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Microsoft scraps channel changes following partner backlash

Microsoft scraps channel changes following partner backlash

Tech giant responds to partner feedback with program U-turn

Gavriella Schuster (Microsoft)

Gavriella Schuster (Microsoft)

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has rescinded plans to stop providing partners with internal use rights on products, following global uproar from the channel ecosystem.

The U-turn, delivered on the eve of Microsoft Inspire in Las Vegas, comes in direct response to escalating tensions among partners, with an online petition registering more than 5000 signatures in protest.

At the heart of the issue was Microsoft's plans from 1 July 2020 to no longer provide free internal use association for product licenses for the channel, meaning they will now have to be purchased out of the partners’ own pockets via a commercial arrangement.

Furthermore, the vendor also planned to retire on-premises product support incidents currently included with Silver and Gold competencies and in the Microsoft Action Pack, the latter which is used by smaller partners.

Billed by many as a “declaration of war” on the channel, the technology giant initially attempted to brush off such criticism during a media briefing day in Redmond, insisting “sometimes we have to make some really hard decisions”. Yet despite such a stance, Microsoft eventually backtracked on the changes.

“We listened to you, and we have acted,” wrote Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of One Commercial Partner at Microsoft, via a company blog post. "Your partnership and trust matters to us. Given your feedback, we have made the decision to roll back all planned changes related to internal use rights and competency timelines that were announced earlier this month.

“This means you will experience no material changes this coming fiscal year, and you will not be subject to reduced IUR licenses or increased costs related to those licenses next July as previously announced.”

Schuster said that each year the vendor reviews engagement at a partner-level as part of plans to “evolve our approach” and “stay ahead of market changes”.

“As we move forward, we commit to providing even more advance notice and consultation with our partner community to mitigate concerns and address issues up front,” Schuster explained. “We will continue to invest in our partner program to ensure we create opportunities for all our partners.

“Our decision to rescind these changes required a thorough review, and a key determining factor was the connection and trust we have with you, our partners - a valuable asset we do not take for granted.”

According to Schuster, the announcement also includes planned changes to on-premise support and new competency requirements.

“We can confirm those planned changes have also been rolled back,” Schuster said. “We appreciate your feedback, apologise for the confusion this caused some members of our partner community, and look forward to growing our partnership with you in the months and years to come.”


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