tablets in much the same way that many people now purchase smartphones, with no-interest financing for two years and the ability to upgrade to a new device before the term is up. Announced this morning at the launch of back-to-school season, the initiative is part of a broader push by Microsoft to gain new momentum in U.S. schools, where Google Chromebooks have taken the lead vs. Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft's new subscription program, called Surface Plus, will be available starting later today through the Microsoft Store in person and online. Microsoft's Surface Laptop, Surface Pro, Surface Book and Surface Studio are all options under the program. The program lets participants upgrade to a new machine after 18 months when they return their existing hardware in good condition. In addition to Surface Plus for students and consumers, Microsoft is offering a variation called Surface Plus for Business with the option to buy multiple machines under a single agreement, and the ability to finance a 55-inch Surface Hub as part of the agreement. The business version of the program also includes upgrade rights, with the timing of the upgrade depending on the length of the agreement. The fine print: an interest rate of 19.99% kicks in after 24 months.
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Microsoft Targets Google and Apple in Schools With 'Surface Plus' Hardware Subscription Program

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  • I know it is nice to show a bunch of students with laptops, it makes it look all hi-tech and stuff. However the educational benefits of having a computer for many classes is mostly minor.

    The only benefit I can see is if they use All digital contents and replace text books. So students are not caring around 20 lbs of books, and the cost per media is closer to $50 per student vs $150 per student.

    • by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @01:43PM (#54921053) Journal
      Agree with this completely. Which has greater impact on education, 5000 new computers or one good math teacher? If you wanted to teach children to code you could do it on an IBM XT from 1984. As you pointed out, maybe educators save on materials by going digital instead of paying for textbooks, but as to a computer's educational value, depends entirely on the teacher and what they are teaching.
      • Which has greater impact on education, 5000 new computers or one good math teacher?

        Five thousand new computers. One math teacher, good or not, will not reach 5000 students in one year, and teaches only math. Five thousand computers will be used by 5000 students in all kinds of subjects. While the individual impact (one good teacher on one student) may be much higher, multiplying the individual effects of a new computer by 5000 make it more significant.

        But I get your point. Try: "which has a greater impact on a student -- a good teacher or a new computer?" That I agree with completely. An

      • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @02:36PM (#54921339)

        Why compare a math teacher to 5000 laptops? In one year, a math teacher costs roughly the same as 50 low-end Surface Laptops.

      • Agree with this completely. Which has greater impact on education, 5000 new computers or one good math teacher? If you wanted to teach children to code you could do it on an IBM XT from 1984. As you pointed out, maybe educators save on materials by going digital instead of paying for textbooks, but as to a computer's educational value, depends entirely on the teacher and what they are teaching.

        Rather do it with an Apple ][ from 1978.

        Built in BASIC, built in mini-Assembler, built in low and hi-res graphics. Game paddles. And just a more friendly machine overall.

        Not to mention that learning Assembly language on the 6502 is a LOT easier than on the 8086 or 8088.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Actually, current research says that the educational benefit of computers i the classroom seems to be significantly negative. For books, which is one point I agree on, an e-book reader would be the ting to use.

      • Actually, current research says that the educational benefit of computers i the classroom seems to be significantly negative. For books, which is one point I agree on, an e-book reader would be the ting to use.

        Well, if you set them to not allow internet connectivity during the school day...they might prove useful for note taking, learning coding, etc...?

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          Pretty wrong. Note taking works much better in paper, the recall values are much, much better. Learning to code? In school? Forget it. and "etc..." just means you are one of these believers in "technology fixes everything". It does not. It makes some things easier, which is, in most cases, not desirable during education.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "However the educational benefits of having a computer for many classes is mostly minor."

      You seem to be overlooking Microsoft's ABUSE. In the future, will everything Microsoft makes require a subscription with "an interest rate of 19.99% that kicks in after 24 months."?

      In the future, will the U.S. have a government that is even more degraded? Only rich people will get what they want?
    • Carrying books is the closest thing some students get to exercise these days... also books handle being dropped a lot easier.
  • This is not for personal use, this is not meant for your home user, this is not meant to be used in a singular environment for a single user. This is a BUSINESS/ACADEMIC plan to provide a piece of hardware that if(when) it breaks that you can get immediate replacement for it and when the hardware is outdated you get a new device you can reassign to another user without having to worry about recycling and asset management when the device has to be removed from circulation.

    This is the same way cell phone pro
    • This is not for personal use, ...

      Huh? They would happily sell one to me, so how is that not "personal use"?

      This is not meant for the Grognard. This is not meant for the Hardware Hoarder.

      Why not? Your subject says "U DNT OWN IT", but yes, you do. Yeah, there's a payment plan so you pay it off over 24 months, but that's not much different than paying with a credit card. The credit card company WILL charge interest, and they won't repossess the computer if you don't pay them, they'll just add on fees and hike your interest rate.

      It's an Intel processor, why can't you put Linux on it? Will Linux not support the Surface

      • It's an Intel processor, why can't you put Linux on it? Will Linux not support the Surface hardware?

        "Restricted Boot" [fsf.org] is a term used by the Free Software Foundation to refer to UEFI Secure Boot shipped in a configuration that a PC's owner cannot disable or customize. A PC with Restricted Boot will refuse to even load GRUB.

        The terms under which Microsoft licensed Windows RT to OEMs required devices to use Restricted Boot. Windows 10 S is seen as a spiritual successor to Windows RT because like Windows RT, Windows 10 S can run only applications from Windows Store. I haven't tried any Windows 10 S devices m

        • "Restricted Boot" is a term used by the Free Software Foundation to refer to UEFI Secure Boot

          Thank you for the lecture on what UEFI secure boot is.

          The terms under which Microsoft licensed Windows RT to OEMs required devices to use Restricted Boot.

          This is a Surface Pro. Just a few seconds on Google finds simple instructions [onmsft.com] for disabling secure boot, with explicit reference to running Ubuntu or even MacOS. Can you cite anything that shows that Microsoft as the OEM is now disabling the ability to disable secure boot on their hardware?

          Admittedly, the link I just gave is a few years old. Here's [surfacetip.com] one that is much more recent. Here's [microsoft.com] one from MS itself talking about Surface Pro 4 and disabling secure

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            Surface Pro, yes. Surface Laptop, not so much.

            • Surface Pro, yes. Surface Laptop, not so much.

              You really ought to learn how to use Google. Changing one word (removing "pro") in the Google search that resulted in info on how to turn secure boot off on a Surface Pro yielded this [microsoft.com] link, which covers Pro, Book, and Studio. Microsoft themselves are telling people how to turn secure boot off on their Surface devices.

              Tell us all again how Microsoft is preventing people from bypassing secure boot.

              • by tepples ( 727027 )

                Pro, Book, and Studio come with normal Windows 10. Laptop comes with Windows 10 S. I'm surprised that Microsoft allows turning off Secure Boot on the Surface Laptop without first unlocking Windows 10 Pro on that device.

                • Pro, Book, and Studio come with normal Windows 10. Laptop comes with Windows 10 S.

                  Secure boot applies before the OS is booted, so it doesn't matter which it is. You keep imagining reasons why you can't disable secure boot on Surface devices yet can point to nothing supporting that claim.

                  • by tepples ( 727027 )

                    Secure boot applies before the OS is booted

                    In theory, Microsoft could have had the Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro flip a bit in the UEFI configuration allowing the user to configure . But it appears Microsoft

                    You keep imagining reasons why you can't disable secure boot on Surface devices yet can point to nothing supporting that claim.

                    The Surface devices running Windows RT (Surface RT and Surface 2) had Restricted Boot. From "Windows RT" on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

                    In contrast to Windows 8 (where the feature had to be enabled by default on OEM devices, but remain user-configurable), Microsoft requires all Windows RT devices to have UEFI Secure Boot permanently enabled, preventing the abilit

  • So can you upgrade to full windows 10 or does that void the deal?

    windows 10 education can run non store apps and can be more locked down (GPO's, disable tracking, AD, wsus, 3rd party antivirus and patching systems)

    • So can you upgrade to full windows 10 or does that void the deal?

      From the "fine print", item 1: "Easily and affordably switch to Windows 10 Pro at any time." Yes, you can pay to upgrade.

      • but does that upgrade void the hardware price deal? or is it just the pro upgrade 1 off or need to buy pro each time to swap to new hardware?

        • but does that upgrade void the hardware price deal?

          It's part of the conditions of the deal, so no, it would not void anything.

          or is it just the pro upgrade 1 off or need to buy pro each time to swap to new hardware?

          I assume you would need to pay for an upgrade for each system you buy. I don't know.

  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @01:22PM (#54920941)
    Nice clickbait. Yawn.

    I went to look at the details. Not much out of line to see here. Selling computers with a payment plan. Zero percent interest is good, I don't see the problem there.

    Here's where there is a problem. You go to the MS sales site where you get to select what you want. There's a "subtotal" shown on the page where you select options. "$799". As you select CPU, memory, etc, that subtotal does not change. Cool -- I7 for the same price as an M3, 16Gb same as 8Gb, etc. Then you get to the next page. Wham. Subtotal: $2699. Dell somehow manages the magic of keeping the price updated as you configure their systems, but MS cannot figure that out? How dishonest can you get? Ok, it's MS, this isn't unexpected, and it could get worse.

    The fine print: an interest rate of 19.99% kicks in after 24 months.

    This isn't a problem. They tell you in advance, and the payment plan runs for only 24 months. You'll have paid this off by the time any interest would start, unless you don't make your payments. Well, the $33/month listed for the $799 system results in only $792 after 24 months, so you add $7 to the last payment and there is no interest.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      You'll have paid this off by the time any interest would start,

      Or miss just one payment and 19.99% kicks in retroactively. Not a problem, as all interest will be forgiven if you trade it in for the new Windows 11 "We've got you now, sucka!" edition (the only thing that qualifies for the forgiveness program).

      • Or miss just one payment and 19.99% kicks in retroactively.

        Actually, if you read the terms and conditions [klarna.com], you will see, under "Purchase-Specific Promotions -- Planned Payments Purchases" the following clause:

        For Planned No Interest Payments Purchases, we will not charge any interest during the promotional period. You have the obligation to pay each Monthly Planned Payment by the applicable Payment Due Date during the promotional period and pay the Purchase balance in full by the Expiration Date. If any balance remains after the Expiration Date, such balance will b

    • by oneneo ( 987547 )
      The subtotal updated for me in real-time actually, as expected.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @01:23PM (#54920945)

    From TFA:

    The fine print: an interest rate of 19.99% kicks in after 24 months.

    Poor student right in the middle of an education is looking at major financing charges starting to pile up. Or, you could trade up and your debt will be forgiven (or postponed?).

    Once you are here, you can never leave. Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha! [youtube.com]

  • When you can lease it at 10x the cost!? LoL The Micro-shaft!
  • "Hey, it looks like you've accidentally abandoned your old pal, Microsoft. Would you like help with that?"
    > No.

    "Now listen here, motherfucker. I need this. If I do a good job then maybe they'll take me back. Will you help me?"
    > NO.

    "I WILL FUCKING CUT YOU! Don't think that I won't because I will. I've killed people for less than this. Now are we gonna do this or what?"
    > NO!

    "THAT'S IT, YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE SHIIIIIIII...."
    "He's dead Jim! This page has crashed. :("

  • Wasn't there some study released in the last few months that said they saw no improvement in grades or test scores or some metric(s) or other over having no computers? That they were more of a distraction than anything else?
  • Putting hardware on payment plan makes it easier for organizations to upgrade uniformly. Instead of needing $200K to upgrade all of their desktops at once, they can budget ~$8K/month over two years---but still get the hardware when they need it.

    This could be a lifesaver for cash-strapped IT organizations, especially for hardware that should be on a tech refresh cycle in the first place.

    It is much, much easier to manage a homogenous fleet of desktops than the hodgepodge you'll get from upgrading 1-2 departme

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