imageWelcome to this week’s issue of the US Partner News Online! Each week, we’ll bring you the latest news and information for Microsoft partners. You can read previous weeks’ issues at http://aka.ms/uspnewsletter. If you’d like to see the next post in your email inbox, go to http://aka.ms/uspblog and enter your email address under “Subscribe and follow” on the right hand side.

Top Stories

Partner Program Updates—What You Need to Know
Recently, Microsoft made a decision to modify the release timeline for partner program changes that were announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference in July 2013. Julie Bennani, General Manager for the Microsoft Partner Network, provides the details about the new timeline, and what you can expect. How the updated timeline will impact you depends on your level of partnership and business model.

CloudPartner_programchangesCloud Essentials Retirement in June 2014
As part of the changes to the Microsoft Partner Network that will take place starting in February 2014, the Cloud Essentials program will be retired on June 30, 2014. Internal-use rights for cloud services like Office 365, Windows Intune, Windows Azure, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be available to you through the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription or a Microsoft competency.

Revamped Microsoft Action Pack Subscription Coming February 2014
The new Action Pack subscription will be more flexible, providing content and training organized and optimized for specific partner business models like hosting, application development, custom services, managed services, reselling, and device design and development. Your internal-use software licenses will be expanded to include cloud services like Office 365, Windows Intune, Windows Azure, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Competency Requirements Updates Take Effect February 2014
To ensure that partners have the most current skills and applications to successfully build, sell, and deliver their Microsoft-based solutions, competency requirements will be updated to reflect current Certification exams, sales accreditations, and application requirements. Details for each competency will be included in an updated disclosure guide.

Getting It Done with Social: Yammer Introduces New Features, Expands to All Office 365 Enterprise Customers
On the Office 365 for business blog, Jared Spataro talks about the inclusion of Yammer Enterprise with all Office 365 Enterprise plans, and outlines the roadmap for Yammer and Office 365, including email interoperability, mobile apps, document conversation, and messaging.

Yammer Enterprise Now Part of Office 365 Internal Use Rights for Cloud Essentials, Cloud Accelerate Members
If you are a member of Cloud Essentials or Cloud Accelerate, Yammer Enterprise is now part of your Office 365 internal use rights. Visit the Office 365 Administration Portal (in the “service overview” tab under “included service”) to activate your new benefits.

Building the Right Device for the Right Job
Peter Han, Vice President for Microsoft US OEM, talks about how the new Windows lets partners capitalize on opportunities serving the modern workforce by designing and building new, specialized devices. From rugged devices for manufacturing to education-ready devices and ultra-portables, the potential opportunity is almost limitless.

Claim SMB Advantage Partner Subsidy Funds Within 30 Days
Customers have 30 days from purchase to claim their partner subsidy funds for products eligible for the SMB Advantage offer that were purchased by November 30. Don't miss your chance to receive funding toward future Microsoft purchases. Information about how to claim funds is in the SMB Advantage Terms and Conditions.

Presales Technical Professionals: Demonstrate Your Expertise
If you have expertise about the functionality, upgrade paths, and deployment of Microsoft products and technologies, consider becoming a Presales Technical Specialist by passing an accreditation assessment. Through the end of December, passing a qualifying assessment can earn you entries to two sweepstakes.

Sales Professionals: Demonstrate Your Product Knowledge
If you are on the front lines with customers explaining the features and benefits of Microsoft products and technologies, consider becoming a Sales Specialist by passing an accreditation assessment. Through December 31, passing a qualifying assessment can earn you an entry to our sweepstakes. (No purchase necessary. Open only to authorized representatives of companies actively enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network who are US residents (including Washington, DC), age 18 years and older. Game ends December 31. Official rules.

CityNext_WPC2014sweepsEngage in CityNext and Help Cities Transform, Engage, and Accelerate
CityNext helps you work with city leaders to transform infrastructures, engage citizens, and accelerate economic opportunities. Find out what your opportunity is and how you can get involved by downloading the CityNext presentation. Engage in CityNext by February 28 and be entered into a sweepstakes to win an all access pass for WPC 2014 in Washington, DC.

No purchase necessary. Open only to authorized reps of partners actively enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network with a silver or gold competency, and 18+ years old. Game ends February 28, 2014. Winners must pay all travel and meal costs to attend WPC 2014. Official rules in the appendix of the CityNext presentation.

Final Days for the SMB Champions Club Social Media Marketing Offer
Microsoft US SMB Champions Club members can participate in this unique offer and harness the power of social media in marketing and demand generation activities. Microsoft will pay 50% of the annual subscription cost for the first 200 SMB Champions members, a discount of 80% of MSRP. Email smbchamp@microsoft.com for your promotional code.

TechEd 2014: Reach Two Key Audiences with One Marketing Investment
TechEd 2014 is a unique opportunity for you to engage with leading IT professionals and enterprise developers across industries. Exchange ideas, drive awareness, build your brand, and connect with customers and prospects—all with one investment. Sign up by December 31 to save up to $2,000 on your booth presence.

Convergence 2014 Registration Is Open, March 4–7 in Atlanta, Georgia
Customers and their Microsoft partners from around the world come together at Convergence 2014 to experience the premiere event for Microsoft Dynamics. Make your plans to attend Convergence 2014, and talk to your customers about attending, too, using materials available on PartnerSource. Register by January 9 and save $300 per attendee.

Resources

Close Deals with Help from Technical Presales Assistance
Partners who have attained a silver or gold competency receive unlimited presales advisory support for any deal worth $3,000 or more. For deals worth less than $3,000, you can access Technical Presales Assistance by phone using your allotted partner advisory hours or through the Partner Support Community.

ISVresources_portalpageNew ISV Community Resource Page
ISVs in the Microsoft Partner Network now have a source of information about the resources and support available to them to learn about and capitalize on the Microsoft platform opportunity.  Check out the page, share it with your colleagues, and bookmark it for future reference—you'll find new, themed content each month.

Talk to Your Customers About the Modern Data Center
Windows Server, System Center, and Windows Azure can help your customers respond to the changing needs of their businesses with the power of a hybrid cloud infrastructure. For a customer-ready presentation, links to sales and technical training, sales and deployment tools, and marketing materials, visit the Transform the datacenter section of our US partner Cloud OS page.

Monthly partner callUS SMB Regional Partner Calls for December
Join your local team for their monthly SMB partner call. These calls cover sales, technology, and marketing information and resources for resellers that serve SMB customers. 

Microsoft Office 365 New Features Recap from Partner Technical Services
As Microsoft has transitioned from a company that releases products every three years to a Devices and Services company that releases features and updates on a regular basis, it is important for partners to stay on top of what is available in the current release of Office 365.

Prepare for the December Security Bulletin
The next security bulletin release is on Tuesday, December 10. Review the November 2013 security updates, which cover Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, and Windows. You can watch the November webcast on demand, and register for the next webcast, on December 11.

Resources to Sell Business Intelligence Solutions to SMB Customers
There's a major opportunity for partners to sell business intelligence solutions to SMBs. With functionality built in to familiar tools like Microsoft Excel 2013 and SharePoint, you have a complete platform for helping SMBs gain insight from their data. And you have the unique flexibility to deliver solutions for your customers’ needs, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

Get Your Free Digital Marketing Assessment: Microsoft Skyrocket Service
Your online presence (really) matters, and it’s good to know where you stand relative to your peers. The Microsoft Skyrocket service is offering you a free digital marketing assessment to help you increase your website discoverability and lower customer acquisition costs.

Office365Add a New Revenue Stream with Office 365 Syndication
Establish your expertise in the growing cloud solutions market with our Office 365 web content from Ready-to-Go Marketing. Add syndicated content about Office 365 to your website today.

Solutions for Small Business Campaign—Office 365 Small Business Premium
Office 365 can be customized for businesses of all types and sizes. When preparing to speak with your small business customers, make sure to download the Office 365 Small Business Premium campaign materials for important talking points.  

SharePoint 2013 Ready-to-Go Marketing Campaign
Get your customers excited about Microsoft SharePoint 2013. The Ready-to-Go Marketing campaign, The New Way to Work Together, gives you the resources you need to explain how SharePoint 2013 redefines collaboration and document management. 

Connect Your Microsoft Certification to Your Company’s MPN Membership
Connect your Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID) to your company’s Microsoft Partner Network profile to ensure your certification is applied to requirements, and to take advantage of membership benefits like no-cost and low-cost training and technical resources like product support and advisory services.

Set Your Job Role in Your MPN Profile to Get More Relevant Communications
Along with your company’s MPN profile, your individual MPN profile settings help us direct the right email communications about partner information, resources, and opportunities to you. You can quickly check your primary job role setting, and update it if necessary, in the Partner Membership Center. Your job role is in the Your Name and Job Responsibilities section.

Microsoft Dynamics Partners: Stretch Your Marketing Budget with the Marketing Services Bureau
The Marketing Services Bureau provides you access to marketing expertise you may not otherwise have the time or budget to hire. One of our special offers this month is a 5-minute, free SEO review of your website. After the review, you’ll get recommendations for specific website changes you can make that can increase online visibility.

Training and certification

HotSheet_112013December Hot Sheet: Find and Register for Upcoming Training and Partner Calls
The Hot Sheet is a frequently updated schedule of live virtual and in-person training and informational calls that are coming in the next few weeks. Subscribe to the US Partner Learning blog to receive the Hot Sheet as soon as it's published each month.

On-Demand Training Recommendations that Expand Your Technical and Sales Capabilities
Fewer live training opportunities around the holidays doesn't mean your learning has to take a back seat. Microsoft learning paths link you to on-demand courses that will help expand your Microsoft product knowledge and prepare for Microsoft exams and assessments. Use the learning plan feature to track your progress toward your goals.

SMB Partners: Increase Your Profitability with Windows Server 2012 R2
The technology landscape for small and medium businesses is changing, and we can help you be ready for it. Take advantage of the growing opportunities in virtualization, disaster recovery, and affordable storage by attending this webcast series. These live webcasts cover both deep technical content and sales strategies.

Open Call for Chalk Talk Topics
Are there topics you would like the Microsoft Partner Technical Services team cover in an upcoming Chalk Talk? Chalk Talks are webinars in which Microsoft support experts give a short, technical presentation and then open up the floor for your questions. Give your feedback directly to the team through our Yammer conversation. Instructions to join our Yammer network here.

Microsoft Dynamics Partner Training Schedule
Over the next few months, there are several virtual and in-person opportunities to increase your knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics ERP. Use the links in our blog post to register for the courses that meet your business needs.

Savings of Up to 50% on MPN Competency Exam Vouchers End December 31
Your MPN competency indicates to customers that you are an expert with specific Microsoft products and technologies, and that you hold Microsoft credentials necessary to support the mission-critical IT solutions. Your MPN membership requires your team to stay current on Microsoft technologies and pass certification exams. Enjoy savings on MPN Competency certification exam vouchers through December 31. Your team will have until May 31, 2014 (or until your competency renewal date) to use the vouchers.

Three Ways to Save on Microsoft Certification Exams
Take advantage of offers for Microsoft Certifications that will help you demonstrate your Microsoft product and technology expertise. Your company can increase its capabilities for serving customers, and may be able to meet competency requirements, too.

imageCalendar through December 20

This list is a sampling of upcoming partner calls, training, and events. Refer to the December Hot Sheet for a comprehensive list for the next several weeks that’s frequently updated, and look for the January Hot Sheet during the week of December 16.

Featured Video

Watch this video to learn about the newest features in Microsoft Office 365. You’ll learn about the release history and cadence and get an update on the features. (Want to skip to the new stuff? Go to 5:50). image