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.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a new CEO. Satya Nadella was previously the Executive Vice President for the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group. He is a strong advocate for customers and partners, and a proven leader with strong technical and engineering expertise. Watch his customer and partner webcast on demand, and learn more about our new CEO.

To stay in touch with me and connect with other partners and Microsoft sales, marketing, and product experts, join our US Partner Community on Yammer and choose how you want to stay informed.

Top StoriesTop 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.

CloudPartner_programchangesCloud 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).

WPC14_withdate_orangeBuild 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.

Putting Affordable Technology into the Hands of US Students
Microsoft has made a commitment to supporting the ConnectED initiative to connect 99 percent of America's students to the digital age within five years. On The Official Microsoft Blog, Margo Day, vice president, Microsoft US Education, talks about the billion-dollar response from Microsoft and the offer for schools that includes an array of Microsoft software, services, and programs to help teachers and students transition to digital environments.

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.

SMBLive_GetintheCloud

SMB Live: Get in the Cloud Events in 25 Cities Across the United States
Register for an SMB Live: Get in the Cloud event, in a city near you starting February 18. Space is limited—check out the schedule and secure your spot today. Gain the advantage over your competition at our upcoming SMB Live events and get access to cutting edge technical, sales, and marketing information and resources to help you build a thriving Microsoft practice.

SMBLive_ExpandYourPortfolioSMB Live: Expand Your Portfolio Events in 20 Cities Across the United States
Register for an SMB Live: Expand Your Portfolio event, coming to 20 cities across the United States starting February 19. Space is limited—check out the schedule and secure your spot today. Learn how to build your business by adding new Microsoft cloud and on-premises solutions to your practice.

Microsoft Cloud 1-2-3 Academy: Cloud Transformation Workshops
Learn how a few changes to your business model can multiply your margins and increase your cash flow. You will receive a comprehensive financial model template, handbook, and exercise workbook designed uniquely for SMB managed service providers to help you develop a business plan to start or accelerate in the cloud. To see the cities and dates, you will need to sign in to the Partner Learning Center.

Cloud 1-2-3 Webcast Series: Expand Your Practice with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
Join the Microsoft US SMB team and partners with cloud and CRM expertise for a series of one-hour webcasts about how to expand your business with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Prepare for the February Security Bulletin
The next security bulletin release is on Tuesday, February 11. Review the January 2014 security updates, which cover Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Server Software, and Microsoft Windows. You can watch the January webcast on demand, and register for February 12 webcast.

CityNext_RTGcampaignMicrosoft CityNext Campaign for Smaller Cities and Municipalities
Smaller cities and municipalities face a new wave of challenges, brought on by rapid urbanization and a mandate for modernization. Challenges you can help solve with the products you already know―like Windows 8.1, Office 365, Lync, business analytics, and Dynamics CRM―and the value-added services you deliver every day. Use the materials in this new campaign to start the conversation with city leaders and their staff.

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

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.

ResourcesResources

WPC 2014 Partner of the Year Awards Submission Tool Now Open
The Partner of the Year Awards celebrate successes and innovations related to MPN 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. Prepare your self-nomination today—the submission tool is now open.

ModernUpCounting Down to the End of Support for Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003
April 8 is just a few weeks away. Customers running Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003 will no longer receive security updates, support, or hot fixes. Their systems will be vulnerable to malicious software and compliance issues. On our Countdown2Modern page, find training and resources so you can help your customers now.

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. New Cloud OS Overview Video and Presentation

CloudOSvideo_largeNew 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.

Make 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.

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. Join a Now & Next Tour event in Tampa, Florida; Irvine, California; Reston, Virginia; New York, New York; Redmond, Washington; Downers Grove, Illinois.

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.

TrainingTraining 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. The March issue will be available the week of February 17.

February 18: Voices for Innovation Webcast - Help SMBs Open the Door to New Business Opportunities
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.

Drumbeat 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.

Microsoft Certification Offer for MPN Members
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.

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. Pass a qualifying Microsoft Certification exam by April 27 and 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 United States, 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 United States, age 18 and older. Limit 20 entries per person. Official rules.

imageCalendar Through February 21

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, and look for the March Hot Sheet the week of February 17.

Featured video

Watch this video of the customer and partner webcast featuring Satya Nadella on his first day as the new CEO of Microsoft.

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