Microsoft to Sell Surface Direct to Businesses

The channel will be left with "raised eyebrows" following Microsoft's reported plans to sell its Surface tablets in bulk to business users directly, according to some resellers.

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Editor’s note:  As part of our special editorial partnership, Channelnomics is publishing this recent article from CRN in the UK.

Microsoft surfaceThe channel will be left with "raised eyebrows" following Microsoft's reported plans to sell its Surface tablets in bulk to business users directly, according to some resellers.

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VARs have confirmed the establishment of a new Surface Commercial Order website which enables volume licensing customers to buy in bulk, but Microsoft declined to comment directly on the new site.

The website is accessible only to Microsoft employees, authorized partners or volume licensees, and can be accessed through its general Surface website.

In a statement, Microsoft said: "Commercial customers interested in Surface can visit www.surface.com to place orders for Surface RT and Surface Pro. We will continue to take a measured and phased approach to provide customers and partners with the best experience possible. We are, and always have been, committed to the channel, and you can expect to hear from us on that front when [we] have more to share."

Microsoft reseller Bechtle's software manager Richard Gibbons said the recent move to sell to businesses is a "step in the right direction", but as the customer still buys direct from Microsoft, the channel still does not get the sale.

He added that pricing on the new site is the same as for the general public, and that the Pro device is still not available on the UK list.

Another reseller told CRN that the move is likely to cause "raised eyebrows" in the channel.

The consumer-focused Surface RT tablet launched in the run-up to Christmas last year, while the business Pro device launched in the US and Canada in February, ahead of an announcement that it was to be rolled out in other countries, including the UK, from the end of this month.

The vendor has stayed silent throughout both tablets' launch period as to whether or not the channel will get to sell the tablet.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that only 1.5 million Surface devices had been sold after a tip-off from a three insiders.

Reseller Insight's EMEA president Stuart Fenton blamed the vendor's route-to-market approach for the poor figures, and tweeted: "Microsoft Surface Pro sales stats are disappointing. It's a great product that is simply not available through the right channels."

For more UK channel coverage from CRN, visit www.channelweb.co.uk

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