Measured ChangeBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
Few doubt Gates influenced Microsoft’s channel philosophy, but the sheer bulk and inertia of a 400,000-strong partner program will roll on with or without the company’s founding father.
Because the channel grew organically and democratically at its own pace, with Gates gone, any changes would have to be made slowly and carefully, insiders say.
"It's not a bad thing that it will stay the same," Bahl says. "If they were to change anything quickly, it would most likely hurt partners. You have to remember that if Microsoft, that if HP, IBM could make money without the channel, they certainly would, but they are dependant on us, so they'll leave well enough alone."
That doesn't mean that it's easy being a Microsoft VAR. Post-Y2K, Bahl says the target for many vendors shifted to the SMB, and Microsoft increasingly looked to the channel partners to help penetrate the market and drive revenue and sales. But doing that has gotten increasingly difficult, Bahl says.
"Microsoft is our principal partner, and the basis on which we build most of our solutions. I was of the opinion that 'if Microsoft builds it, 'they' [customers] will come,'" says Bahl. But that strategy isn't paying the dividends he'd expected.
"I'm starting to question the wisdom of my decision. With Vista, with Office 2007, with SharePoint and ResponsePoint -- customers certainly aren't beating down my door clamoring to get those solutions," he says.
That said, Bahl adds that he still believes Microsoft has the best channel program of vendors he works with, and that their support and commitment to the channel are second to none.