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Microsoft's focus is squarely on consumers and LARs, ignoring the vast majority of partners serving the SMB market, said Ranvest's Nitrio. "I personally feel that by bifurcating their vision to consumer and enterprise and leaving the small/medium-business market to fend for itself, they are abandoning some of the most enthusiastic and passionate evangelists in favor of large-scale sales. They are looking strictly at volume. They want to generate more revenue and more profit by more or less abandoning an entire segment of their partners who don't generate huge profits for Microsoft but collectively make a big impact contributing to Microsoft's success in intangible ways. It makes no sense to me."
Nitrio said he sees the restructuring as part of Microsoft's "transformation from an innovative company to a dictatorial company," shoving its devices, services and software down customers' throats on its own terms rather than "collaboratively and cooperatively" engaging with partners and customers.
"It's a shameful attitude," said Nitrio. "It's a top-down approach where Microsoft demands this is what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Microsoft must understand this is not the military where you give order and soldiers follow them. We are not dealing with the military here. We are dealing with real businesses. In business you absorb information and you make reasoned decisions."
Denali's Daher remains steadfast in his company's commitment to build and deliver Microsoft solutions despite what he called Microsoft's view that partners such as Denali are "irrelevant.
"We cannot abandon Microsoft because they have a bad and disconnected channel program," he said. "We always find a way [to get the job done]. That is what systems integrators and value-added resellers do. At the end of the day, we serve our customers and having Microsoft technology in our customers' environments is a good thing. We bet on them. They will figure it out. Channel chiefs and sales chiefs come and go. The more mistakes they make, the less rope they have. It seems to me Microsoft's leadership made their rope a little shorter this week with some of the decisions they made."
Carl Mazzanti, CEO of eMazzanti Technologies, a Hoboken, N.J., Microsoft Gold partner that just won a Microsoft regional partner of the year award, said his company is succeeding by partnering with Microsoft in hot markets such as Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. He said his $6 million company's Microsoft sales are up 85 percent year to date with robust profits. The key to succeeding in the technology business, said Mazzanti, is to "accept that whatever you are doing yesterday you can never do again. You have to innovate. It is a question of whether you are going to fight change or embrace it."
As for the Surface distribution issue, Mazzanti said he "realistically" does not look at Microsoft as a hardware manufacturer. eMazzanti itself relies exclusively on HP, which has a top-notch hardware lineup including the ElitePad. "Other manufacturers [like HP] have been doing hardware for a long time," he said. "That is where they were born, so to speak. That is how they live and die and survive. This is not a fight-or-flight item for Microsoft. If Microsoft comes out with a product that makes the rest of the hardware manufacturers catch up with innovation, it is good for everyone."