Microsoft COO Kevin Turner Wednesday added insult to injury by inviting solution providers to bring customers to Microsoft retail stores, where Surface Tablets are sold direct.
"You should feel free to use our store as an extension to your office," Turner told partners in a keynote address before thousands of partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, Texas. "Our stores [are] an office for you, and they're a big asset to us. Bring your customers there."
At the same time, Turner told partners that Microsoft is expanding its worldwide retail store footprint dramatically from 73 stores to 101 stores by the end of its fiscal year 2014.
"What is he talking about?" asked Bob Venero, the CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y., Microsoft partner that recently closed a 2,500-unit Apple iPad deal with JetBlue. "How can someone like Turner ask us to bring customers into a Microsoft retail store where they can see Surface tablets we can't even sell? That is ridiculous." He called the Turner comments "yet another slap in the face" to Microsoft solution providers anxious to sell Surface.
Venero, who chose not to attend the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, said he was also dismayed that both Turner and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer refused to directly address the issue of why the very partners that made Microsoft successful still cannot sell Surface. "It's amazing to me that they didn't bring it up," he said. "If they are saying they are going to be a device and services company, how do you not take and put Surface into the hands of the solution providers that are going to make you successful as a device and services company."
Venero's message to Turner and Ballmer: "I would like to understand the thinking that solution providers like Future Tech can benefit from utilizing a Microsoft retail store for a corporate customer. To add insult to injury there are products that are exclusive to Microsoft and its select device partners that I don't have the ability to sell. I would love to talk to a Microsoft executive on the channel mentality and direction because it is not being communicated to partners like Future Tech."
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