Buying a phone and buying a computer are usually two very different processes, but Microsoft is looking to borrow some ideas from the way mobile carriers operate. Today, Microsoft is announcing the new “Surface Plus” program, which lets you buy a new Microsoft Surface PC on a payment plan with the option to upgrade after 18 months. This could make the high price of Microsoft’s Surface products a bit more palatable, but it also includes a few bonuses on top of the basic financial argument.
Surface Plus includes all three current Surface products: the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Book. The overall pricing is the same as retail, but you pay the price broken down into monthly installments over two years. For example, the cheapest Surface Pro configuration with a Core m3 and 4GB of RAM runs you $ 799 total, but with Surface Plus you pay $ 33.29 per month for 24 months. It’s just like a phone, and coincidentally that’s a similar monthly payment compared with an expensive smartphone like an iPhone or Galaxy S8.
The financing is handled by a third-party, which is what most device makers do. So, when you finance your computer through Surface Plus, you’re actually making payments to Swedish e-commerce company Klarna. There is no interest, as long as you make your suggested monthly payments and pay the computer off in two years. After that, the APR goes up to a predictably high 19.99 percent.
A more interesting option for Surface Plus is just to return your computer in 18 months and upgrade to a new one. The catch is your old device has to be in good condition, presumably so Microsoft can refurbish it and resell. You are basically paying a monthly fee on your computer forever this way, but you’ve always got a reasonably new one. Businesses also get their own version of Surface Plus with more payment terms and the option to get the big 55-inch Surface Hub.
In addition to monthly payment plans, Surface Plus customers get dedicated device service and support via Microsoft’s physical stores. You also get a free training session with a Microsoft Store employee. That’s only useful for those in close proximity to one of the stores, and there are just a few dozen in the US.
Surface Plus is live today, but it’s limited to the US for now. Shipping is free, and you don’t even have to pay tax at the time of purchase; it’s added to the financed price along with the hardware.