Microsoft (MSFT) is offering discounted Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets to Worldwide Partner Conference 2013 (WPC13) attendees. Channel partners should be pleased. But Windows 8 PC and tablet partners (companies like Dell, HP and Lenovo) could be upset. Here's why.

Imagine the following scenario:

  • Your company develops ultrabooks, tablets, notebooks and PCs. You leverage Windows 8.
  • You spend tens of thousands of dollars -- or more -- to attend and/or sponsor Microsoft WPC 13.
  • But when you arrive, every attendee has the opportunity to purchase deeply discounted Surface tablets directly from Microsoft.

In Microsoft's defense, Channel Chief Jon Roskill (in a blog post) pointed out that the company will promote a range of Windows 8 OEMs at the conference.

Roskill wrote: "WPC is all about the opportunities ahead, and we are committed to helping our partners experience first-hand the value of the latest technologies. This includes the hardware innovation we continue to see from our OEM partners with the incredible Windows devices we bring to market together. In addition to this offer, attendees will be able to see and touch the latest Windows 8 devices and software at our expansive device showcase, customer immersion experience area and device sessions throughout the week."

Sounds great for all parties. A big event. Lots of Windows 8 devices on display. The Windows 8.1 upgrade just around the corner. PC makers may rejoice. But oh those Surface tablet discounts and special offers from Microsoft.

The VAR Guy certainly understands Microsoft's moves. Get Surface in the hands of partners, and they could start recommending the tablets to customers. That's just smart business for Microsoft's own hardware sales. But will PC makers object -- and will that put even more pressure on Microsoft's operating system team? Hmmm...