Phoenix Software has revealed that public sector enquiries about purchasing Microsoft Surface hardware has "surged" since Microsoft gave the licensing, software and infrastructure solutions firm permission to sell the devices only two weeks ago.
It has also stated that 50 per cent of enquiries are about ARM-based Surface RT machines.
Since 15 August's availability announcement, says Phoenix, "inbound enquiries to the company's public sector team have jumped 40 per cent".
Enquiries are coming from all over the public sector, with particular interest from schools and colleges.
As a result, Phoenix says it has had to increase the size of its public sector team by 30 per cent to cope with the demand.
"We expected the availability of Microsoft's Surface devices through Phoenix Software to receive a positive reaction from our customers, but we could never have anticipated the level of interest that we have seen," said Sam Mudd, director at Phoenix Software.
"While many of our customers have experimented with iPads and other tablet devices in recent years, it would appear that the attraction of an entirely Windows 8 environment across both PCs and tablets - from both an infrastructure management and familiarity point of view - has really hit the mark."
Phoenix cites Surface features such as in-built microSD and USB ports, preinstalled Microsoft Office, multiple user support and the snap-on, snap-off keyboards as particularly attractive for the public sector when compared to Apple iPads or "many other" Android-based tablets.
Surpringly, Mudd said there's a clean 50-50 split between demand for the Windows 8-equipped Surface Pro and the ARM-based Surface RT, which can only run Windows 8 store apps and is not compatible with any legacy Windows [Win32] applications.
"The split of interest at this stage between the Surface Pro and RT is 50:50," said Mudd.
"However, people are asking us about the differences between the two models from a technical perspective and we are advising accordingly depending on what they want to do with device - using it as a tablet only or as a PC/tablet and use of applications."
Phoenix has also talked about the level of the Surface's desirability being "reflected internally" as employees could benefit from buying the devices at cost price.
A BYOD scheme has been implemented on the back of staff purchases, while Mudd added that her 12-year-old son's enthusiasm for a recently-acquired Surface RT is so strong that he "is now ready to ditch his iPad and switch to the Surface full time, as it gives him a better experience of using touch Windows while at the same time it replicates the IT suite environment he uses at school".
It's puzzling to consider a school IT suite with no Win32 applications, but whatever the exact logic, Phoenix seems to have hit upon a sweet spot for vending Surface to the public sector.
In a recent devices survey by Computing Research, an IT manager at a major UK construction company praised the Surface Pro, saying:
"My money is on Microsoft as it's a better piece of kit. It's streets ahead of Apple. The Surface Pro is going to give Apple a real run for its money and I think it will cause the demise of the Android tablets."
Should Microsoft have more aggressively pushed Surface to the channel before being forced to take a $900,000 write-down at the end of Q2? Do you work in the public sector and see a similarly bright future for Surface devices in the enterprise?
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