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Microsoft Delays Partner Program Changes

Microsoft is putting the brakes on a number of substantial changes to its partner program that had been set to take effect early next year.

"Following compelling partner feedback and a thorough review of our planned roadmap, we've decided to prioritize the timing of certain program updates communicated at the Worldwide Partner Conference in July 2013," wrote Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, in an e-mail sent to partners Thursday night. 

Sorgen took over about two months ago from former channel chief Jon Roskill, who had announced the changes and their timing in July. Microsoft had documented the changes in a July PDF called the "Microsoft Partner Network Disclosure of upcoming program changes" and RCP analyzed and clarified the changes in our MPN Roadmap. The planned changes represented the most substantial overhaul of the program since Microsoft launched the MPN about three years ago.

According to Sorgen's e-mail and an addendum to the disclosure guide titled "Important Update to Previously Announced Microsoft Partner Network Program Changes," Microsoft is tinkering with most elements of its carefully laid-out MPN roadmap:

  • The new Microsoft Action Pack Subscriptions, which will include Cloud Internal Use Rights benefits, will now launch in February, a month later than originally planned.

  • An Intelligent Systems Competency, designed to help partners capitalize on the "Internet of Things," will launch in February rather than January.

  • A planned consolidation and renaming of several competencies is postponed indefinitely. Those changes, which had been scheduled for January, included renaming Business Intelligence to Data Analytics; merging the Server Platform, Management and Virtualization, and Identity and Access Competencies; and retiring the Mobility Competency.

  • The Hosting Competency was supposed to be retired and replaced with a number of hosting tracks in other competencies. That change is being delayed, although Microsoft documents indicate it remains the plan.

  • The integration of cloud tracks into a number of competencies is also delayed, extending the life of several existing cloud programs. Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle were all scheduled to be retired June 30, 2014. Now they will continue into at least the third quarter of calendar 2014. Cloud Essentials, the free-to-enroll program with five IURs for various Microsoft cloud products, will still be fully retired June 30, 2014, as planned. Partners will now have access to those program benefits only through the paid Action Pack subscription or a paid competency.

  • A new competency, User Experience Design Competency, has been killed before its launch. Originally planned to go live in January, Microsoft has had a change of heart. According to the addendum document: "While a dedicated competency for design was to be introduced, it has since been determined that design must be an integral part of application development. For this reason, development partners will be offered design focused tools and training resources instead of creating a new competency."

  • The Digital Marketing Competency is being renamed the Digital Advertising Competency "to better reflect the opportunity and partners this is designed for," the addendum says.

In his e-mail, Sorgen promised more details to come. "In the near future, we will share an updated program roadmap and launch dates," he wrote. RCP has a list of questions out to Microsoft for clarifications and for information about the thinking and causes for some of the changes. Check back here and at RCP's MPN Roadmap for updates.


Posted by Scott Bekker on November 22, 2013