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Microsoft APC 2015: How can Windows 10 be profitable for partners?

Allan Swann (ARN) | Sept. 2, 2015
Windows 10 is a hit in the consumer market, so how can the channel make margin on a product that is basically given away for free?

Comparing the benefits to the spend, however, the usability and security improvements are worth it alone.

Xcentral's Patelis agrees, working at the SMB end of the market.

"These smaller companies, usually 1-100 people, the conversation is usually with the MD. MDs don't have the time to worry about this stuff," he said.

"They are looking at line of business concerns, ease of use, and worried about data theft."

Tying that into the Cloud, particularly as a managed service makes a lot more sense for these guys. The ability to drop the entire Microsoft platform at once makes it much quicker and easier, he said.

A key advantage of Windows 10 is that it can be installed straight on the top of Windows 7, and you can add the new features at your customers' leisure - such as Yammer, Sharepoint and Lync.

"It also gives you more time to make that adoption, that value add sale. It's made us more agile as a partner."

Iles describes Windows 10 as 'Windows-as-a-service'. So does that mean that partners are looking at the last SOE (standard operating environment) they'll ever do?

"Well, yes slash no. Theoretically, yes, but some of the partners we spoke to are looking at this like this constant update as a service - it becomes a managed service. Its not a series of one off projects every time there's an OS update," he said.

"The partner will have to manage that environment for the customer. That's a huge change to the annuity model and revenue stream."

Chanter thinks the key benefit is how quickly deployments can now be done. An 800 seat client, Brookfield, put up an entire corporate environment in just eight weeks.

"We'd never done that before. That was identity, all of the corporate services you'd expect, ERP, endpoint physical devices, Office productivity, Sharepoint online - the lot," he said.

"That's just not possible in the traditional on prem model."

Gosling believes that Windows 10 has always renewed demand for hardware - the Data#3 Surface business is growing year-on-year, he said. Even the company's e-marketing has seen 50 percent open rates "and that's just unheard of".

One of Windows 10's key features is that it allows apps to be developed that can run on every Microsoft platform, from Xbox, to laptop to Windows Phones.

This may also cause problems on launch (Windows 10 Phone launches later in the year) as the mobility/BYOD division is usually run as a separate entity in most partners operations.

Chanter said there aren't any current plans to merge those divisions together, but that it may occur further down the road. Gosling said that his company has started developing Windows 10 apps, but had no phone plans yet.


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