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Windows of opportunity

Hafizah Osman | Feb. 28, 2013
Despite grim adoption reports and some negative analyst predictions for several of its key products, Microsoft is striking a chord with channel players and its 2013 line-up.

According to Channel Dynamics co-founder and director, Cam Wayland, Microsoft is more focused on the consumer at the moment, with the Surface tablet going direct to the consumer and cutting out the channel.

"Consumer habits are growing in sophistication and their buying habits are changing; they're increasingly moving to an online platform and having direct relations with key vendors," he said. Ensyst general manager, Nick Sone, said even though the Surface tablet is marketed directly to consumers, it has profited the channel by further increasing the focus on tablets.

"It has created massive demand in tablets and, as resellers, we have to figure out how to position our other branded Windows 8 devices in the market," he said.

Slow adoption

Ovum consumer IT and integrated media principal analyst, Richard Edwards, said, "Enterprises are rolling out Windows 7 fairly aggressively, and will continue to do so," he said. "Those that want to have an integrated tablet experience will turn to Windows 8."

Sone claimed the adoption of Windows 8 was initially slow, but is picking up as more devices are released with the OS. "Am I seeing enterprises doing mass deployments with Windows 8? Slowly. That did not happen as quickly as expected but it's still fairly new," he said.

According to Tutus, the reason behind the slow adoption is the lack of necessity for consumers to upgrade operating systems.

McLean said the release of Windows 8 Pro solved the issues its clients were having with BYOD and mobility strategies.

"Many employees were bringing their own devices to work and clients were struggling with how to manage that," he said. "They want to give end users flexibility but it doesn't fit in to their existing processes and technologies.

"Windows 8 Pro has that tablet form factor that can be managed the same way as other corporate assets."

In the case of Office 365, Microsoft is pushing its concept of the connected enterprise bundling messaging, unified communications, collaboration and documents into an online productivity suite to take direct aim at Google, IDC Australia senior market analyst, Shayum Rahim, said.

Sone claimed Office 365 has been a positive move for Ensyst as the Cloud is an important tool for integrators and resellers.

But Rahim claimed the subscription model of Office 365 has been a bone of contention among Microsoft's partner community as it directly bills customers for the service, cutting the partner out of any financial interaction. The Office 365 Open program allows partners to resell office 365 at a higher margin, as well as bundle in value-added services.

Channel challenges

Microsoft's relationship with the channel is undergoing significant change, according to Ovum's Richard Edwards, and the channel has to find some way of adding value to its ongoing subscriptions of an end user organisation.

 

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