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Microsoft on Surface Pro 3 Channel Distribution: 'We're Ready To Go'

Nearly a year after Microsoft launched a program to bring its Surface tablet PCs to market through the channel, Tuesday's debut of the Surface Pro 3 is the first device launched with the backing of a new marketing team.

The new Surface Pro 3 boasts a larger 12-inch screen with 50 percent better pixel resolution than its predecessor. Also, thanks to close collaboration with Intel, Microsoft has brought the ability to bring Intel's Core i3, i5 and powerful i7 processors into this new, thinner Surface form factor. In addition to design improvements, the Surface Pro 3 has a new type of fan optimized for the system.

Microsoft created its Authorized Device Reseller (ADR) program last July, but with 100 ADRs now in place -- up from 10 at the program's launch -- and a complete marketing and go-to-market team, the new Surface Pro 3 is tailor-fit for the channel, especially for solution providers, said Jason Graefe, senior director of channel partnerships for Microsoft Surface.

"This is the first product we've launched with our full channel team and our full commercial team in place," Graefe said during an interview at the launch event. "This is the form factor we've been waiting to get to. This is our most commercially relevant device that I believe will help our customers embrace it. We're ready to go."

The 100 authorized resellers are ADRs in all 31 countries the Surface is available, Graefe noted. He also said the new team has learned a lot over the past year. "We've learned we have to improve our predictability, we have to improve how we deliver our products to our end customers, to our distributors, to our authorized resellers," he said. "There's a set of programs and things that are pretty standard in the industry that we have to be sure we match, to provide to our resellers to enable them to sell."

Graefe also pointed out that the application ecosystem has improved, noting Tuesday's announcement from Adobe about its plans to work with Microsoft to offer touch-enhanced versions of the Photoshop CC suite and other products down the road. He pointed to other companies now offering "modern apps," including SAP, Sage and Citrix, as well as key vertical ISVs such as Cerner.

The Surface Pro 3 may have the broadest appeal of all the Surface models released to date, given its promise to combine the functions of a laptop and a tablet. It promises to have more appeal for mainstream use by those requiring the power of a full PC as well as the flexibility of a tablet. However, when asked if Microsoft was planning to add more ADR partners, Graefe said not at this time.

"We're continuing to take a phased and measured approach to ensure that our partners are successful, as well as building the right infrastructure to make sure we can support the ecosystem, which is really important to us," he said.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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