Surface tablet won’t hurt Microsoft’s OEM partners

Toronto – Rivalry? What rivalry?

According to the head of Microsoft’s worldwide partner network (MPN),the company’s move to launch its own Surface tablet hasn’t been greetedwith any rumblings of discontent from its OEM channel partners.

“I haven’t heard any,” Julie Bennani, general manager of the MPN withinMicrosoft’s worldwide partner group, told a roundtable of Canadianchannel journalists at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC)inToronto on Tuesday.

That contrasts with questions that have been raised by someanalysts who say Microsoft’s OEM partners mayfeel the company’s Surface tabletwill compete directly with the tablet devices they’rereleasing now which run Windows 7 and, soon, will runMicrosoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS.

“Microsoft’s in a weird state right now. It’s relied and succeeded forso long on its partnerships. So when they’re going to (sell) direct andcompete with their partners…it’s like they’re cheating on theirpartners,” said analyst Darren Bibby, vice-president of softwarechannels and alliances research at IDC in Toronto.

Non-hardware channel opportunities
“They’re gonna piss off some partners. But for the future of Microsoftand (its) stock price, it may be something they’re gonna have to do,”Bibby added.

No official release date has been given yet for the Surface, but it’sgenerally expected to hit the market in late autumn along with therelease of Windows 8, which is set to become available in late October.Bennani confirmed during the Tuesday roundtable that the Surface willnot be sold at all through the channel.

“(It’ll be) through our stores and our online stores,” Bennani said.

She emphasized that the Surface will create opportunities for thechannel beyond just the hardware sell.

“There’s innovation our partner ecosystem will do on top of (theSurface),” namely through app development and app deployment, Bennanisaid.

OEM Samsung Canada gave a measured response when asked by CDN if itfeels the Surface will pit it and other OEM channel partnersdirectly against Microsoft.

“We’re very confident that we’ll be able to succeed against a number oftablet makers, including Microsoft,” said Jean-Paul Desmarais,marketing manager for IT solutions at Samsung Electronics Canada.

Samsung plans to build on “the strong partnership we have withMicrosoft in creating great devices,” Desmarais said.

Christine WongChristineWong is a Staff Writer at and CDN. E-mail her at [email protected],connect on ,follow her on Twitter,and join in the conversation on the IT BusinessFacebook Page.

Christine WongChristineWong is a Staff Writer at and CDN. E-mail her at [email protected],connect on ,follow her on Twitter,and join in the conversation on the IT BusinessFacebook Page.

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