imageOn the first and third Friday of each month, the U.S. Partner Team delivers a newsletter for U.S.-based members of the Microsoft Partner Network. The content you receive in your email inbox as a benefit of your membership is specific to your company’s business and your role (learn more about this in our recent MPN tips post). This post contains all of the content published in today’s emailed newsletter:

  • Local recommendations
  • Announcements, including Microsoft Dynamics (some links require PartnerSource access; details)
  • Training resources, including Microsoft Dynamics (some links require PartnerSource access; details)
  • Role-based recommendations for the Communications competency, for partners that want to sell, deploy, support, or develop Microsoft Lync solutions

For more partner news, resources, and recommendations, visit us on the U.S. partner portal, join the U.S. Partner Community, and read our “How to stay informed” blog post.

The next newsletter will be delivered to your inbox and published to this blog on Friday, March 15.

Featured this week

Local recommendations

In addition to the freshly updated online guide to partner resources for Office that reflects the latest resources now that the new Office and the new Office 365 are generally available, here are our recommendations for you this month:

 

AnnouncementsAnnouncements

Renew Your Membership on Time to Keep Valuable Benefits
By renewing your membership on time, you keep your valuable benefits like internal-use software for the latest Microsoft technologies. If your company is due to renew in the next 90 days, use our guidance to help you through the process.

Microsoft Office Resources for Partners
Now that the new Office 365 for businesses has been released, your customers can take advantage of the increased productivity and collaboration that Office offers on-premises and in the cloud. Use our recently updated online guide to find out what resources we have to help you capitalize on the many opportunities with Office for your customers of all sizes and across industries.

Take Charge of Your Microsoft Partner Network Benefits—Download Your Statement
When you join the Partner Network, you receive a set of core benefits that can help you strengthen your capabilities, better serve your customers, and build business connections. Now, you can download a personal Microsoft Partner Network benefit statement that helps you get the most from these valuable benefits.

Early-Bird Savings when You Register for WPC 2013 Before April 5
Join Microsoft and its partners from around the world at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, Texas, July 7–11. At WPC, Microsoft executives share vision and strategy for the year ahead, and more than 300 sessions will get you up to speed on the latest product, technologies, and industry trends. Save $200 on your all-access pass when you register before April 5.

WPC 2013 Tracks Align to Your Business and Solutions
More than 30 tracks at the Worldwide Partner Conference provide you with a wide variety of options for what you want to learn and accomplish. Choose from tracks specific to your business model, to the Microsoft products your solutions are built on, or to the customer segments you serve. There are also Business Leadership, Emerging Leader, and U.S. Subsidiary tracks.

Self-Nominate Your Company for a Partner of the Year Competency Award
Partner of the Year Awards are your opportunity to showcase your solutions built on Microsoft technologies. Winning an award, or placing as a finalist, positions your company for new business opportunities, generates press coverage, and can lead to more market recognition. The nomination tool is open until April 5—prepare your submission today.

Watch and Win Sweepstakes for MPN Live
Watch the MPN Live webcast recorded on February 26, featuring hosts Jon Roskill, Erwin Visser, and Kat Tillman discussing Windows 8 opportunities with partner guests. During the webcast, you’ll hear how you can enter our Watch and Win sweepstakes for a chance to win a Windows 8 tablet. Game ends March 5. Official rules.

Introducing Office 365 Open and Full Packaged Product
Partner feedback was instrumental to adding Open and FPP subscriptions to Office 365. With either option, you can earn incentives, such as rebates and co-op funding, while capturing top-line revenue and upfront margin on the resale. Sell as you do today and own the billing process with customers. Use resources like the Reseller Kit to understand these new selling models for Office 365.

Use the Cloud to Sell the Cloud—Get Office 365 for Internal Use
The new Office 365 for businesses is your complete office in the cloud. Office 365 gives you virtually anywhere access to the Microsoft Office tools you know and rely on, plus business-class IT services that are easy to administer. Activate your Cloud Essentials subscription and utilize your internal-use rights for Microsoft cloud products.

Communication and Collaboration that can Save Lives – Office for Public Sector
Today’s public sector organizations many complex challenges. From evolving security threats and the need to supply services to fast-growing populations and managing natural disasters and pandemics. Applying your new Office expertise―and these government, health, and public safety campaign materials—you can help public sector agencies improve communication. Facilitate collaboration. And take advantage of reliable anytime, anywhere access to vital information that can support, protect, and care for citizens.

Demonstrate Your Knowledge About Small Business Technology Needs
Small businesses often have unique IT needs. If this is your area of expertise, consider earning the Small Business competency. For the Silver Small Business competency, only one Microsoft Certified Professional must meet the exam requirements, and through June 30, the silver competency fee is just $999.

Evaluate Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus
Office 365 ProPlus is the new Office delivered fast to all your Windows devices. Office 365 ProPlus includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, and Lync. This is the full evaluation version of Office—not just web apps. You will be able to try Office 365 ProPlus applications and manage up to 25 users with a trial account.

Prepare for the March Microsoft Security Bulletin
As part of our usual cycle of updates, the next security bulletin release is scheduled for March 12. On the Security TechCenter, you can catch up on the February release, register for the March security bulletin webcast on March 13, sign up for notifications, and more.

Nominate Your Small Business Customer for the Windows 8 Ignite Customer Evidence Program
We want to hear about your interesting and unique Windows 8 success story with a small business customer, and give you an opportunity to be part of our Windows 8 marketing efforts. Through March 25, U.S. partners can nominate their small business customers—with fewer than 100 employees—who are ready to make the move to Windows 8 to participate in a case study. If your nomination is selected, both you and your customer can benefit from participating.

Windows XP End of Support Campaign Materials
Ten years have passed since Windows XP was first launched. During that time, user needs have changed. The fact is, today's businesses face trends that simply didn't exist ten years ago. Support for Windows XP will be coming to an end soon, and it's the perfect time to encourage your customers to upgrade to Windows 8 Professional. Use our new campaign to convince your customers.

New Competency Awareness Campaign Helps You Promote Your Expertise to Customers
Integrate our campaign materials—like web banners, marketing copy, and presentation slides—into your marketing plans to make your investment in your Microsoft competency attainment apparent to your customers and prospects.

Share Your Marketing Success Story with Us and Enter to Win
We're looking for your most innovative, creative, and result-generating campaigns that incorporate resources from the Ready-to-Go Marketing program. Tell us your success story and be entered to win. This year’s Grand Prize is a Build Your Own Technology Makeover worth $3,500. Entries must be received by April 30. Official rules.

Microsoft Lync 2013 Sales Advisor
Download this sales advisor to have conversations with your customers about Lync 2013 on-premises and online solutions. It provides a feature comparison and explains how customers will benefit from using Lync in their business. The sales advisor also

Use Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013 in Your Business
Get to know the new Office by using it in your business. Your software benefits for internal use include Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013. More resources for the new Office, and the new Office 365 for businesses, are in our online guide.

Office 365 Email Migration Special Offer from Quest Software
Quest Software is offering Cloud Essentials subscribers and Cloud Accelerate partners free migration of up to 25 mailboxes to Office 365 using Quest OnDemand Migration for Email. Use your Cloud Partner internal software licenses for Office 365, sign up for the service on the Quest website, and start migrating your users. Offer ends June 30.

Cloud Deployment Program Includes 24x7 Break-Fix Support
As a Cloud Accelerate member, you are eligible to join the Cloud Deployment program. This new program provides you with training and support benefits so you can effectively onboard customers to Office 365. Members of the Cloud Deployment program have access to break-fix support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Activate Your Office 365 Internal Use Software License Benefits
This is a great opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience using Microsoft Office 365 internally to effectively help bring your customer businesses online. Download your software today.

Windows Azure Has Flexibility Built In
Be flexible with Windows Azure. Design applications to run completely in the cloud or be deeply integrated with your existing on-premises infrastructure. Or both. Get support for multiple frameworks, such as ASP.NET or PHP, and pick your database. Choose your tools too, whether Visual Studio, Git, FTP, or WebMatrix.

Concerned About Tech Education and the Shrinking STEM Pipeline?
Help Voices for Innovation support congressional legislation addressing the tech job shortage. Through employers’ investments in targeted immigration benefits, this legislation funds more STEM education and workforce training. Learn how you can support this bipartisan bill.

Building a Stronger Tech Workforce Through Increased STEM Education Funding
Join Voices for Innovation in support of the bipartisan Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2013. I-Squared addresses this nation’s shortage of tech workers through immigration reform and STEM education initiatives. Learn more and help VFI make a difference in building a stronger work force.

Countdown to Convergence 2013
Register now to secure your place at this premier Microsoft Dynamics event and get your customers on board to attend with you. You can expect great keynote speeches, informative breakout sessions, and unparalleled networking opportunities. Find out what's in store at Convergence on the conference site. Visit PartnerSource for Convergence marketing materials.

March 19 at Convergence: Microsoft Dynamics ERP SMB Partner Awards and Networking Event
Join the Microsoft Dynamics U.S. Partner Team at The Foundry in New Orleans for a recognition and networking event with Microsoft Dynamics leaders, SPLA Cloud Service Providers, and Marketing Service Bureau vendors.

Prepare for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Transition to the Microsoft Online Services Environment
Over the next several months, all paid and internal use rights subscriptions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be transitioned to the Microsoft Online Services environment. Find out what steps you need to take to prepare for this transition.

Certified Software Advisor Pay for Performance Materials
Use these materials to understand the Pay for Performance project. You’ll get an overview of the project and an introduction to the recently implemented changes. Plus, you’ll learn how to move from one tier to another.

Mobile Apps for Microsoft Dynamics AX
Do you have mobile scenarios for phones and tablets in conjunction with your Microsoft Dynamics AX deployments? Get an overview of the scenarios and mobile apps that are currently available.

RapidStart Services for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013
The RapidStart Services for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 includes two tools designed to shorten deployment time and increase partner productivity by reducing the time required for routine implementation tasks. These tools work with the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobility Roadmap
This presentation covers the Microsoft Dynamics CRM strategy and roadmap for mobility solution offerings.

Special Offers from the Marketing Service Bureau
The Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Services Bureau includes a wide variety of marketing services for partners. Some of this month’s special offers include marketing plan creation and reviews, free marketing office hours, and social selling content.

Eligible Customers Save up to 20 Percent on Microsoft ERP User Licenses
Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, and Microsoft Dynamics NAV customers on a current Enhancement Plan can purchase additional user licenses for up to 20% off of Microsoft’s standard list price. Customer must purchase a minimum of two user licenses up to a maximum of 20 additional user licenses. Use promotion code 1628. Offer ends March 29. Terms and conditions.

Microsoft Dynamics GP & Microsoft Dynamics NAV Customers Module Offer
Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics NAV customers are eligible to receive up to 30% off of the Microsoft standard list price when purchasing two or more select a la carte modules or granules. Use promotion code 1627. Offer ends March 29. Terms and conditions.

Recommend the Grow your Business Kit to Your Customers
Microsoft offers a kit for customers that includes the Focus Research white paper about readying your business for ERP; top reasons to purchase a business solution; customer stories; and details about cloud and on-premises deployments. Encourage your customers to download this kit and use it as the basis for a rich discussion about their needs.

Microsoft Dynamics Business Ready Enhancement Plan Service Plan Renewal Calls
The Microsoft Dynamics team will be starting a new service to ensure all customers with upcoming expirations are aware of their plan benefits. The team will be calling customers who have a plan that expires before the end of the year. Customers will be encouraged to contact their partners to learn more about renewing and any new product updates that could help their business.

Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance: Making Tomorrow’s Professionals Future-Ready
Tap into a rich, new talent pool. Let Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance (DynAA) help you connect to schools that use Microsoft Dynamics in their curriculum. At Convergence 2013, visit us in Booth #96.

New Easy Start Offer for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013
The new East Start Offer can help you sell more Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013. Your prospects can take advantage of a 40% discount pack for their first three users. Offer ends June 15. Terms and conditions.

Training resources

Training resources

March Training Calendar and Announcements
Use the latest issue of the Hot Sheet to register for in-person training, live webcasts, and partner calls taking place in March. These training events can help you understand the latest product features, take advantage of new business opportunities, and meet competency requirements.

March 12: Live, Interactive Discussion About Your Career in Cloud Technologies
Join the Certified Career Day broadcast on March 12, featuring a panel of industry experts discussing how the cloud is transforming IT organizations and the IT industry. Learn about technology skills and expertise that could help you advance in your career, and find out about available training and certification programs.

New Practice Accelerator for Windows 8 and Flexible Workstyle
Register for the new Practice Accelerator Flexible Workstyle for Windows 8. Organizations need to allow users access to corporate information via a broad range of technologies and platform, and to address scenarios such as “bring your own device.” Get reusable tools and best practices to develop an effective strategy to maximize productivity and delight the user.

Save up to 40% on Microsoft Certification Exam Packs
Save up to 40% on exams by purchasing a Microsoft Competency Exam Pack and get a free exam retake if needed. Eligible certification exams include new products like Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics, and other exams that meet competency requirements.

Attend a Virtual Chalk Talk with Microsoft Product Experts
Participate in a small group discussion to connect with Microsoft experts on the real-life scenarios your company experiences while providing Microsoft solutions. The session topics and dates are now posted for March.

Tap Into IT as a Service
Open the door to a new flexible infrastructure as a service (IaaS), web hosting, and platform as a service (PaaS). Start with a free 90-day trial of Windows Azure. Create virtual machines in minutes to save money and ease hassles with an on-demand infrastructure in the cloud.

Transform Web Skills Into Windows 8 Apps and Income
Turn your web skills into Windows 8 apps using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. Sign up at GenerationApp to receive 30 days of tools and support, and then showcase it to the millions of potential customers in the global Windows Store.

What's New for System Center 2012—Data Protection Manager
Explore the new capabilities to recover your infrastructure due to failures in the data center. Data Protection Manager can be used to back up and recover several common Microsoft server products and subsequently provide increased service levels in your environment. Try the free System Center 2012 SP1 download today.

Integrating Microsoft Translator Into Your Windows 8 Apps
Jerry Nixon welcomes Vikram Dendi and Sandor Maurice from the Microsoft Translator team to DevRadio for a chat about integrating Microsoft Translator into your Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps. Tune in as they discuss the AJAX and SOAP interface as well as the Multilingual App Toolkit for Visual Studio 2012.

Virtualization and Cloud Experts Café: Hyper-V Backup
In the virtualization world, one can install backup agents into the VM just like the “old” days, but that may not always be the best solution. In this episode of TechNet Radio: Virtualization and Cloud Experts Café, you will learn about solutions that can make backing up numerous VMs across numerous Hyper-V hosts a much simpler task.

Practical Azure with Jim O’Neil—Windows Azure Websites
Tune into this episode of DevRadio to learn how Windows Azure websites can get your ASP.NET, Node.js, PHP, or even open-source CRMs (like WordPress and Drupal) up and running in the Windows Azure cloud.

Get Hands-on Training with Windows Azure
Attend Windows Azure Hands-on Labs Online (HOLO) events to gain a more in-depth understanding of building apps and managing networks in the cloud. Upcoming topics include Building and Publishing ASP.NET Applications with Windows Azure Web Sites and Visual Studio 2012; Intro to Windows Azure SQL Database; Intro to Windows Azure Virtual Machines; and more.

Using Windows Azure to Build Back-End Services for Windows 8 Apps
Peter Laudati and Brian Hitney welcome fellow Developer Evangelist Andrew Duthie to the DevRadio show as they kick off their series on how to build back-end services for their Windows 8 apps using Windows Azure. Tune in for part 1 as Andrew gives an overview of the series and introduces some techniques you could potentially incorporate as you build your back-end services.

March 5 and March 7: Windows 8 Hands-on Training for Developers and IT Pros
Join Technical Evangelist Jeremy Foster for a Hands-on Labs Online (HOLO) training and learn how to use JavaScript to customize your Windows 8 app considering Orientation, Snapping, and Semantic Zoom. On March 7, Technical Evangelist Matt Hester explains how use AppLocker to control access to your Windows 8 App. HOLO events begin with a live presentation, followed by time to work on virtual lab exercises.

Sales Success System Training
The Sales Success System from Ninety Five 5 will help you develop a sales success plan for your territory and accounts, create demand, structure more effective conversations with customers, and improve how you communicate customer value. Space is limited.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Technology On the Go Sweepstakes
Attend Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Readiness webcasts to be entered to win the Microsoft Dynamics Technology on the Go Sweepstakes. These webcasts explore the updated features Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 has to offer for payroll, human resources, reporting, and global address book. Game ends March 15. Official rules.

Microsoft Dynamics ERP Webcasts for Customers
Invite your customers to these Microsoft Dynamics ERP webcasts, which well tell them how they can extend their current ERP investment. These provide a great opportunity for you to engage with customers. The webcast schedule and an email invitation you can send to your customers can be found on PartnerSource.

On Demand: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2012 Tech Chat Series
The announcement of the next Microsoft Dynamics CRM service update has generated excitement—and questions—from our channel. Topics include Lync, Skype, Xbrowser, Activity Feeds, Yammer, iPad, and more.

March 8 Webcast: Windows 8 Application Developer Starter Kit for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
Discover what the Windows Application Developer starter kit offers to help developers build beautiful touch-first applications for Windows 8 that enhance the agility of Microsoft Dynamics AX. We'll take a walk through a day in the life of a developer building a Windows 8 companion app for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. You'll learn best practices design patterns focused around usability, integration, and security.

On Demand Webcast: Using RapidStart Services for Microsoft Dynamics GP to Drive Your Volume SMB Business
In a volume SMB ERP business, there is little room for mistakes, extended implementations or large consulting efforts. Come to this session to learn about tools you can use to configure new customers companies in Microsoft Dynamics GP, as well as migrating data from competitive products and/or Microsoft Excel to Microsoft Dynamics GP.

April 2 in Chicago, Illinois: Demo2win Workshop
Come to Demo2Win to learn the tactics and receive the tools you need to give you the edge and improve your close rate. Learn how the 80/20 rule applies to your presentations and move from good to great in the eyes of your prospects. This is the only offering of this course planned for the next several months.

April 3 in Chicago, Illinois: Discovery2win Workshop
Come to Discovery2Win and get the tools you need to improve your sales process. Start getting buying signals in Discovery. Walk into your next customer presentation confident you will explain the value the prospect is looking for you to deliver. This is the only offering of this course planned for the next several months.

Do You Have a New Employee Who Needs Microsoft Dynamics AX Training?
The Microsoft Dynamics AX Fast TrAX course is an intensive, three-week training program that will help your new hires prepare for certification. With separate tracks for developers and consultants, Fast TrAX is the go-to classroom event to get your resources quickly trained and ready for billable hours.

Do You Have a New Employee Who Needs Microsoft Dynamics CRM Training?
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Fast Tracks program a two-week intensive training program that will help your new hires prepare for certification. With separate tracks for developers and consultants, Fast Tracks is the go-to classroom event to get your resources quickly trained and ready for billable hours.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Enterprise Academy—Industry Training
Take your industry knowledge to the next level with the Microsoft Dynamics AX Industry training. These remotely delivered courses are designed to accelerate your capacity and capability to successfully deliver Microsoft Dynamics AX solutions.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2012 December Service Update Readiness
The release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is underway. Attend this series of on-demand web seminars to learn more about the release, the roadmap, what's new, features and functionality training, and how to prepare.

March 13 Webcast: Microsoft Dynamics Hour
Attend our webcast to learn about operational topics for Microsoft Dynamics partners, like the Registered Solution Program.

 

 

Featured training

Featured training – Microsoft Communications competency

Designed for partners who want to sell, deploy, support, or develop Microsoft Lync solutions, the Microsoft Communications competency can help you build a successful Lync practice. Completing the training and passing the certification exams and assessments listed in the learning plan can help your company build and demonstrate expertise helping customers add Microsoft Lync to their IT infrastructure.

Recommendations for Business Decision Makers and Training Roles

March 11: Practice Accelerator for Microsoft Lync Server 2010

Communications Learning Plan

Communications Learning Path

Competency Benefits

Silver Competency Requirements

Gold Competency Requirements

Training for IT Professionals

March 11: Practice Accelerator for Microsoft Lync Server 2010

Lync Accelerate Overview for Partners

First Look: Lync 2013 Technical Overview

Ignite Online—Lync Guides

Build Your Communications Learning Plan

Communications Learning Path

Training for Developers

FY13 Lync Accelerate Overview for Partners

First Look: Lync 2013 Technical Overview

Ignite Online—Lync Guides

Build Your Communications Learning Plan

Communications Learning Path

Training for Sales and Marketing Roles

Lync Accelerate Overview for Partners

Lync Accelerate

Microsoft Lync 2013 Demo Guide

Microsoft Lync 2013 and Lync Online Overview

Build Your Communications Learning Plan

Communications Learning Path