Microsoft Partners Fuming At Surface Slight

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Microsoft solution providers Monday said they are upset over the software giant's continued refusal to let them sell the Surface tablet.

Microsoft's decision to sell Surface through 10 large account resellers (LARs) and not through solution providers has succeeded in "isolating and alienating" the very partners that have made Microsoft successful, said Majdi "Mike" Daher, the CEO of Denali Advanced Integration, Redmond, Wash., No. 114 on the SP500 with $180 million in sales.

"What I read into this is they are desperate; they are trying to gain market share by partnering with the big guys, but they have a lot of ground to make up," said Daher. "They don't understand that they need to start at the grass roots of the business. Microsoft doesn't understand that it is the value-added partners and regional partners like Denali that are driving the deals and generating demand. We are the ones helping the customers make the [tablet] buying decision."


[Related: Tablet Tease: Microsoft Surface Channel Debut Bypasses Bulk of Partners]

Denali, for its part, will sell more than 30,000 tablet computers this year with vendor partners like Apple and Samsung, both of which have robust and mature tablet-based channel programs. "Microsoft needs to stop putting walls up and obstacles in our way and reasons on why we can not sell the [Surface] product," said Daher. "Microsoft should be excited that channel partners are upset. We care! We want Microsoft to be successful. We have been partners with Microsoft for over 20 years. We care. That is why we are upset."

Daher, a Windows 8 user who runs the operating system on a phone, tablet, desktop and laptop, said his message to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is simple: "Windows 8 is a fantastic product. Microsoft just needs to enable partners like us to take the great Windows 8 story to our corporate and commercial accounts and just let us sell. Allow us to sell the complete story. When we sell the full portfolio of Microsoft, whether it is infrastructure, Office 365, SharePoint, Windows, it is a great story that we can take to our customers comfortably. They don't have to change applications or build new code for an OS they are not used to. It is Windows. It is very easy to sell if we are allowed to sell it."

PCPC Direct COO Joe Vaught wants to ask Ballmer directly why LARs were given the green light to sell the Surface tablet and not partners selling Microsoft business technology solutions. He wants to know who at Microsoft made the decision to exclude solution providers.

"Inquiring minds want to know," said Vaught. "Is this the first sign of encroachment? Encroaching is so easy. You take one step, and if no one says anything, you take more steps. You have to nip it in the bud if you can. It jolted me when I read that Microsoft is selling Surface through LARs and not giving it to systems integrators."

Microsoft Monday said it had authorized LARs CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, PC Connection, PCM, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International and Zones to sell the Surface tablet under the new Microsoft Devices Program. Several Microsoft partners said they were surprised by the decision to just give the product to LARs. They said they expected Microsoft to make Surface generally available. Microsoft, for its part, has said it will authorize additional partners in the future.

Partners, however, said that vague pledge is not good enough.

NEXT: Partner's Holler And Scream About Surface Decision

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