In a move cheered by the channel, Microsoft's authorised device distributors (ADDs) Ingram Micro and Tech Data have appointed a new batch of resellers who can sell the Surface range, CRN understands.
Initially Microsoft appointed nine authorised device resellers (ADRs) when the tablet first launched in the channel in 2013, adding another six - and removing one - in April last year. Then in September, Ingram Micro and Tech Data appointed 41 new resellers who could sell the Surface, including Trustmarque, Millgate and Tangible Benefit.
Now Ingram Micro and Tech Data extended their number of appointed Surface resellers earlier this month, CRN has learned. Tech Data declined to comment and Ingram Micro was unavailable at the time of publication.
When approached, Microsoft remained tight lipped on how many UK resellers have been appointed in this batch, but CRN understands an official announcement is likely to come next week.
Anna Nicholls, marketing manager at Axon IT, which was appointed through Tech Data on 8 January, said having the Surface accreditation is important for its image.
"We don't just like to sell products and services to customers; we have a full consultative approach," she said. "So having this Microsoft accreditation [through distribution] helps with the brand recognition and also gives us peace of mind to our customers. We know we are experts but from a customer point of view, it helps with the process and the relationships."
Conor Callanan, chief executive of Core Technology Systems, said he was delighted to be able to sell Microsoft's "most promising products" with Core's appointment.
"It just means we can offer the complete end-to-end solution from Microsoft," he said. "We are the [distributor-appointed] ADR for the devices and the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) for the licences, which allows us to bundle a complete Microsoft solution to the customer for those who want it."
Callanan said he tried to get on the initial lot of distribution-appointed resellers, but has now managed "to get on the second batch" through Tech Data.
The original 14 ADRs are managed by Microsoft account managers and have access to certain rebates that the resellers appointed through distribution don't. These distribution managed partners (DMPs) are handled by the distributors, CRN understands.
The authorised resellers appointed by Microsoft and by distribution have access to the whole Surface range, including the Surface Book which was released earlier this month.
Microsoft released a blog yesterday which announced the extension of its ADR channel in Australia "to meet the overwhelming demand for Surface devices".
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (pictured below) yesterday claimed the Surface has created a new category of 2-in-1 devices as the vendor reported that Surface sales rose 29 per cent in constant currencies in its last quarter.
Jeremy Davies, founder of industry analyst Context, said that this recent extension of the Surface channel is a reflection of the success Microsoft has been enjoying with it.
"It's growing strongly and we expect it to grow even more strongly in 2016," he said. "It's something that's been picked up and liked by the business community. What happened was the Surface was seeded in a lot of corporations a while back and the results are when it comes to refreshes and updates. You are beginning to see the results of that work Microsoft, its distributors and its resellers have been doing over the last 18 months."
He said Apple's release of the iPad Pro was in reaction to this rising success of the Surface.
"Whether or not the iPad Pro will have the same sort of pick up as the Surface Pro does, that's a big question."
Microsoft copying Apple?
Dave Wilding, account manager at reseller Shadowfax Technology, felt that with Microsoft only appointing a select number of authorised resellers for the Surface, that it's been taking a leaf out of Apple's book.
"We have only been able to get access to them through the ADRs, and they are selling them almost at retail price," he said. "So we can't really make any margin on them. So [Microsoft] have done a bit of an Apple-style tactic."
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