Well - I do have to admit that I am pretty excited to know I'll be getting a new $MSFT Windows Phone 8 & Windows Surface RT for personal use in the coming months.
I was planning to purchase them on my own and the fact that my employer can innovate on employee compensation and satisfaction like that means a lot to me.
Back when I worked for Washington Mutual, I was a firm believer that employees should have been able to get a loan that the bank holds at an extremely discounted rate. I never could convince anyone there that offering innovative compensation plans that are unique to the business is an amazing way to build employee satisfaction and differentiate oneself when job candidates are looking for the best employer. Then again, I think we all learned that greed had become the norm there as it did at a lot of financial institutions so my attempts at teaching innovative compensation practices never had a chance.
A lot of startups talk about their unlimited vacation time or their $5k technonology budget for new employees. These are great but they aren't really differentiated in that any company can offer these things and the same cost to the company. Microsoft is uniquely positioned to offer these devices free to employees because the cost to them is lower than it would be for Boeing to give their employees free phones. The same is true for Holland America Line, where employees get one free cruise a year - or the free airfare that many airlines offer employees. The point is that the cost for the employer to offer a unique compensation that is specific to that company is an advantage and one that all employers should leverage to engender a culture of appreciation for the products the company offers and a level of compensation that can't be easily matched.
If you are trying to figure out how to differentiate your company when it comes to building culture and compensating employees - I suggest that you look at what your business does and figure out how you can offer your employees a valuable compensation package that includes the products in your business.