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Microsoft will most likely wrap some kind of channel program around its tablet PC, Swank said. But even it it does not do so, solution providers will still benefit from the ecosystem needed to support more mobile devices like the Surface tablet, he said.
"We're seeing a shift from PCs to notebooks to other mobile devices," he said. "So we are concerned about how the shift affects our core business in PCs. But if this means a shift to the cloud, customers will still need to servers and storage to handle it."
Microsoft for now is being tight-lipped about its partnering plans. The Microsoft public relations team, in response to a question about those plans, was unable to provide more information.
In the press release for the Microsoft Surface tablet PC, Microsoft wrote, "One of the strengths of Windows is its extensive ecosystem of software and hardware partners, delivering selection and choice that makes a customer’s Windows experience uniquely their own. This continues with Surface. Microsoft is delivering a unique contribution to an already strong and growing ecosystem of functional and stylish devices delivered by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring the experience of Windows to consumers and businesses around the globe."
Later in the release, Microsoft wrote, "OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT."
However, no mention was made about who its hardware and software partners are, or how much integration of the Microsoft Surface hardware and software will be done by Microsoft and how much will be done by those partners.
As for the channel, the closest Microsoft came to mentioning that aspect to the business was to say that both devices will eventually be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and through select online Microsoft Stores.
Businessweek reported that, in an interview after introducing the Surface tablet PC, it asked Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer whether his company's PC partners had been made aware of its plans.
Ballmer, according to Businessweek, said he used "very precise language on stage," and would not go into detail about Microsoft OEM partners or Microsoft's sales plans for Surface. "That’s all we are going to announce today," Ballmer told Businessweek.
Steve Burke contributed to this story.