Microsoft COO Kevin Turner wants to help out channel partners by permitting them to bring customers into Microsoft retail stores during the sales process, so they can check out the latest products firsthand.
"You should feel free to use our store as an extension to your office," Turner said in a keynote last week at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference. "Our stores [are] an office for you, and they're a big asset to us. Bring your customers there."
Partners whose customers really want Surface tablets would have to at least consider Turner's invitation, since Microsoft isn't yet granting them the privilege of selling it.
But, that's not an appealing option for some longtime Microsoft partners.
"I would not bring my customers to Microsoft stores, and for the first time in my career, I'm actually considering if I want to recommend Microsoft at all," a 15-year Microsoft partner, who has achieved multiple specializations, told CRN.
The Surface issue is just one of the reasons behind the partner's stance. "It's not just because of Microsoft's channel unfriendly attitude with Surface, but also because of their failure to listen to partners and customers and meet their needs more effectively," said the source, who requested anonymity.
Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, Manalapan, N.J., is another Microsoft partner who doesn't plan on taking Turner up on his offer.
"I just don't see any value-add the retail store offers to us," Harrison said. "On the other hand, I have used local Microsoft business offices for client meetings, and that's been a very effective environment to close business."
Microsoft, which currently has 73 retail stores nationwide, expects to have 101 by next July, including its first store in China, Turner said at WPC. So even if a partner doesn't have a Microsoft store nearby, chances are that one could open up at some point in the future.
Partners do have other options for getting Surface, however. Staples, Wal-Mart and Best Buy all sell the tablets, and Best Buy is going to be setting up mini-Microsoft stores within their retail stores in the coming months.
PUBLISHED JULY 17, 2013