Microsoft Canada will be stepping up support for the system builder community this year.
Further to company vice-president of worldwide partner sales Allison Watson’s $200 million increase in commitment to the channel, the Canadian team will have a dedicated team headed by Anita Grassl. It will
focus on top tier system builders, while tele-partner account managers will cover the broader system builder community.
According to Dave Willis, Microsoft Canada’s vice-president for small and mid-market solutions and partners, this team will be able to handle 620 system builders across the country.
In the past, Microsoft Canada used to treat system builders similar to VARs. Willis hopes this new direction will meet their needs and protect honest system builders.
“”System builders are under a lot of pressure right now with the price of PCs continuing to come down and the multi-nationals growing,”” Willis said.
Microsoft will also hit the road in 2005 with a six-city system builder roadshow. Starting in Vancouver on Jan. 25, the tour will stop in Calgary, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto. System builders can attend for $50. With that entrance fee, system builders will get the skinny on the company’s product roadmaps including Longhorn, learn about Microsoft licensing and marketing programs and receive an OEM pre-installation kit. Also on the agenda is Windows Small Business Server and Windows Media Center, two market areas Willis believes will help system builders grow margins in 2005.
“”It is going to be a hands-on lab tour. And the system builders will be doing the installs in a classroom setting building Media Center PCs, Small Business Servers and Office installs,”” said Susan Harper, Microsoft Canada’s channel marketing manager.
She added that Microsoft will also do a build tour in Vancouver and Toronto only. Along with partners Intel, Seagate, Antac and ATI, tier one builders will get components and leave with a fully built state-of-the-art white box for a fee of $450.
Willis added that for 2005, Microsoft Canada will try to educate system builders on the merits of bundling the Office suite with white boxes. Only 20 per cent of white boxes in Canada are pre-loaded with Office. Approximately two years ago it
was seven per cent. Willis said the company has made some strides but more is needed. Microsoft wants to protect its legal license revenue, and Willis believes Office on white boxes would mean more margins for system builders.
“”There is an opportunity to make more money with Office on the PC than without and 71 per cent of small to mid-size businesses purchase Office within 12 months of buying a PC.””