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New Signature's 2015 Acquisition Tear Continues

New Signature, the Microsoft U.S. Partner of the Year for both 2014 and 2015, acquired yet another Microsoft ecosystem player this month in its venture capital-fueled quest to be the premier Microsoft partner in North America.

The acquisition of Atlanta-based Microsoft partner InfraScience this week adds 55 employees, bringing Washington, D.C.-based New Signature to 250 employees. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on December 02, 2015 at 11:06 AM0 comments

Ingram Micro To Buy Odin Service Automation Platform

Ingram Micro is buying the Odin Service Automation platform from Parallels Holdings Ltd. in a deal announced Wednesday that will shake up the cloud services provider market.

Distribution giant Ingram Micro is one of the most important players in the emerging cloud services provider market, including Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. In Microsoft's strategic CSP model, Ingram is one of the handful of 2-Tier distributors that serve as intermediaries for cloud service subscriptions between Microsoft and thousands of Microsoft partner resellers in each geographic market. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on December 02, 2015 at 12:36 PM0 comments

Top-Tier Office 365 Subscription Pricing Set at $420 per Year

The top-tier SKU of Office 365, which Microsoft executives have estimated will open up tens of billions of dollars in greenfield opportunities, will cost $420 per user per year when it goes on sale Dec. 1.

Microsoft released pricing Monday on Office 365 E5, which replaces E4 as the top suite, with significantly more capability and a price tag nearly 60 percent higher than E4 (see the chart below). The new E5 suite also costs 75 percent more than the Office 365 suite's workhorse enterprise SKU, E3. On a per-user per-month basis, E5 costs $35, E4 is $22 and E3 is $20. E4 will continue to be available until the end of Microsoft's fiscal year in June 2016. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 30, 2015 at 1:53 PM0 comments

Gartner: Windows 10 Migration on Track To Be Fastest Yet

All that consumer activity around free upgrades will prime the pump for Windows 10 to become the most widely installed version of Windows ever, according to analysts at Gartner.

"In the consumer market, a free upgrade coupled with broad legacy device support and automatic over-the-air upgrades ensures that there will be tens of millions of users familiar with the operating system (OS) before the end of 2015," said Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement Monday. "For enterprises, we expect that implementation will be significantly more rapid than that seen with Windows 7 six years ago." More

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 23, 2015 at 10:49 AM0 comments

Microsoft CFO: Undersupply, not Oversupply, the Concern for Surface Book

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood is not worried about "cannon balling" into the high-end laptop market. In fact, she's concerned about the reverse -- of not having enough supply.

Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer, was responding to a question from Brent Thill, managing director at UBS, during the UBS Global Technology Conference in San Francisco. Thill wanted to know how Microsoft would avoid cannon balling into the market and instead go in gradually enough. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 18, 2015 at 11:35 AM0 comments

Microsoft Points to Windows as a Service Opportunity with 'Threshold 2'

The free upgrade approach Microsoft took with Windows 10 may not be doing much for OEM partners in the way of PC sales yet, but Microsoft is trying to point the rest of the channel toward new opportunities with the OS.

In a blog post Sunday, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group General Manager Gavriella Schuster used the occasion of the code-named "Threshold 2" update to Windows 10 to highlight opportunities created by the new Windows business model, which involves no cost for updating many versions of Windows 7/8/8.1 and involves regular updates for years to come. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 16, 2015 at 12:30 PM0 comments

The RCP CSP Directory is Complete for the U.S.

The new Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is a complex piece of machinery, as we detailed in our feature about the ecosystem last month.

One of the most important elements of that ecosystem is the 2-Tier distributors, a.k.a. cloud distis. In most cases, Microsoft partners will be working through those 2-Tier distributors rather than directly with Microsoft to sell and support Office 365 and Microsoft's other cloud products through CSP. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 12, 2015 at 11:18 AM0 comments

AVG Restructuring SMB Business, Laying Off 35

AVG Technologies is restructuring its managed service provider-centric SMB business division and laying off 35 employees as the unit struggles to meet the company's overall growth goals.

"As we discussed in the last earnings call, our expectation of the uptake of our cloud-based services was not where we wanted it to be as a result of our existing customers' commitment to our traditional on-premise product," said Gary Kovacs, CEO and managing director, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of AVG's third-quarter earnings call Wednesday. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 05, 2015 at 12:11 PM0 comments

BitTitan Packages Cloud Transition 'in a Box' for Microsoft Partners

One of the great challenges of the cloud transition for Microsoft partners is turning businesses that have been focused on server upgrade projects into recurring revenue-focused selling machines. Would it be possible to bundle that process into an in-a-box solution?

BitTitan is trying with a pair of Microsoft-focused offerings released this month called MSPComplete and a specialized version called CSPComplete, which is for the elite new group of Microsoft Cloud Service Provider (CSP) 1-Tier resellers. More

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 28, 2015 at 12:23 PM0 comments

Third-Party Cloud Backup Now Included in Microsoft IUR

Microsoft partners with competencies or Action Pack subscriptions have access to a new internal use rights (IUR) benefit that allows free access to a third-party cloud backup solution.

SkyKick, the Seattle-based cloud migration and management company specializing in Microsoft Office 365 tools for partners, will provide its Cloud Backup application on a free trial basis through the IUR benefit of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). More

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 28, 2015 at 1:13 PM0 comments

Hands-On with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The old truism that Microsoft gets a product right on its third try held for the Surface Pro 3. Not wanting to mess with a good thing, Microsoft limited itself to refinements for the new Surface Pro 4.

The fourth generation of Microsoft's category-creating productivity tablet become generally available on Monday. I spent an hour Monday morning at the Microsoft Store in Arlington, Va., getting a hands-on demo of the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. (Read my Surface Book review here.) More

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 26, 2015 at 3:57 PM0 comments

Hands-On with the Microsoft Surface Book

The Microsoft Surface Book is the first covet-worthy laptop of the Windows 10 era.

Microsoft's inaugural first-party hardware entry in the crowded laptop market hit general availability on Monday. I spent an hour Monday morning at the Microsoft Store in Arlington, Va., getting a hands-on demo of the Surface Book and the new Surface Pro 4. (Click here for the Surface Pro 4 article.) More

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 26, 2015 at 3:51 PM0 comments