Microsoft starts selling its Surfaces through resellers

Microsoft starts selling its Surfaces through resellers

Summary: Microsoft is further expanding distribution of its Surface RT and Pro devices, starting with authorized resellers in the U.S.


Microsoft is expanding distribution of its Surface tablet/PC devices via authorized distributors and resellers, company officials announced on July 1.


Starting in the U.S., Microsoft is authorizing CDW, CompuCom, En Pointe, Insight, PC Connection, PCM, Softchoice, Softmart, Software House International and Zones to sell Surface Pro and RT devices. "Over the next few months," Microsoft officials said they will authorize commercial distributors and resellers in more countries.

Microsoft also plans to expand its education offer for the Surface RT -- offering devices for $199 via qualifying schools and universities purchasing direct from Microsoft -- into the commercial channel starting with the U.S. resellers "in the coming weeks," officials said today.

Authorized Surface resellers will be able to offer Microsoft's extended warranty, as well as their own services, including asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection, according to Microsoft.

When Microsoft launched the Surface RT, it originally launched in eight markets, only three of which had physical stores. Microsoft officials said Surfaces are currently available in 29 markets and 10,000-plus physical stores worldwide.

Microsoft also unveiled on July 1 a new independent software vendor (ISV) program, AppsForSurface, which will be providing devices and funding for app design of key enterprise apps for Surface and Window 8. ISVs already signed up include Citrix, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sage and healthcare developer Airstrip, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft has been stepping up its Surface discount deals as of late. There's still no word on when the Softies plan to add new Surface devices to its current mix, but sources have indicated that Microsoft plans to field an eight-inch mini Surface device some time this year. There's no official word as to when or even if Microsoft plans to add Haswell-based Intel Surface devices to its line-up.


Update: It does look as though the 256 GB Surface Pro models will be added to the Surface stable. CDW has a page listing them for $1,199.99 (with no cover), with availability noted as four to six days. The 256 GB model debuted in Japan in June.

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Details

    Are these just more direct supply chain deals, or are they shipping through channel distributors?
    • Never mind

      I read the PR. Tech Data, Ingram Micro, etc., will be carrying them.
  • Does this mean resellers will be able to play with the price?

    I really think that Microsoft should've priced the Surface much lower from the get-go. Not because it isn't a premium device--it absolutely is (I own an RT). But because they were entering a crowded market with several established leaders (namely, the iPad & Kindle).

    They used the Zune strategy (sell a premium product at a premium price) which failed (again), instead of the original Xbox strategy--sell a premium product at a discount price to undercut your opponents and get it into people's hands. It worked for Xbox and it would've worked for Surface too.

    Is it too late to switch to the Xbox strategy now? Probably not. But if the Surface products continue to languish in market share, then they will soon be tagged as a "flop" like the Zune was... and no one wants to purchase a flop, even after you start slashing the price. It damages the brand.

    Microsoft needs to figure it out soon. If anything, the Surface RT should be at least $150 cheaper than a comparable iPad... just to get it into people's hands.
    • Just one other point...

      You can't be a "services & devices" company, unless your devices are SELLING well.

      It's time for Microsoft to bite the bullet and use the Xbox strategy for their Surface products. If this offends their OEMs, then too bad. Most of their OEMs have been putting out inferior products anyway, and should be sold at a discount just for that. Microsoft is fighting for its life here (well, fighting for its future), and they need to look out for themselves. HP, Dell, and other OEMs are selling Android to cover their backs. Microsoft needs to cover its own back on this one.

      It's time to look out for number one, Microsoft. Use the Xbox strategy.
      • Microsoft doesn't want Surface to be another netbook

        In a race to the bottom, they only stand to lose.
        • Not a race to the bottom--race for a good deal...

          Consumers want "a good deal"--a quality product for a good price. Once someone sees & touches a Surface, he/she knows instantly that this is a HOT piece of hardware. If they then pick up a cheap, plastic Android tablet that's a few bucks cheaper, I think there's a good chance they'll choose the Surface.

          Once, the Surface has market share, it will gain mindshare (more developers building better apps for Windows 8) and great word-of-mouth. Plus, they will be seen around town. Those things are CRUCIAL to a new product.

          It worked for Xbox in a similar market where there were established giants, and Xbox won. The Zune strategy FAILED. It doesn't even exist anymore even though it was a great device. I'd hate to see the same thing happen to Surface.
          • not good deal

            "If they then pick up a cheap, plastic Android tablet that's a few bucks cheaper, I think there's a good chance they'll choose the

            For the average person looking for the tablet experience where the cost doesn't really matter they will pick iPad. (I'm not going to explain why - you should know.) If they want to save a few bucks then get a nexus 10 which is a bit cheaper feeling but higher res screen, and more powerful - much more value. If they want software value-add they get a galaxy note. Surface RT, RT in general will fail. Surface pro has its admirers but the general populous is not interested. They want the most power for their money in a laptop or desktop without all the touch and smallness nonsense.
          • I think the Enterprise is very interested in Windows tablets...

            I think the Enterprise is very interested in Windows tablets, since they already use Windows PCs.

            Also, I think you make a lot of assumptions above with no evidence to back it up. Does Microsoft have its work cut out for it? Yes. But you make it seem hopeless. I don't think it's hopeless at all.
          • Re: I think the Enterprise is very interested in Windows tablets...

            Yeah, right. That's why they've bought so many billions of them since Windows XP was "designed for tablets"!
          • Thanks for that "honest" opinion Dr Wong.

            I'm sure you put a lot of"thought" into that.
            William Farrel
          • recent history has shown

            that most consumers may prefer a good computer for a good price, but they buy cheap computers for cheap prices.

            PC buyers are getting what they're willing to pay for. Until PC buyers are willing to pay closer to Mac prices, they're not going to get significantly higher quality PC hardware.

            MSFT took a gamble that tablet buyers would pay more for higher quality hardware. Maybe MSFT was right about Windows 8 tablets, but they were quite wrong about Windows RT tablets.
          • That's not an accurate statement at all

            Let's look at what many consider "top of the line", i.e. Alienware. Why is it that I can get virtually identical hardware for significantly less money if I go with a different reseller, like ipower?

            Two things you are completely ignoring- marketing dollar and pricing. Apple and Microsoft have huge marketing expenses that get covered in mark ups. This is similar to why generics cost so much less. Secondly, Apple has premium pricing, meaning that even if they can break-even at a 15% mark up, they will charge even more. Why? They want to be seen as a luxury good.

            I built my computer for ~$650. Best Buy had a comparable Alienware system for ~$3,000. You're telling me that I need to spend more money to get higher quality? To a certain point, yes. After that certain point, not really.
          • I don't think they have a chioce

            Lets face it Apple owns the high end market and Google the mid to low end. They both off a good products with happy user bases, large market share and software selection. There is just no reason to buy a Surface unless it can undercut the others in price by a good amount.

            People say the RT will be the enterprise choice yet Apple already dominates that market and corporations are very reluctant to switch solutions when the rest of the industry is using the same devices, ie Windows. So MS needs to focus on the consumer market and price is the only way they will get a toe hold there, even then it will bean up hill battle.
          • Really?

            Apple dominates the enterprise market? Why is it I almost never see iPads being used by employees when I'm out and about? I do, however, see them using Windows-based desktops and sometimes even laptops. The reality is that most people and companies don't use tablets and very likely may not for another several years, if ever. It just isn't practical for everyone. Depending on your needs, a 6-7 year old PC still works just fine for most tasks, still receives full updates, etc. A first generation iPad probably has terrible battery life by now and isn't receiving the full iOS update. It's also so far behind in hardware that many things don't work right.

            So in order to be "hip" I need to increase my expenses by a dramatic amount while seeing little to no increase in revenue... sounds like a lot of fictional hype.
          • Fact.

            Apple's iPhone and iPad devices has been dominating the enterprise for a number of years now. The iPad has close to 90% share when it comes to tablet devices in the enterprise.

            Microsoft have an innate ability of fumbling the ball when they desperately need a score. Zune was released late and foolishly priced the same as the incumbent (iPod). Kin phones was an embarrassing flop and was expensive for what it offered. Surface RT is priced the same a the incumbent iPad. When will they get it?
        • Netbooks were cheap products at cheap prices...

          The difference is QUALITY.

          Once the Xbox became "established," Microsoft gradually raised the price. The next Xbox will even cost more than its competition.
          • From what I've seen in the store, the XBox has been getting less expensive,

            and that's been the case in the last few years. Once the brand is established, and once the economies of scale bring down the production costs and maintenance costs, the device prices are almost always lowered; and that goes for a lot of other products and other manufacturers (except for Apple, which needs to maintain high prices in order to convey the illusion of a luxury brand).

            Also, when it comes to the XBox, it's quite likely that the XBox One will come out at high prices, initially. But, with volume sales that will occur, the prices will come down. But, the biggest selling point for the XBox One will be the huge technology upgrades that it will sport in comparison to the old and outdated XBox 360. Plus, marketing of the XBox One will be necessary, but, with the established brand of the XBox, it won't matter as much as with the original XBox. The bigger point regarding the new Xbox is that, it's the prime gaming system with an online game site that is unmatched in the industry.

            The much bigger deal about the XBox One is that, it won't just be a gaming system. It is built to be a gaming system, and an entertainment system, and a computing system which can replace desktops and laptops. Hence, the "One" in the name, which means "all-in-one" device. So, if it's priced at $800 or above, it will still be worth it to most people, and especially to the established XBox fanatics.
          • Xbox one? Are you kidding?

            The Xbox One is going to sell for $599, it is already available pre-order many places. It has an uphill battle though as the Playstation 4 is $100 less expensive, no silly drm fiasco (microsoft changing their greedy minds), better hardware and a better online gaming system with Playstation Plus being a far better value that Microsoft's gold offering.
            Anyhow Surface RT is way too expensive and so is the Pro. $500 for Rt but $200 for educational discounts? Seems like a desperate move to me. Should have sold it for about $300 to $350 in the first place.
        • Re: In a race to the bottom, they only stand to lose.

          They're losing anyway.
      • MSFT doesn't want to assume the business risk

        It's massively more difficult to, er, engineer financial arrangements involving hardware than it is software and services because hardware has awkward physical reality, which means there are rules even MSFT has to follow when hardware is in their warehouses vs hardware is in their customers'/resellers' warehouses.

        Putting it bluntly, there's no way to create a Hardware Assurance analog to MSFT's Software Assurance program while remaining in compliance with accounting rules. That means there's no way to smooth out revenues and earnings. That means MSFT won't be adopting an Xbox approach for tablets or PCs.