Surface charging carts lead the way for mass school and enterprise adoption

When it comes to Microsoft’s Surface platform, individual consumers are but one demographic of the all-in-one device, but Redmond has a long history of dealing with enterprise and schools as well. Indeed, the Surface Pro 3 seems even more poised to be the perfect enterprise device for companies to distribute to employees.

In the Microsoft Store, we recently came across the availability of ‘charging carts’ for the Surface series. These carts can store and charge from 32 to 36 Surface and Surface Pro devices (even with cases). There are currently two versions of the cart, running between $1499 and $2199 and they can be purchased direct or through Microsoft.

We spoke with the company behind the carts, Anthro (, based out of Tualatin, Oregon, about the future of Surface. They’ve been making what they call ‘technology furniture’ since 1984 including standup desks, which myself and Kevin Michaluk use daily for our Mobile Nations work.

In talking with Michael Mullen, who’s the product development director at Anthro, I was able to learn a little bit more about the firm’s goals and plans for Surface and specifically the Surface Pro 3. The company has been working through the “Designed for Surface” program, which lets Microsoft work with accessory manufacturers. Anthro is a ‘Depth’ partner with Microsoft, allowing them to make highly customized products for various organizations.

Enterprise and schools are the other side of the Surface story. Anthro is trying to “optimize the use of Surface for multiple different vertical markets – specifically healthcare, retail, education” and sees a large opportunity for many companies and organizations who need mobile computing power – real computing power, as opposed to Chromebooks and iPads.

ANthro Surface cart

Anthro has had success with the Surface carts being deployed in schools and see the Surface Pro 3 going even further with enterprise in 2014. Indeed just this morning, Microsoft announced huge new deals with BMW Group, The Coca-Cola Company and Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy for the Surface Pro 3 to be used by their employees. The Anthro carts are perfect for these environments since it allows higher level IT management and even cable management of the Surface Pro on a mass scale.

The carts themselves can hold up to 36 devices for $2199 version and they will even work with the Type cover attached, cases, etc. The bays are modular and not restricted to specific sizes so even the Surface Pro 3 will fit in these carts without modification and firms can mix and match Surface devices.

ANthro Surface cart

I asked Mullen about carts for smaller organizations, who may not need to store and charge 32 or 36 Surface units. Anthro is currently looking into and developing similar carts that can hold a more modest 6 to 12 Surfaces, making them ideal for small businesses and other markets where they have less space and fewer employees.

ANthro Surface cart

Personally, I found all of this information interesting because it shows that the Surface is being adopted to large enterprises and educational institutions. While the consumer angle is always fun to cover, these mass deployments create the real long-term success of the Surface series. Anthro is but one company looking into and solving these problems for healthcare, businesses and schools and it suggests the Surface Pro 3 may have a bright future in that market. In using the Surface Pro 3 for the last week, there is wiggle room for consumers if they “need” to have it, but I can’t think of a more ideal device for professionals. It’s great to talk to companies like Anthro to see how, behind the scenes, they’re helping to drive adoption for the Surface.

Are you a small business who’s considering adoptiong the Surface Pro 3 for your employees? What are some of the obstacles you see for success of the Surface Pro 3 for professionals? Let us know in comments!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.