Microsoft is heading for a confrontation with its channel partners after details emerged that the software giant plans to increase the volume of software and services sold direct via the Web rather than through the channel.
Speaking at Microsoft?s annual financial analyst briefing, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said: ?Our large accounts already are moving quickly to the annuity model... Next year, we plan to take this to a broader set of customers.?
Under the forthcoming licensing model, which will initially affect Microsoft Office customers, regular service packs and yearly releases will be delivered over the Web by subscription. But the model has raised fears that the developer plans to sell direct to SME and SoHo customers.
Richard Lindh, European managing director, defended Gates? comments, saying: ?It?s a natural evolution. Today we have a subscription maintenance programme, where customers can pay for quarterly service packs and bug fixes. Bill is simply articulating the need for this service to move outside the standard bug fix role.?
Lindh said Microsoft had ?no intention? of bypassing the channel. ?But I think certain customers need services which can only be delivered by the vendor, not by the channel.?
But Microsoft?s large account resellers expressed concern over the threat of direct selling over the Web. One dealer said: ?This is completely at odds with Microsoft?s third-party only distribution strategy.?
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