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Surface laptops are here within weeks now, reflecting how important is India, Microsoft India Surface head

India Today Tech got a chance to talk to Amrita Sapre, Country Head Devices (Surface), Microsoft India, about the product line-up.

twitter-logoKetan Pratap | March 1, 2021 | Updated 19:06 IST
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go launched in India in January 2021.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go launched in India in January 2021.

Highlights

  • The Microsoft Surface line-up starts at as low as Rs 38,000 (Surface Go 2).
  • Globally, Surface revenue increased by 3 per cent.
  • All Surface devices come with a one-year limited hardware warranty and 90 days of technical support.

Microsoft has been aggressive in India's laptop space lately, and we are seeing a lot of action happening. The laptops that used to take 6 to 8 months to become available in India after the global debut are now being made within weeks. The Surface Laptop Go that we reviewed recently fared well and came out as a strong option for people who are looking for an everyday machine. The company has also started going aggressive in the commercial segment, which was a segment that Microsoft used to see a lot of rivals fight out.

To talk more about how Microsoft India plans to expand the Surface line-up in India and some plans going forward in the commercial segment, we spoke to Amrita Sapre, Country Head Devices (Surface), Microsoft India.

First, we want to understand how crucial the pandemic year was for laptop makers like Microsoft to push the commercial laptop segment.

"Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. To that effect, we feel privileged and humbled to have played an instrumental role in helping organisations respond, recover and reimagine through this unprecedented crisis. The demand for laptops and 2-in-1s has definitely seen a strong surge driven by remote work. As a result, the commercial laptop segment has seen some great innovation. As we reimagine the new normal, the world today requires combined efforts from every player in the ecosystem rather than any kind of competition. Game-changing innovation is what our customers need from us at this moment and we are committed to providing the best tech tools to each person and organisation," Sapre said.

Microsoft has been launching new Surface devices in commercial and consumer SKUs. How has the response been so far? Sapre explained, "The response to the Surface line of devices in India has been nothing short of phenomenal. Back in 2016, we brought the Surface portfolio into the country with just one device. Today we have the full range of Surface devices in the country starting from the ultra-portable Surface Go 2 right up to the Surface Hub 2S 85". We are seeing traction from customers across verticals and from consumers through online and retail sales channels."

On being asked whether these tractions are helping the company in any way for preparing for future devices. Sapre explained, "The feedback that we are receiving from our customers is leading to product design improvements and it's great that customers are getting just what they want within such short periods of time. Take for instance, the Surface Pro 7+ for business. With the exponential rise in people working and learning remotely, we listened closely to our customers to understand how best we could support them through the changing landscape. We evolved our roadmap to help prioritise their needs. LTE is a top requested feature from commercial customers with our last update with LTE on this line in 2017. We prioritised shipping Surface Pro 7+ for our commercial customers delivering LTE along with updated 11th Generation Core processors."

Microsoft has not lately talked about the after-sales service of Surface laptops in India. Tell us something about it. "Surface devices come with a one-year limited hardware warranty and 90 days of technical support. For commercial customers, we have a dedicated Support Center. The minimum hardware warranty for Surface for Business devices includes mechanical breakdown and advanced exchange. In addition, customers can also opt for Microsoft extended hardware service for up to three or four years," she said.

During the Surface Laptop Go product briefing, we were told that the Microsoft Surface division is seeing blockbuster quarters, and every new one is setting a new high benchmark. "That's true. Driven by the largest at scale remote work experiment triggered by the pandemic, demand for Surface devices have grown exponentially. Globally, Surface revenue increased 3%, surpassing $2 billion in FY21 Q2. This follows two strong quarters in which we had witnessed a 37 per cent and 28 per cent increase in revenue," Sapre talked about recent quarters.

"In the past year, Surface usage within enterprise organisations more than doubled driven by strong growth in the use of collaboration and productivity apps to maintain business continuity. As I mentioned earlier, we have definitely come a long way products that used to take 6-8 months to become generally available in the country post-launch are now available within two weeks. It's a reflection of India's importance in the global market and also how the business is growing. Our partner footprint in the country is over 800, and our ambitions are just getting bolder, thanks to all the love that the Surface line of devices is getting from users in the country," she further added.

Let's say if a consumer is looking to buy a laptop in the Rs 90,000 price segment, why should the person go for a Surface laptop? Sapre talked about the power, portability, weight, and battery prowess of the Surface laptops. "One strong differentiator for Surface is that it has found a balance between these opposing ideas that meet the needs of a particular segment of customers. We think Surface is pushing the industry forward with purposeful design and versatile capabilities that people demand things like pen and touch to be truly productive with one device. As a result, we enjoy incredibly high customer satisfaction," she added.

When we reviewed Surface Laptop Go, we found it an incredible value for money device, but it's not for everyone. Sapre explained how the company custom-built the laptop to target professionals, teachers, and students. "The Surface Laptop Go is for people who need an affordable device that handles their everyday experience at ease. Think of middle, high school, or college students who need a single "do it all" laptop, which is able to handle more than a tablet. The Surface Laptop Go can be used on the go for teacher and peer communication, homework, or a favourite Netflix binge. Or young professionals who are looking for an all-purpose laptop that's snappy and runs their everyday apps but have a budget to hit. Educators and teachers, who believe that technology is key to student engagement and future-readiness, choose the Surface Laptop Go when they aspire to modernise and upgrade their tech while managing limited budgets. Modern SMBs, decision-makers, and information workers who are striving to meet today's modern demands and expectations on conservative budgets are seeking a sleek, compact, and affordable laptop without compromising on the premium and professional image."

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