(Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft continues to be aggressive about getting Windows to as many people as possible, and the big October update to Windows 10 is already coming to a PC near you. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo this summer, the company announced a plan for its Xbox One game console where you could pay for it in monthly installments of $22, instead of all at once.

Now it's bringing this Xbox plan to its Surface tablets with Surface All Access. Beginning October 16, you can pay $25 a month for a Surface, which also comes with Office 365 (the subscription version of the company's productivity suite). In addition, Microsoft mentions "world-class protection, in-store training, and dedicated customer support." All Surfaces come with Windows 10 pre-installed.

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If you pay your Surface off within the allotted 24 months, you will not be charged any interest. But if you can't make the cut, you'll be hit with an APR ranging from 19.24 to 29.99 percent.

But any way you slice it, 24 payments of $25 works out to $600. Currently, the cheapest Surface available is $400 (though our sister site CNET wasn't a big fan of it), and Office 365 Personal costs $70 a year, or $7 a month. On the other hand, the two-year Office subscription cannot be canceled or refunded, so there's that.

According to CNET, the recently launched Surface Go "delivers Microsoft's great Surface design and accessories at a lower price and in a smaller size." However, "The Pentium processor isn't suited for all tasks. A keyboard cover is a must-have add-on but still sold separately. And you'll probably want to pay extra for more storage and RAM, too."

The Surface Go starts with 4GB of system RAM and a 64GB solid-state drive, but there's another tier with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. However, both versions have a 10-inch screen (albeit touch-enabled), so the recommended expansions are both stuck with a relatively compact display.

However, with a resolution of 1,800x1,200 pixels, image quality should fare much better than a Macbook Air, which starts at $999 and comes with a dated 13-inch 1,440x900 LCD that doesn't recognize touch input.

This is the Surface Go -- note that the keyboard is a separate accessory. (Credit: Microsoft)

The next-cheapest offering is the Surface Laptop Bundle at $46.63 a month, which works out to a total of $1,119.12 when multiplied by 24 months. If you want to buy it outright at a store, it starts at $800 -- but that option doesn't throw in Office 365, accidental damage protection, or the year of in-store customer support.

The plan's "world-class protection" covers accidental damage for the duration of the payment plan, though it's limited to "damage resulting from dropping the covered product, spilling liquid onto it or screen/glass breakage of product." You get a maximum of two claims, but the deductible is an arguably reasonable $49.

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Also, the in-store support lasts for 12 months and will be available "at full-line stores only."

According to the company's store locator page, "Microsoft Store comes in three sizes: specialty, full line, and flagship. At full line and flagship stores, you'll find events, Answer Desk services, and complete product offerings." 17 of them are tagged as "specialty" stores; the site says that these have "a limited selection of products, for a quick and convenient shopping trip."

The company has a little over 100 retail locations in the U.S., the first of which launched eight years ago this month. For reference, Apple operates 271 stores in the U.S., and 504 worldwide; it launched its first in 2001.

The takeaways

  • Microsoft has announced the Surface All Access program, where you can get the company's tablet and pay in 24 monthly installments, starting at $25 for a Surface Go.
  • If you pay it off within those 24 months, you will not be charged any interest, and you get a bundle including Office 365, accidental damage protection, and in-store tech support.
  • This follows on from the Xbox All Access program launched at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this summer, where you can pay for an Xbox game console in monthly installments of $22.

See also

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.