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Welcome 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.

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 stories

Let Us Help You Plan Your Microsoft Partner Network Membership Renewal
If your company's Microsoft Partner Network membership is up for renewal in the next couple of months, use the “Renew my membership” guidance on the MPN portal to start the renewal process. For assistance, you can request one-to-one communications with an MPN Support agent through the Partner Membership forum in the Partner Support Community.

WPC14_nodate_blueWPC 2014 Updates: US Celebration, Awards, Content, and More
The 2014 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is in Washington, DC, from July 13–17. The US Partner Team has just announced that this year's US Celebration at WPC 2014 is on Tuesday, July 15 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and we can't wait to see you there. More announcements:

imageArt and Science of Partnerships: Hitting the Road with Windows Phone
On her executive blog, US Channel Chief, Jenni Flinders, talks about the Windows Phone apps she finds indispensable when she’s on the road to visit and talk with Microsoft partners. From managing flight information to entertainment and business productivity, there are Windows Phone apps that can make travel easier.

The Internet of Things Offers Microsoft Partners New Business Opportunities
The Windows Embedded Partner Program is now part of MPN, and you can demonstrate your expertise with intelligent systems by earning the new Intelligent Systems competency. Gartner and IDC both included the Internet of Things as a business opportunity that has significant growth projections for this year.

Ready-to-Go Marketing: Help Customers Say Goodbye to Windows XP and Upgrade by April 8
The Get Modern with Windows 8.1 and Office campaign, from Ready-to-Go Marketing, provides you with resources that will help you prepare for conversations with your customers and explain the benefits of modernizing their businesses by moving to current versions of Windows, Office, and Exchange. You'll help customers increase productivity, access information anywhere, and stay secure while positioning yourself as their trusted advisor.

Microsoft Channel Chief, Phil Sorgen: Smaller Partners Make Action Pack Better
Channel Chief Phil Sorgen talks about the redesigned Microsoft Action Pack subscription. It now provides simple and flexible resources that can grow and evolve with you, whether you're focused on providing cloud, on-premises, or hybrid solutions. You asked for training customized to your needs, and for added technical advisory support to provide much-needed help with those complex customer scenarios. Those benefits are now part of the Action Pack.

New Customer Campaign Explains the Value of Working with Microsoft Partners
A new campaign from the Microsoft Partner Network reaches out to customers to tell them the benefits of working with a partner that has proven expertise with Microsoft technologies by attaining silver or gold competency status. A new MPN page shows customers how to search on Microsoft Pinpoint to find a qualified partner based on business need, competency, or industry vertical.

ROI_Office365tool

Show Customers How Much They Can Save with Office 365
With support ending soon for Office 2003, Exchange Server 2003, and Windows XP, now is a good time for customers to move up to Office 365. Help your customers understand the benefits of moving to Exchange and Office in the cloud by using CloudReady Insight. This third-party tool calculates the return on investment of moving to Office 365 based on a customer's present on-premises usage.

Register for the VAR Incentive Program to Earn Up to 22 Percent in Incentives
The VAR Incentive provides maximum payout when you help your customers recognize the benefits of emerging Microsoft products and technologies, including virtualization, security, and unified communications. Register before March 31 to earn this incentive retroactive to your eligible sales starting in January. You must register for the current incentive even if you have participated in previous versions of the VAR rebate. Terms and conditions.

Earn $500 for Your First Sale of Microsoft Office 365 to an SMB Customer
Register for the VAR Incentive, then make your first Microsoft Office 365 sale through Open or Advisor between March 1 and May 31, and you may be eligible for an extra $500 payment. Terms and conditions.

SMB Advantage: Earn Partner Subsidy Funds for Cloud Sales
Earn partner subsidy funds on eligible sales of Microsoft Office 365 or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online through Open or Advisor. Redeem the purchase within 15 days, and your customer will receive a check to be used within 90 days for additional purchases or services provided by you. Offer ends May 31. Terms and conditions.

PracticeAccelerator_valuegraphicIncrease Your Customer Wins and Retention with Practice Accelerators
If you have a Microsoft competency, chances are good that you have not used many, if any, of your Advisory Hours benefit. Spend five of those hours on a Practice Accelerator that will help you build your services practice in one of these key areas: mobility, cloud, big data, or enterprise social.

Accelerate Your Learning with Practice Accelerator in March, and Enter to Win
Practice Accelerators can help your organization branch your business into a new services area. These sessions enable technical consultants and architects to increase their skills for solutions in the growth areas of mobility, big data, enterprise social, and cloud. When you complete any Practice Accelerator session between March 3 and March 31, you will be entered into our sweepstakes for a chance to win* a $1,000 gift card.
* No Purchase Necessary. Open only to authorized reps of companies actively enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network. Game ends March 31. For details, including free alternate method of entry, download the official rules.

Prepare for the Microsoft Security Bulletin for March 2014
The next security bulletin release is on Tuesday, March 11. Get information about the security updates for February 2014 that cover Microsoft .NET Framework, Microsoft Security Software, and Microsoft Windows. You can watch the February webcast on demand, and register for the next webcast, on March 12.

Test Product Migration and Application Compatibility with Previous Versions
Over 30 products from the collection of previously released trial software remaining under mainstream support have been re-released on the TechNet Evaluation Center to support your migration and application compatibility testing needs. Get the downloads and then get started with migrating your customers to the most current Microsoft products.

Cloud1-2-3Academy

Cloud 1-2-3 Academy for SMB Partners: Build a Profitable Cloud Business
Whether you are new to the cloud or have closed a few cloud deals already, Cloud 1-2-3 Academy will help you make decisions about your business model to help you maximize revenues in the long term. Register to attend an in-person event, register for the online, 6-week series—or, register for and attend both.

Spread the Word About Your Business with Microsoft Community Connections
Give your business a boost by hosting local events and webinars with Microsoft Community Connections (MCC). Be the small business expert in your and help spread the word via local business organizations in your area, like Chambers of Commerce and other networking groups. Fully scripted presentations are available for download at the MCC site. When you register your event with us, kits with marketing resources are provided at no cost to you.

Meet Search Marketing Experts at Bing Ads Connect
Come to one of these four in-person events to engage with search marketing experts and learn about your opportunities with Bing Ads. If you have an Action Pack subscription, your benefits include Bing Ads credits that you and your customers can use to market products, services and solutions. Come learn how to put them to work.

May 12–15 in Houston, Texas: Join Us at TechEd 2014
Connect with IT pros and enterprise developers and explore key technology trends at TechEd. Find out how Microsoft innovation is transforming the cloud, application architecture, and data analysis. Choose from hundreds of sessions and start building your schedule today.

Resources

imageChoose How You Want to Stay Informed as a US Partner
Microsoft offers its Partner Network members programs, training, resources, and materials to help them build, sell, deploy, and support their Microsoft-based solutions. To help you stay informed about news, opportunities, recommendations, and programs relevant to your business, the US Partner Team offers you options that include social platforms, email, and blogs. Choose your favorite way (or ways) to get the information you need.

Resources to Help You Transition Your Cloud Internal Use Rights
As of February 24, all Microsoft Action Pack and competency partners now have access to Microsoft Internal Use Rights for Microsoft cloud solutions such as Office 365, Windows Azure, Dynamics CRM Online, and Windows Intune. You can now deploy your internal use rights benefit allotment the way you choose, to suit your business needs—online, on-premises, or both.

Monthly partner callUS SMB Regional Partner Calls for March
Join your Microsoft US SMB regional team for the March 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.

Build a Marketing Program to Nurture Customers with the Microsoft Dynamics Partner Outsource Model
Are you a Microsoft partner short on time, marketing headcount, or would simply prefer to focus your staff on other facets of your business? The Microsoft Dynamics Partner Outsource Model (OSM) can help. This program not only offers a full 3-12 months of marketing on your behalf at a fraction of the cost of doing it yourself, it generates, on average, a 40:1 ROI for participating partners.

Microsoft Dynamics Partners: Improve Your Search Rankings
Through the Marketing Services Bureau available to Microsoft Dynamics partners, White Hat Media is offering a free one hour consultancy, overview audit, and a 20% discount on a full audit and implementation, through March 31.

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.

March 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 April issue will be available the week of March 17.

Microsoft Dynamics Training Schedule
Register for Microsoft Dynamics training for both CRM and ERP using our schedule that goes through July. We also list Dynamics training on the monthly Hot Sheet.

Save on Certification Exams that Meet the New Intelligent Systems Competency Requirements
Save up to 40% when you purchase a Microsoft Competency Exam Pack. Exams eligible for this offer include those that are required for the new Intelligent Systems competency. Each exam voucher also gives you a second shot to pass the exam.

image8 Weeks of Windows 8 – Enter to Win a Cool Device
Pass a Windows assessment and be entered to win a Dell Venue 8 Pro, a Toshiba Encore, or a Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Multimode Table PC. Weekly and grand prize drawings. Contest ends April 13. Open to US resident employees of OEM Reseller partners who are 18 or older. Weekly entry periods are Monday through Sunday. Download the official rules.

Windows Azure Week Sessions Available On Demand
If you missed Windows Azure Week, the sessions are now available on-demand. These deep dive courses from the experts who built Azure are full of demos and real world examples designed to show you how to start using Windows Azure in your solutions today.

Featured video

Watch this video for a demonstration of the CloudReady Insight cost-assessment tool from third-party Exoprise. The tool helps partners sell Office 365 to customers on Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange Server 2007. It runs in your customer's environment and analyzes the existing Exchange environment to produce detailed reports on total cost of ownership and end-user readiness for Office 365.

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imageCalendar Through March 21

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