Microsoft is taking a new tack to selling its Surface tablets to enterprise buyers in Europe, announcing 17 new Surface channel partners who will be flogging the devices and related services.
Microsoft began selling to enterprise customers in the US using channel partners on 1 July, while in the other 29 markets where the slate is on sale, it can be bought only directly from Microsoft or through a small set of retailers. The decision through a roadblock in the way of enterprise bulk buying, and hasn't proved a successful move by Microsoft.
As of Thursday though, 17 new channel partners in Europe will begin selling Surface devices to enterprise and public sector in countries including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. UK partners include Phoenix, SCC and Softcat.
Additional markets will be announced in the coming weeks, according to Cyril Belikoff, director of Microsoft Surface.
Under the "two-tiered" model Microsoft adopted in the US, approved distributors will sell the Surface to Authorised Surface Resellers, which can then sell on the devices along with wraparound services to Microsoft’s customers in the commercial, education and public sectors.
Rather importantly, resellers will also be offering value-add services, including asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection.
The channel expansion program could not come sooner for Microsoft, which recently recorded a $900m writedown on Surface RT inventories and has cut the price of the device by around $150 in the US and Europe.
While Surface RT price drops were global, price drops for Surface Pro in the US through August were not extended to Europe.