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Microsoft Aims for 'Partners of Record' with Office 365 Beta

It's been nearly a month since Microsoft issued the public beta of Office 365, and the company is now encouraging its partners to sign customers up.

Microsoft said yesterday that partners can indeed sign customers up for the beta and register themselves as the "Partner of Record."

"This feature allows you to get your customers up and running on the Office 365 beta, and to continue to build relationships with them as they move to trial and purchase," said Jon Roskill, corporate VP of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, in a blog post. "A partner of record designation also provides initial advisor fees for each purchase, and perpetual fees for each seat continuing to run Office 365."

To jump in, Roskill noted that all Cloud Essentials partners will have access to the trial invitations and purchase offers features in Office 365. By so doing, solution providers and integrators can attach themselves as Partners of Record to any customer who accepts the invitation to test the beta and ultimately subscribe.

Partners should choose between Cloud Accelerate and Cloud Essentials, Roskill suggested. Cloud Accelerate partners get access to delegated administration, he pointed out. "This allows you to perform administrative tasks on behalf of your customers," he said.

Partners can sign up here. (For RCP's look at 12 key features of Office 365, click here.)

The Partner of Record model for the beta is similar to Microsoft's existing model for the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). In essence, Microsoft is billing customers directly and paying partners on the back end.

Many partners are holding out hope that Microsoft will fundamentally alter its cloud billing systems when Office 365 ships or shortly thereafter to allow partners to control the customer account.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on May 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM