Microsoft's top 30 direct large account resellers (Lars) are bracingor volume licences. themselves for massive losses in rebates after the vendor proposed to set sales targets for volume licences.
According to industry sources, the software giant is considering bringing in changes to its direct Lar contract, effective from 1 July, where sales targets for products sold through the Microsoft Open Licence Programme (MOLP) will be imposed.
Lars sell through the Select licence scheme to customers purchasing more than 1,000 units. But they stand to lose tens of thousands of pounds in rebates if they fail to achieve quarterly sales targets.
Under the terms of the amended contract, Lars have to sell a certain number of MOLP products, which are tailored for smaller business customers, or risk being penalised at the end of the financial year.
One Lar expressed concern that under the proposal, distributors would not gain any rebate on MOLP products sold to direct Lars. He said it would deprive distributors of the incentive to offer the discounts usually available to other volume licence resellers.
One distributor suggested Microsoft's move was a veiled attempt to raise internal competition and reduce the size of its overcrowded Lar channel, following confirmation by the vendor that it would retain all but one of its 30 direct Lars.
Sources speculated that as many as 10 direct Lars would be dumped at the end of June. But Steve Beswick, Microsoft channel and licensing sales manager, revealed: 'The targets to be achieved were reached by all the Lars except one.' He refused to disclose which partner had lost its contract or to comment directly on the proposals.
One Lar said: 'Some Lars will find themselves in a very difficult situation as they will be moving into a whole new market.'
Another said: 'We are in a good position because we already do a lot of MOLP business. It's up to Microsoft account managers to look at each company individually and set realistic targets.'
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