Microsoft preps 8000 partners on new products
2012 sees a series of big product launches and refreshes by the software giant, including this month’s Windows Server 2012 release, as well as the upcoming launch of Windows 8 on October 26 and the new Office 2013, rumored for December.
“It’s a year of launches across Windows and Office Server, together with a complete push of Office 365,” explains Janet Gibbons, director of partner strategy and programmes at Microsoft (pictured). “We’ve actually got really ambitious plans – we’ve just signed a target to reach and train 8000 channel partners, in conjunction with distribution in the UK, on all those products. That’s an eight-fold increase what we’ve done before.”
The first event last week saw Microsoft’s distributors and LARs briefed on the product launches, with the initiative set to continue until March or April 2013.
In addition, says Gibbons: “We have just opened up the Windows 8 app store, so partner or developer writing an application can load their application up to the app store – that’s a big push for us ahead of the launch, trying to get as many apps as possible.”
Gibbons also believes the latest version of the software will also deliver a boost to hardware providers: “Windows 8 works at its optimum when you’re using a touch-enabled device. [The launch] is kind of a re-boot for the entire industry, particularly for the OEMs and hardware providers. People will want to get the best experience. To have something that will reinvigorate the [PC] market is a great opportunity for the hardware providers.”
Meanwhile, the channel exec said Microsoft had seen “a big increase” in the number of partners selling Office 365. The firm announced at its World Partner Conference (WPC) that resellers will be able to sell Office 365 through an open agreement, meaning they can now bill their customers directly, although it is yet to announce date for when partners can sell it thorough open licensing. However, the company has implemented a rebate increase for partners selling Office 365 from July 1.
Elsewhere, Gibbons spoke out about Microsoft recently changing its small business competency exam, after partners had complained it was too difficult. Says Gibbons: “We have changed that exam so it still gives the right level of knowledge and information but we’ve made it somewhat easier to pass.”