Back in November 2013 Phil Sorgen announced that due to compelling partner feedback it was decided to prioritise the timings of a number of the Microsoft Partner Network programme updates that were scheduled for January 2014.

In depth details of the changes coming in February can be found in the newly updated Disclosure Guide but you can find a summary of the main changes below.

Cloud Programme Changes

The Cloud Essentials Programme is retiring on the 30th June 2014, at which time Internal Usage Rights (IURs) will expire. After February 2014 it will no longer be possible to enrol into the programme. You will be able to continue using cloud benefits by subscribing to a Microsoft Action Pack or gaining a competency.

The Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Windows Azure Circle Programmes will continue for the time being.

Redesigning Action Pack Subscriptions

In February 2014, the new Action Pack subscription will replace the current Action Pack Solution Provider and Action Pack Development and Design subscription options. The new Action Pack subscription is one universal subscription that includes resources and benefits relevant to all partners who serve SMB customers, with emphasis on cloud services.

When you renew your subscription, you will automatically be enrolled in the new Action Pack, and, if you sign up for one of the existing Action Pack subscriptions before the new one is launched, you will gain access to the new Action Pack benefits immediately when they become available.

Competency Changes

1. The Digital Marketing competency is being renamed to Digital Advertising to better reflect the competency's focus on Bing Advertising partners. There will be some updates to requirements.

2. To help you capitalise on the ‘internet of things’ a new Intelligent Systems Competency is being launched in February.

3. An application track will be added to the Collaboration and Content competency for partners who develop solutions for SharePoint.

4. Presales technical assessments will be required to earn the Collaboration and Content, Communications, Customer Relationship Management, Business Intelligence, Devices and Deployment, Enterprise Resource Planning and Messaging competencies.

5. There are exam and application track retirements for a number of the existing competencies to reflect the newest technology in market. Please refer to the Disclosure Guide to see the changes affecting each competency.

Internal Usage Rights

1. Effective February 2014, all competency partners will have access to Microsoft cloud services (Office 365, Windows Azure, Windows Intune, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online) internal-use software benefits as a part of their core benefits. Cloud and on-premises licenses can be used in any combination, up to the maximum total benefit available.

2. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM benefits model will be updated in February 2014 for new and renewing partners. If you have a gold competency you will receive internal-use software licenses for any combination of Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online equalling 60 total seats. Partners with a silver competency will have access to 15 total seats of any combination of Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

3. The Small Business competency will be updated to the same benefits model as all other competencies for cloud benefits.

Other Programme Changes

1. The Microsoft Partner Network requirements relating to qualifying partner practices by country or geographic grouping has been delayed. The exact date of this launch will be communicated to affected partners at least six months in advance of implementation.

2. The Microsoft Partner Network Agreement outlines specific requirements for compliance with anticorruption laws. To help you meet these requirements, beginning in January 2014, we are requiring partners to provide anticorruption training to all employees who resell, distribute, or market Microsoft products or services. If your company does not already have anticorruption training, you will have access to an online course through the Partner Learning Center.

Have Questions?

  • Managed Partners - please speak with your account manager. 
  • Competency Partners - contact the Regional Service Center by telephone, or via the support communities 
  • Unmanaged or non-competency partners email email the UK Partner Business and Development Team directly via