Microsoft Expands Channel for Surface Tablets

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Print this article Print

Microsoft launched a new phase of its distribution strategy for Surface tablets, opening up the channel for global distributors.

Microsoft has announced a new phase of its channel strategy for its Surface tablet computer systems.

On Aug. 15, Microsoft announced the next phase of the plan to make Surface available to commercial customers through newly added distributors and authorized resellers in Canada and select markets in Western Europe including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

“Today we’re kicking off the next phase in this plan—the first international channel availability of Surface RT and Surface Pro for our commercial, education and public-sector customers in 17 new markets,” said Cyril Belikoff, director of Microsoft Surface, in an Aug. 15 blog post.

Microsoft also enhanced its AppsForSurface ISV program, a new Surface application development program that provides devices and funding for independent software vendors (ISVs) in these select markets. The program provides devices and funding for app design intended to get key enterprise apps on Surface and Windows 8, the Surface team said in a July 1 blog post. ”We have limited slots for this program, and ISVs that are already signed up include AirStrip, Citrix, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Sage,” the team said.

”Our plan has been to expand commercial distribution for Surface in a thoughtful way,” Belikoff said. “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.”

This follows the initial business expansion announcement made in the United States on July 1 announcing the first phase of Surface’s expansion into the business channel. 

Customers in the United States are now allowed to purchase Surface and commercial services through an initial group of authorized resellers including CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, PC Connection, PCM, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International and Zones. The program also established Ingram Micro, SYNNEX and Tech Data as inaugural device-authorized distributors to sell Surface to newly authorized commercial resellers in the United States.

"We continue to be committed to bringing business channel availability to all markets where Surface is currently sold,” Belikoff said. “As Forrester analyst Tirthankar Sen noted in his blog commentary, extending from our initial U.S. commercial channel roll-out on July 1, this measured approach helps us to quickly gather feedback and improve while we grow our geographical reach in the business channel.”

U.S. resellers have been frustrated over their inability to carry the Microsoft Surface and sell it to customers, according to CRN, which covers the channel closely.

Microsoft also announced that Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and the latest version of Intune will be available for download for eligible customers on Oct. 18 and evaluation versions will be made available through the TechNet Evaluation Center. New customers will be able to purchase these products on Nov. 1. These releases provide many new advancements to help IT organizations build and deliver private and hybrid clouds and manage all the devices of their workforce, Microsoft said.

“I'm excited to announce that, on the same day, eligible customers will be able to download Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, as well as the latest update to Windows Intune,” said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson in a blog post.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.