A long last, Microsoft has brought its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets to the Canadian channel; well, some of the Canadian channel at least.
In a blog post Thursday, Cyril Belikoff, director, Microsoft Surface with Microsoft, announced that 17 new markets will now have Surface available through the commercial channel via select authorized resellers, including Canada.
“Our plan has been to expand commercial distribution for Surface in a thoughtful way,” wrote Belikoff. “This expansion continues to be via a select ecosystem of established channel partners with the precise geographical reach, tablet selling experience and commercial value-added services capabilities to deliver the type of business experience our customers need.”
There are now five authorized Surface resellers for Canada: CDW Canada, Compugen, Insight Canada, Long View Systems and Softchoice Corp. Softchoice was also one of the large account resellers (LARs) authorized previously to sell Surface in the U.S. market. They will be supported by distributors Ingram Micro Canada, Tech Data Canada and Synnex Canada.
“The addition of these authorized resellers will enable more organizations to benefit from the Surface family of devices and greatly expand the reach of the Microsoft devices-and-services strategy,” said Henrik Gütle, director of the Windows and Surface business group for Microsoft Canada, in a statement.
While Canada will begin with these five, Belikoff indicated more partners will be coming in all markets.
“We’re committed to authorizing a select set of additional partners in these markets in the coming weeks,” he wrote.
Via e-mail, Keith Groom, director of the Microsoft solutions group for Softchoice, told CDN that the Surface will complement Softchoice’s mobile device portfolio and allow it to provide a more holistic mobile offering to clients.
“As one of Microsoft’s top channel partners, we already bring deep expertise in large-scale deployments, including custom configuration, imaging and asset tagging, inventory and warehousing. Our inclusion in the Microsoft Devices Program builds upon this legacy relationship,” said Groom. “Coupled with Softchoice Cloud, we offer mobile device users seamless and secure access to dozens of leading SaaS applications – including Office 365, Box and Microsoft Dynamics CRM – anywhere and from any device.”
The international expansion for Surface was foreshadowed last month at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston. In an interview with CDN, Jason Brommet, director of partner business and development with Microsoft Canada, said the subsidiary would proceed deliberately, beginning with what he termed a pilot program.
The program is beginning by selecting the best partners to initially roll Surface out in Canada, so Microsoft Canada can tweak and develop the program before a wider roll-out.
“It’s designed to allow us to tune and learn what the channel model should be and make sure we have it right before we roll it out (more widely),” said Brommet.
Microsoft has faced channel criticism for the slow pace at which the Surface tablet has come to the channel. When the Surface RT launched with Windows 8 last fall it was only available directly through Microsoft, either online or at a Microsoft store. Amid disappointing sales – partially due to lack of effective distribution – this changed in the New Year with the launch of the business-friendly Surface Pro, with distribution expanded to select retailers such as Future Shop and Best Buy.
Still, resellers remained shut out until late June, when Microsoft announced 10 select LARs would be authorized to sell Surface tablets in the U.S. That program has now expanded internationally, but distribution remains limited to select large resellers in each geography. Microsoft has offered no firm timeline for opening Surface to its larger channel base.