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Dell-HP Reselling Deal Doesn't Include Surface Book

The surprising Surface Enterprise Initiative, which brought Dell and HP aboard as Surface Pro resellers for Microsoft, won't include the Surface Book yet for the two OEMs.

"You can expect HP and Dell to continue to evaluate new devices as part of the partnerships announced last month, but the product was just announced, so nothing more specific at this point," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Under the initiative, Dell and HP will bundle Surface Pro devices and accessories with their own service and support offerings.

The decision makes some sense for Dell and HP with the Surface Pro 3 and forthcoming Surface Pro 4. With those devices, Microsoft created a category of a productivity tablet, and it's a space where Dell and HP don't have their own products.

On the other hand, the newly announced Surface Book -- which, like the Surface Pro 4, will be available next week -- will compete directly with many of the Windows 10 laptop models HP and Dell designed themselves and already sell.

Executives for HP and Dell both reportedly said at a recent industry event that they're selling Surface Pro and related services in response to requests from large customers who want a single contract with their main IT supplier. At the same event, Lenovo revealed that it had rebuffed a Microsoft overture to take part in the Surface Enterprise Initiative.

Accenture is also part of the Surface Enterprise Initiative, but as a systems integrator rather than an OEM, it's a different type of partner.

"They are more building the solutions, not only for Surface but Surface Hub and Lumia phones," Cyril Belikoff, director of marketing for Microsoft Surface, told my colleague Jeff Schwartz in an interview. "We are working with them to engage enterprise customers around their business needs and [our] set of category-making devices."

As for Dell and HP channel partners, the Surface Enterprise Initiative is not transferable -- so Dell and HP can't deputize their substantial numbers of partners to resell Surface Pros. Instead, Microsoft recently greatly expanded its Surface reseller program through distribution to nearly 5,000 partners worldwide.

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 21, 2015 at 7:36 AM