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

Reminder: February 2014 MPN Competency Requirements Updates
In February, many of the people requirements around sales, presales, and technical capability will be updated to support our latest technology and business opportunity aligned to the Microsoft go-to-market strategies. You have until your MPN anniversary date to meet the requirements, and the training and exams are available now (with CRM 2013 and Intelligent Systems content coming soon).

Awards_WPC2014WPC 2014 Awards Guidelines Available—Submission Tool Opens February 7
The WPC Awards celebrate successes and innovations related to partners competencies, cloud technology, entrepreneurial spirit, and sales excellence, and highlight work done by partners in the public sector and citizenship arenas. There is also an award for the United States Country Partner of the Year. The materials you need to begin preparing your self-nomination now are available. The submission tool opens on February 7.

Your Early Registration for WPC 2014 Gives You Early Access to Securing Hotel Accommodations
Register soon for WPC 2014 to get the early registration price of $1,795 for an all-access pass. Early registrants will also be notified on January 28 by email about how to secure hotel accommodations before standard registration opens at the end of January. The price for an all-access pass will increase to $1,995 on January 31.

Microsoft Health User Group to Recognize Innovation in Partner Solutions
If your company is an ISV or system integrator that created an innovative, Microsoft-based solution for a healthcare organization this year, consider working with your customer to submit it as an entry for the Microsoft Health Users Group Innovation Awards 2014. Showcase how your solution has transformed the quality of patient care, reduced costs, streamlined clinical and business process, and enabled informed decision making. Submissions are being accepted through Monday, January 27.

imageWindows Azure Week: Deep Dive Live! January 27–31
There’s a lot of great Windows Azure training coming this month during Windows Azure Week, a series of free, live, online training events. Watch Microsoft Corporate VP Scott Guthrie build an app from scratch, join Scott Hanselman for a deep dive on building Windows Azure apps, and more.

ISV Webcast Series: Building a Next-Generation Software Business
ISVs face rapidly evolving customer expectations and ever-increasing competition. This online, interactive, six-week series explores some of the issues ISVs face in today’s market. Harald Horgen, CEO of the York Group, will join live in the comments thread to answer questions at 10:00am Pacific Time each week. You can view the Webinar or review the Q&A for past sessions at any time.  

imageMicrosoft Government Virtual Summit Sessions Available On Demand
The Microsoft Government Virtual Summit features interviews and conversations with thought leaders, industry experts and government organizations. You’ll gain a strategic perspective on the innovative ways governments are using technology to modernize and streamline their operations and citizen services. Plus, you’ll learn how the power of technology, in the hands of both employees and citizens, is creating new value even in times of austerity.

Microsoft Dynamics GP: Now & Next Tour
In just a little more than one year since its release, Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 is showing strong market demand and continued innovation on an already robust feature set. The next release of Microsoft Dynamics GP offers you compelling and unique competitive advantages to build  your Microsoft Dynamics GP practice by giving customers even more functionality and technology advancements. To learn more, jJoin us in these cities for the Now & Next Tour:

Resources

MPN Disclosure Guide Helps You Prepare for February Changes
Program-wide changes that may affect your company’s MPN membership will take effect in February. To understand the details about the changes, and what you need to do to prepare, download the MPN disclosure guide. If you need help managing your membership, please sign in with your Microsoft account (to your MPN support benefits and activities page for support options.

New to Windows Azure? Get the Basics
Windows Azure is the application platform for the public cloud. You can use this platform in many different ways. For instance, you can use Windows Azure to build a web application that runs and stores its data in Windows Azure datacenters. You can use Windows Azure just to store data, with the applications that use this data running on-premises (that is, outside the public cloud). There are many more possibilities—this guide explains the fundamentals.

Ring in the New Year with New Microsoft Certifications
Take advantage of MPN Certification Competency Exam Pack discounts. Update your skills to the latest Microsoft product and technology releases, or prepare for the new MPN competency requirements. You’ll save up to 40% on the exam cost, and get a second chance to pass the exam if you need it.

  • Buy a 20-pack of exams and get 40% off + free Second Shots on all exams
  • Or, buy a 5-pack of exams and get 35% off + free Second Shots on all exams

imageThe 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.

Training and certification

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

February 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.

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.

imageWindows Azure Week: Deep Dive Live! January 27–31
There’s a lot of great Windows Azure training coming this month during Windows Azure Week, a series of free, live, online training events. Watch Microsoft Corporate VP Scott Guthrie build an app from scratch, join Scott Hanselman for a deep dive on building Windows Azure apps, and more.

imageCalendar through January 31

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

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 – Building a Next-Generation Software Business: Target Markets for Your Cloud Solution

January 23 – Windows Performance Jump Start

January 27 – Last day to submit for a Microsoft Health User Group Innovation Awards 2014

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 – Building a Next-Generation Software Business: Developing a Sales and Marketing Strategy

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

January 30 – Windows Azure IaaS Deep Dive Jump Start

January 30 – Last day for WPC 2014 early registration price

January 31 – Price increase for WPC 2014 registration takes effect

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