Microsoft snubs channel partners in Surface deal with Delta

Microsoft has snubbed its channel partners in its deal to provide Surface 2 RT tablets running Windows 8.1 to 11,000 Delta Airlines pilots in order to replace bulky flight manuals, Channelnomics reports.

The deal is one of the largest commercial Surface deployments, yet it is being done without the involvement of channel partners in terms of fulfillment or support, the report notes.

Channel partners are concerned that Microsoft is intentionally keeping them out of enterprise opportunities offered by Surface tablets. So far, Redmond has not developed a Surface channel strategy and has not provided a date when the Surface tablet will be available to general channel distribution, the report notes.

When the deal was announced six months ago, Microsoft touted it as example of how Surface is beating iPad and Android tablets in the enterprise. "We set out to make Surface the most productive tablet, so we couldn't be more excited to help Delta pilots be more productive and help the environment," said Brian Hall, Surface general manager at Microsoft in announcing the deal last September.

Enterprise demand for tablets is one factor spurring sales of tablets worldwide. According to ABI Research, branded tablet shipments are expected to increase 20 percent year-over-year to reach 200 million this year, up from 166 million shipments last year.

North America, which has led the tablet shipments since the introduction of the iPad, will drop below 50 percent of all branded tablet shipments this year.

Connectivity infrastructure and distribution channels are rapidly improving in the developing regions of Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

For more:
- read the Channelnomics report
- check out ABI's release

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