Microsoft's long-awaited decision to let the channel sell its Surface tablets is paying off, according to two VARs, which have reported strong early interest in the devices.
Earlier this month, Microsoft allowed nine UK resellers – Softcat, Phoenix Software, Misco, Kelway, Computacenter, SCC, CCS Media, Insight and SoftwareOne – to sell the tablets as part of its Devices programme. The pilot scheme came nearly a year after the Surface RT first launched.
Just two weeks after being given the nod by the vendor, Phoenix Software and Softcat both claim to have been inundated with requests for the tablets from eager customers.
Phoenix claims its public sector business has done the best out of the deal so far, with inbound enquiries to its team jumping 40 per cent since 15 August, resulting in the firm growing its sales team in the division by 30 per cent to cope with demand.
The VAR's director Sam Mudd said the consumer-focused RT and the Pro, which is targeted at business users, have received equal interest and that she was pleased with progress so far.
"We expected the availability of Microsoft's Surface devices through Phoenix Software to receive a positive reaction from our customers, but we could never have anticipated the level of interest that we have seen," she said. "While many of our customers have experimented with iPads and other tablet devices in recent years, it would appear that the attraction of an entirely Windows 8 environment across both PCs and tablets has really hit the mark."
The glowing channel report comes as the vendor announced it is keeping its August-only promo prices for the long haul. At the start of the month, Microsoft cut the price of its Surface Pro models by $100 (£65) each, and that offer is now here to stay long term. The 64GB and 128GB products were slashed to $700 and $899 respectively, and will remain that way.
Sooner rather than later
Softcat's managing director Colin Brown (pictured) also said he was positive about early interest in the tablets, but it would have been even better if the channel was let in on the action a lot sooner.
"There is a lot of first-stage interest and we have got to convert that into pipeline and deals, but I am positive about it – more than I thought I would be," he said.
"Not to be over-critical, but three or four months earlier to the channel would have been great. Making their minds up too would have helped, there has been some procrastination about it.
"We have had this struggle to get to the stage where we can become a reseller, and it was not until then that we told our sales teams to come back with some opportunities, and there have been more than anticipated and I'm optimistic.
"Will Microsoft ship as many as it wants to? I don't know, but I think they will ship a lot more than the naysayers predict."
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