Microsoft Corp.’s direct-focused distribution strategy for its Surface tablet has been contentious since the RT version launched last October, causing channel discontent for the normally partner-friendly vendor. And reports out of the UK may inflame channel ire even further.
The Surface RT was initially only available directly from Microsoft, either in its branded online stores or its online shopping portal. With the launch of the more business-friendly Surface Pro in February, Microsoft added limited retail distribution to Best Buy, Future Shop and Staples. The reseller market remained shut out, but a Microsoft Canada spokesperson told CDN last month that the vendor was “considering” bring Surface to the reseller channel, with no timeline given.
That consideration continues, but in the interim a report from CRN UK may give partners pause. According to the publication, UK Microsoft VARs have learned that Microsoft is planning to sell Surface tablets in bulk to businesses – in essence, going directly to their customers. The report indicates a new Surface Commercial Order website has been launched by Microsoft for volume licensing customers to purchase Surface tablets in bulk.
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Microsoft UK declined comment on the web site. And in Canada, Microsoft Canada spokesperson Carmi Levy also indicated the vendor had no comment on the report. Levy couldn’t confirm any plans for a similar move in Canada, but said the Surface distribution strategy for Canada remains unchanged: through the one Canadian Microsoft store (located in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall), the vendor’s online web store, and select retailers.
“Microsoft is committed to the channel, and expanding the market for Surface,” he said.
Levy also declined to confirm a report last week that indicated Microsoft has sold 1.5 million Surface RT and Pro tablets to date, a figure reportedly well below internal targets.
“Microsoft believes passionately in Surface as both a product and a future direction for the company, and we’re fully committed to the future, and to this brand,” said Levy.