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End User Licensing Tool Debuts

A new tool Microsoft introduced this week could dramatically change your customer engagements when it comes to licensing. Microsoft calls the tool the Microsoft Product Licensing Advisor. The idea is to let IT end users compare licensing programs, get licensing guidance, go through a training wizard and perform basic product selection. That's in the 1.0 version. Eventually, Microsoft intends to add intelligence into the software and have it guide customers from business problem to complete solution. Meanwhile, the company is staffing up call centers to take customers' questions.

The output of the tool -- showing prices, etc. -- is something customers can take directly to partners. Microsoft says the tool will simplify licensing, elevate the discussion between customers and partners and potentially provide additional business opportunities for partners. Get the full story here.

Partner Program Enhancements
Remember all those enhancements to the Microsoft Partner Program that Microsoft outlined in July? Microsoft gave them a soft launch this week. While many of the enhancements don't go into effect officially until January, you can start signing up for new competencies, check out the simplified Partner Points Program and get details about new benefits now. We've got a full article on that outlines the benefits and the new competencies. See if the new competencies include a place for you.

Meanwhile, I'm working on an article about one of the new competencies -- Licensing Solutions. If you're thinking about pursuing the competency, I'd love to hear from you at [email protected].

Supercomputing for Partners?
Microsoft raised its profile in the supercomputing world when Bill Gates gave a keynote at Supercomputing 2005 this week. Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect announced the Beta 2 release of Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition and talked about the future of supercomputing. At first blush it wouldn't seem that there would be much opportunity for resellers and partners in a form of computing that's currently confined primarily to massive installations at government agencies and university laboratories.

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But Microsoft actually hopes to promote personal or departmental supercomputing at businesses and branch offices of all sizes. The idea is to use clusters from a couple of nodes to about a dozen nodes for serious, but not monumental, computational jobs.

Letters Please!
We're wrapping up another print issue of Redmond Channel Partner, and we need letters to the editor. Write us one, and there's a great chance it'll get published. Come on, let us know what you like and don't like in the latest issue of the magazine, or just wax poetic about the state of the Microsoft Partner community. Send your feedback to [email protected].

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 16, 2005