Microsoft has struck an OEM distribution agreement with Altech Computers for its Windows Vista, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Server products lines. The OEM partnership is the vendor's first in nearly 10 years.
Microsoft SME and partner director, Pip Marlow, said the two companies had partnered closely over recent years.
The new relationship would expand its scope and enable Microsoft to deliver more support to the local system builder market, she said.
"Altech is the destination for small system builders - they do a phenomenal job supporting that part of the channel," Marlow said. Altech now shares OEM distribution rights with Ingram Micro and Synnex.
"Ingram and Synnex have done a great job as OEM distributors and will continue to do that," Marlow said. "This new relationship is about bringing in different types of partners. Altech adds extra reach and complements those other OEM distributors."
Altech managing director, Antony Sheen, said there were no plans to snatch marketshare away from the other distributors.
"Our aim is to bring in new business for Microsoft - we've been working very hard to prove we can add value," he said. "It's very exciting news for us. It should drive up our turnover and see us working with more customers."
Sheen said Altech had recorded 36 per cent year-on-year growth and predicted the new Microsoft deal would allow it to sustain this growth in the coming year.
He said the distributor was planning to hire four additional staff in sales and services support to look after its new Microsoft OEM business. The distribution arrangement kicks off next month.
The local system builder market has been in a spiralling decline in recent years. According to IDC figures, that segment represented 23.8 per cent of total PC sales in Q1 this year, dropping by over six per cent year-on-year.
Marlow agreed market conditions for traditional whitebox and local system builders were tougher than ever and said Altech would help these organisations broaden their business into complementary areas.
"It's the multi-faceted approach that Altech can bring to that space and adding value to that channel as they move into adjacent markets," she said. "As that business is ending, they are looking at server products, for example, or Microsoft Office."