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Microsoft Brings Back Big Easy Offer for June

The Big Easy is Back.

Looking to boost sales in the final month of its fiscal year, Microsoft has brought back The Big Easy program for the month of June. The Big Easy is Microsoft’s licensing promotion in which customers who buy multiple products from multiple product families get rebates checks made out to their Microsoft partner of choice.

The latest iteration is called the Big Easy 4.1, and it is scheduled to run from June 1 to July 2, the last day of Microsoft’s fiscal year 2010. It builds on a Big Easy 4.0 offer, which ran from January through April 30 of this year.

Microsoft has high hopes that the new version of the promotion will continue the success of the 4.0 offer, which had been scheduled to end in March but was extended by 30 days.

“If you compare [4.0] with the Big Easy 3.0, that’s the offer that ran during the same period in 2009, we had an increase of almost 12 percent in average revenue per customer,” Greg Lissy, a group manager in the Microsoft U.S. Partner Group, said in an interview. “In addition, the number of unique participating reseller partners increased by over 22 percent.” According to Lissy, more than 1,000 U.S. partners participated in the 4.0 release of the SMB-focused promotion.

The structure of the offer is largely the same as it was for 4.0 this year, 3.0 in 2009 and earlier versions of the promotion, which was designed to combine several partner subsidy promotions to make it easier for partners and customers to understand and use.

“The consistency in the structure of the offer helps partners build the offer into their sales motions,” Lissy said. “While we do make changes to the offer in terms of its coverage and payoff rates based on what’s happening in the market and with product lifecycles during a period of time, the consistency also helps build [a] multiplier effect.”

Lissy did not have figures for how much of a multiplier effect partners have seen from the subsidy checks, but previous program managers have told RCP the partner subsidy checks, which the customer can use to buy hardware, software or services, have regularly led to deals that are five to eight times the amount of the subsidy. The subsidy check does not need to be redeemed by the July 2 deadline for the Big Easy program, but it does expire 90 days after the check issue date, according to Microsoft’s Website for the Big Easy 4.1 offer.

Two Key Changes

There are two main changes to the program from 4.0 to 4.1, aside from the timing. First, Microsoft is trying to move more Windows Server 2008 R2 before the end of its year. “We are nearly doubling the payout on qualifying redemptions for Windows Server 2008. We’re using [the Big Easy] as a catalyst to encourage customers who were on earlier versions of Windows Server to highlight this period as a great time for them to upgrade and to harness that innovation and the innovation capabilities inherent in Windows Server 2008,” Lissy said.

Second, Microsoft is trying to increase the incentives for customers and partners around the recently released Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. “Having just launched Office 2010, we want to encourage customers and partners to make that purchase through our annuity program called Open Value,” Lissy said.

For partners who sat out the 4.0 offer, one of the main changes from the Big Easy 3.0 to the 4.0 generation of promotions is higher payout rates when customers purchase from more than two product groups.

“It’s designed to facilitate for our partners that solution-oriented approach to pulling in not just core products like Windows Server, but also products that drive more toward an overall solution,” Lissy said. “In 3.0, we had an increased payout for two or more product groups. In 4.0, we have increased payout for two product groups, and then we have a higher payout for three or more, so there’s an added strata.”

Products included in the Big Easy Offer 4.1 other than Windows Server, Exchange and Office are SQL Server, Office Project, Office Communications Server, Expression, Office SharePoint Server, Visual Studio, Forefront, Office Visio, System Center Essentials, Windows Server 2008 Datacenter, System Center Configuration Manager, Windows Small Business Server, Dynamics CRM, Windows Web Server 2008, and Windows Essential Business Server.

For more information about the Big Easy 4.1, join RCP Editor in Chief Scott Bekker, Microsoft territory managers Jason Rook and Brad Rozen and a partner for a Webcast Thursday, June 3 at 2 p.m ET/11 a.m. PT. Registration for the Webcast is available here.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.