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The Martorano appointment comes at a critical juncture for Microsoft as the company searches for a new CEO and attempts to recast itself as a leading player in the mobile devices and services market.
Microsoft just this week struck a $7.2 billion deal to buy Finnish smartphone giant Nokia's mobile devices and services business. The deal came with nary a mention of just how Microsoft's 640,000 global partners fit into the emerging devices business.
A senior executive for one of Microsoft's large enterprise partners, who did not want to be identified, said Martorano is going to need to move quickly to make Surface distribution changes or be faced with more partners embracing Apple, Samsung or another mobile device vendor.
"I have been trying to get the Surface guys to return my calls forever, so I hope this helps," said the senior executive, whose sales reps are angry that they are unable to source Surface from top distributors. "It's so frustrating. The only way we can support our customers is by ordering Surface through Microsoft's online store in small quantities. Microsoft won't even do a one-off [exception for large orders]. My sales reps have had it. They are looking at Apple and Samsung."
Martorano's promotion comes amid a flurry of changes in Microsoft's channel organization. Last week, Microsoft replaced Worldwide Channel Chief Jon Roskill with 17-year Microsoft veteran Phil Sorgen, who had been overseeing the software giant's U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners Group.
Sorgen, who started as corporate vice president of the company's Worldwide Partner Group on Sept. 1, has said in a blog post that his goal is to ensure that Microsoft's future as a "devices and services" company is "enabled in concert with the channel."
The Sorgen appointment comes with a number of key Microsoft channel executives stepping down or moving into new jobs.
Geoff Nyheim, a 22-year veteran and vice president of worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners corporate accounts and partner sales, is leaving Sept. 9. He's being replaced by Jennifer Heard, vice president of Microsoft's Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) unit.
Barbara Gordon, Microsoft's vice president of worldwide support since 2009, is leaving Wednesday after nine years at the company. Taking her place is Kirsten Kliphouse, vice president of Microsoft's U.S. East Region Enterprise and Partner Group.
A number of Microsoft's field sales reps have waited until "calibration" -- the stack-ranking system that rates employees against their peers on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being the worst -- to move to new roles, which could mean there are more moves coming, a source familiar with the matter told CRN last week.