Where to begin with Microsoft's 2013? The company struggled with its flagship operating system and even with the Windows 8.1 update this fall, the Start Menu was still missing. Then there was the curious acquisition of smartphone maker (and Windows Phone supporter) Nokia for $7.2 billion. And don't forget embattled CEO Steve Ballmer's surprise announcement in August that he will retire next year, which led to Microsoft scrambling for a replacement as rumors and speculation about the next chief executive kicked into high gear. But the biggest drama for Microsoft partners was arguably the decision to limit Microsoft Surface reseller authorizations to just 10 U.S. solution providers, which led to many VARs questioning the software giant's channel strategy.