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Get Ready for the 'Microsoft Partner Network'

A year ago Microsoft promised major changes to its partner program. This year, many of those changes will be unveiled at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans (July 13-16). The highest-profile change? A new name for the 5-plus-year-old Microsoft Partner Program. Get ready for the "Microsoft Partner Network."

In an e-mail to RCP, Allison Watson, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group, said, "The Microsoft Partner Program is evolving. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July we're launching the Microsoft Partner Network, a community borne from our continued commitment to serve the needs of our partners and help them reach their full business potential."

"Everything is on the table," Watson said, adding, "Working together, we continue to focus on creating innovative solutions that drive profitability and sustain competitive advantage."

Besides the name, details are sketchy. But Watson said that the Microsoft Partner Network will provide:

  • "Opportunities to strengthen partner technical, sales and marketing capabilities." Some reports have this change including improved marketing of partner designations to customers.

  • "Expertise to help partners capture business opportunity with customers during the biggest launch wave in Microsoft history." Sometimes called Wave 14, the group of forthcoming products includes Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Office 2010, Exchange Server 2010, SharePoint 2010 and others.

  • "Communities that spark innovation and connection." This likely includes a heavier reliance on social media and online communities, especially Facebook and Twitter. Microsoft has already begun using Facebook and Twitter to promote the partner conference and facilitate networking in New Orleans.

That Microsoft is ready to reveal much more of the next-generation of its channel program goes a long way toward explaining why the Worldwide Partner Group seemed to have gone mostly dark this year -- aside from dispensing some advice to partners on surviving the economy.

We'll have a lot more detail on what these changes could mean to partners in our July issue, which should be arriving in your snail mailboxes in a week or so. Our analysis depends heavily on Anne Stuart's July cover story from 2008, when she broke the news that Microsoft was working hard on overhauling the partner program.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 16, 2009 at 11:58 AM