Microsoft asked Lenovo to sell the Surface Pro 3 and Lenovo said 'no'

Microsoft approached Lenovo more than a year ago and asked if Lenovo would help Microsoft sell its Surface Pro PCs to businesses, says Lenovo’s COO Gianfranco Lanci.

He told Microsoft no.

Lanci told the story on Wednesday at an event for PC resellers held in Barcelona this week, the Canalys Channel Forum.

That’s when the topic of Microsoft’s unusual “Surface Enterprise Initiative” came up, as reported by The Register’s Paul Kunert.

The initiative got Microsoft’s biggest PC partners to sell and support the Surface Pro 3.

“I said no to resell their product,” Lanci said at the conference, adding that Microsoft “asked me more than one year ago, and I said no I don’t see any reason why I should sell a product from, within brackets, competition.”

Dell, on the other hand, said yes. And the initiative was launched with much fanfare last month, with video statements from both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Dell CEO Michael Dell extolling the arrangement.

It wasn’t surprising that Dell signed on. Dell has been especially cosy with Microsoft since Dell went private in 2013, with the help of a $US2 billion loan from Microsoft. And Dell is trying to shift away from the sinking PC market and into more lucrative consulting and high-end enterprise products anyway, which is why it announced plans to buy EMC earlier this week.

HP later joined Dell and agreed to sell and support the Surface Pro 3, too.

But on Wednesday HP PC chief Dion Weisler hinted on stage that he wasn’t really thrilled to be part of Microsoft’s plan.

“These are customers we have been working with for many, many years and we don’t simply want to cede those relationships to a competitor, so we said ‘OK, we’ll participate in that’.”

But HP sales people won’t get commissions for selling the Surface and HP will only “sell, service and support Surface if the customer absolutely insists upon it but that is not our first preference,” he said.

For its part, Microsoft insists its PCs complement its partners, and doesn’t compete with them.

Still Microsoft’s PC partners are quietly fuming at Microsoft since it released yet another Surface product, the Surface Book laptop.

PC execs at this conference indicated they were wary of Microsoft and “need to be a little bit careful,” Lanci said, since they still rely on so heavily on Microsoft Windows.

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