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

JoinIn_EarlyRegJoin In. Early Registration for WPC 2014 Ends January 30
Register for WPC 2014 by January 30 to purchase your all access pass for US $1,795. The price will increase to $1,995 on January 31. Attendees who are registered by January 28 will get two days of advance access to reserving hotel accommodations.

WPC 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 February 7.

Cloud programs update_JanuaryCloud Program Update: Your Questions, Answered
On February 24, several program-wide changes to the Microsoft Partner Network will take effect. Some of these changes are related to the Microsoft Cloud Partner programs. To help you understand what the cloud-related changes are, and how they may affect your company’s membership, our US MPN lead answers the most common partner questions about this topic.

Ends January 31: Silver Small Business Competency Offer
If you have fulfilled the Small Business competency requirements and meet the eligibility criteria, you can receive a special one-time discount on the Silver Small Business competency enrollment fee, through January 31. With this limited-time pricing offer, you pay US $999 instead of the standard US $1,850 Silver competency fee. Offer ends January 31. Terms and conditions.

January 30: Windows Azure ISV Partner YamJam
Join us on the US Partner Community Yammer network for a one-hour chat (also called a YamJam) to meet Microsoft ISV partners and learn about their business apps powered by Windows Azure. This is the first in a series, to be held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Request your invitation to Yammer.

TechEd 2014: Make the Connection in Houston
Send your developers and IT pros to join the customers, thought leaders, and industry experts at TechEd North America 2014, May 12–15 in Houston, Texas. There, they can build their skills and their professional network during four full days of immersive content.

Build Sales Pipeline Through Social Media with rFactr SocialPort
Start making your marketing footprint through social media. With rFactr SocialPort, you can manage your social platforms, get relevant industry-specific content, nurture leads through a robust social network-management platform, and track the effectiveness of social sales activities. MPN members are eligible for a discount.

Get More Out of Your Digital Marketing – New Services from Ready-to-Go Marketing 
Increase sales with social media optimization from rFactr, and manage multiple emails from a unified dashboard with Constant Contact. Plus, learn how you can generate more leads with a free digital marketing assessment Ready-to-Go and Semdrive.

Windows Server Ready-to-Go Campaign: Help Customers Reduce IT Costs
Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers new features and enhancements spanning virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more. Use the sales and marketing resources in the new Windows Server RTG campaign to show your customers how they can reduce IT costs using Windows Server 2012 R2.

Bring More Customers to Convergence 2014 and Save
Microsoft Dynamics partners will receive a post-event registration credit toward Convergence 2014, if 10 or more existing Microsoft Dynamics customers associated with the Microsoft Dynamics partner register and attend Convergence 2014.  Terms and Conditions.

Resources

MPNChangesReminder: 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).

Windows 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.

MCC_bannerMicrosoft Community Connections Let You Showcase Your Expertise Locally
Give your business a boost by hosting events and webinars with Microsoft Community Connections. Be the small business expert and help spread the word via local business organizations in your area (i.e. Chambers of Commerce or other networking groups). Event kits with marketing resources are provided at no cost to you.

Dynamics Partners: Resources to Help You Build a Nurture Marketing Program
The Microsoft Partner Outsource Model helps Dynamics partners maximize their marketing resources. You can set up a nurture marketing program in about an hour, and maintain it in less than an hour each month. Visit the OSM page on PartnerSource. Sign in required.

Dynamics Partners: Offer Your Customers the “Grow Your Business” Kit
On-premises. In the cloud. Ahead of the competition. No matter how our customers deploy Microsoft Dynamics ERP, they have a lot to say when it comes to outpacing rivals and outperforming their growth goals. Recommend that your customers interested in ERP solutions download the free “Grow Your Business” kit for a white paper, evaluation guide, and case studies.

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.

imageOffice 365 Partner Sales Training at SharePoint Conference 2014
Register to attend the Drumbeat Partner Pre-Day at SharePoint Conference 2014 on Sunday, March 2, from 9:00AM–5:00PM. This Office 365 training is for Sales Professionals and Presales Technical Professionals at Microsoft partners that serve enterprise customers. Add the Pre-Day to your existing SPC14 registration at no additional cost. Not yet registered for SPC14? Check out your options on our blog post.

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. 

imageNew Year, New Skills
Start off 2014 on the right track—get training to help you achieve your goals. Through February 10, save 50% on practice tests from MeasureUp and Transcender.

Ahead of the Game Technical Events in a City Near You
Register for a 2-day technical training for SMB-focused partners in one of 14 cities across the United States. Topics include Virtualization, Cloud, Mobility, Remote Access, and Business Intelligence.

imageCalendar through February 7

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 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 – Last day for the Silver Small Business competency offer

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

February 4 – Samurai Server Series: Tech Dive: SAN-like Storage At An Affordable Price

February 4 – Enterprise Developer Camp Jump Start

February 4 – Practice Accelerator for Office 365

February 6 – Building a Next-Generation Software Business: Pricing Considerations for Cloud Solutions

February 6 – Practice Accelerator for Datacenter Infrastructure & Management 

Featured video

Watch this video, featuring Gavriella Schuster, the General Manager for the US Server and Cloud team, to understand the Microsoft vision of the unified platform for modern business.

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