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.

Plan for Program Changes Coming in February

In November, we announced a new timeline for MPN updates that were announced at the Worldwide Partner Conference in July 2013. Several changes will take effect in February. The list below is not exhaustive, but is a good overview of program-wide changes that may affect your company’s membership. For details about all of the changes, download the MPN disclosure guide.

  • Internal use rights for Microsoft cloud services will be included in the software benefits for Microsoft Action Pack subscribers and silver and gold competency partners;
  • A new, redesigned, universal subscription for the Microsoft Action Pack that includes resources and benefits relevant to partners that serve SMB customers, with emphasis on cloud services;
  • Anticorruption training requirement for your employees;
  • New Intelligent Systems competency, in response to the emergence of the concept known as the “Internet of Things;”
  • Addition of an Application Track to the Collaboration and Content competency, for partners that develop Microsoft SharePoint solutions.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM benefits update;
  • Addition of presales technical assessment requirement to earn these competencies: Collaboration and Content, Communications, Customer Relationship Management, Business Intelligence, Devices and Deployment, Enterprise Resource Planning, Messaging;
  • Requirements update for several competencies to align to the latest Microsoft products and technologies.

Top Stories

imageWe’re On the Road to Washington, D.C. – Stay Informed About WPC 2014
Now that we're fully into 2014, the US Partner Team has begun planning the US partner experience at WPC 2014. The Worldwide Partner Conference is our annual gathering for partners to network, drive business growth, and identify new opportunities. WPC 2014 is July 13-17 in Washington, D.C. Starting this month, there will be important announcements about key dates, Awards, offers, and more--information you'll want to know. Read our new blog post about where to learn more about why you should plan to attend WPC, and how to stay informed about your WPC opportunities.

Refer-A-Colleague Offer for WPC 2014 Starts January 13
From January 13-17, if you are already registered for WPC 2014, refer your colleagues to register. They save $100 on their all-access pass, and you can earn a $100 refund (up to a maximum of $1,000). Offer details and terms and conditions will be published on Monday, January 13 to the WPC 2014 website. We’ll make an announcement here on the US Partner Team blog, too.

imageCloud 1-2-3 GO! Sweepstakes for SMB Partners
Register your company to enter our sweepstakes, and then sell eligible SKUs of Microsoft Office 365 or Microsoft Exchange Online to your customers. For each qualifying sale between November 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, the registered company will earn entries into our Cloud 1-2-3 GO! Sweepstakes. No purchase necessary. Open only to companies based in the US (including the District of Columbia) enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network that are not large account resellers (LARs), large-scale partners (LSPs), or government or academic sales. Sweepstakes ends June 30. Official rules.

Resources

The Countdown Is On: Are Your Customers Ready for the End of Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003 Support?
Microsoft support for Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003 ends April 8, 2014—fewer than 100 days away. Help your customers move their IT infrastructure to current, supported versions of these products. Our resources will provide you with the information you need to start the customer conversation, assess their current environments, and help them upgrade.

Resolve to Expand Your Services Practice This Year
If expanding your services practice is one of your business resolutions, consider attending a Practice Accelerator. You'll get tools and materials designed to help you deliver repeatable solutions, at a quicker time to deployment. Sessions are available for these workloads:

  • Business Intelligence with Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint
  • Office 365
  • Search, Social, Portals and Collaboration with SharePoint 2013
  • Flexible Workstyles with Windows 8
  • Data Center Infrastructure and Management with Windows Server and Microsoft System Center

Prepare for the January Security Bulletin
The next security bulletin release is on Tuesday, January 14. Review the December 2013 security updates, which cover Internet Explorer, Microsoft Developer Tools, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Lync, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Server software, and Windows. You can watch the December webcast on demand, and register for the next webcast, on January 15.

Training and Certification

Stay informed about training opportunities that align to your business, role, and Microsoft Partner Network membership.

HotSheet_112013January 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. Look for the February issue during the week of January 13. Subscribe to the US Partner Learning blog to receive the Hot Sheet as soon as it's published each month.

Ring in the New Year with New Microsoft Certifications
Build your product knowledge and capabilities by earning the certifications and accreditations that help you and your company stand out. Through May 31, MPN Competency Exam packs are available for 40% off a pack of 20 exams or 35% off a pack of 5 exams. You get a second shot to pass the exam if you need it, too. Individuals have until December 31 to schedule and take the qualifying exams in the packs.

January 27–31 Is Windows Azure Week on Microsoft Virtual Academy
Join Microsoft Virtual Academy for Windows Azure Week, a free, real-time virtual conference. Get your questions answered by the people who are building Windows Azure, and learn how to start moving your existing applications to the cloud today.

Cloud OS Training Sweepstakes: Data Center and Data Insights
Complete these hands-on, technically-focused trainings to learn how Windows Server, Microsoft System Center, and Windows Azure work together to transform the data center and unlock insights on any data. You will be entered into our sweepstakes for each module assessment you pass. Sweepstakes ends March 31. Open only to authorized representatives of companies enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network with a valid MPN ID who are legal residents of the US, age 18 and older. Limit 20 entries per person. Official rules.

imageCalendar Through January 31

This list is a sampling of upcoming partner calls, training, and events. Refer to the January Hot Sheet for a comprehensive list for the next several weeks that's frequently updated, and look for the February Hot Sheet during the week of January 13.

January 13 – Business Intelligence Practice Accelerator (download the datasheet)

January 14 – Session 1 of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Virtual Foundation Training

January 14 – SharePoint Practice Accelerator (download the datasheet)

January 14 – Samurai Server Webcast: Selling Affordable Disaster Recovery Solutions with Windows Server 2012 R2

January 14 – January Security Bulletin release

January 15 – January Security Bulletin webcast

January 15 – Countdown2Modern Webcast: Why Upgrade Customers to Windows 8.1 and a Modern Desktop

January 16 – Cloud 1-2-3: Turbocharge Your Office 365 Business – Migrations Made Profitable with SkyKick and Turbo

January 16 – Session 2 of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Virtual Foundation Training

January 16 – Office 365 Practice Accelerator (download the datasheet)

January 16 – Virtualization Technology Users Group Conference

January 17 – Central Region SMB Partner Call

January 17 – West Region SMB Partner Call

January 21 – Samurai Server Webcast: Tech Dive – Disaster Recovery Solutions

January 21 – Windows 8.1 Developer Training: Geek Edition

January 22 – SharePoint Practice Accelerator (download the datasheet)

January 22 – Countdown2Modern Webcast: How to Target and Engage the Right Customers for Windows 8.1 and Office 365

January 23 – Windows Performance Jump Start

January 27 – Get Started with Windows Azure Today Jump Start

January 28 – Designing Applications for Windows Azure Jump Start 

January 29 – Building Windows Azure Applications Jump Start

January 30 – Office 365 Practice Accelerator (download the datasheet)

January 30 – Windows Azure IaaS Deep Dive Jump Start

January 31 – Mobile Apps to IoT: Connected Devices with Windows Azure