Microsoft's new Surface tablets have gone down well in the channel, with VARs on its Devices Programme claiming to be optimistic that they will prove to be popular with customers.
On Monday, Microsoft unveiled two new Surface models – the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 – which are already available to pre-order ahead of their 22 October launch (soon after Windows 8.1 becomes generally available).
The tablets boast improved processing power and battery life as well as enhanced camera resolution and changes to the kickstand which Microsoft says will make it more comfortable to use.
The software giant did not say when the new tablets would be available to the channel, but Authorised Surface Resellers expect to get their hands on it when it is released in October. Last year, the channel was left waiting for months to sell the first-generation models of the tablet while the vendor focused on the consumer launch.
Despite widespread criticism of the Surface strategy – Microsoft had to take a $900m (£560m) writedown on the tablets and its chief exec Steve Ballmer reportedly admitted to making too many of them – resellers are still full of praise for the tablet itself and expect the newer versions to be particularly well received among business customers.
Richard Gibbons, software manager at Bechtle, which has European rights to sell the Surface, said the new tweaks will boost demand for Surfaces even more among businesses.
"The backlit keyboard covers – including one with an extra battery – and a dock will increase the appeal to business users and make them see that [the Surface is] much more useful as a primary device," he said.
"Extending the battery life is a big thing [and is] again very important for increasing the business appeal. The backlit keyboards mean that things like using it to work on a transatlantic flight and so on will be much easier. I think this, coupled with Windows 8.1, should help boost sales certainly."
Gibbons added that new features like additional sensors on the keyboard covers will make it faster and easier to type on - answering a common complaint about tablets.
James Hardy, sales and brand director at CCS Media, which is one of nine UK resellers allowed to sell the Suface, said while he expects further demand to stem from the launch of the new devices, the Surface RT and Surface Pro have also been hugely popular.
"It has been the most positive product launch that we've seen around devices ever," he said. "From the initial launch to channel, in terms of customer demand and interest, it's so significant. The number of opportunities and sales are massively growing and it's really gaining momentum.
"There's an extreme level of interest in the Surface 2 and Pro 2 – [Surface] is a great product already and Surface 2 builds on that."
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