The UK arm of Microsoft came under pressure from its US parent last week to recruit more Vars and dealers as it introduced fresh channel initiatives to boost its numbers and spread.
Neil Holloway, deputy general manager, and David Smith, channel sales and marketing manager at Microsoft UK, were pushed by Bill Gates' number two to increase its Var presence.
Steve Ballmer, executive VP of sales and support at Microsoft US, said: 'In the US we have 150,000 Vars that serve small business partners. I have given Smith and Holloway 25,000 as their charter here in the UK.' Both Holloway and Smith estimate that the number of small dealers in the UK is about 15,000.
Ballmer said the proportion of small businesses in the UK meant that if Microsoft looked carefully at smaller UK regions, it would find Vars and resellers servicing that business. Other elements of Microsoft's channel strategy needed fixing.
'We are not where we had hoped to be with certified professional engineers (CPEs) two years ago. But we are way ahead in market share over Novell and it hasn't hurt our sales,' he said.
'We'll sell 900,000 NT servers in the next 12 months, which will be the same as Novell's sales.' Ballmer said getting people to pass the test is tough, but every hour of study costs a Var business.
Microsoft has introduced two additional initiatives to help its figures.
Net Results 97 is aimed at small and medium-sized resellers and starts on 7 October. At the same time, MS will boost its solution provider programme from 27 to 100.
Smith said Net Results will service smaller companies without the time or need for SP status, but still need basic skills and support. It will not include a formal accreditation, but will come with skills development kit, technical support, training and comms information.
We pull out the key information from Big Blue's quarterly results
Telford-based firm moves into the Nordics with Getac
Desktop 3D printer shipments see first ever year-on-year decline
Wholesale AI integration should not mean ethical principles are compromised, Satya Nadella tells Inspire conference