Windows 8.1: New Opportunity for Microsoft Partners

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-07-09

Windows 8.1: New Opportunity for Microsoft Partners

HOUSTON—Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 will be made available to OEMs in late August and that partners should take advantage of the new features in the operating system to deliver new apps to customers.

In a keynote session at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2013, Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief financial officer and chief marketing officer for Windows, went deep on Microsoft's strategy for partners with the company's major platforms, including Windows, Windows Phone and more.

"I'm also quite happy to be able to confirm today that Windows 8.1 will be available for our OEM partners in late August," Reller said. "Meaning that holiday devices, many of them will have Windows 8.1. So late August available to OEMs. So very pleased to confirm that today."

Microsoft released Windows 8.1 Preview at the Build 2013 developer conference last month—this new update gives partners more tools and features to build on and sell to their customers.

Reller said it is becoming apparent that Windows is becoming more of a destination for developers, with more than 100 million licenses for the OS sold and more than 100,000 apps in the Windows Store. Moreover, customers who want line-of-business apps on Windows 8 need partners to help them, she said.

"One thing we're seeing is that about two out of three enterprise organizations are investing today in mobile applications," Reller said. "So it's a great opportunity to build a practice around building line-of-business applications, modern design on Windows 8. And Windows 8.1 makes that even more obvious."

Meanwhile, in a July 8 blog post, Erwin Visser, general manager of Windows commercial marketing at Microsoft, said Windows 8.1 includes a broad range of new business enhancements in user experience, and improvements in manageability, security, mobility and networking, providing customers with the best business tablets and great PC choices across all device form factors.

Moreover, to encourage partners and customers to test Windows 8.1, Microsoft is offering WPC attendees Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview during select sessions at the conference, with bits available to download through TechNet in the coming weeks, Visser said.

Visser listed a few reasons why partners should jump on the Windows 8 wave. For one, tablet share is growing rapidly, especially for business users, he said. "Businesses are asking for no compromise tablets with consumer benefits along with the security, productivity, mobility and management features they need. Windows 8 is the best tablet for business."

Indeed, "Surface is hands down more productive than an iPad," Reller said. "Hands down. It's a great tablet for business because it quickly goes from tablet to laptop."

And with Windows 8.1, Surface only gets better, she said. "Windows is the foundation to trust," Reller said. "With Windows today and moving forward, partners are absolutely central to our strategy. You always have been, and you always will. ... Windows 8 tablet is, hands down, the best tablet for business."


Windows 8.1: New Opportunity for Microsoft Partners

It is the best tablet for business because "a Windows 8 tablet is going to provide full manageability, absolutely the best security and the desktop apps that are so critical in a business environment," Reller said. "We've made a lot of investments in mobile solutions, Direct Access, VPN, Windows To Go, SkyDrive Pro, as well as Skype and Lync and the integration we're doing there. It allows people to work from anywhere and yet have all the information they need."

Visser also noted that new device categories such as Ultrabooks and convertibles are emerging. As work changes, companies require new devices to meet their evolving business models; Windows 8 enables a new generation of hardware experiences, delivering to partners the most comprehensive choice of devices for their customers, he said.

Another reason to get caught up in the Windows 8 wave is that Windows XP is going out of support next April. "Most large enterprises have either completed their migration to Windows 7 or are on the path to migrate to Windows 7 or 8," he said. "However, nearly 30 percent of small and midmarket customers worldwide still have portions or all of their company running Windows XP. This represents a huge opportunity for partners to help move people off Windows XP and onto a modern operating system. Let's get the message out, it's time to switch!"

Finally, Visser said moving to Windows 8 and 8.1 makes sense because mobile app development is a growing investment area for businesses.

Also at WPC, Hewlett-Packard announced a tightly integrated approach with Microsoft to help customers transition from Windows XP to a modern version of Windows, Visser wrote. "Not only does the partner offer business desktops, notebooks and all-in-ones optimized for Windows 7 and Windows 8, but it also sets partners and customers up with resources, training tools and professional guides to make migrations easier," he said. Additionally, HP and Microsoft will offer WPC attendees a special price for the ElitePad. Visit to learn more.

"With the obvious ROI that customers are seeing with Windows 7, and the confidence that we really aim to deliver with Windows 8.1, there's never been a better time to really migrate those customers forward on Windows and off of XP," Reller said.

Microsoft offers the Windows Accelerate program, which makes it easier for partners to deploy Windows 8 and Windows 7 to customers. "We're going to continue that program, and we're going to increase investments worldwide," Reller said. The whole idea behind this program is to support proof of concept and pilots through partners to help customers move off of XP and to get modern, including modern apps, she said.

To further support partners in bringing customers forward on Windows and all the latest devices, Microsoft is rolling out another program, Touch Win. "The whole idea is to provide incentives for the commercial channel for featured devices and tablets, PCs and tablets, and through this program, we will provide incentives directly to authorized distributors as well as reseller partners who sell feature PCs and tablets that have Windows Pro and are touch enabled," Reller said.

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