As the end of summer approaches, the U.S. partner team is gearing up for a busy fall and winter. In your newsletter this week, delivered to your email inbox and customized according to your company’s business model and Microsoft Partner Network membership, as well as your role at your company, you’ll find plenty of upcoming local activities, virtual and in-person training opportunities and recommendations, and new ways to stay informed.

  • If you are a Microsoft Action Pack subscriber, read our Q&A blog post, featuring an update from Julie Golding, the U.S. lead for partner subscriptions.
  • If your company has a gold or silver competency, read our Competency Updates blog post, offering you a recap of competency benefits and requirements changes coming in October and links to the resources that contain details.

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

In this post, you will find three sections of content:

  • Partner News – Information about Partner Network membership and partner-related campaigns, promotions, and opportunities.
  • Training Recommendations – Links to the latest training opportunities (many of them low-cost and no-cost) and training-related offers.
  • Role-Based Training – Our recommendations about a specific product or topic; this week it’s a two-fer: Windows Small Business Server 2011 and Microsoft Office.

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

Updated: Microsoft Partner Network Competency Roadmap
The September 12 update to the Partner Network competency roadmap provides you with the latest information about competency requirements and benefits changes that will apply over the next 12 months.

The Big Easy Offer 7 Starts September 19, Includes Microsoft Online Services
Your customers can choose from a variety of popular Microsoft products and solutions, including Microsoft Online Services, while earning money on qualifying purchases that can be used toward additional software, hardware, or services from you.

TS2 is Bringing the VAR Summit to a City Near You
Take a technical dive into Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft System Center, Windows Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Lync, and more. Find out how these products can be part of your solutions that serve your customers' needs.

BUILD Keynotes, Screenshots, and More
Earlier this week, Microsoft hosted BUILD, a new event that shows hardware and software developers how to take advantage of the future of Windows. In the BUILD Newsroom, you'll find links to watch the keynotes on-demand, read event news, and see images from the event.

Practice Accelerator Can Open New Opportunities
Find out how Practice Accelerator helped one partner improve consultant and sales efficiency, reducing delivery time by 30 percent while closing deals 80 percent faster.

At Your Service: Virtual Partner Concierge
Take advantage of a new online tool for U.S. partners that helps you navigate the many partner-related resources and tools Microsoft offers, and lets you not only find great content, but get back to it easily, time and again.

Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for September 2011
As part of our usual cycle of updates, on September 13 Microsoft released five Important security bulletins, addressing 15 vulnerabilities.

Add Yourself to the Voices for Innovation Invite List
Last week, Voices for Innovation (VFI) hosted two calls with a Microsoft patent expert who offered insight into the patent process, patent policy, and the business of patents. Learn more about VFI and get invited to the next call by signing up for the VFI newsletter.

Gold Learning Partners: Nominate a Candidate for a Scholarship
Microsoft Gold Learning Competency partners are invited to nominate candidates for the Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelism/Microsoft Learning Scholarship. Scholarship recipients will receive up to $5,000 for a technical course plan, computer hardware, and mentoring and coaching. Submit nominations by September 30.

2011 ASPIRE Award Entries Due By September 30
We want to hear your story. Don't miss your chance to win prizes and recognition for your innovative and creative use of Ready-to-Go Marketing resources. (No purchase necessary. Open only to companies actively enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network who are legally domiciled in the 50 United States (includes Washington, D.C.). Contest ends September 30, 2011.)

Listen to Marketing Sessions from WPC 2011
Download and listen to marketing sessions from July's WPC 2011. "What's Next: A Marketing Discussion for Learning Partners" was the top-rated session from the sessions presented by Microsoft Learning.

Race to Innovate Contest: Race #5 Starts September 16
The Race to Innovate contest recognizes partners who complete the most Microsoft Office 365 deployments to customers with 250–2,499 seats. (No purchase necessary. Open only to U.S.-based managed system integrator partner companies. Contest ends December 31, 2011.)

Join Microsoft at SMB Nation 2011, September 28-October 2
At SMB Nation in Las Vegas, you'll hear from Microsoft channel and product teams on a range of topics such as Windows SBS 2011 and Microsoft Online Services. Pre-Day content on September 28 and 29 includes SBS 2011, Office 365, and a keynote from Microsoft about our cloud strategy.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Launches New "Cloud CRM for Less" Offer
The "Cloud CRM for Less" offer helps customers of Oracle, Salesforce.com Inc., and SAP switch to the familiar, intelligent, and connected experiences delivered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Sign Up for a Microsoft Dynamics Professional Community
Join the Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Professional Community or the Sales Professional Community as they offer a variety of training opportunities delivered through monthly web seminars.

Extreme CRM 2011 Las Vegas—October 2–5
Get a deep dive into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM strategy and learn from experts in the channel and industry. Connect with Microsoft leaders and other successful Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners and create important business relationships to help your business expand.

Get Expert Guidance on Increasing Your Sales
Our new webcast series, which features speakers including Kendra Lee, John Rudow, and Jeremey Epstein, covers topics such as hitting sales targets, competing to win, and mobility.

October 5: IAMCP U.S. Virtual Member Meeting
If you are an IAMCP U.S. member, register for the national webcast. The U.S. Microsoft Partner Network lead, Sharon Collins, will take you through the latest program announcements and updates, and Tina Hanson, the U.S. Microsoft Pinpoint lead, will explain how you can identify new prospects, extend your local reach, and more.

Use Your Benefits to Sell and Deploy Your Solutions More Efficiently
Your organization may have Partner Advisory Hours available as part of your Microsoft Partner Network membership benefits. Use them toward presales support, competitive assistance, deployment guidance, and more.

Getting the Support You Need for Online Services Is Easy
We're passionate about providing simple, partner-specific support, and we're dedicated to improving your support experiences. Beginning October 3, you'll be able to get support for Microsoft Online Services by contacting the Regional Service Center.

Meet the Demand for Mango: Complete Your Pinpoint Profile
The next major release of Windows Phone happens this fall. Complete or update your profile in the Microsoft Pinpoint online marketplace to make sure your mobility solutions and services are reaching every possible customer.

The Channel Development Session + Meet & Greet Events Series
Back by popular demand, Microsoft SMB Channel Development events give you an opportunity to develop relationships with other local partners. Join us for an evening that includes a presentation by the York Group, "Building Successful Partnerships in the Cloud," followed by a casual meet and greet. Here are first 8 dates/cities, with links to RSVP on LinkedIn and get full details for each.

Training Recommendations
Find training opportunities and recommendations any time on the U.S. Partner Learning blog, Learning Plan Tool website, and the Local Activities Section of the Training and Events page on the U.S. partner portal.

Partner Exam Academy Now Includes CRM, Desktop, Virtualization
Partner Exam Academy is like a prep school for Microsoft certification exams. The latest branch of Exam Academy is CRM.

September Partner Training Sweepstakes: New Courses and Prizes
Take any of our featured September courses for a chance to win a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook or Xbox 360 Pro Console. Topics include Windows Azure, Office 365, Windows Intune, and more.

Windows Phone Camps: Fall 2011 East Coast Tour
Sign up for a free, full-day of developer training for Windows Phone. You'll learn about developing Windows Phone applications and how to monetize them, get hands-on experience, and find out about the codename "Mango" release that's coming soon.

Office 365 Deployment Training in Miami, Washington, and Dallas
Microsoft Office 365 Partner Deployment Training is a three-day workshop for Microsoft partners with a focus on and investment in building Office 365 deployment capabilities.

Get Technical Advice Direct from the Experts
Build your knowledge in a solution area with workshops led by experienced Microsoft partner consultants in an interactive training environment.

New Training Spotlight Campaign: Promote Your Classes and Get Referrals
Connect with the growing audience on Born to Learn and help your customers ramp up on cloud technologies. We are highlighting the following four cloud-related portfolios: Virtualization, Office 365, Windows Azure, and SQL Azure.

Role-Based Training for Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Small Business Server 2011

Training for Business Decision Makers
Microsoft Office 2010

Windows Small Business Server 2011

Training for IT Professionals
Microsoft Office 2010

Windows Small Business Server 2011

Training for Developers
Microsoft Office 2010

Windows Small Business Server 2011

Training for Sales and Marketing Roles
Microsoft Office 2010

Windows Small Business Server 2011

Training for Training Roles
Microsoft Office 2010

Windows Small Business Server 2011