What’s new with Surface for Business

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At Microsoft’s annual fall Surface event, Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay unveiled an impressive six additions to the Surface portfolio.

Attendees got a firsthand look at the new lineup of Surface devices coming this holiday season – Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro 7, Surface Pro X, and the Surface Earbuds. They also got a glimpse at the future of Surface with two category-changing foldable devices — Surface Neo, a dual-screen tablet, and the Surface Duo, a dual-screen pocketable device.

The event was packed with information mostly geared toward consumers, which was the intended audience. With so much new product information, it’s easy for businesses to miss the Surface news relevant to their organizations.

Based on questions we received after the event, here are some things you should know.

Key differences between Surface for Business and consumer products

There are differences between the new Surface devices you buy through retail and those you purchase through the commercial channel. Consider the following:

  • Windows 10 Home vs. Windows 10 Pro: Windows 10 Home comes standard on consumer Surface products, while the commercial devices come with Windows 10 Pro. The latter offers additional business functionality and enhanced security and management features like being able to deploy units with AutoPilot.
  • Advanced Exchange: This accelerated replacement service is available for Surface for Business devices at no additional cost. With it, commercial customers can reduce downtime if their unit runs into issues. Microsoft sends out a replacement unit before you mail in the defective device.
  • AMD vs. Intel: The new AMD Ryzen chip that was announced in the Surface Laptop 3 will only be available through retail. The Surface for Business Laptop 3 will ship with the Intel 10th Gen Ice Lake chip.
  • Physical TPM chip: Only the Surface for Business Laptop 3 and Pro 7 come with a physical TPM chip to enhance security and potentially fulfill internal infosec requirements. Consumer models will come with a firmware-level TPM chip.
  • Commercial packaging: Packaging of commercial Surface products has been redesigned to ease the deployment process and increase sustainability. The retail Surface boxes are shrink wrapped and have a vacuum sealed lid. When commercial customers deploy hundreds or thousands of units, it can be quite cumbersome and time consuming to get to the actual unit. The new packaging allows IT to get to the units faster and are made of more post-consumer recycled content.

Surface Pro X cannot be traditionally imaged

The new Surface Pro X is not running an Intel processor or an AMD processor. Instead, it’s running a new ARM-based Microsoft SQ1 chip that Microsoft co-engineered with Qualcomm over the last three years. This is the same type of chip architecture you’d find in a cellphone, but much more powerful.

With it, you get the advantages of using a mobile processor — longer battery life, a light and thin device, and always connected LTE — along with increased performance and the ability to run full Windows 10. As for applications, the SQ1 chip can run 32-bit x86 apps, but 64-bit x86 apps will not install or run at this time.

The Surface Pro X is designed for enterprises that are in the cloud, deploying units via AutoPilot, and taking advantage of modern management via Azure AD and Intune. The device cannot be traditionally imaged using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), regardless of whether you purchase it through retail or the commercial channel. Instead, you’ll need to move to modern management; SHI’s Zero Touch Deployment Service can help with this.

Introducing reparability

Historically Surface devices have not been serviceable, and it was one of the main reasons some commercial customers have been hesitant to standardize on Surface. Microsoft took that feedback and is now introducing reparability into the Surface Laptop 3 and the Surface Pro X.

Only Authorized Service Providers can replace the SSD following Microsoft instructions, but this development should make Surface a more attractive option for many organizations.

Choosing a Surface for Business device for your organization

The Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7 are slated to start shipping on Oct. 22, while the Surface Pro X will start shipping on Nov. 5. All of these devices are now available for pre-order from SHI.

SHI also has automated AutoPilot enrollment for Surface at the time of order to ensure seamless device deployment. If you are interested in purchasing one of the new Surface devices or want to learn which devices will best fit your organization, contact your SHI account executive today.

Trevor Ferguson contributed to this post.