Microsoft has said VARs currently not on its Devices programme will be best placed to potentially get their hands on the Surface in the future if they build a successful devices arm based on other Windows 8 offerings.
Last month, Microsoft selected nine resellers to sell the tablet after a six-week selection process in which hundreds of resellers bid for rights to sell the Surface. Softcat, Insight, CCS Media, SoftwareONE, Computacenter, Misco, Kelway, SCC and Phoenix Software eventually won places on the Devices programme.
Since the tablets first launched to consumers last year, the channel has been crying out to be able to flog the tablet, reporting strong demand from would-be customers. Even when the vendor announced the channel could sell it, some resellers not included on the programme claimed they were left out.
Microsoft UK's director for devices in small and medium enterprises Peter King told CRN that the vendor had no specific plans to roll the Surface out to the wider channel, and encouraged those still keen to sell the tablet to start off on other Windows 8 tablets.
"I would expect [the Devices programme] to be broader than we are today, but we have no defined plans internally to do that because we want to get Surface into the commercial marketplace with the right experience with the partners we're working close with today," he said.
"The best advice I can give to partners who weren't successful with Surface is that there are more than 2,500 Windows 8 devices in the market today. The best way to be in with the best chance when – and if – we do decide to broaden the channel is: if you don't have one today, build a devices business on some of the amazing OEM Windows 8 tablets.
"Don't wait for Surface to be available, we'll make the right announcement at the right time and you'll be in the best place possible if you've built a device business on what's available today."
Slow and steady
King added that the nine partners that were selected to sell the products were picked because of their collective broad market coverage during a process that began about eight weeks ago.
He said although he knew some partners wanted the Surface sooner, Microsoft was keen to make sure it was doing things properly instead of rushing in.
"I've had countless conversations with commercial partners who'd have liked to go [to market with Surface] before, but we had to be ready to do it in the right way. We focused on the consumer side first and then the commercial channel after, but in the background we'd been doing a lot of work. We seemed quiet but you can imagine how much you have to do."
He added that once the nine resellers were announced as part of the Devices programme, they were able to begin selling straight away.
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