Microsoft Debuts Community-Centric Partner Network
July 13, 2009
New Microsoft Partner Network reflects focus on capability, community and customer connections.

NEW ORLEANS — July 13, 2009 — Today at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2009, Microsoft Corp. announced the Microsoft Partner Network, the next generation of the Microsoft Partner Program. The Microsoft Partner Network combines the best of Microsoft’s award-winning traditional partner program with a commitment to communities designed to help partners forge deeper connections with customers, with Microsoft and with each other around industry, technical, and business model conversations.

The Microsoft Partner Network comprises 640,000 partners that serve some 160 million customers worldwide. The move to the Microsoft Partner Network is based on feedback from customers, who increasingly value trusted experts with whom they can build long-term relationships. The Partner Network is also designed to address the needs of partners, who are looking for new skills and expertise across technology and business, differentiated marketplace positioning, help in capturing customer opportunity, and an increased focus on partner-to-partner networking as a business strategy for growth.

“We’re investing to build businesses, hone expertise and support an environment of innovation,” said Allison L. Watson, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft. “We are proud to introduce the Microsoft Partner Network, the next evolution of the Microsoft Partner Program, based on our continued commitment to support customer business success and achieve industry-leading partner and customer satisfaction. Microsoft’s success and the success of partners are one and the same. Working closely together, and learning from one another, I am confident that we will deliver on and exceed the expectations of our mutual customers.”

To help partners strengthen capabilities, serve customers better and drive real-time connection and support through communities, the Microsoft Partner Network is focused on the following three key areas:

Capability. Over the next year, Microsoft will release the largest wave of new products in its history, and partners will need to develop strong skills and deep knowledge of the new technologies. To help partners do this, Microsoft is providing numerous opportunities for partners to strengthen their capabilities:

  • In the re-launched Partner Learning Center, partners can create specialized learning paths to develop individual technical and business skills. Partners are already using this resource to prepare for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

  • As Microsoft’s software-plus-services strategy becomes a reality, Microsoft is introducing partner tools for sales and pipeline management. Partners can use the expanded Profitability Modeler to estimate three-year profit and loss impact for new opportunities in areas such as mobility, hosting, software plus services and business productivity solutions across the Microsoft stack.

  • With the new Practice Builder and Services Ready initiative, partners can accelerate practice development within their business using proven intellectual property. Microsoft is the first in the industry to take a proactive strategy for publishing a road map for service-line adoption and retirement and compensating services executives.

  • For independent software vendors (ISVs), Green Light for Applications provides technical and marketing tools to engage ISVs in the product launch wave and get applications ready.

  • Partners can engage in the Students to Business (S2B) program, a Microsoft community initiative designed to connect Microsoft partners and customers with qualified students for entry-level and internship positions. Since piloting in Italy in 2006, Students to Business has rolled out in more than 65 countries, connecting more than 300,000 students with new career skills, leading to 15,000 students with jobs and internships as part of the Microsoft community.

More information on these resources is available at http://partner.microsoft.com.

Customers. As organizations look to save money and stay competitive, they are turning to partners for help in optimizing existing technologies that can be complemented by cost-effective, rapid innovation. The Microsoft Partner Network offers marketing and sales resources to help partners drive customer demand.

  • A full complement of digital marketing resources to help partners capture new customers online via tools such as search engine optimization.

  • Business planning services tools offer financial incentives that partners can use with customers to drive adoption and deployment.

  • Microsoft Pinpoint utilizes Microsoft marketing investments to help customers find local partners. Rolling out globally this fiscal year, Pinpoint provides partners with online selling capabilities, business analytics and lead qualification information that help them attract and engage customers, gain customer insights and win new business. More than 26,000 customers are connecting with Microsoft partners via online marketplaces each month.

  • Microsoft is announcing the new Demo Showcase on Windows Azure to help partners quickly produce new, rich demo simulations in a customer-relevant context, and then share those demos with other partners and customers through an online community using the power of Windows Azure and Microsoft Silverlight.

  • The Saving Customers Money customer campaign provides marketing and sales tools to help partners articulate the value of IT as a critical business asset and showcase how the right investment can translate into savings in the long term.

  • Microsoft is also launching Partner Sales Management for deeper collaboration between Microsoft and top partners for sales acceleration.

  • Microsoft continues to evolve and improve the Partner Marketing Center. Partners have access to targeted marketing campaigns, easy-to-customize materials, and marketing guidance and support.

For more information on these resources, go to https://partner.microsoft.com/US/salesmarketingsection.

Connections. Online communities and social media are an increasingly important part of how partners connect with customers, other partners and Microsoft. The Microsoft Partner Network fosters real-time connections and support through communities:

  • Microsoft remains committed to the value of partner-to-partner connections. Partners who engage in partner-to-partner networking find collaborating helps build their business, improve profitability and better enable them to compete with larger players.

  • As a benefit of membership in the Microsoft Partner Network, partners can access unlimited online technical support for Microsoft products and technologies. Partners can share ideas with other partners and receive guaranteed responses to break-fix, developer and pre-sales questions from Microsoft engineers and peers. More information is at https://partner.microsoft.com/US/40014662.

  • With a focus on connecting partners by type, technology and vertical industry, Microsoft Partner Network offers structured business and technology-focused partner connections through online networks such as Digital WPC and established social media sites.

“In the new Microsoft Partner Network, there’s a home for every partner — from traditional value-added resellers, systems integrators and independent software vendors to emerging partners like Web platform developers, Web agencies and hosters,” Watson said. “Partners are in our DNA, and we’re evolving our program based on what customers and partners have asked for. With a focus on facilitating partner-to-partner connections, Microsoft and partners together are creating passionate communities where partners share best practices, spark innovation and discover opportunities to serve customers better.”

What Partners Need to Know

Underlying the new program name are new benefits, competencies and an opportunity to belong to a community that shares and supports partner business needs and goals. The following are a few considerations that partners should be aware of in the short term:

  • Microsoft Gold Certified Partners enrolling or re-enrolling in the program must have participated in the Customer Satisfaction Index within the previous 12 months. This new requirement will be required for Gold Certified Partners re-enrolling during the 2010 re-enrollment period.

  • Partners are encouraged to update marketing collateral to reflect the competencies and designations they have attained, and should continue to use the Gold Certified and Certified logos they have today. When all-new Microsoft Partner Network competencies are available for the 2011 re-enrollment period, partners will begin using the new Microsoft Partner Network logos. Existing logos will be retired six months after the new logo system is available.

  • As requirements change over time to match industry demands and product offerings, partners will receive advance notification. Partners should check the Microsoft Partner Portal starting now for new requirements in advance of their re-enrollment.

More information on the Microsoft Partner Network is available at https://partner.microsoft.com/nextgeneration and the Digital WPC site at http://www.digitalwpc.com.

About Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference provides Microsoft’s partner community with access to key marketing and business strategies, leadership, and information regarding specific customer solutions designed to help partners succeed in the marketplace. Along with informative learning opportunities covering sales, marketing, services and technology, the Worldwide Partner Conference is an ideal setting for partners to garner valuable knowledge from their peers and from Microsoft. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/partner/events/wwpartnerconference and on the Partner Program home page at https://partner.microsoft.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

For more information about the Worldwide Partner Conference:

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