Microsoft announces channel changes

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New Office 365 open license and Windows 8 launch

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 will launch in October, as well as announcing a range of new incentives for its partners around Office 365.

On the first day of the company’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Steve Ballmer made a range of partner promises surrounding Microsoft’s Office 365 software, as well as confirming that Windows 8 would be on its way in October.

“This will be the biggest product and services launch year in our company’s history, creating massive opportunities for our partners to grow their businesses,” Ballmer said.

“With Windows — Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure — and Office 365, there’s never been a better time to be a Microsoft partner. The opportunities for us to do amazing things for our joint customers have never been greater.”

Janet Gibbons, director of partner strategy at the company backed up these statements telling ChannelBiz  that Windows 8 would be launched in August with availability in October.

“We are making a lot of announcements around the August launch of Windows 8,” she told ChannelBiz.

“Although it will be available to all in October our enterprise customers will have access to this new OS in August,” she added.

“We’re also giving $14.99 upgrades for Windows 8 from Windows 7 so people don’t have to delay buying that desktop or laptop in the anticipation for the OS.”

Ms Gibbons claimed that the “revolutionary” OS was also creating ripples in the market with device manufacturers coming out with Windows 8 products. She said this new launch also gave “great opportunities for the channel.”

This includes giving them the chance to develop apps for the Microsoft  marketplace based on this technology.

“This means partners can make extra revenue here,” she told ChannelBiz.

“Although  Microsoft does take a margin of this, it’s significantly less than other vendors in this space,” she claimed.

Away from the anticipated OS, the company moved to appease some partners who weren’t overly pleased about its Office 365 licensing rules.

“We are now planning to allow partners to sell Office 365 through an open license,” Ms Gibbons told ChannelBiz.

“When we first launched this software we did it with a direct Microsoft license. Some partners didn’t like this as it meant it had to provide invoices to their customers. They felt as though they didn’t own the whole relationship.

“Now this has changed so partners can keep everything together.”

This meant enabling partners to realise more revenue, deliver packaged services with a single invoice, and own the customer relationship.

She said another thing the company had done in this space  was to reward partners with an increase in their incentive from 18 to 23 percent.

Away from these two announcements, Ms Gibbons also hinted at Microsoft’s latest acquisition plans.

“The Yammer acquisition together with Skype can also be reimagined using Windows 8,” she said.

“There are a range of new things planned here but although this is the plan there is nothing to announce for the minute.”


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