Today's IT landscape is increasingly competitive. To help you sell your Microsoft-based solutions against competing technologies, here are my favorite recommended resources.

VictoryLapFirst, the new Microsoft Victory Lap site offers you the opportunity to share your success with specific solution areas like unified communications, virtualization, data management, and the cloud with the rest of the network. Not only will you get exposure for your business and solutions, you can also learn from other partners' successes and connect with the U.S. Partner Community. On the Victory Lap site you will also find links to most-requested competitive selling resources that can help you win against the competition, and we maintain a Microsoft Competitive Selling page on the U.S. partner portal.

As a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, your benefits include access to the Online Technical Communities, with forums for topics like Microsoft Cloud Services, Microsoft SQL Server, and Virtualization.

If you are a Microsoft Action Pack Development and Design subscriber, a member of Cloud Accelerate, or have attained a competency (either silver or gold), your Microsoft Partner Network benefits include Partner Advisory Hours that can be applied to pre-sales competitive assistance from our Partner Technical Services team.

Below are all the items we published in today’s U.S. partner newsletter. If you feel that the version you received in e-mail, targeted to you according to your company’s partner profile and your role at your company, is missing something critical from this superset, please let me know by commenting here or sending me an e-mail (partnerQ@microsoft.com).

For more partner news, resources, and recommendations, visit us on the U.S. partner portal and Virtual Partner Concierge, and join the U.S. Partner Community on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Cheers,

Diane Golshan
Sr. Marketing Manager, U.S. Partner Team
Learn more about what I do at Microsoft.



Partner News

Differentiate Your Business with a Desktop Competency
Meet your customer needs and showcase your expertise as a trusted advisor with deep skills on delivering, deploying, and supporting solutions with Windows 7, Office 2010, and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. Leverage the advantage of the Desktop competency.

Earn Rewards for Your Investment in Specific Solutions Areas and Competencies
The Solution Incentive Program (SIP) was revised effective July 1, with changes to requirements in the existing SIP categories (Management and Virtualization; Windows 7) and the addition of two new SIP categories, Application Platform and Microsoft Lync.

August 31 Webcast: Jump Start Your Microsoft Cloud Services Business
Adding a Microsoft Cloud practice to your organization involves more than just adopting a new product. Join Julie Bennani, General Manager for the Microsoft Partner Network, for a discussion about the cloud opportunity, what to consider, and how to plan your company's business model transition.

Building Windows 8—An Inside Look 
This new blog provides you with an opportunity to hear from the Windows Engineering Team about the designing and building of Windows 8, in preparation for the BUILD Conference in September.

Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for August 2011
As part of our usual cycle of updates, on August 9 Microsoft released 13 security bulletins addressing 22 unique vulnerabilities in Microsoft products. The August Security Bulletin Webcast and Q & A are published on the Microsoft Security Response Center blog.

U.S. VAR Rebate Open Enrollment
Earn up to 20% of estimated retail price in rebates on sales of annuity agreements. Register for the current VAR Rebate program and take advantage of the rebates to absorb your cost of sales.

Encourage Sales of Microsoft Products and Grow Your Revenue
Each month, we refresh the Reseller Promotions page, which features Microsoft Volume Licensing SKU-based promotions and offers you can share with your customers. See the latest in-market promotions and download the August Offers & Incentives Quick Reference Guide.

Partnering with Precision: A WPC 2011 Recap
Partnering with Precision is a blog series authored by Jenni Flinders, the Microsoft U.S. Vice President for Partner Strategy and Programs. This month, Jenni provides her recap of last month's Worldwide Partner Conference and offers a look ahead.

Try Windows Azure Platform for 30 Days, No Credit Card Required
With the Windows Azure platform you pay only for what you use, scale up when you need capacity and pull back when you don't. When you are ready, you'll be able to convert all your hard work trying out and testing Azure to a paying account with the new Windows Azure free Pass account to paying account migration.

Guide to the New Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC)
On August 15, the VLSC was updated based on customer and partner feedback to make it easier to navigate and use. Key changes include a new look, a unified product downloads and product keys page, and the Online Services and Subscriptions pages combined into one Subscriptions menu.

Win a 2011 ASPIRE Award for Your Innovative Marketing
We want to reward you for innovative, creative, and effective marketing campaigns that incorporate Ready-to-Go Marketing tools from the Microsoft Partner Network. One Microsoft partner will win the 2011 ASPIRE Award Grand Prize; nine will take home the 2011 ASPIRE Gold Award. Could you be among them?

OEM Partners: Quickly Find the Downloads and Preinstallation Resources You Need
We've created one location for you to find software downloads, OEM Preinstallation Kits for Windows operating systems, servers, and applications, and other relevant guides and resources for Microsoft OEM partners.

Public Sector Partners: Download Our Connect to the Cloud Guide
Learn about the highest-priority applications for public sector industries and get guidance on the steps you can take to migrate your existing applications to the Windows Azure platform or develop these applications on Windows Azure.

Sponsorship Opportunities at the Virtual Local Government Summit
On October 11, American City & Country is hosting the Local Government Summit, a free virtual conference and expo. If you serve customers in state and local government, take advantage of sponsorship opportunities to put your solution in front of thousands of subscribers, including local government officials.

Partner Technical Enablement Catalog
As a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, you have access to instructor-led, interactive workshops that can help you design and deliver the right solutions for your customers efficiently and effectively, using the latest Microsoft products and technologies.

Earn Referral Fees by Submitting Microsoft Dynamics Leads That Result in a Sale
You may be eligible to earn up to $20,000 in referral fees when you submit a Dynamics ERP or CRM lead that results in a sale, through the Microsoft Dynamics Lead Referral Program.

Windows Intune Increases Internal Use Rights
To use Microsoft cloud services products like Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM internally, subscribe to the Microsoft Cloud Essentials Pack. The Windows Intune offering was recently increased to 25 seats, based on partner feedback.

September 22 Virtual Event: Communication, Collaboration, and Cloud
Invite your customers to an interactive virtual event on September 22 showcasing Microsoft productivity technologies. Hear from Microsoft executives and see demos of Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Exchange 2010, Microsoft Lync, and Microsoft Office 365. You can also register for a live event in a city near you.

Training Resources

While You're Enhancing Your Sales Skills or Technical Knowledge, Enter to Win Some Sweet Prizes
Brush up on key selling points, or freshen up your technical skills, for some of the latest Microsoft technologies for a chance to win a $120 Amazon gift card or Samsung Focus Windows Phone. You'll receive an entry for each course you attend, and we'll provide a new course list and prizes next month for another chance to win.

Prepare to Attain or Renew a Microsoft Competency
Updated competency-attainment training guides show what's required and recommended, and include links to assessments.

August 23 Webcast: Selling Microsoft Office 365 to Public Sector Customers
Learn how to position the value of Microsoft Office 365 to Federal, State, and Local Government customers.

Win the Private Cloud: Technical Training Available Online
The Microsoft Private Cloud and Data Center Management Partner Labcast is now available online. Get in-depth technical training about the architecture of the dynamic data center and gain a better understanding of the vision of Microsoft cloud computing.

New E-Learning for Virtualization Competency Certifications Available
Prepare for Microsoft Virtualization exams 70-669 and 70-659 with new e-learning, available at no cost via the Partner Learning Center through July 2012. Passing these certifications can help your organization achieve the Virtualization competency.

Virtualization Competency Announcement: New Exam
Microsoft Learning recently announced the retirement of two exams that are currently part of the eligibility requirements for achieving the Virtualization competency. 70-403—TS: System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Configuring and 70-652—TS: Windows Server Virtualization, Configuring. These will be replaced by Exam 70-659—TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization. Online exam prep is available.

Use Our Self-Service Kit to Prep for Exam 70-681
"TS: Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deploying" is a recommended qualifying exam for attaining the Desktop competency and also applies to other competencies, such as Midmarket Solution Provider. As an alternative to instructor-led training, you can prepare using the self-service kit.

Virtual Training Bootcamp for Exam 70-401
This two-part, in-depth exam prep helps you get ready to take exam 70-401—Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, Configuring. Passing this exam is included in the requirements for the Desktop competency, the Virtualization competency, and the Software Asset Management competency.

Public Sector Online Cloud Courses
On the Partner Learning Center, you'll find four new on-demand courses specifically designed for partners serving customers in the Public Sector. These courses cover the benefits of adding Microsoft cloud services to your practice.

Role-Based Training for Microsoft Lync

Microsoft Lync for Business Decision Makers

Microsoft Lync for IT Pros

Microsoft Lync for Developers

Microsoft Lync for Sales

Microsoft Lync for Marketing

Microsoft Lync for Training Roles