Microsoft has launched Surface partner programmes for tablet resellers and software developers in a small scale to its US channel.
Writing in his bog, Cyril Belikoff, director, Surface marketing, said Microsoft was launching what he called the “first phase” of expansion into the business channel.
It will allow customers to purchase Surface and commercial services through a small number of authorised resellers.
There is also a new ISV program, called AppsForSurface, which provides devices and funding for app design intended to get key enterprise apps on Surface and Window 8.
While there is no news yet about what Microsoft’s plans are in other parts of the world, it is starting to look like there is a thaw in its plans.
When the Surface came out, Vole’s hardware partners screamed blue murder claiming that Microsoft was treading on its toes.
In response to that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that its channel could sell Surface but only if they order it from a Microsoft store or Microsoft.com. There will be no formal channel programme.
Now it seems that Vole is starting to branch out in a small way and test the water and close to home.
The Surface will be going to Microsoft’s bigger US partners first and Vole does not seem to be that keen to have a huge push.
In the United States that means CDW, CompuCom Systems, En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, Softchoice, Softmart, SHI International, PC Connection, PCM and Zones Inc. are the first Surface authorised resellers.
That is a tiny drop in the market of the US channel.
Microsoft says the initial Surface resellers bring a variety of value-added services to tablet family, such as asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection.
In other words, Microsoft really does need the channel to push its surface but it wants to do it without isolating its hardware chums.