Microsoft will give resellers up to $10 for each device they sell from a list of 21 Windows 8 touch-enabled PCs and tablets, company executives said.
The new program is the latest move by Microsoft to kick up sales, which on the PC side have been downright depressing. Research firm IDC, for instance, has forecast a decline of nearly 8 percent for 2013, and has already hinted that the drop may be even steeper. In tablets, Microsoft has had little luck in making much of an inroad into a market dominated by operating systems built by rivals Apple and Google.
[ Also on InfoWorld: A look at the black underbelly of Windows 8.1 'Blue'. | Windows 8 left you blue? Then check out Windows Red, InfoWorld's plan to fix Microsoft's contested OS. | Microsoft's new direction, the touch interface for tablet and desktop apps, the transition from Windows 7 -- InfoWorld covers all this and more in the Windows 8 Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay atop key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]
But the selective nature of the incentive program -- fewer than two dozen different devices qualify -- shows it's also a continuation of a strategy Microsoft has used since last summer's launch of the Surface line, when the company said it entered the hardware business to have a platform that really flaunted Windows 8.
Both Tami Reller, the CFO of the Windows division, and Jon Roskill, who heads the firm's global partner group, talked up the new program, dubbed "TouchWins," at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) today.
"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 featured PCs and tablets that have Windows  Pro and are touch-enabled," said Reller during the day's keynote.
Among Microsoft's U.S.-based authorized OEM distributors are big-name sellers like Ingram Micro and ASI. Resellers run the size gamut from tiny consultancies to huge outfitters such as CDW.
Later in the presentation, Roskill characterized TouchWins as "pouring gasoline on that touch fire" as he stood in front of a screen that pegged the program's per-device incentives between $5 and $10.
Twenty-one devices from nine OEMs -- Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba -- have been tagged as eligible for the cash-back incentives. Acer, for example, sported three qualifying devices: the Aspire S7 touch-based "Ultrabook," which lists for $1,300; and the Iconia W5 and Iconia W7 tablets that sport screens of 10.1-inch and 11.6-inch, respectively.
(Each vendor's eligible devices can be found by clicking on the company logos here.)