June 8, 2016 - Microsoft has quietly introduced a Surface Membership Plan that allows small businesses to keep up with the latest Surface hardware and buy the devices on a monthly payment plan. Starting at $32.99 per month, business users get "the latest Surface devices, accessories, support, and training." The membership plan includes the current generation Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, and Surface 3, but it also comes with free upgrades when newer models become available.
As Thurrott.com points out, the membership program follows the iPhone Upgrade program that Apple introduced last year. The Surface memberships also include setup, personal training, in-store tech support, an extended service plan and Accidental Damage Protection. The monthly costs vary, depending on the model and whether you stretch out the payments over 18, 24 or 30 months, but the cheapest is a basic Surface Pro 3 for $33 per month over 30 months. The most expensive will run you about $221 per month for a tricked-out Surface Book with a 1TB hard drive, 16 GB RAM, Intel i7 processor and dedicated GPU.
That also means, at the end of the installments, you'll have shelled out about $3,978 for that Surface Book, versus $3,448 for the same machine with just a two-year service plan and no other bundled deals (or $3,199 if you live on the edge and skip the service plan). For the budget Surface 3, the membership plan works out to $990 total over two and a half years, versus $600 for the device with no extras.
One other thing to note here: the plans are meant for business customers and not individuals, although you can still sign up to order only a single device, rather than a whole fleet. Also, in order to be approved for the membership plan, you'll have to go through Microsoft's financing partner LiftForward to handle all the monthly payments and credit applications.