Microsoft Launches Surface Windows 8 Pro Without Channel


Microsoft hasn't divulged any plans to let distributor Synnex carry Microsoft Surface tablets for either Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro, Synnex CEO Kevin Murai told CRN last month.

"They haven't mentioned anything on that. I would love to see Surface as a channel play, but they haven't been committal at all on that. I'm not sure disappointed is the right word, but I would love to see it," Murai told CRN after Synnex reported its fourth-quarter earnings.

Microsoft itself has been silent regarding the channel and Surface, only revealing last month that it was expanding the retail outlets for the Windows RT version of the tablet.

Jon Sastre, president and CEO, Conquest Technology Services, Miami, believes the channel will get its opportunity with Surface. He said he had breakfast with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer a few months back and grilled Ballmer about Microsoft's Surface strategy. While Ballmer didn't offer channel details, Sastre came away believing that Microsoft was not taking a "follow-the-leader" mentality by getting into hardware.

"As a VAR, I'm not making a ton of money selling that category of device anyway. We're making a lot of money configuring and deploying [tablets], and the value add I add is getting the right device into the hands of clients, and if it's a Surface Windows 8 Pro, that's OK," Sastre said.

The Surface Pro should be a commercial hit because of the increased functionality it provides compared to Apple's iPad or other Windows RT or Android-based tablets, Sastre said.

"I love my iPad, but it's not a computer. This really captures everything for a user that wants QuickBooks or CRM right in front of them," he said. "The ability to access files in SharePoint, that's a big deal. To edit them is a bigger deal. Surface [RT] was a great start. But, it's a start. The big gorilla still missing for our clients is Outlook. They say, 'We need a device to carry Outlook.'"

PUBLISHED FEB. 8, 2013