Exclusive: Ballmer Tells Partners To Buy Surface From Microsoft.com

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Tommy Bradford, managing director of strategic alliances for Jack Henry & Associates, a Monett, Mo., partner whose Azure Microsoft business is on a run rate to hit $1 million after only seven months, applauded Microsoft’s decision to introduce Surface.

"We are putting pressure on our [Microsoft] guys to get us Surface as soon as possible," he said in an interview at the Microsoft partner conference. "I can tell you that what we are seeing, our customers at our big user conferences are very intrigued with Surface. They like the fact that Windows 8 [on Surface] can give you that immersive, fluid experience, and then they know they can go and run our apps on the desktop. They like that. They like the manageability of that."

As to whether Jack Henry & Associates is interested in selling Surface, the company would like to sell "any products that make sense for us where we can add value to it," said Mark Forbis, vice president and CTO of the company. "If we are packaging products and solutions on there, that's great. But if we can't make an appropriate margin and sell it with our partners, then we don't want to get in the middle of it. We'd love to be able to do it if it makes business sense."

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based Microsoft partner who is not attending the Microsoft partner conference this week, called Microsoft’s decision to not let partners sell Surface an "insult" and a "smack in the face."

“It is a sad day when Microsoft wants to become Apple,” said Venero. “Instead of trying to be Apple, they should stick to what makes them successful which is their partner community.

“If you look at the history of what partners have done for Microsoft over the year, it is a smack in the face,” said Venero. “We helped to create the vast enterprise that is Microsoft. If we look at the integration work, solution sets, [software] rollouts, licensing management, all of those things that we have done for small-medium businesses, midmarket, all the way up into the enterprise and government, that has all been driven through partners.

"Just because Apple is eating Microsoft's lunch on the tablet doesn't mean their route to market should exclude the partners," said Venero. "Microsoft is telling us to go pay retail for the product and buy it from Microsoft.com and integrate it into our solutions. With Apple we can sell and support the iPad and make it part of our business. If Microsoft is going to keep Surface away from partners and treat us like a retail customer, it is absolutely an insult.”



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