Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) has announced a new entry to its Surface line of personal computers, the Surface Pro 7+ for Business. "The year 2020 brought one of the biggest accelerations of digital transformation in our lifetime," as Microsoft states in its press release, going on to say that the new device is designed with the specific purpose of enhancing the efficiency of the remote and hybrid work and educational environments that developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microsoft also announced that the new Surface Hub 2S 85" would begin shipping in select markets later in January 2021. This device is an interactive white board.
- Microsoft has released its new Surface Pro 7+ for Business.
- This personal computer is designed for remote work and learning.
- Microsoft may be betting that these arrangements are here to stay.
Surface Pro 7+ for Business: Rationale for Development
"In the past year, Surface usage within enterprise organizations nearly doubled driven by strong growth in the use of collaboration and productivity apps to maintain business continuity," Microsoft asserts. The new Surface Pro 7+ for Business apparently is intended as a means to maintain this sales momentum.
More specifically, Microsoft lists "four key learnings" that emerged in the course of its "extensive research" that guided development of the Surface Pro 7+ for Business:
- The future of working and learning is hybrid and requires more flexibility.
- Connectivity is critical to uninterrupted business operations.
- Camera to camera is the new face to face.
- End to end security from chip to cloud is more critical than ever before.
In discussing the Surface Pro line in general, Microsoft states: "[P]eople should not have to choose between the portability and convenience of a tablet and the power and productivity of a traditional laptop. In the last seven years, Surface Pro has become known for its versatility, power and performance, brilliant touch screen, pen capabilities, and great battery life."
Surface Pro 7+ for Business: Key New Features
Microsoft highlights these new key features in the Surface Pro 7+ for Business:
- Optional LTE Advanced...that helps keep people connected at home if Wi-Fi bandwidth is limited or if they are in a remote location. That is, unlike most other personal computers, the Surface Pro 7+ for Business allows users to connect to cellular networks, as do smartphones and most tablets.
- 11th Gen Intel Core Processors, with 2.1 times faster performance.
- Longer battery life of up to 15 hours.
- The adaptability to dock into external displays and leverage the needed peripherals for a full workstation setup.
- Front and rear-facing cameras...with 1080p full HD video.
- Dolby Atmos speakers and dual far-field Studio Microphones so people can be seen and heard.
- More environmentally friendly packaging ... [that] sets a new level for lightweight, sustainable commercial packaging.
List prices start at $899 for the Wi-Fi configuration and $1,149 for the LTE Advanced configuration. Nonetheless, the actual prices for enterprise customers are bound to be at discounts to these figures.
Significance for Investors
Over the years, Microsoft has transformed itself from a software vendor to a full-range technology company that also includes hardware, such as the Surface line of personal computers, and cloud computing services. As noted above, the new Surface Pro 7+ for Business is evidence that Microsoft is determined to remain on the cutting edge with respect to hardware. Additionally, the focus on releasing an enterprise version before a consumer version is indicative of the importance to Microsoft of bulk sales to large organizations.
It remains to be seen whether the technical advances that Microsoft touts for the Surface Pro 7+ for Business live up to the company's representations. It also remains to be seen whether this new release has a major impact on sales, especially in light of Microsoft's assertion about brisk sales of earlier models in the past year. It is unlikely that many of these enterprise customers will choose to upgrade so soon. As a result, Microsoft may be banking on winning yet more enterprise customers with this model, as well as betting that remote work and learning environments will remain widespread into the future.