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Microsoft Defends Planned Partner Program Changes, But Many Aren’t Buying It

Last week, Microsoft quietly published information to its partner web site which made it clear that one of its program’s main benefits — internal use rights (IURs) — would be axed in July 2020. Since then, Microsoft’s been attempting to do damage control, including by holding a webcast that meant to shed more light on the reasoning behind the move. But most partners seem unconvinced about Microsoft’s stated reasons, with more than a few saying they might go so far as to quit the partner program as a result. ZDNet: In a 20-minute recorded Ask Me Anything (AMA) entitled “Partner Transformation and Partner Business Investments” recorded on July 10, Microsoft execs talked about the priorities and trade-offs the company is making in regard to its partner program in fiscal 2020 and beyond. More than 230 partners attended the presentation live. (Note: It looks like Microsoft has removed the video of the AMA from YouTube.) Erez Wohl, General Manager of Business Strategy and Partner Investments in the One Commercial Partner organization, told partners that Microsoft “has the richest incentive portfolio in the industry,” and that it would spend $400 million more on its partner program in fiscal 2020 (starting July 1, 2019) than it did in the previous year. He and his colleague Toby Richards, General Manager of Go-To-Market & Programs in the Microsoft One Commercial Partner organization, talked up some of the advanced specializations, new commerce capabilities and other new partner benefits that would be coming to the program this year.

But webcast attendees were largely there for one reason: To dispute Microsoft’s plan to eliminate internal use rights. Yet Microsoft officials held fast to their stance, saying the company had to make some trade-offs in order to deliver on other priorities, such as making it easier for partners to connect with more users, partners and sellers. […] For what it’s worth, someone I know at Microsoft said Microsoft is currently incurring about $200 million in costs annually (and growing) resulting from its services being used by partners via IUR products.

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