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US Partner News Online for Friday, May 2, 2014

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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.

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 expires 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.

CertDay_MSMay 31: Take Your Competency-Related Exam on National Certification Day
Meet the exam requirements to earn or renew your MPN competency. IT professionals and developers are invited to participate in our National Certification Day online activities and events during the month of May to prepare for one of six competency-specific exams. Then, on May 31, visit your local, participating New Horizons office to take the exam you need to meet competency requirements.

SQL Server 2014 Delivers New Market Opportunities for Partners
"With the release of SQL Server 2014, I see immense opportunity for our partners to deliver breakthrough data platform performance to customers, taking advantage of three major trends that are shaping the data platform landscape." Read more about Phil Sorgen's take on SQL Server 2014 and your opportunity with mission critical workloads, hybrid cloud solutions, and helping customers gain new insights on their businesses faster.

WPCUS_activitiesUS-Specific Sessions and Other Activities for United States Partners at WPC 2014
The US Partner Team has several sessions planned for you at WPC 2014, and most of them are listed in the new Session Catalog. In addition to these sessions, we invite you to join us for the United States keynote on Tuesday afternoon, and the US Celebration at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on Tuesday night. The agenda for US partners differs slightly from the general WPC agenda, so be sure to reference the US agenda when planning your conference attendance and participation.

Powering the Future of Education
In this guest post on the US Partner Team blog, Wole Moses from the Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector Team talks about how technology is transforming education. Devices are being designed to meet their needs, and Windows 8.1 takes advantage of these advances in devices to provide an intuitive experience for students of all ages and educators.

Office365_planselectortoolRecommend and Sell the Right Office 365 Plan to Your Customers
The Office 365 Plan selector is an Excel-based tool that recommends the appropriate core Office 365 Plan based on the answers to a few questions around your customer's technology and productivity needs. In addition to the recommended plan, it also provides upsell and scale-back plan options, if the customer needs more or fewer features than in the recommended plan.

SMB Advantage Ends May 31: 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.

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.

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. You must register for the current incentive even if you have participated in previous versions of the VAR rebate. Terms and conditions.

imageSell More Microsoft Office 365 with DigitalStride
DigitalStride can help you sell more Microsoft Office 365 by maximizing your online presence through Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, Microsoft Pinpoint profile optimization, and other digital marketing tools.

Windows 8 Pro Devices
Complete your solution offering and deliver a rich customer experience with Windows 8 Pro devices. Find the latest training, sales, and marketing resources to help win customers. Plus, start earning incentives and get the latest OEM device offers.

Experience Microsoft Products First Hand with TechNet Virtual Labs
Immerse yourself in a virtual hands-on lab and experience the product first hand, or try our guided experiences, and click through a tour of the various product features. These virtual environments provide you with a risk-free and fast way to learn about new Microsoft products like Windows 8.1 and SQL Server 2014.

imageEnds May 7: Microsoft Digital Advertising Learning Path Game Sweepstakes
Pass one of the required assessments or the exam for Digital Advertising competency by May 7, and 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 MPN. Game ends May 7. Official rules.

Prepare for the May 2014 Microsoft Security Bulletin
The next security bulletin release is on Tuesday, May 13. Get information about the security updates for April 2014 that cover Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Services, Microsoft Office Web Apps, and Microsoft Windows. You can watch the March webcast on demand, and register for the next webcast, on May 14.

Lead Qualification Service from Ready-to-Go Marketing
Closing sales can be a lengthy process, especially when valuable time is wasted engaging leads that aren't qualified. Let Microsoft manage the post-event follow-up conversations with your event registrants. The calls are made on your behalf with your messaging, saving you time and resources. It's a new way to receive targeted, qualified leads, and offered to MPN members at no cost.

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

How ISVs Can Build Business Partnerships for Growth
For many independent software vendors (ISVs), partnership with a platform provider like Microsoft and with channel partners like system integrators and resellers is a strategy that yields impressive dividends. A successful partner strategy requires significant up-front work and ongoing maintenance. Join Diana Kreklow and Gail Mercer-MacKay for a five-part webinar series that outlines best practices in building and managing a partner strategy.

SMB Advantage: Earn Partner Subsidy Funds on Qualifying Microsoft Dynamics CRM and CRM Online Purchases
Deliver amazing customer experiences with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and earn dollars towards deployment of future purchases. With the SMB Advantage offer, help your customers earn partner subsidy funds on qualifying purchases to use with their Microsoft partner of their choice. Terms and conditions.

May 22 Webcast: Evaluating Microsoft Dynamics for Your Small or Mid-Sized Business
How do you know when you've outgrown your basic accounting system? How can a business solution from Microsoft help streamline your business process? Can Microsoft Dynamics solutions integrate with your current IT systems? Get answers to these and other frequently asked questions, and learn about Microsoft Dynamics products for small and mid-sized businesses.

Resources

clip_image001Exam Pack Savings End May 31
Microsoft Partner Network competencies show your customers that you have proven capabilities and expertise on the latest Microsoft technologies. Right now, you can purchase packs of certification exams at up to 40% off. In addition, each voucher comes with a Second Shot if retakes are needed. Order packs before May 31, and be sure to use them before they expire at the end of the year.

Online Workshops Help You 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. Watch the webcasts on demand and download the workbooks and materials.

Windows Developer Platform: Build Innovative Apps, Reach More People
New capabilities in Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 Release Candidate include the introduction of universal projects so that developers are able to create apps that can be easily optimized to take full advantage of Windows devices. Developers of all types can draw upon their existing skills to deliver shared experiences for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update. Universal projects allow developers to use approximately 90 percent of the same code, a single packaging system, and a common user interface to target apps for phones, tablets and PCs.

Training Spotlight: Presales Technical Specialist Accreditation
A Presales Technical Specialist is someone who functions in a technical role at a Microsoft Partner Network organization. This person's job usually involves explaining the technical functions of a specific Microsoft product or a partner organization's solution. These specialists support their company's sales teams with value demonstrations and proof-of-concept development to help close deals. If this sounds like what you do, consider earning the Presales Technical Specialist Accreditation.

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.

Microsoft Dynamics GP: Now and NEXT Tour Sessions On Demand
If you were unable to join us for the Now and NEXT tour in person, watch these three recorded web seminars. You will get caught up on important updates, details about where Microsoft Dynamics GP is headed, and key information for planned features in the GP2013 R2 and GP2015 releases.

Microsoft Dynamics Partners: Get More Out of Your Marketing Budget
The Marketing Services Bureau (MSB) can provide you with access to marketing expertise you may not otherwise have the time or budget to hire. Whether you're in need of a list, consulting services, or a social media solution, MSB can help fill your marketing gaps and accelerate your path to new leads. Check back regularly for new special offers.

Microsoft Dynamics Partners: Custom Email Campaigns from the Marketing Service Bureau
The Partner Marketing Group is offering a 20% discount to Microsoft Dynamics partners for a complete and custom ready email campaign ready for you to execute in-house. This offer includes a marketing director and senior writer, a campaign action plan, all email content, and a how-to guide.

Microsoft Dynamics Partner Guide to Get IN Microsoft Office 365
Download the "Plan" document for more information on the question, "Why Office 365 with Microsoft Dynamics SMB?" and what benefits are available to Microsoft partners.

Training and certification

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

HotSheet_03202014May 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. Look for the June Hot Sheet during the week of May 19.

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.

May 7 in New York, New York: Drumbeat Office 365 Sales Readiness Day
Sales professionals and presales technical professionals are invited to this free training for Microsoft partners about selling Office 365. You will learn best practices, programs, and selling tools, as well as receive insights into the cloud services market.

May 21–22: Moving to Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure
With Microsoft Azure and System Center 2012 R2, IT Pros who manage infrastructure can easily extend on-premises networks to embrace the power and scale of the cloud—securely and seamlessly. Solve pressing IT issues with hybrid cloud solutions that you can implement today. In these Jump Start sessions with live Q&A, we explore how to manage more data without more hardware, protect data with off-site backups, and prepare for disaster recovery.

Enter to Win a Trip to New York City: Pass an Assessment by June 30
Demonstrate your knowledge of Microsoft products and technologies. When you pass a qualifying sales, presales technical, or technical assessment by June 30, you will be entered to win a trip for two to New York City. No purchase necessary. Open only to authorized representatives of companies actively enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network who are US residents (including Washington, DC), age 18 years and older. Game ends June 30. Official rules.

Prepare for Microsoft Azure, SharePoint, Dynamics AX, and SQL Server Exams
Attend these no-cost Virtual Partner Tech Days for in-depth technical training that will prepare you for Microsoft Certification exams that cover Cloud, Big Data and Enterprise Social products and technologies. The training commitment for each topic is two hours daily over three to five days.

Featured video

Watch this video about the Azure Preview portal that was announced at Build 2014. See for yourself how this first-of-its-kind Azure Preview portal is bringing together all the cross-platform tools, technologies, and services you need to speed up the delivery process and keep applications in good shape—using what you already know and whatever toolset you like most.

Azure Preview portal

imageCalendar through May 16

This list is a sampling of upcoming partner calls, training, and events. Refer to the May Hot Sheet for a comprehensive list for the next several weeks that's frequently updated, and look for the June Hot Sheet the week of May 19.

Week of May 5–9

Week of May 12–16

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