In the last 24 hours, two announcements slipped under the covers by Microsoft show that Microsoft really are not interested in partners at all. These announcements apply to both the Action Pack subscription, as well as the Silver and Gold reseller levels. All of these programs come with a yearly fee – some of them the fee is in the multiple thousands of dollars a year. We need to wonder what value there will be now in the Microsoft Partner Program given they are removing things that the partners use and value.
Announcement 1 – No more Internal Usage Rights
Microsoft have release an update to the Partner Network Programs Guide (link here). Internal Usage Rights provided the reseller with the ability to use a limited quantity and set of Microsoft cloud services and software in production within their business. As a reseller the only way to KNOW a product is to use it, and this is intrinsic to us being good at what we do. Microsoft are removing that right and forcing us to pay for everything we will use moving forwards. Like anyone, we have budgetary constraints too, so this will limit what we can use and test and therefore what we are likely to be comfortable to sell. Microsoft say that they still permit use for testing situations, but lets be real, you don’t have the time or resources to test in a test situation and way too often the test situation is limited to specific scenarios. This will have the net effect of limiting what resellers can use and can sell to their clients. No more ability to test in production situations. No more ability to explore the product to find out just how far you can push it. No more ability to promote how much of a product you use, because you’re not going to be able to promote the fact that “we use it and so should you” to clients if you don’t use it.
Edit – July 5th – Included the relevant section of the PDF below where it shows that you are no longer permitted to use them for Internal Use which is the key concern for this item.
Announcement 2 – No more Support Cases
Via this link, Microsoft have revealed that they no longer intend to provide the limited number of free support cases to Partners. On that link they announced;
Starting August 2019, product support incidents will no longer be available for competencies. If you are already enrolled in a Microsoft Action Pack, silver or gold competency and your renewal date falls before August 1, 2019 you will retain the current product support incidents. For partners who subscribe to a Microsoft Action Pack, attain or renew a Silver or Gold competency, on or after August 1, 2019 these services will not be available
Traditionally these were used to help diagnose tough issues and if the fault was found to be Microsoft product or a bug they were credited back. As a partner this gave us a way to ask for help without fear of cost should we have made a mistake in configuring one of the many options that exist. This allowed us to get the help when we needed it. Gone.
Microsoft had a history of engaging with partners, to understand what they need to grow their business and sell their products. In the past, I’ve been involved in many panels where Microsoft have taken our suggestions and really used them to build better Partner Programs. I believe those days are now long gone. I’d really love to see which partners told Microsoft that these two announcements would assist partners to do that. I’d really love to understand why Microsoft thought this was a great idea and would bring value to the partner program. Please Microsoft, help us understand why this is a good move. Show us that you understand our business and our desire to build awesome solutions with your products. Show us that you listen to us the partners!