Q&A: Microsoft Channel Chief Phil Sorgen Talks About Cloud Incentives, Surface, Windows XP


CRN: Any update on when Microsoft will make Surface available for more channel partners to sell?

As of today, we're still continuing to evaluate the path, the best path, forward, and the timing in which it will make sense for us and our partners to be successful as they join us on that journey.

We're very bullish about the Surface opportunity. We have been a hardware vendor, but we haven't been a hardware vendor in the realm of tablet/laptop-type devices. And we want to be thoughtful, and when we build a commercial ecosystem for that, we want to do it the right way.

Today, we have a commercial ecosystem in 29 countries and approximately 130 resellers. We understand what a hardware channel looks like, and we're going to be prepared to do it the right way. In a sense you could say, at this point in time, we don’t think it makes sense for us to expand it because we can't do it fully to the degree that we want to.

CRN: You're just not ready for Surface in the channel?

We are driving towards that. The recent outreach [to select partners in December] was to continue to investigate and look at partners. And when we're ready, we have an intent to expand the channel.

Sometimes being an advocate for the channel is measured by what you do, and sometimes it’s what you don’t do. One thing I've learned is that the channel has a limit to their tolerance. When we're going all in, we need to be ready to go all in. 

CRN: How are things going with Microsoft's efforts to get organizations to move off Windows XP?

XP usage has unquestionably seen a decline this fiscal year, and that's been quite deliberate.

We think we've been incredibly vocal around XP end-of-support. We have really amped up the message with campaigns through distribution and VARs to help customers get to a modern OS on their desktop.

We are aware some single-use devices that aren't connected to the Internet probably won't be switching. Other customers that don't move at the deadline at least have a migration plan in place. The customers I worry about are the ones that just aren’t doing anything.

PUBLISHED MARCH 20, 2014