The critically acclaimed Touch Cover on the Microsoft Surface RT has a problem.
The Touch Cover is the thin cover that attaches magnetically to the Surface and can be used to protect the screen or, when folded out, as a keyboard. In black, it's a $100 upgrade to the Surface's $499 base price; other colors cost $120.
Over the last few days, several tech industry sites have been reporting problems with the cover coming apart near the point where it attaches magnetically to the Surface itself.
Here's one such complaint from a Microsoft Surface support site.
"My colleague and I both have a black touch cover (UK), we both have the same issue - in the centre where the touch cover is connected to the long black plastic bracket which houses the 6 pins which contact to the surface, the canvas of the touch cover appears to have come away from the plastic on my colleague[']s so much that you can see inside the touch cover. The length of the area that appears to have come away is about 15mm. While this doesn't appear normal I wanted to check if others were having the same issue? It seems strange that it has happened to two devices which are used independently."
The Guardian has a few photos of what the damage looks like here.
Microsoft appears to be responding appropriately by sending out new Touch Covers quickly to affected users or replacing them in Microsoft Stores without any hassle, but the issue does detract from the company's rather successful early narrative that the Surface is a marvel of industrial design and quality. At this point, Microsoft's official line is that the problem with the two-week-old hardware is very uncommon.
Posted by Scott Bekker on November 12, 2012 at 5:32 PM3 comments
Ross Brown, a senior channel executive in charge of structuring incentives for partners, left Microsoft and joined a business consulting company, Touch Worldwide.
Brown was most recently vice president of Partner Strategy in Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group reporting to Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the WPG. Brown joined Microsoft's WPG working for former Microsoft channel chief Allison Watson in May 2008. Prior to Microsoft, Brown had been CEO of eEye Digital Security and a senior channel executive at Citrix Systems Inc.
According to Brown's LinkedIn profile, he left Microsoft in September and joined Touch in November. Touch specializes in business and channel strategies, as well as creative and communication work, and has offices in Seattle, Redmond, London, Helsinki and Beijing. The company has been a longtime designer and producer of vision keynotes for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and provided consulting on the creation of the Microsoft Partner Network.
"I first met Touch through the work they did with Microsoft on the Worldwide Partner Conference and saw both sides of the firm come together to deliver both compelling partner opportunities in support of Microsoft and amazing visuals and creative delivery," Brown wrote in a blog entry posted this week on the Touch Worldwide site.
Posted by Scott Bekker on November 09, 2012 at 4:45 PM1 comments
Microsoft will raise the fee required for U.S. partners to achieve the gold level of most competencies on Nov. 19 to $5,260.
The new price represents a 38 percent increase over the old fee of $3,800. The fee for a silver competency in the United States remains $1,850. The price hike is global, although prices vary by country. Partners outside the U.S. should be able to find their new prices on their local competency requirement portal pages.
The gold fee for the new Small Business competency will remain at the old price of $3,800. The silver fee for the Small Business competency also remains at a promotional level of $999 through Dec. 31, 2012. Microsoft kept the fees on that new competency lower in part because it is already much higher than the $329 it cost partners to subscribe to the Action Pack and join the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community.
The gold fee hike is the first price increase aside from currency adjustments to any of the Microsoft Partner Network's memberships since Microsoft fully introduced a new competency structure in October 2010.
Partners pay the fee once per year, and a partner with multiple gold competencies only has to pay the fee for one competency. There are other costs in attaining Microsoft competencies, such as employee training and testing costs and investments in developing customer case studies.
Microsoft did acknowledge that a price change was coming to the gold competencies a few weeks after the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July and said it would disclose the new price in November.
In an MPN document published in August, "Competency Roadmap 2013," Microsoft offered some reasons that it would be raising the fee:
"Every year, the Microsoft Partner Network reviews the various membership components to ensure that the value of the benefits we provide our most committed partners is appropriately balanced with the cost of delivering the benefits."
The document went on to list some of the benefits that gold competency partners get that Microsoft believes make the competency worth the increase, including the Solution Incentives Program, dedicated tele-partner account specialists and internal use licenses which are much more generous for gold than silver.
In a July whitepaper sponsored by Microsoft, researchers at IDC concluded that for a partner organization with 50 employees and $5 million to $10 million in revenues, the gold competency benefits were worth about $320,000. IDC singled out $125,000 for internal use rights, $83,000 for the included MSDN subscriptions and $37,500 for the Partner Learning Center.
In hindsight, the whitepaper looks like an effort by Microsoft to soften up the channel for a price hike. Nonetheless, we've previously called out the cost-to-benefit ratio of a gold competency as one of the best program deals in the channel at $3,800. The new value calculation will no longer work for some partners at the margins, although holding the silver competency and Small Business gold competency fees steady gives them a place to turn. For partners already in gold or considering gold, though, an additional $1,460 doesn't seem like it will change the overall ROI by much.
Posted by Scott Bekker on November 01, 2012 at 12:08 PM0 comments
At the Microsoft Surface launch event on Thursday, 300 Surface devices were made available to the press to test for about an hour. Here are my first impressions from my limited time with the device:
Look and Feel: The device, with its VaporMG casing and its 200 custom-fit parts, feels very light but completely solid. The click as the keyboard attaches to the tablet is satisfying. More importantly, the click is useful in the sense that you know for sure that the keyboard is properly seated. I tested Microsoft's claim that the aligning magnets make it possible to attach the keyboard without looking, and it's true. As for the kickstand, which holds the tablet component up at an angle for use with the keyboard or for watching videos, it also worked perfectly. I'm not sure I buy the design point that it feels like closing an expensive car door when shutting the kickstand, but it's about as good as personal electronics get.
Ergonomics: The ergonomics of the device are very nice. I used it mostly standing at a table, but found it pretty comfortable. It would have been nice to be able to adjust the kickstand to be able to angle the screen a little higher, but I completely understand why Microsoft chose to do what it did. I wouldn't be using the device in this standing position for a long time (or any time) in any circumstances other than this limited test, anyway.
Touch Cover: The Surface can come with two types of magnetically attachable keyboards. The main option is the Touch Cover, which has keys that don't move. Typing on the Touch Cover takes some getting used to. I found myself making a lot of mistakes, but I'll take Microsoft Surface team leader Panos Panay at his word during the keynote that it takes four to five days to fully get used to. The feel of the Touch Cover is unique -- the closest thing I can compare it to is tapping lightly on cement through a light rubber cover. That might sound negative; in fact, it's a reassuring feeling.
Type Cover: Microsoft also made available the Type Cover for testing. I greatly preferred it. It's not as aesthetically pleasing as the Touch Cover -- it's slightly thicker and comes only in black, while the Touch Cover comes in black, white, blue, orange, pink and red. But the Type Cover has movable keys, which feel much more like a laptop keyboard. Typing on the Type Cover takes no time to get used to and is very accurate. It costs $10 more, but it's well worth it for people expecting to do a lot of typing.
Durability: So, for a while I lived in Missouri, the "Show Me" state. When Panay hung the Surface by its Touch Cover during the Surface keynote, it impressed me. The minute I got to the table, I tried it. The magnets held and I'm happy to report that I didn't break one of Microsoft's first Surfaces. One of the journalists next to me was even braver/more reckless. He took Panay's claim that the thing could be dropped 72 different ways very literally and immediately dropped his test unit on the carpeted floor from over waist-height. It kept on working fine.
Laptop Use: Some reviewers have complained about sitting down and using the Surface. I sat on the floor for a bit and found it easy to use. There were some periods when the keyboard (the Type Cover, in this case) didn't register some keystrokes, but I suspect it's a matter of getting used to putting the right amount of pressure on it. I didn't experience that problem on the table.
Video Mode: I launched the Netflix app and started the first episode of "The Walking Dead." The 16:9 aspect ratio worked well with the video and the picture was sharp and bright.
Tablet Mode: As a tablet, the device was indeed "fast and fluid," as Microsoft is fond of saying. There's a slight but noticeable delay when shifting from portrait to landscape mode, but otherwise the screen was extremely responsive. Having tried a number of Microsoft's gestures before, the learning curve was fairly slight to use the various apps available on the system.
Office 2013: I wrote most of this review in the preview version of Word 2013 that comes with the Surface RT and found it virtually identical to using Word 2010 on a Windows 7 system in that limited use-case. Also present are Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013 and OneNote 2013. A Microsoft tech also downloaded a version of OneNote optimized for the new user interface. I didn't get much of a chance to test that, but it looked promising. The one annoyance in Word was in the dual-screen multitasking mode for Windows RT. When Word is in the small column view, it appears only as an unusable icon on a desktop background. You have to click on it to see what's in it, and then it goes back to taking up the larger screen. This is a multitasking problem for people like me who live in Word for notetaking, although the new UI OneNote is one way around it.
Multitasking: The multitasking scenarios in the Surface RT were refreshingly robust. As a power user, I had fairly low expectations for the two-app limitation on open windows. However, the way the system handles tasks like clicking on links from one of the apps by switching that app to the browser was nicely thought out. As a journalist who interviews people, one of the demos in the keynote struck me as especially useful. It's using the Surface's rear-facing camera to record the room on a third of the screen while taking notes in OneNote on the rest of the screen. The rear-facing camera's angle makes it possible to record an interview subject on video while simultaneously typing notes. A test on the Surface worked well for me.
Apps: I didn't have time to surf through the Windows Store so I can't say how many of the few thousand available apps look useful to me.
My Snap Judgment: I could work and play on this device and will consider it as my next PC. I suspect the Surface Pro version to come in January would be far more robust for work environments (and more expensive), but in a short test, the Surface RT was surprisingly strong.
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 25, 2012 at 3:15 PM4 comments
Thursday's launch event for Windows 8 was short on news, but long on...well, it was short on news. But Scott was there to live-Tweet the entire proceedings, anyway. Check out the highlights below and follow him at @scottbekker.
More Launch Coverage:
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 25, 2012 at 3:17 PM0 comments
- Check out Scott's own review of the Surface RT here.
We haven't gotten our hands on one of the Microsoft Surface RT devices yet, but a few reviewers around the Web have. The consensus seems to be that the Surface hardware is extremely strong but that the software and especially the app ecosystem, two areas where Microsoft should theoretically shine, are problem areas.
The New York Times
Hardware: "succeeded brilliantly."
Software: "an insanely confusing split personality."
David Pogue painted the big picture in The New York Times with his lead:
"How would you like to move into a stunning mansion on a bluff overlooking the sea -- in Somalia? Or would you like the chance to own a new Ferrari -- that has to be refueled every three miles? Would you take a job that pays $1 million a year -- cutting football fields with toenail clippers?"
It's a nice analogy for using Microsoft products these days in many circumstances. (It captures my feelings this weekend, for example, in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. An app to see what you'd look like as a Neanderthal was available only for iPhone and Android. Yes, it was a frivolous app, but walking around with a Windows Phone often leaves me feeling like I'm outside the party looking in.)
Pogue writes that on "the hardware front, Microsoft has succeeded brilliantly." He writes lovingly of the many ports and jacks, the kickstand and the magnetic hinged Touch Cover. In use, he notes that Touch Cover occasionally misses keystrokes if you type too fast and finds the battery life underwhelming, but these are minor complaints in a very positive take on the hardware.
Of the software, on the other hand, Pogue calls it a "heartbreak." Many of his problems have to do with the intentional (though certainly not beyond questionable) limitations of Windows RT -- the preview-only versions of Office 2013, the inability to run legacy Windows applications,
Worse, though, he accuses the Surface with Windows RT of having what he calls "an insanely confusing split personality." He also legitimately knocks Microsoft for having only 3,500 apps available for Windows RT at the launch, given that Windows RT can't run older apps. This is where all the analogies about the mansion in Somalia and the Ferrari come from.
The Wall Street Journal
Hardware: "better for traditional productivity tasks than any tablet I've tested."
Software: "fluid" but with "a paucity of apps."
After testing his Surface for three weeks, Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal gives this as his bottom line:
"Microsoft's Surface is a tablet with some pluses: the major Office apps and nice, optional keyboards. If you can live with its tiny number of third-party apps, and somewhat disappointing battery life, it may give you the productivity some miss in other tablets."
Mossberg says the device "isn't a cheap iPad knockoff," a complaint often leveled at various Android tablets. Instead, he says the magnesium device has a feeling of "quality and care." He has some problems with the software but isn't nearly as negative about it as Pogue. He's also brings up some interesting limitations of the hardware.
While overall he calls the keyboards "better than any of the add-on keyboards I've seen for the iPad," Mossberg also notes, "They are almost useless in your lap." On a table or desk, though, the combination of keyboard and kickstand "make the Surface better for traditional productivity tasks than any tablet I've tested."
Other hardware negatives -- the battery life is seven hours compared to 10 for the iPad, the 1 megapixel rear camera takes fair pictures and "only OK" videos, and the screen is sharp and vivid but inferior to the iPad 3's Retina display.
Mossberg found the software less frustrating than Pogue. He had trouble with Mail and with syncing to some Microsoft services and to Evernote, but he says the Office programs work fine and really sees potential in the Xbox Music app. His largest criticism was with the available apps. Microsoft officials told him more will be available than he and Pogue were able to see in their tests, however -- 10,000 worldwide and 5,000 in the United States at launch.
Hardware: "proves that Microsoft can beat its own partners on hardware"
Software: "a fledgling ecosystem"
Writing in Laptop Magazine, Avram Piltch gives the Surface 3.5 out of 5 stars and his verdict is a tough one for Microsoft's OEM partners:
"The Surface with Windows RT proves that Microsoft can beat its own partners on hardware. Between the build quality, kickstand, and truly innovative Touch Cover, this is a tablet whose design and fresh interface will turn heads away from the iPad."
Not that Piltch believes every head that turns will chose the Surface over the iPad -- far from it. "For a flagship product with a premium price, Microsoft compromises on too many things by including poor cameras, weak speakers, slow internal memory and a screen that, while better than most, isn't as good as the iPad's Retina display," he writes.
Apps are also an Achilles Heel in Piltch's view: "Right now, $599...is a lot to spend on a fledgling ecosystem."
Hardware: "a hardware success...the company should be proud"
Software: "keeps this from being a home run for Microsoft"
The headline of Wilson Rothman's review on NBC News.com's Gadgetbox sums it up: "Microsoft's New Tablet is a Mixed Blessing." Calling the Surface a "hardware success" that "the company should be proud" of, Rothman argues the Windows RT software "keeps this from being a home run for Microsoft."
Rothman likes many of the same things that other reviewers liked about the hardware -- the Touch Cover, the kickstand, the feel of the device. He breaks some new ground on battery by comparing the experience to laptops rather than other tablets.
"Having never met a Windows laptop that didn't die a quiet, lonesome death every time I left it unplugged overnight, I was stunned to see how exceptionally well the Surface RT manages power. Even under heavy use, the battery will carry you at least eight hours, but even more impressive is the fact that if you leave it sitting for hours or even days on end, the battery will show little if any signs of expenditure. Even if you have your Exchange email, messaging and all kinds of social feeds on, you can expect very little draw when your screen is off. Better still, the battery charges quickly, and can be completely topped off in two hours."
He nicely captures the problem on the app side, though, with a zinger: "You can practically hear an echo in the Windows 8 app store right now. There's a serious lack of games and, aside from Netflix and Kindle Reader, not much major video, music and book apps."
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 24, 2012 at 1:51 PM2 comments
Apple pulled one of the oldest tricks in the IT marketing book this week. When your competitor is about to make a highly anticipated, long-planned announcement, muddy the waters with a major announcement of your own earlier in the same week. As Microsoft was finalizing its PowerPoint decks and teleprompter scripts for the Windows 8/Surface launch events on Thursday, Apple snuck in with the launch of the iPad mini -- a 7.9-inch, 0.68-pound, $329 tablet.
The announcement doesn't blow up Microsoft's event before it happens, but it does add some twists to challenges Microsoft already faced.
Price: With a $329 starting price for the iPad mini, Apple moves the baseline on the iPad-vs.-Surface price conversation down by about $70. When Microsoft announced its Surface pricing last week, it was already even with the base third-generation iPad at $499. But there were two caveats. One is that the key feature of the Surface is laptop-like productivity and to really unlock that requires the Type Cover. With a Type Cover, the Surface starts at $599. The other caveat is that the perfectly serviceable iPad 2 could be had for $399. Now, with the mini, the lowest-end iPad is $170 cheaper than the lowest-end Surface. Investors didn't like the price because it doesn't help Apple too much with low-end tablet competitors. But for Microsoft, trying to go shoulder-to-shoulder with Apple, the price hurts. Effect of the mini launch: Bombshell
Apps: It was already clear that Windows RT devices were going to have a steep hill to climb with apps. Given that Windows RT can't run standard Windows applications, and can only run apps that are either pre-loaded (even if they're great apps like Word 2013, Excel 2013 and PowerPoint 2013) or available through the fledgling Windows Store, there was never any doubt that there would be fewer Windows RT apps than Apple iPad apps. By launching the iPad mini, which can run every iPad app, Apple got a large megaphone to shout to the world that there are 275,000 iPad-specific apps and about 700,000 apps that can run on the iPad when you count all the iPhone apps that can also run on the device. Microsoft, with apps numbering in the 3,500-10,000 range for the Windows RT launch, doesn't want people thinking about that comparison right now. Effect of the mini launch: High
Cellular: Apple had the cellular connectivity option with the iPad. Microsoft won't offer it on the Surface. The iPad mini will have it. This is another unwelcome reminder of a limitation of the Surface. To the extent that price is an important consideration in the tablet wars, this is far less of a consideration, as cellular adds substantially to the cost and is chosen by relatively few buyers. Effect of the mini launch: Low
Screen resolution: With the iPad mini, Apple chose not to include its Retina display. This is actually a win for Microsoft because it makes for a less clear story on iPad device resolution versus Surface. By the numbers, the iPad with Retina display is 2048x1536. The iPad mini, like the iPad 2, is 1024x768. The Surface is 1366x768. Effect of the mini launch: None
Look and Feel: The iPad mini is tremendously light and small without being uselessly tiny -- it should change the dynamics of the smaller tablet market. But Microsoft's Surface tablet is so different from any other tablets out there that it should be largely unaffected by the advances made by the mini. The kickstand and the Touch Cover guarantee that the new device won't be crowded out visually by a miniaturized version of a tablet the world is already very familiar with. Effect of the mini launch: Small
Stealing Microsoft's Thunder: Clearly, Apple is trying to raise the maximum amount of attention for the mini, with a side benefit of undercutting Microsoft's announcement. So Apple's launch will be judged by iPad mini sales, not by its effect on a competitor that is struggling mightily to stay relevant. But from Microsoft's view, how much does the iPad mini hurt the Surface launch?
In the consumer market, the answer is quite a bit. Windows RT was always going to have challenges making inroads with consumers. Whatever factors went into Microsoft's pricing on the Surface RT, the decision to put the low end at $499 (without the keyboard) severely limited its prospects as an impulse purchase. Apple's iPad mini pricing makes it even harder for the first Surface RT to become a mainstream consumer device.
In the higher-end consumer market, people looking to replace PCs for students or home business use, the iPad mini isn't an option and the pricing is less of an issue. So, Microsoft probably didn't lose much there. In the corporate market, neither the iPad mini nor the Surface RT seems to have much to offer. Companies interested in a Surface device would be holding out for the Surface Pro in January. All told, Apple's pre-launch launch will probably freeze a few mid-range consumer buyers who might have considered a Surface but will note Apple's reminder of how much they're giving up in the way of apps.
Total effect of the mini launch: Medium.
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 24, 2012 at 2:05 PM2 comments
Microsoft has no better technology evangelist than Bill Gates.
And with this being the start of a huge launch week for Microsoft -- Windows 8 and the Surface RT on Thursday and Windows Phone 8 the following Monday -- Microsoft posted a corporate Q&A video this morning featuring the chairman, who normally leaves most of the technology pitching work to CEO Steve Ballmer.
Gates started out with nods to both Ballmer's authority and to Microsoft's precarious position in the IT industry if its Windows 8 tablet-PC hybrid gamble doesn't work.
"As Steve Ballmer has said, this is an absolutely critical product. It takes Windows into the world of touch, low-power devices, really giving people the best of what you think of as a tablet-type experience and the PC experience," Gates told his Microsoft interviewer Steve Clayton in the five-minute video.
Gates starts off slowly with a few comments that seemed pulled from his keynotes in the late 1990s and early 2000s when he used to advocate for Microsoft's technology more regularly. "It's key to where personal computing is going, and you know we're going to get software developers behind this like we have with every big new version of Windows," Gates said.
But about two minutes in, Gates switches out of his logical, analytical delivery and seems to wake up as he's talking about the opportunities in the shared platform among Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the next version of Office and their connection to the cloud.
"They all go get their storage, go get your personalization, and so, that's a wonderful thing. And when it works, you just sit there going, 'Wow,'" Gates said with visible enthusiasm.
Referring to an app store with "tons and tons of applications," Gates sets a pretty high expectations bar for Microsoft to clear at the events over the coming week.
"People will be pretty amazed at the energy Microsoft is putting behind this new wave of products. We've really saved up in terms of knowing that this was such an important set of innovations that whether it's great new applications or ISV engagement or just plain marketing, this is the big time for us," he said.
One of the lessons of the new technology marketing reality that Gates does seem to have absorbed is that Microsoft can no longer win by selling its technology to the IT managers, who make the decisions and pass devices onto their users. Gates doesn't make any of Microsoft's frequent and awkward references to what "consumers" or third-person users will be able to do with Windows 8 or the Surface.
Instead he focuses on his own excitement about getting a Surface with a story about how he ended up with the magnetic keyboard in black.
"I've got the basic black. It was one of the first ones off the line and I was anxious to get one," Gates said. His own, obviously biased, opinion from using it day and night is that it's an "unbelievably great product. It's really amazing."
In a strong bring-your-own-device pitch, Gates urges people to go try one at a Microsoft Store, suggesting that features such as the kickstand and the keyboard have to be experienced to be appreciated. "Get to a store, play around with this thing -- the way you put that keyboard on and off, the richness of the swiping that takes the touch interface to a new level."
The chairman came out of retirement to give the launches a good setup. We'll see if Ballmer and his marketers can execute on the expectations.
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 22, 2012 at 10:02 AM3 comments
As HP's ServiceOne channel program comes up on its official one-year anniversary, it's getting fleshed out with new components for partners.
ServiceOne extends to qualifying partners the ability to sell or deliver on HP-branded services that used to be direct-only, especially maintenance of HP equipment and software. While HP has over 100,000 partners, the numbers in ServiceOne are much smaller. There are about 2,300 ServiceOne Specialist partners and 750 partners in the premier level, ServiceOne Expert.
"We never intended it to be something like a program element to roll out. It's really for those partners that had a similar business model," said Ken Archer, vice president of Americas Channels and Alliances for the HP Enterprise Group, in an interview this week.
HP touts about 20 percent growth in partners over the course of HP's fiscal year, which starts in November. (ServiceOne had a soft launch in July 2011 before the formal ServiceOne launch on Nov. 1, 2011.)
The new components are a management tool called Rapid, a partner financial simulator and the ability for ServiceOne partners to deliver HP Multivendor Services to support non-HP technologies in a datacenter.
The Rapid tool gives ServiceOne partners visibility into their entire HP contract business. "We want you to understand what renewal opportunities exist. We're going to give you that opportunity way ahead of when that contract comes up for termination," Archer said.
The financial simulator is designed to help current and potential ServiceOne partners explore "what if" scenarios around offering ServiceOne. "We give partners a lot of flexibility on the different services -- sell HP's branded service, sell and deliver on HP-branded services, or sell their own branded services with HP inside. But the financials weren't necessarily internalized by a lot of owners," Archer said.
With the simulator, HP Partner Business Managers sit down with HP partners to walk through revenue and profit scenarios using the ServiceOne offerings in various combinations.
The final component is a new type of ServiceOne offering. While previous lines available to partners were HP-only maintenance contracts, Archer said that ServiceOne partners wanted to meet customer demands to maintain other common datacenter equipment, from vendors such as EMC or Oracle. HP added its integrated multivendor service line to the menu of services available for ServiceOne partners to offer. "They can take on maintenance and servicing of everything in that datacenter," Archer said.
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 18, 2012 at 3:13 PM0 comments
As if Internal Use Rights aren't enough of a benefit for U.S.-based Microsoft partners, Microsoft and Dell-owned ISV partner Quest Software are sweetening the pot for partners to try out Office 365.
Already, partners who participate in Microsoft's free Cloud Essentials Pack get 25 seats of Office 365 for internal use. (Partners enrolled in the $1,850 Cloud Accelerate program get 250 seats of Office 365.)
Under an arrangement with Quest announced last week that runs until the end of the year, partners in either program can use Quest OnDemand Migration for Email to get up to 25 seats migrated to Office 365 at no cost. (Migrating more than 25 seats costs $10 for each additional seat.)
The tool works for migrating seats from Exchange 2000 and above, Microsoft Live@edu, Microsoft BPOS, Gmail, GroupWise and Sun ONE/iPlanet.
Obviously, Quest Software gets something out of the arrangement, just like Microsoft does with Internal Use Rights. The theory is the more partners use and get familiar with the products, the better partners get at selling them. More details are available at Diane Golshan's U.S. Partner Team blog.
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM0 comments
In a move to maintain its recent rapid revenue growth, the already channel-only Datto Inc. is fine-tuning its partner program.
Datto, a provider of hardware-based backup, disaster recovery and business continuity solutions, on Thursday launched a Partner Alliance Program, which is aimed at both its current base of 4,000 resale partners and potential new partners.
The program has three tiers: Authorized, Certified and Premier. Partners advance through the tiers by accumulating points based on the amount of device storage they purchase through Datto and by participating in Datto activities and promotions.
Components of the program include customizable marketing materials, lead-sharing opportunities, sales and marketing training, and not-for-resale opportunities.
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 11, 2012 at 10:27 AM0 comments
PC sales were supposed to be ugly in the third quarter, but they came in even worse than expected.
Worldwide PC shipments contracted 8.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, according to preliminary figures released this week by IDC for the July-through-September period, which includes the critical back-to-school buying season. As recently as August, IDC had forecast a more modest 3.8 percent drop.
The market was even worse in the United States, contracting 12.4 percent compared to a forecast of negative 9.4 percent.
HP and Dell both underperformed in the bad global market. HP's PC shipments fell more than 16 percent. With Lenovo's 10 percent shipment gain, the Chinese OEM is challenging HP for the top spot in PC sales. Dell also saw shipments drop by 14 percent, according to IDC's figures.
"PCs are going through a severe slump," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC, in a statement. "The industry had already weathered a rough second quarter, and now the third quarter was even worse."
IDC chalked up the extremely bad quarter to economic concerns, PC market saturation, the diversion of PC spending to tablets and smartphones, and the wait for Windows 8, which becomes generally available on Oct. 26.
Even with Windows 8 in the mix for most of the fourth quarter, IDC isn't expecting a blockbuster holiday season. The firm's forecast calls for a "potential return to positive growth at the end of this year."
Posted by Scott Bekker on October 11, 2012 at 10:33 AM1 comments