Tag: Surface

Microsoft assimilates 15 resellers to its collective

The BorgMicrosoft has added 15 UK resellers to its new Surface Hub partner programme.

The Surface Hub was launched in Europe with just 20 specialist AV partners, but in February Microsoft opened up the device to its entire partner base through The Surface Hub Distributors Programme for Opportunity Resellers (VAD-OR).

Danielle Crayton, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft UK, said that the Surface Hub “ecosystem” is growing daily and Microsoft’s partners play an essential role in that growth by helping organisations implement new, innovative workplace collaboration strategies and communicate with colleagues across geographies.

“Surface Hub is a new breed of collaboration tool designed to unlock the power of any group and their ideas in real time. This ultimately leads to better solutions and results, regardless of whether teams are in the same room or spread across the globe.”

Microsoft said its Surface Hub customer base has increased globally from 500 customers last July to 2,000 now.

One of the partners was the IT outsourcing giant Capita. Managing director of Capita’s smart buildings divisions Paul Morris said Capita’s cunning plan was to bring users’ experience into the 21st century and embrace the developing role of multimedia technology to support and enable all employees.

“We offer customised audio-visual systems that encompass and deliver seamless collaboration, maximise content delivery and increase productivity within any environment. Surface Hub is a key part of our offering to clients, and we are very proud to have been awarded Authorised Device Reseller (ADR) status.”

Other partners are eBECS, Electrosonic, GV MultiMedia and Pro AV which are now Surface Hub ADRs, while a further 10 partners have been recruited through the VAD-OR programme with distributor Maverick.

Microsoft tells partners to pass on Surface price hikes

Microsoft campusSoftware king of the world, Microsoft, has told its channel chums to pass on the price increases of its surface gear.

The move is expected to cause a few headaches as resellers will be the ones left explaining why prices have risen.

The reason is the value of the pound and the Brexit tax. There have been some price rises already with the large hardware vendors passed on the currency fluctuations but now everyone is having to do it. This is mostly because the only thing that is selling for 90 euro cents a pound turns out to be the pound.

Vole has said that it is increasing hardware prices on the Surface and the Surface Book by 15 percent, as a direct consequence of the state of Sterling.

The vendor has given the channel some leeway on exactly how much it will pass on those increase, but really a 15 percent increase is about the only way it can happen.

A spokes Vole said that the price increases only affect products and services purchased by individuals, or organisations without volume licensing contracts and will be effective from February 15, 2017.

“For indirect sales where our products and services are sold through partners, final prices will continue to be determined by them,” it  added.

Microsoft is doing its best to encourage the channel to sell more of its Surface line. Schemes like a try-before-you-buy and increased services have all launched in the last few months to tempt more users.

Other vendors that have looked at prices include HP and Apple and earlier this week the speaker manufacturer Sonos revealed that it was also increasing the costs for customers because of exchange rates.

Still at least the UK can be re-assured that as soon as the UK gets out of the EU more than $380 million a week will be spent on the National Health Service.

Ingram Micro goes very very quiet

ingram-mico-hqIngram Micro UK & Ireland has signed up to be the newest distributor for Quiet’s power supplies, PC cases and cooling solutions.

Ingram said the addition of Quiet’s products to its portfolio will allow resellers to offer customers a wider range of peripherals, while developing their own new and innovative product ranges promote growth.

Taj Pandya, head of commercial management at Ingram Micro, UK and Ireland said:“We are extremely excited to be able to deliver new technologies and opportunities to our channel partners and we are thrilled that be quiet! has trusted us with the distribution of their premium products that embrace an exceptional level of precision and quality.”

“We hope the inclusion of this new vendor will appeal to our customer base and will permit Ingram’s further expansion into new categories.”

Ingram Micro was one of the first to sign up for Microsoft’s Surface as a Service programme, which will allow new services and hardware to its customers based around Redmond’s Surface Tablet.

 

Microsoft thinks it knows what businesses really really want

surface-rtSoftware king of the world Microsoft has been asking its enterprise customers how it can improve the adoption of Surface tablets and Windows 10.

Writing in its Bog, Vole said that it had been chatting to customers who made large global footprints and discovered that the service, management and support options were pinching.

“Many told us they wanted to buy Surface from one partner, in one transaction, and have devices deployed all over the world with a single support and warranty SLA,” the blog says.

This is apparently the reason why Vole announced that Dell and HP will now resell Surface tablets and bring their enterprise-grade support offerings to the devices.

Microsoft has added two new additions to the Surface Enterprise Initiative to speed the adoption of Surface tablets and Windows 10.

Starting at the beginning of 2016, Vole will bring in a new “Microsoft Complete for Enterprise” warranty. This has four elements that the firm says its larger enterprise customers have asked for including the ability to pool warranty claims by company versus individual devices.

Microsoft will allow warranty claims against non-bootable devices. It will bring in rapid replace processing and an on-boarding centre to ensure a premium within the first 30 days.

Vole will assist IT staff to get setup with warranty and support processes as well as provide online training for their employees to get productive as fast as possible.

In addition to this there is the Business Device Trade-In Program.

“Many customers have told us that they want to upgrade to Surface and Windows 10, but have invested in devices and need to maximise the value they receive from those assets,” the blog said.

“With the Business Device Trade-in Program we make it simple. This is different from other trade-in offers in that it is a permanent program for business customers, rather than a limited time promotion.”

With 24 hour quotes, prepaid shipping labels and secure data wipe, business customers can trade their used business laptops, tablets, and phones for credit towards the purchase of new Surface devices.

This offer will be available in the coming weeks to business customers in the US, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Soon it will be rolled out to Australia, France, Germany and the UK.

Microsoft delivers Surface through Dell

surface-pro-2Software giant Microsoft has unveiled a partnership to allow businesses to buy  Surface Pro tablets and Surface accessories through Dell’s enterprise sales division.

Starting next month, it is part of a cunning plan, which will involve Microsoft working with other companies like HP and Accenture on promoting its tablets for business use. In fact the idea seems similar to the one drafted up between Apple and IBM, only it is more likely to work as Microsoft and the others have more experience in the business market.

Dell will also make Microsoft’s tablets available through its online enterprise sales website later this year. Companies that purchase Surface Pro tablets through this partnership can also purchase Dell services, such as up to four years of a hardware warranty, ProSupport with Accidental Damage Service, and Configuration and Deployment Services.

HP will also be selling Microsoft’s tablet through its enterprise sales force, and will be offering a set of Care Packs to help companies plan, configure, deploy and manage a Surface Pro 3 rollout. In addition, the company plans to release “mobility workflow transformation tools and services” next year.

Businesses already buy services and support from Dell for other computers and servers and it means that Dell and HP will sell Microsoft tablets alongside their own tablets and 2-in-1 convertible PCs.

Microsoft has dubbed all this the Surface Enterprise Initiative. The programme could improve adoption from enterprises that want to purchase their technology products from a partner that can also provide service and support for deploying devices.

Microsoft expands its Surface channel

tablet Software giant Microsoft has confirmed that more UK Microsoft resellers will get their paws on Surface tablets as it attempts to open up the channel.

Vole has previously worked with just nine authorised device resellers (ADR) since the tablet first appeared in 2013.  It added another six in April.  There were only 150 authorised ADR worldwide, so having so few in the UK was not unusual.

At its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July, Microsoft said it was ready to open up distribution globally and let more resellers in on the action.

Vole said that the channel was going to open to 4,500 resellers worldwide.

It looks like Volish distributers Ingram Micro and Tech Data will have 51 new ADRs on their books from 1 September, pushing the total number in the UK to 65.

Several hundred resellers initially expressed interest in selling the tablet and  Ingram and Tech Data, which then whittled them down to a list of 60. Vole cut the list down to 51. This group of resellers will be able to get the Surface tablet from Ingram Micro or Tech Data from next week.

The new ADRs will have the same Microsoft programme benefits, marketing money, rebates and price points available to them.

Microsoft introduces second gen Surface tabs

surface-pro-2Although many in the industry have already written off Windows RT, Microsoft is giving it a shot in the arm with a second generation Surface tablet. Dubbed Surface 2, without the RT suffix, the new tablet is based on Nvidia’s Tegra 4 SoC and it boasts an 1080p display. The specs are hardly surprising, as the tablet was an open secret for months. 

The biggest difference, however, is not under the bonnet. The Surface 2 will go on sale at Microsoft retail store and select third-party retailers in 22 markets. The first generation Surface RT was hampered by slow introduction and it took months to roll out in some markets. Microsoft clearly cannot afford to lose momentum on the Surface 2, which could be its last chance in the ARM-based tablet market, and the last chance for Windows RT 8.1. The Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB flavours, starting at £359.

The Surface Pro 2 is a different beast, as it’s based on a beefier x86 chip and it runs Windows 8.1 Pro. It leverages Intel’s new Haswell low-power Core i5 processor and it is said to increase performance and deliver up to 60 percent more battery life than the original Surface Pro. Starting at £719, it’s not very cheap, but the Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8 GB of RAM. That’s quite a lot for a tablet.

Microsoft also launched six new accessories, including new Touch and Type covers. In addition, there’s a Power Cover as well, which includes a battery and can extend battery life by up to 50 percent, but it costs a rather painful £165. There’s a new car charger with USB, along with the Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition – although Windows 8.1 is designed with touch in mind, many legacy apps work a lot better with a proper mouse.

Both tablets are significant upgrades and go a long way towards addressing several shortcomings which plagued the first generation Surface tablets. The Surface Pro 2 in particular is a very impressive piece of kit, but it’s quite pricey. The Surface 2 on the other hand got a nice CPU bump along with a high-definition screen and on paper it looks a lot better than its predecessor. Sadly, Windows RT adoption remains relatively low and one tablet not enough to turn things around.

The seven cardinal sins of Steve Ballmer

steve_ballmerNow that Steve Ballmer is on his way out, partners are breathing a collective sigh of relief for a number of reasons, some petty some huge. Over the last 13 years Microsoft has had a fair share of ups and downs. Although Ballmer can and should be blamed for many of them, it is worth taking a step back for a bit of perspective.

He took the helm in the good old days, when work was already underway on XP, one of Redmond’s most successful operating systems, backed by an impressive array of other products and initiatives, such as the Xbox push.

It’s been downhill ever since.

Ballmer described Vista as his biggest regret and who are we to argue. Vista was terrible, but in an ironic twist it did help fuel the need for new, faster hardware. It was just too bloated to run properly on old XP boxes, so people had to upgrade. To fix the mess Windows 7 was a lot more streamlined and it was followed up by the even leaner Windows 8. As a result, most Vista machines are still perfectly capable of running the latest version of Windows and the biggest reason to upgrade a laptop is an unfortunately placed cup of tea coupled with long sleeves.

However, the biggest problem with Windows was and still remains relatively slow development and the reliance on an ancient business model that no longer works. Apple and Google try to keep things interesting with tons of updates and new features, free of charge. Microsoft’s updates are basically fixes and new versions of Windows still cost an arm and a leg, offering very little in return. Windows 8 is proof that Microsoft still doesn’t get it. It was supposed to work on tablets, but there aren’t any, it was supposed to deliver x86 hybrids which are still nowhere to be found and it was supposed to do all that with very little in the way of touch enabled apps. As an added bonus, corporate users hate the new interface, which has failed on both fronts. Windows 8 is not good for tablets, but the tablet tweaks also made it unappealing for desktop users and businesses.

There was no shortage of hardware flops during Ballmer’s tenure, either. Remember the Zune, or better yet the Kin? Neither do we and Microsoft is trying to forget them. In addition to wasting millions on Zune, Microsoft also wasted half a billion on the developer of Sidekick and Kin, which was appropriately named Danger. Microsoft’s hardware curse is still going strong, thanks to the Surface RT.

Investing in Danger wasn’t the only bad call. Six years ago Microsoft also took a $6.2 billion write down for digital marketing outfit aQuantive. Wasteful spending continued with Microsoft’s efforts to take on Google in online services and search. All the efforts failed spectacularly, but cumulatively they cost the company a few more billion. Earlier this year Microsoft took another $900 million hit thanks to the Surface RT.

While Ballmer’s Microsoft was trying to compete with Google online, it was outmanoeuvred by Google on its own turf. Google acquired Android eight years ago for just $50 million, one tenth of what Microsoft paid for Danger. Google is now the biggest mobile OS on the planet, the Kin is just another embarrassing footnote in Microsoft’s history. Google also scooped up YouTube, DoubleClick, AdMob and topped it all off with Motorola Mobility. Google was just a lot better at picking winners than Ballmer and his gang. Microsoft did get Skype, but it paid $8.5 billion for the privilege and it did it only after Skype virtually destroyed its own Messenger.

The Skype deal is indicative of another problem. Mighty Microsoft paid $8.5 billion to buy a competitor, as it apparently couldn’t bring its own services up to speed for what is a huge amount of cash. Google probably could and would, Apple too, but for some reason Microsoft’s culture revolves around throwing cash at problems rather than solving them in-house. It is just a weird and oppressive culture that could work in the nineties, when Microsoft was king of the world and didn’t have much competition to worry about.

But Microsoft’s biggest failure under Ballmer was undoubtedly mobile. Ballmer arrogantly laughed at the iPhone and he clearly failed to recognize the threat posed by iOS and Android. As a result Microsoft’s market share in the smartphone market is virtually non-existent. It also teamed up with Nokia, another outfit that didn’t get it, which was only fitting. If phones weren’t to be, then Microsoft had another big chance in tablets, but it botched that, too. It even decided to cripple its own Windows RT by refusing to integrate Outlook, while at the same time it refused to release Office for iOS and Android, which didn’t help its own products and just allowed competing products to emerge.

The big question now is who will take the helm? We’re not sure anyone was groomed for the job and to be honest we’re not sure many people would want it. We suggest a maid from a Las Vegas hotel. They are used to cleaning up a mess and cleaning up Ballmer’s mess will probably be akin to cleaning Hunter S. Thompson’s hotel room.

Microsoft turns to channel in Surface catastrophe

redmondMicrosoft will be reeling after top manufacturers dropped Windows RT as a platform one after the other with more rumoured production stoppages on the way.

Asus, Lenovo, and HTC have all ditched RT while Samsung is rumoured to quit production soon, and Toshiba and HP have not made clear any plans to push the operating system, as PC Advisor reports.

In the oversaturated tablet market where Android and the iPad are king, it is not particularly surprising RT failed to woo customers as a ‘cheap’ watered down alternative to Windows 8, that was actually anything but affordable. Microsoft’s none-message advertising campaign spectacularly flopped and while reviews were OK, the tech press was baffled by Ballmer’s insistence to keep the price tag high.

Even with a more recent price cut, the Surface RT is not particularly alluring.

The numbers in Microsoft’s inventory were staggeringly poor, with the company losing $900 million to its bet on the Surface RT sitting shipped but unsold in warehouses everywhere.

When even Windows 8 was not persuading potential customers to jump ship from Android or iOS with their smart devices, it was an expensive experiment for Redmond to insist on the viability of RT, and considering the company’s track record in hardware, even crazier to build and brand the Surface RT itself.

Now Microsoft hopes the channel will be able to convince business owners to cover its bad bet.

Today the Surface team announced the channel availability of both the Surface RT and Surface Pro in 17 new markets – including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Resellers will be able to offer device recycling, data protection, custom imaging, onsite service, and more.

But these resellers will have to persuade businesses that the Surface or Surface RT are actually useful devices. There may be a few bloated budgets channel players will be able to extract some cash from, but overall, the move stinks of Microsoft trying to dump as many of the tablets as far away as possible.

Here is the official line: “We continue to be committed to bringing business channel availability to all markets where Surface is currently sold. As Forrester analyst Tirthankar Sen noted in his blog commentary, extending from our initial U.S. commercial channel roll-out on July 1, this measured approach helps us to quickly gather feedback and improve while we grow our geographical reach in the business channel.

“This availability in international markets, along with the updates coming to Surface RT with Windows 8.1 are all important milestones for our customers”.

The blog post concludes: “We know that people who use Surface love it!”

The writing is on the wall for Windows RT

surface-rtOver the last week or so we witnessed a flurry of Windows RT news, some positive, some very negative indeed. Late last week Microsoft decided to slash the prices of the Surface RT by as much as $150 in an effort to make the uncompetitive tablet a bit more appealing to the average consumer on the prowl for a cheap media tablet.

In June, Microsoft announced that it would release Outlook 2013 for Windows RT tablets, which is clearly an attempt to gain a bit more traction in the enterprise segment. The decision not to include Outlook in Windows RT at launch was baffling, and still is. The first reviews of Outlook 2013 for RT are in and they are positive, but it really should have been included months ago. With the upcoming 8.1 update, it should land on all RT devices, provided there are still RT devices by the time it appears.

This is no laughing matter, the lack of actual Windows RT products is becoming a serious concern. For example, Lenovo has just dropped the Yoga 11 convertible from its web shop. Dell and Asus have also slashed the prices of their RT tablets. Some players like HP ignored Windows RT altogether, while some gave it a go and dropped it, like Samsung. What’s more, all vendors are focusing on proper Windows 8 tablets instead, based on x86 chips.

In fact, the only hardware maker that still seems to be taking Windows RT seriously is Microsoft itself. The Surface RT price cut is a way of clearing inventory and making room for the next generation Surface RT, or a couple of them. At this point it seems that Microsoft is working on two different designs. One is reportedly based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC, while the other one will be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 4. Rumours of a smaller Surface RT have been floating around for months and there is a good chance Microsoft will roll out a 7- to 8-inch design along with a new full-size 10.6-incher.

Unfortunately it seems to be too late. Future Windows RT tablets, including the Surface RT in both rumoured flavours, will now have to compete with tablets based on Intel’s new Bay Trail chips. This was not the case last year, when the Surface RT was opposed solely by ARM based Androids and iPads. Now it will face tough in-house competition in the form of Windows 8.1 tablets powered by Intel’s x86 Atoms. What’s more, Bay Trail is shaping up to be a beast. It is said to be faster than the Snapdragon 800 and it doesn’t need much power, either.

With new x86 SoCs from Intel and AMD coming online, it is hard to see why Microsoft would want to stick with a specialized tablet OS, designed for ARM. The next generation of Windows 8.x tablets is expected to end up a lot cheaper than the first generation, leaving very little wiggle room for Windows RT. Small wonder then that many brands aren’t getting on board, since they seem to believe Windows RT will be dead as disco within a generation or two.

It seems that the only practical way to keep Windows RT alive in the long run is to stick it on dirt cheap tablets designed to take on bargain Androids in the 7- to 8-inch range. This probably won’t work, as Windows RT is rather bloated and it’s far too expensive to make sense on such cheap devices, unless Microsoft agrees to practically give it away for free. Since we are talking about Microsoft, this will happen when hell freezes over. In theory at least, Microsoft could keep Windows RT alive, but we’re really not sure it should.

Microsoft to slash Surface RT prices in US

surface-rtMicrosoft is apparently about to slash the price of its Surface RT 32GB tablet by $150. The price cut should help the troubled tablet quite a bit, as it was originally priced at $499, which made it rather uncompetitive given its underwhelming spec.

Now though major retailers in the US are listing the Surface RT 32GB for just $349, reports Engadget. The new price sounds like a pretty good deal, although it is still no bargain. With such a sensible price tag, the Surface RT might have been a success, but the cut seems to be coming too late. Although Microsoft has not released any official sales figures, analysts believe it only manages to ship a couple of hundred thousand units per month.

Furthermore, the Surface RT is already ripe for an upgrade. It is based on Nvidia’s Tegra 3 and it has a 10.6-inch screen with 1366×768 resolution, which makes it look rather obsolete compared to iPads and high-end Android tablets.

Microsoft is expected to introduce an all new Surface RT in a few months, but before it does the current model should get a significant OS update, along with Outlook and it seems – a new, sane price tag.

British VARs getting Surface tablets in September

surfacetabBritish value-added resellers will start peddling Microsoft’s Surface tablets to businesses come September. Microsoft has already named ten US VARs who will kick off the enterprise oriented Surface campaign this summer.

The names of British VARs have not been disclosed yet. According to Microsoft UK director for partner strategy Janet Gibbons, only a few select resellers will be able to sell Surface tablets as part of a pilot scheme.

“In every market, we’re positioning [Surface availability] as a pilot… Our only experience of being a hardware provider is with the Xbox, and that’s a different world,” she told CRN. “If we’re going to come to the market with a device, we have to know we are set up well to support the channel with things like warranty, return, credit and distribution of stock [information]. All of that has to be worked through.”

At this point it might be a bit too late. The Surface RT is almost a year old and by the time British VARs enter the fray it should get a successor, give or take a few weeks. The Surface Pro isn’t as stale, but it not a hot new product, either.

Microsoft channels Surface to businesses

surface-rtIn what can only be described as a last ditch effort to keep Surface tablets from flopping, Microsoft has launched a new channel programme in the United States. The programme should push sales of Surface tablets to businesses and other organisations. 

For the time being, the programme is limited to the US, but it will expand over the next few months. Under the programme, Microsoft’s channel partners stateside will offer the Surface RT to schools and universities at steep discounts, reports PC World. Private sector companies and government agencies are being pursued as well.

The partners will also be able to offer technical support, on-site assistance, data protection, recycling and asset tagging. Independent software vendors are also being encouraged to develop apps for Windows RT and Windows 8. The latter just crossed the 100,000 app milestone, but on the whole the choice of RT and Win 8 apps remains rather limited when compared to competing platforms. The software part of the programme is called AppsForSurface and developers who sign up will receive Surface devices and funding.

Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data, CDW, CompuCom, En Pointe, Softchoice and Zones are already on board, while Citrix, Airstrip and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have signed up for the software part of the programme.

However, although businesses don’t tend to shy away from Microsoft, they aren’t exactly lining up for Redmond’s tablets. Demand remains soft and enterprise adoption is anything but spectacular. Windows tablets have one thing going for them, IT departments seem to like them a bit more than Android gear when it comes to BYOD. But many love Apple even more.

Microsoft’s starts Surface move to the Channel

Surface-ElementaryMicrosoft has launched Surface partner programmes for tablet resellers and software developers in a small scale to its US channel.

Writing in his bog, Cyril Belikoff, director, Surface marketing, said Microsoft was launching what he called the “first phase” of expansion into the business channel.

It will allow customers to purchase Surface and commercial services through a small number of authorised resellers.

There is also a new ISV program, called AppsForSurface, which provides devices and funding for app design intended to get key enterprise apps on Surface and Window 8.

While there is no news yet about what Microsoft’s plans are in other parts of the world, it is starting to look like there is a thaw in its plans.
When the Surface came out, Vole’s hardware partners screamed blue murder claiming that Microsoft was treading on its toes.

In response to that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer  said that its channel could sell Surface but only if they order it from a Microsoft store or Microsoft.com. There will be no formal channel programme.

Now it seems that Vole is starting to branch out in a small way and test the water and close to home.

The Surface will be going to Microsoft’s bigger US partners first and Vole does not seem to be that keen to have a huge push.

In the United States that means CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International, PC Connection, PCM and Zones Inc. are the first Surface authorised resellers.

That is a tiny drop in the market of the US channel.

Microsoft says the initial Surface resellers bring a variety of value-added services to tablet family, such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection.

In other words, Microsoft really does need the channel to push its surface but it wants to do it without isolating its hardware chums.

Microsoft readies a Surface re-run

Microsoft SurfaceWhile Microsoft’s Surface tablets proved completely underwhelming, a report suggests that the company might have another bash at the platform.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, the company is expected to announce next generation Surface machines at the end of June.

The company only managed to shift 1.5 million tablets of the first generation Surface – way beyond what it expected to achieve.   But the pricing was all wrong and the competition in this field is now very intense.

The wire claims that the second generation Surface will largely retain the same suppliers as Surface Mark I – including microprocessors from Intel and Nvidia, screens from Samsung and LG and touch panels from TPK.

The report also said that displays for Surface Mark II will be smaller – supposedly because there’s more demand for these type of devices, although it’s entirely possible that Microsoft wants to bring down the bill of materials (BOM) costs. It will certainly have to do something spectacular to make Surface tablets fly – particularly on retail costs.