Thinking About Surface Plus

Posted on August 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 28 Comments

Thinking About Surface Plus

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a flexible new way for individuals and businesses to finance Surface device purchases. What does this look like in practice?

I’m going to focus on Surface Plus for individuals here, but there is one major difference between this and the business version: Only Surface Plus for Business is truly flexible in that it allows you to finance devices over 18, 24, or 30 month periods. With Surface Plus for individuals, your only choice is 24 months.

That makes the math easy since Microsoft is offering 0 percent financing for the initial 24 month period. But you should know that the rate goes up to 19.99 percent after that first 24 months. So this may not be a great choice for those who wish to get a new device after 18 months (which is one of the perks of the program).

But the lack of flexibility also means that you can’t stretch out the payments over the lifetime of the device. Most people who spend $1000 or more on a premium PC like Surface will hopefully use it for more than 24 months. And 30 months (or more) of financing would help keep the monthly payments lower.

Getting beyond that, I visited the Surface Plus website to see what it would be like to finance a Surface Laptop and compare that to buying it outright.

Looking at the Surface website for comparison purposes, I see that I could purchase a Core i5/8 GB/256 GB model for $1299 directly from Microsoft. (I’d prefer 16 GB of RAM, but Microsoft’s PCs are not as configurable as those from other PC makers, and you have to upgrade to a Core i7 as well to make that choice.) At 0 percent financing, again, the math is easy: $1299 divided by 24 is $54.13.

Using the Surface Plus configurator, I checked to see what the financing for the same Surface Laptop configuration would cost and, sure enough, it was $54.13 per month. This assumes I qualified for the 0 percent APR, of course.

So that’s good.

Granted, $54.13 a month is a pretty hefty bill. But it’s important to remember how much we pay for other expensive products.

By comparison, you could finance an iPhone 7 directly from Apple for $32.41 or more (depending on configuration) per month, or an iPhone 7 Plus for $37.41 or more. But those prices include some kind of APR, as the base iPhone 7 is $649, and $649 divided by 24 is $27.04. (The iPhone 7 Plus is $749 and up, so 0 percent APR over 24 months would yield a payment of $31.21.) (UPDATE: As readers have pointed out, the iPhone comes with Apple Care, which explains the difference in prices. It’s 0 percent APR. –Paul)

And not that a bunch of math is necessary, but Google offers financing on its Pixel phones, and that is also 0 percent financing on the phones only (you can add other items), as Microsoft is offering.

Don’t have $1300 burning a hole in your pocket? If you can swing the $54 monthly payment, don’t upgrade to another device after 18 months, and get 3-4 years of use out of it, Surface Plus looks like a solid alternative, thanks in part to that 0 percent financing.

Still, it’s a shame about the lack of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, right? 🙂

 

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Thinking About Surface Plus”

  1. Avatar

    lvthunder

    Doesn't the iPhone plan come with Apple Care included as well?

  2. Avatar

    helix2301

    I have macbook pro 16 gig ram and i7 I love it bit of premium device but worth the money and serves my purpose great no complaints. I have 2 surface i5 4 gig ram that work great as well. The surface my secretary and network tech really enjoy and for them they need devices that are a tablet at times and laptop at others. When you compare macbook pro vs surface pro with same specs the pricing is almost the same.

  3. Avatar

    Bats

    This is not a bad deal at all, especially for those who want to buy a Surface computer without paying it all, upfront. As long as the balance can brought to zero, I think this is a good deal. Didn't Microsoft have a program like this before? I thought they did.


    However....


    If this is a ploy by Microsoft to boost Surface sales, then....I don't think it's going to work. After owning an HP Spectre X2, for over a month now and seriously "vetting" the Surface Pros and Surfacebooks at Best Buy, the Microsoft computers are seriously overrated and overpriced. Their pricing scheme is clearly not based on the quality of the internal and external hardware that makes up the Surface, but rather the belief that Microsoft software married to Microsoft hardware will produce the highest level of user experience. 


    It has been well-noted about the declining sales of the Surface line. What happened to Paul's theory that consumers want and demand the "Signature" experience? I said this back then and I'll say it now, people don't care about that nor do I don't even think they are aware of it.

    • Avatar

      Roger Ramjet

      In reply to Bats:

      Sure its a ploy to boost Surface sales, but not over HP. It's vs. Apple which also has a very similar program, and chases the same market segment. This is just a natural move, as they fill out their product roadmap. You can't ignore a vibrant channel that exists in the marketplace. If say 20-30% (I am just making this up) of Apple PC buyers use similar financing, then because the Apple business is much bigger than Surface, that was a huge market that Surface could not address until just now.

  4. Avatar

    chrisrut

    "Still, it’s a shame about the lack of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, right?"


    Indeed it is - a pimple on a Super Model's nose...

    ..

  5. Avatar

    GT Tecolotecreek

    With Surface sales down 26% looks like their trying to reduce any barrier to a sale with free financing.

    Problem is free financing adds nothing to product value which still has to be better than what the oems offer.

  6. Avatar

    Jeff Fodiak

    Does anyone really care about USB-C/Thunderbolt 3? It's not really that well used, it's buggy, and it's certainly confusing. On Point #2 we have an XPS 13 at work, and the dock would not work correctly for the first 6 months until multiple firmware updates were released and patched in the right order. Still doesn't work perfectly. On the latter, it's one interface but not very clear which ports and cables are capable of power supply one way, two ways or both. I believe it's still necessary to check output voltages of any usb-c power supplies against the device itself.


    Lastly the surface dock connector provides the magnetic interface which is a smart solution, in my opinion better than USB-C itself.

  7. Avatar

    theshum

    This is tempting, and I'm interested in the SurfaceBook with dedicated GPU, however it's a little long in the tooth and I'm afraid they'll release a brand new one right after I purchased the old one. I hate being off release cycle :)

  8. Avatar

    StevenLayton

    US only at the moment, right?

    Not moaning, just checking.

  9. Avatar

    jgraebner

    I'm confused by the comment that the plan might not be a good deal for people wanting to replace their device after 18 months. Reading the terms, it actually is a pretty decent deal for those customers. The key is what they do for those remaining 6 months. According to the FAQ on the Surface Plus page, that offer is a trade in deal where Microsoft effectively buys the device back from you for those 6 months of payments. Basically, the sequence is that at 18 months you can sign up for another 24-month 0% APR financing arrangement on a brand new, current generation device. After you get the new device, you get a pre-paid label to return the old device. Microsoft then pays off the remaining balance on the original financing deal.


    In the case of the $54.13/month example given in the article, upgrading the device at 18 months would effectively be the same as selling the original device for $325. Admittedly, it might be possible to get more than that somewhere like Craigslist or Swappa, but it would also be quite a bit more work (and higher risk) for the customer. Obviously, the plan might not work out as well if you want to hand the older device off to another family member (my SP3 went to my son when I upgraded to a SP4).


    One other point that is made clear in the FAQs is that this is still basically a normal credit arrangement. You can pay it off in full at any time or make larger payments to pay it down faster. Also, if I'm reading it correctly, it looks to me like this is a true 0% APR offer and not a deferred-interest arrangement. In other words, unlike many 0% financing deals, it looks like you only pay interest on the remaining balance going forward if you don't pay it off in 24 months.

    • Avatar

      alexoughton

      In reply to jgraebner:

      Right, I was about to say the same thing. This is how the carriers handle their phone trade-ins, where the remaining balance is written-off when they receive the old device, and a new finance term begins.


      The APR after the 24-month period would only apply to those who have failed to pay off the whole device within that period.

  10. Avatar

    jhigh2000

    Doesn't the Apple financing monthly cost include AppleCare? I believe that's the price difference above MSRP.

  11. Avatar

    harmjr

    Playing with the Surface Pro configurations not much a change between the cost of i5 and i7 8gb 256gb models but if you opt for the i7 16gb 1TB talk about a huge payment.


    2 year extended warranty only adds $6.21 a month to the price I would do that.

  12. Avatar

    66sweep

    Apple's upgrade program is at 0% APR, however, they require AppleCare + to be added to the cost of the phone. This is included in your monthly payment.

  13. Avatar

    emanon2121

    USB Type C is a mess. I understand that they wanted to wait it out.

  14. Avatar

    lezmaka

    The Apple plan is 0% interest as well, but it also includes Apple Care which is $129. $649 + $129 = $778 / 24 = $32.41.

  15. Avatar

    cawfehman

    Paul,


    The surface plus link in the article doesn't work. 


    I found these one with a quick search.


    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/devices/surface-device-subscription


    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/b/surface-plus


    Also, it's a shame they don't seem to offer this for the surface studio.  I can almost understand that, but some of the configurable surface books cost as much. 


    Perhaps in the future?



  16. Avatar

    Lewk

    Wait, is this US-only?

  17. Avatar

    bulls96

    doesn't the 24 month lease restart when you upgrade after 18 monhts? DOes it mean you have to finish paying for the new device in 6 months?

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