Microsoft resellers have expressed concern about the softwareeir service provision. vendor's long-term channel strategy, which was outlined at the Inside Track conference last weekend.
A number of sources have suggested that the vendor's drive to sell more manageable systems and to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) is at odds with its insistence that channel partners concentrate on service opportunities to increase future revenue.
Neil Holloway, deputy general manager of Microsoft UK, told nearly 1,000 channel representatives that 'a huge opportunity' exists for partners to exploit the service and consultancy needs of corporate customers.
Estimating that Microsoft users in the UK will spend £7.5 billion on services this year, he assured delegates that the manufacturer has no plans to move into the services market.
'We are not in the service industry - these opportunities are there for you to take advantage of. We will not compete,' he said.
But some dealers fear that when more corporate clients adopt NT 5.0, which boasts zero administration, a 50 per cent reduction in TCO and remote manageability, companies will have fewer service requirements.
A source at a leading Microsoft Var commented: 'There does appear to be a loophole in Microsoft's thinking. It's difficult to see how more manageable systems are going to increase service opportunities once the installation is complete.'
Dean Lemm, senior account manager at Servo Computer Services (SCS) agreed: 'Microsoft can't continue reinventing the wheel year after year.
It's going to reach a point where companies and users are happy with the systems they have. We rely on the provision of services to make a living but I can't see the present situation improving for us. If Microsoft really wants to help both the channel and the consumer, it should lower the price of its software.'
NO POWER, NO ACCREDITATION
Microsoft suffered an embarrassing power failure at its annual reseller conference, Inside Track 98, which led to the cancellation of the subsidised accreditation tests.
The tests had been a major incentive for many partners to attend the first day of the conference, a forum for discussion of technological developments.
A one-off 50 per cent discount on the £65 fee was offered to professionals who were due to be examined on the day.
During the main plenary session Steve Balmer, Microsoft senior vice-president for worldwide sales and marketing, addressed an auditorium by video link from the US.
He emphasised the importance of training and certification for the channel and pointed out that while there are more certified Microsoft professionals in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, a perceptible skills shortage is still undermining potential service and sales opportunities.
James Royan, IT consultant at London-based In City solution providers, was one of the attendees who missed out due to the power cut. He said: 'It wasn't too great an inconvenience as we've been told we can take the test next week and we will still be eligible for the discount.'
Sylvan Polymetrics, which organised the tests, confirmed that anyone who had booked to take its accreditation in Birmingham would be able to reschedule a maximum of two tests for a later date and still take advantage of the discounted price offer.
Chris Lewis, Microsoft corporate and customer unit manager, played down the mishap. 'It's an act of God!' he said 'There's very little we can do about a loss in power.'
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