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

The New Microsoft Action Pack Subscription Debuts February 24
The redesigned Action Pack subscription will help you capitalize on the growing cloud opportunities in small and medium businesses by providing you with access to marketing, technical, and readiness tools aligned to six partner business models. The price will increase to $475 on February 24, but new subscribers and subscribers in their renewal timeframe can pay the current price prior to then and save on the first year of their subscription.

imageBuild Your Partner to Partner Connections as a WPC 2014 Sponsor and Exhibitor
Showcase your solutions in front of more than 14,000 of the best and most committed partners in the Microsoft ecosystem. Exhibiting at WPC 2014 is a great way promote your business and build strategic alliances with the right Microsoft partners.

SMB Advantage: Cloud Easy Offer Extended Through February 28
With the SMB Advantage: Cloud Easy Offer, customers earn subsidy funds on Office 365 sales through Advisor, to pay for future purchases of Microsoft products and associated services from you. Encourage your customers to purchase Office 365 now and redeem within 30 days of purchase. Offer ends February 28. Terms and conditions.

Sign Up for the US SMB VAR Incentive: Earn More by Selling Eligible Microsoft Products 
Microsoft partners that serve US SMB commercial customers can sign up to begin earning up to 22% on eligible Microsoft products between January 1 and June 30. To earn retroactive incentives on all eligible sales between January 1 and today, you must sign up by March 6. Terms and conditions.

Join Your Local Microsoft Team for their February SMB Partner Calls
Join your Microsoft US SMB regional team for the February partner call in their monthly series. These calls cover technology, sales, and marketing information and resources for resellers that serve SMB customers. You’ll hear from Microsoft experts about your opportunities, resources and tips for building your business, and best practices.

Be Your Own Success Story: Land Top MBA Talent at an Hourly Low-Cost Rate
Set your business up for success by checking off your most pressing business needs on your
to-do list such as building a comprehensive marketing strategy, accelerating revenue growth, and learning how to integrate cloud services into your business. Take advantage of HourlyNerd’s online marketplace to get started on your next big business plan.

Powering Social Sales: Expand Your Customer Reach, One Post at a Time
Harness the power of the rFactr social sales program at a promotional rate to activate your organization on social channels. Enable your business to connect with prospects and begin the sales process earlier in the sales cycle, syndicate targeted content based on your expertise, and move more deals through the lead nurture stage. Promo code: MicrosoftSocial14

Finding SMB Resources is Simple on the US SMB Partner Center
The US SMB Partner Center provides partners a single resource to see the latest SMB offers in market, resources for partners to help build a thriving Microsoft cloud business, impactful and proven ways to find new customers. You can also join the SMB Partner conversation on Yammer.

imageMake Voices for Innovation Part of Your World in 2014
Voices for Innovation (VFI), is the Microsoft partner advocacy program, and offers big opportunities this year. At the 2014 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC this July, we’ll help partners connect with government and be effective advocates of a tech-friendly public policy agenda. But you don’t have to wait until July to connect with VFI—sign up for our newsletter today.

February 18: Voices for Innovation Webcast - Help SMBs Open the Door to New Business Opportunities
Join VFI’s webinar, “Effective Ways to Grow Your Business and the Local Economy” on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 10am PT/1pm ET. Learn how to use a new study by the Boston Consulting Group—which finds that Microsoft is the technology of choice for tech-savvy SMBs—as a door opener to business development conversations with local governments and chambers of commerce.

TechEd 2014: Make the Connection in Houston
Come to TechEd in Houston, May 12–15, and look under the hood to see what’s new with your favorite Microsoft technologies, tools, platforms, and services. Register today.

Resources

Cloud 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.

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).

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.

imageNew Cloud OS Overview Video and Presentation
The Microsoft Cloud OS allows IT to rapidly build and deploy apps, flexibly manage IT services, and support real-time analytics across all forms of data. The US partner Cloud OS page on the MPN portal has just been updated with links to the new overview presentation and video.

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.

Ends February 10: Save on Microsoft Certification Exam Practice Tests
Taking a Microsoft exam in the next few days to meet MPN competency requirements? There is still time to save 50% on a practice test to help you prepare, but offers from MeasureUp and Transcender end February 10.

imageDrumbeat Sales Days: Microsoft Office 365 Sales Training
Microsoft partner sales professionals and presales technical professionals are invited to attend one of three in-person Drumbeat Sales Days to learn best practices for selling Office 365 to enterprise customers.

Exclusive MPN Certification Offer
Order MPN competency exam packs and save up to 40%. In addition, each voucher purchased after January 1 comes with a Second Shot voucher to retake exams if needed. Packs must be used by December 31, 2014.

Pass Your Next Certification Exam by April 27 and Enter to Win a Surface Pro 2
Let us help you pursue your Microsoft certification goals. Individuals who are associated to a Microsoft Partner Network member organization and who pass a qualifying Microsoft Certification exam by April 27 will be entered into a weekly and a monthly drawing for a chance to win a $500 Microsoft Store gift card or a Surface Pro 2 tablet.

No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes ends April 27. 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. Details, including free alternate method of entry, in the official rules.

Data Insights Immersion Training and Sweepstakes
Take this no-cost, hands-on training to learn how Windows Server, Microsoft System Center, and Windows Azure work together to transform the data center. The courses will equip you to perform technical product demonstrations to customers. You will also receive a prize drawing entry each time you complete a course module assessment throughout the training.

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 February 14

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.

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 

February 7 – Submission tool for the WPC 2014 Partner of the Year Awards opens

February 10 – Practice Accelerator for Business Intelligence

February 11 – Service Management, Troubleshooting Exchange Online and SharePoint Online

February 11 – Samurai Server Series: Tech Dive: Easy Access with RDS Across Multiple OS Devices

February 11 – Faster Insights to Data with SQL Server 2014 Jump Start

February 12 – February 2014 Security Bulletin Webcast

February 13 – Building a Next-Generation Software Business: Financial Metrics for SaaS Companies

February 13 – Practice Accelerator for Office 365 

February 14 – SMB Partner Call for East Region

Featured video

Watch this video, about the new Microsoft Online Services Partner Dashboard for resellers and distributors. You’ll be able to proactively manage your customers that have Office 365, Windows Intune, and Dynamics CRM Online subscriptions, and have a single point of access to customer subscriptions by product, plan, sales model, and activation status. Upcoming expirations are highlighted as well as deployment opportunities. Watch our video for a preview of the Dashboard—you’ll be able to start using it on February 10.

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