RCP's 2014 Wrap-Up: Top 10 Features of the Year

From our coverage of various Microsoft Partner Network changes to our review of the Surface Pro 3, here are the most popular in-depth features on this year.

10. With New Cloud Competencies, Microsoft Gives and Takes Away
FROM THE ARTICLE: "The addition, at last, of cloud competencies gives partners a clear place in the Microsoft Partner Network to establish expertise and build a practice. Yet, some other Microsoft moves regarding cloud are causing partners serious concern." [Read here.]

9. The Cloud Boom and the Rise of Hybrid Solution Providers
FROM THE ARTICLE: "As megavendors build datacenters to support their cloud visions, they're wooing solution providers that can connect customers' on-premises systems to the new cloud platforms. " [Read here.]

The Microsoft Dublin datacenter and other facilities like it are altering more than the physical landscape -- they're changing the face of the server market. (From "The Cloud Boom and the Rise of Hybrid Solution Providers.")

8. How Microsoft Partners Can Master the 'Internet of Things'
FROM THE ARTICLE: "IoT is often mentioned as the next great market opportunity. It also happens that Microsoft partners are uniquely positioned to help their customers embrace IoT. The challenge is getting customers to understand that they've got an IoT problem." [Read here.]

7. What's the True Price of a Microsoft Competency?
READER COMMENT: "As an EX-gold shop, I can tell you that there is very little value in this program anymore unless you are a very well-positioned niche provider. This is all about making the partners pay more to MS, and pay more and more in certification/training costs." [Read here.]

The Sennheiser Speakerphone series consists of the SP 10 ML and the SP 20 ML. Both are optimized for use with Microsoft Lync and connect to a PC via a USB cable. (From "Lync Finds Its Groove in 'Universal Communications' Era.")

6. Lync Finds Its Groove in 'Universal Communications' Era
FROM THE ARTICLE: "Partners are seeing a massive upswing in business for the Microsoft software-based unified communications platform. Will upcoming enhancements keep the party going?" [Read here.]

5. Surface Pro 3: Microsoft's Tablet Gets (Even) More Business-Ready
FROM THE ARTICLE: "The Microsoft Surface was already the tablet for users looking to combine serious business and serious fun. With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft is trying even harder to replace your tablet and PC at one stroke." [Read here.]

With a screen close to the size of a standard sheet of paper and a digital pen, the Surface Pro 3 is engineered for jotting down thoughts. (From "Surface Pro 3: Microsoft's Tablet Gets [Even] More Business-Ready.")

4. Microsoft Action Pack Overhaul: Q&A
READER COMMENT: "Within the IAMCP we have seen negative comments about the new MAPS offering, but when we explained the benefits and changes in more detail to partners, they understood that the pack offers excellent value for money." [Read here.]

3. Third-Party Tools for Office 365 Migration and Management
FROM THE ARTICLE: "Setting up and managing Office 365 for customers doesn't have to be a manual, poorly documented job for partners. As the market for the SaaS product booms, so does the ecosystem of powerful tools from third parties." [Read here.]

The Cortana voice assistant (left) and a more customizable start screen were new features in Windows Phone 8.1. (From "A Non-Developer's Guide to Upgrading to Windows Phone 8.1.")

2. A Non-Developer's Guide to Upgrading to Windows Phone 8.1
READER COMMENT: "Microsoft talked about Windows Phone 8.1 back in April and I still haven't meet a person with the update unless they just got a brand-new phone. What gets me angry is Apple talks about iOS 8 one day and the next day it's available to everyone." [Read here.]

1. How Microsoft Licensing Is Throttling Desktop as a Service
READER COMMENT: "Amazing if not slightly depressing article. It seems there are virtually no viable options for true SMB clients to adopt DaaS. Are there no options for a pure cloud DaaS for 10 seats and under?" [Read here.]

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