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U.S. Partner News for Friday, February 17, 2012

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imageIn your newsletter this week, customized according to your company’s business model and Microsoft Partner Network membership, as well as by your role at your company, you’ll find the latest partner-related information and news about optimizing your membership benefits, plus training recommendations for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Microsoft Dynamics. I also encourage you to visit and sign in to the U.S. partner portal, which features links to Partner Exam Academy, the Messaging competency for partners selling Microsoft Exchange-based solutions, the Microsoft Action Pack subscription, and our February Recommendations.

As your customers’ trusted IT advisor, helping them secure their systems, computers, and data may be an important aspect of your business. To stay informed about the risks of exploits, vulnerabilities, and malware, and help your customers protect their organizations, software, and people, here are a couple of recommended resources:

The Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy sets forth clear guidelines about security update support for all Microsoft products. Windows XP SP3 and Microsoft Office 2003 will go out of support in April 2014. After that, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates. If you have customers using either of both of these products, now is a great time to have a conversation with them about modernizing their PCs and using Windows 7 and Office 2010, starting with our online guidance and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.

Read the welcome letter for partners with a Microsoft competency.

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 for two Microsoft products: this week, it’s Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Microsoft Dynamics.


Partner News

Retain Your Membership Benefits by Renewing On Time
By completing your renewal before your membership expiration date, you'll retain access to the valuable benefits that are available to Microsoft Partner Network members. Read our recent U.S. Partner Team blog post for guidance about the renewal process.

Complete the 2012 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and Enter to Win an Xbox 360 with Kinect
Complete our annual U.S. Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) Survey to share your attendance plans for WPC 2012 in Toronto, Canada this July, and give us your thoughts about session topics and activities that are important to you. The survey is anonymous, but after you complete it, you have an opportunity to enter our Sweepstakes. Survey closes and sweepstakes ends February 29. Official Rules.

Mobility Competency: Is There An App for That?
Yes! The Mobility competency has new a qualification path for independent software vendors. ISVs may now earn the Mobility competency by submitting a Windows Phone app that meets certain business and functional criteria.

Practical Tips for Optimizing Your Microsoft Partnership
Meet Matthew Mace, the President and CEO of BlueGranite. He uses his company's Microsoft gold competencies as a marketing secret weapon. Watch this short video to see how you can maximize the value of your Microsoft relationship in today's hypercompetitive market.

March 7: Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Virtual Launch Event
Immerse yourself in the exciting new world of data with SQL Server 2012 at our virtual launch event. You will have access to more than 30 sessions to learn about the new capabilities of SQL Server 2012 at your own pace, on your own schedule. Use one of our SQL Server 2012 Learning Paths to take role-based training:

Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for February 2012
As part of our usual cycle of security updates, we released our latest Security Bulletin Summary on February 14, with nine bulletins addressing 21 vulnerabilities. Review the bulletin and watch the on-demand webcast for details. The next release is scheduled for Tuesday, March 13.

Tailor Your Convergence 2012 Experience with Connect and Schedule Builder
Convergence Connect is a structured networking tool that makes it easy to connect and network with fellow attendees. Schedule Builder enables attendees to make a customized Convergence session schedule, so that you can plan your time.

Reserve Your Microsoft TechEd 2012 Booth Space
Promote your business to more than 8,000 technical strategists in one location by planning to exhibit at TechEd 2012. Download the prospectus and register today to secure a spot next to Microsoft product teams and key partners.

Gold and Silver Competency Benefit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Solutions
Let us help you deploy and develop Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 solutions for your customers. Use your Advisory Hours benefit to get personalized migration, deployment, design, architecture, and development guidance from Partner Services. Subscribe to the Partner Services newsletter.

Gold Competency Partners: Use Your Partner Services Benefit
As a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with a gold competency, your benefits include 50 Partner Advisory Hours. Use them to deepen your company's technical knowledge and expertise about Microsoft products and technologies, and for customized guidance to develop and deploy solutions for your customers. Subscribe to the Partner Services newsletter.

Silver Competency Partners: Use Your Partner Services Benefit
As a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with a silver competency, your benefits include 20 Partner Advisory Hours. Use them to deepen your company's technical knowledge and expertise about Microsoft products and technologies, and for customized guidance to develop and deploy solutions for your customers. Subscribe to the Partner Services newsletter.

Use Your Benefits: Unlimited Online Support for Microsoft Products
Get timely responses to your questions about Microsoft products in the Partner Online Technical Communities. Microsoft Partner Network members are guaranteed a response to break-fix, developer, and presales questions from Microsoft engineers.

Understand the Costs of Running Your Cloud-Based Solution
Using Windows Azure for your cloud-based application can be cost-effective. The Windows Azure Platform Pricing Calculator will help you understand the cost to run your solution. MSDN subscriber? Activate your Windows Azure benefits.

Time to Thrive Webcasts Now on Demand: How to Sell the Cloud to Enterprise or SMB Customers
Microsoft Sales Specialist assembled a Cloud Panel to present two webcasts about selling the cloud to customers: one focused on enterprise customers, the other on small and midsize business (SMB) customers. Watch one or both of these webcasts on demand, and register for the March 14 live webcast, too.

Congratulations to Bit-Wizards, the Microsoft Victory Lap Partner of the Month
Victory Lap celebrates the success of Microsoft Partner Network members. Read how Microsoft partner, Bit-Wizards, built a Windows Azure-based solution that reduces overhead and delivery time, and improves efficiency. Then, use Victory Lap to stand up and tell the world just how great your company's Microsoft-based solutions are, and be considered for a future Partner of the Month case study.

Congratulations to J4 Systems, Winner of the 2011 ASPIRE Award
We are excited to announce the winner of the first annual Ready-to-Go Marketing ASPIRE Award: J4 Systems, a network integrator providing business technology consulting. Read their Ready-to-Go Marketing success story of an event that generated a 110:1 return on investment.

How to Talk to Midsize Business Customers about Upgrading to Windows Server 2008
Nearly 72 percent of midsize businesses still run the Windows Server 2003 operating system. Use the Cloud Power Windows Server Upgrade and Virtualization campaign to take advantage of this market. Open the conversation with the customer sales proposal.

How to Explain the Benefits of Simplified IT
Spark a conversation with businesses that need to protect information and reduce computer maintenance. With resources from the Simplify IT campaign, you can quickly create a page on your website.

Channel Development and Networking Events Across the U.S.
These events focus on partner-to-partner networking for channel companies that serve small and midsize businesses (SMB) in particular, providing you an opportunity to meet and connect with partners from across the U.S. partner ecosystem, including independent software vendors (ISV), hosters, managed services partners (MSP), and resellers.

March 14: U.S. Partner Virtual Channel Development and Networking Event
This virtual networking event is similar to our local in-person events but by utilizing the virtual platform, you will have the opportunity to do more targeted networking. Since travel is not required, this will be a national event attended by partners across the US and is a great way to build a bigger presence for your company. On Twitter, use #usp2p to join the conversation.

Microsoft Platform Ready: Free One-to-One Cloud Technical Support
With Microsoft Platform Ready, we've brought together the development tools you need to plan, build, test, and take your solution to market.

Microsoft Platform Ready: Testing Your Application for a Microsoft Partner Network Competency
Upon registering for Microsoft Platform Ready and adding an application, download and run the MPR test tool and submit your successful results. You'll instantly receive credit toward the appropriate Microsoft Partner Network competency.

Microsoft Platform Ready Resources for Taking Your Solution to Market
SEO. SEM. New customers. More revenue. Microsoft Platform Ready gives you what you need to plan, build, test, and take your solution to market.

Get a $50 Advertising Credit When You Use Bing and Yahoo! Search
It's free and easy to add Bing and Yahoo! Search to your marketing mix. Get personalized, one-on-one assistance from a QuickLaunch search expert when you set up your account. For a limited time, you can get a U.S.$50 advertising credit, too. Offer details.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Feature Pack Release
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Feature Pack is the latest release of Microsoft Dynamics AX. The Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Feature Pack download is a full installation of the product and is required for new installations or upgrades from previous versions.

Serving Education Customers? Join the Microsoft Education Partner Network
If your customers include K-12 and higher education, the Microsoft Education Partner Network offers information, resources, and training that can help you better serve your customers, expand your skills, and grow your business. We also recommend updating your Microsoft Partner Network membership profile to reflect your focus on education.

Training Recommendations

February Picks for Training Giveaway
Be entered to win a Lenovo Netbook, Xbox 360 with Kinect, or a $100 American Express gift card when you take any of our featured Microsoft Lync, SQL Server 2012, Forefront Security, or Windows 7 courses. There's something for every role, and you'll receive an entry for each course you attend. Sweepstakes ends June 30. Official rules.

Microsoft Cloud Fast-Track Boot Camps Help You Build a Cloud Sales Pipeline
Attend one of these in-person events—being held in cities across the U.S. starting March 1—and learn how to integrate Microsoft Online Services products like Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Intune into your current offerings, as well as how to build a sales pipeline and start closing deals.

Microsoft System Center 2012 Readiness
The private cloud, based on Microsoft System Center 2012, offers many opportunities for your business. We have prepared role-based learning paths that cover business, licensing, sales, and technical training, which will help you prepare for everything from expanding your service opportunities to data center and private cloud management.

Desktop Competency Sweepstakes Ends February 29
When you pass Exam 70-681, Deploying Windows 7 and Office 2010, by February 29, you will automatically be entered to win a Samsung 7 Slate. Exam 70-681 is a new requirement for attaining the Desktop competency. Official rules.

New Practice Accelerator: Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Enterprise Voice
Practice Accelerator provides best practices and reusable tools to help partners advance their solutions-based practice. These Microsoft Lync sessions help partners learn to integrate this unified communications solution to their offerings.

Conquer the Cloud with a Microsoft Cloud Services Certification
Over 20 million businesses have adopted Microsoft cloud services, and the pace is accelerating. Develop your expertise with training and certification to become an Office 365 Administrator, Cloud Developer, Data Center Operations Manager, or Data Steward.

Exam 74-322: Microsoft Lync Server 2010—Advanced Design and Deployment Beta Exam is Live
Increase your Lync expertise and offer greater differentiation in the marketplace, with the new Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Advanced Design and Deployment Exam. Passing the exam will be a requirement for the Microsoft Partner Network Gold Communications competency, Systems Integrator Track, starting in October 2012. Through February 27, you can take the beta exam at no charge using promo code "lync322." If you pass the beta version of the exam you will receive credit toward attainment of the competency.

Role-Based Training for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Microsoft Dynamics

Training for Business Decision Makers
Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Microsoft Dynamics

Training for IT Professionals
Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Microsoft Dynamics

Training for Developers
Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Microsoft Dynamics

Training for Sales and Marketing Roles
Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Microsoft Dynamics

Training for Training Roles
Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Microsoft Dynamics
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