Microsoft has pushed its OEM software franchise out to tender among new and existing distributors amid a consumer market meltdown.
The global process usually takes place every year but in recent times has typically resulted in little change, with a total of eight wholesalers carrying the OEM line-up in the UK.
However, with households' discretionary spending under pressure and retailers reporting a slump in sales, distributors are fighting over a shrinking consumer market and will be urging Microsoft to consolidate its ranks.
A spokeswoman at Microsoft told El Reg that distributors have been informed of the OEM review and a Request For Proposal (RFP) had been sent out.
No decisions have yet been made about how this will impact the channel. This means channel heads will pore over distributors' sales data and their breadth of reseller accounts to determine whether Microsoft will swing the axe, and distributors will need to jump through hoops to stay onboard.
"The RFP process is designed to help Microsoft make the decision about whether it keeps the same number of OEMs in the UK, reduces or increases this number," Microsoft added.
UK disties include Ingram Micro, Computer 2000, Westcoast and Avnet – all of which also hold the wider volume and OEM software portfolio.
OEM-only UK disties include VIP, Northamber, Enta Technologies and Micro P – though the latter two also hold rights to sell the Office retail SKU.
Jon Atherton, group vice president at long-standing Microsoft distie Enta Technologies, urged the software giant to reduce the OEM wholesale channel to better reflect the "shrinking" market.
"I don't see the benefit to Microsoft of dealing with all these distributors, it costs money to manage accounts," he told El Reg. ®