Microsoft has ruled that its new Surface Hub device will be available only to a carefully selected group of audiovisual specialists as it announces that it has pushed back its release date indefinitely.
The meeting room device was unveiled last month and has been a hot topic at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Orlando this week, with a demo of the product getting a prime spot following the keynote of chief executive Satya Nadella.
The product was set to ship to the channel on 1 September this year, but the vendor announced this will no longer be the case.
"We started taking pre-orders on 1 July and we have seen strong demand out of the gate," said Surface general manager Brian Hall. "Based on the early interest we see, we're tuning our manufacturing process to prepare for production at broader scale. To do this, we are adjusting our product rollout schedule to ensure we deliver a great customer experience and set our partners up for success. We will not start shipping on 1 September now."
More information on the new rollout schedule is due next month.
In EMEA, Tech Data and Maverick have rights to distribute the product when it eventually ships, but at WPC, Microsoft was keen to stress that only a certain number of partners will be able to buy the kit from their disties.
Brian Eskridge, Microsoft's general manager for Surface marketing, said the vendor will hand-pick a select number of resellers with specialist skills to sell the kit.
"We don't want there to be the assumption that [Surface Hub and Surface tablets] have the same channel and the same set of partners," he told CRN. "Our go-to-market strategy [with Surface Hub] is with highly specialised AV systems integrators – people who have historical background in that real estate and facilities side of corporate budgets. Surface Hub will be most successful with customers who work with partners they have typically worked with for build-outs of conference spaces.
"It is a unique device and is a category of its own. If you think about those other things those core AV systems integrators bring, they're the ones with the firm understanding of what the furniture should look like in a room with Surface Hub. What acoustic panelling do you need in that room to take advantage of the amazing microphone array and our camera technology? That's the partner segment we are talking about."
The news comes as Microsoft has finally opened up its distribution channel for the Surface tablet. For two years, just a small number of partners were able to sell the device, and now any partner will be able to approach distributors for the kit.
But Eskridge added that certain criteria will have to be met before resellers can sell the tablet.
"We work closely with our distribution partners to establish what the criteria should be," he said. "It's not anything that would be surprising – we are just asking them if they have a historical strength in selling hardware, do they have historical background in Windows devices and are they willing to meet some thresholds for [sales] volume. It's about being able to commit to certain forecasting, not [holding] inventory."
Struggling security titan makes three board appointments after investor took 5.8 per cent stake last month
Commvault ousted its CEO in May and has since undergone a radical refocus
As employees demand more flexible working environments, CRN asks how the channel is adapting to the changing working landscape
Wall Street less than impressed with Oracle's growth as cloud numbers remain hidden