by Dina Bass
September 8, 2015 — 11:00 AM EDT
Microsoft Corp. said Dell Inc. will sell and provide support for its Surface tablet computers in a bid to encourage more large companies to purchase the devices.
The agreement is unusual because Dell will provide support and warranties for the machines as if it had manufactured them, which Dell typically doesn’t do for another company’s hardware, Kirk Schell, vice president and general manager, Dell commercial client solutions, said in an interview. That will allow large customers to order and deploy the devices with the rest of their Dell servers and computers.
Microsoft’s Surface brought in $3.9 billion in the past fiscal year but remains a minuscule part of the tablet market. Large customers have told Microsoft that in order for them to place orders in the thousands, the company must offer improved global customer support, said Brian Hall, general manager of Surface.
“Microsoft has not been an enterprise hardware company,” he said. “We have had very large customers saying for you to be a standard for our employees, in the thousands and thousands of devices, we need you to have these capabilities. They kept saying you are going to have to have support and services capabilities like Dell.”
Microsoft released its newest version of its operating system, Windows 10, in July and is rolling out updates to that program for enterprises this month.
Dell already sells a variety of tablets and Surface-like computers — known in the industry as “2 in 1s” — running a mixture of Microsoft’s Windows software and Google’s Android.