A delay to a key date in Microsoft’s new commerce experience (NCE) campaign, a way to add margin to certain Teams Phone plans and a new tool for Granular Delegated Admin Privileges (GDAP) upgrades are some of the biggest recent changes the tech giant has made to its partner programme.
The changes were announced ahead of Microsoft's annual Inspire conference, held July 19-20, with partners having to contend with some of the most controversial moves in years.
Among the changes are a 20 per cent premium on month-to-month commitments for popular software packages including Microsoft 365.
A new partner capability score to determine new specialisations will replace Microsoft’s Gold and Silver badges as well.
Microsoft will host some training sessions later this year to prepare partners for upcoming program changes.
Sessions for New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific Operations Centre are planned for July 28 and September 1.
Here are seven key changes you need to know about.
Another NCE deadline delayed
Microsoft has indefinitely delayed the end date for legacy subscriptions moving to its new commerce experience (NCE) crediting more migrations and giving partners more time to adopt the change.
Originally, the deadline for partners to move subscriptions of popular Microsoft offerings including Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 to the NCE was July 12.
The company said in its partners blog the delay was “a business decision.”
“Microsoft has seen an acceleration of partners migrating legacy Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) subscriptions to the new commerce platform in recent weeks,”
“We appreciate the efforts of partners that have contributed to this acceleration, and all CSP partners are encouraged to complete migrations from legacy to new commerce as soon as possible,” the company said.
“Previously, we communicated that legacy commercial seat-based subscriptions would no longer be auto-renewed on the legacy platform starting July 11.
Though our goal is still for partners to migrate legacy subscriptions to new commerce before end of term, we have made a business decision to continue supporting the legacy auto-renewal functionality beyond July 11 [US time],” it added.
Partners are still unable to buy new orders of legacy subscriptions, a change implemented in March, according to Microsoft.
Monthly incentives rebates paid to partners on active legacy commercial seat-based subscriptions are also still set to end on January 1.
New Teams Rooms SMB playbook
Microsoft introduced a playbook for partners offering Teams Rooms to small and midsized businesses (SMBs), the company announced.
“The new playbook includes step-by-step guidance and resources across all phases of the partner journey, including understanding the opportunity, developing sales and technical skills, activating sales and marketing plans, and deploying and managing the solution,” Microsoft said.
Opportunities for partners include infrastructure assessment, device deployment, user training, change management, ongoing management of the complete meeting environment and onsite support.
CSP scheduled change feature improved
Partners in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program can now apply eligible promotions to the scheduled change feature in Partner Centre.
Partner Centre application programming interfaces (APIs) can show if a promotion is eligible based on the scheduled changes.
Previously saved scheduled changes need to be recreated to include a promotion.
“Effective immediately, when a scheduled change is made, if an eligible promotion is available, it will be applied to the subscription when the scheduled changes are applied,” according to Microsoft. “
The eligible promotion will be visible for partners in the scheduled changes UI,” it added.
Reduced cancellation window
Despite delaying the end date for legacy subscriptions moving to NCE, Microsoft will maintain the July 12 start of a reduced cancellation window for new purchases or renewals of Windows Server, SQL Server, Azure SQL Edge and other software subscriptions.
From July 12, the 30-day window for canceling those software subscriptions in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is reduced to just seven days.
“This change does not apply to legacy CSP subscriptions during the transition to new commerce,” Microsoft said.
After seven days, partners can’t cancel and no refund is available.
“With any new purchase or renewal of a software subscription in CSP new commerce, a partner will have 168 hours (seven days) from the subscription order or renewal date to cancel the subscription, regardless of the term, instead of the previous 30-day window,” Microsoft said.
“The partner will receive a prorated refund when canceling within the first 168 hours of the term (proration calculated daily).”
In March, Microsoft announced that a previously announced 72-hour window for partners to cancel commercial seat-based offers in CSP new commerce was lengthened to seven calendar days “to provide partners with additional time to make post-purchase corrections to orders.”
Sayonara to Solution Workspace
Microsoft will do away with its Solution Workspace tool for partners starting September 1.
Made available to partners worldwide in 2019, Solution Workspace provides “on-demand access to resources and support to take your solution—whether an application or service—from idea to the Microsoft commercial marketplace faster,” the company said.
The tool was available to independent software vendors (ISVs) and systems integrators, managed service providers and other service businesses.
Partners with a project in progress on Solution Workspace must finish by August 31, the tech giant said.
Tool for GDAP
Starting July 26, Microsoft will offer a tool for partners with delegated administration privileges (DAP) to upgrade to Granular Delegated Admin Privileges (GDAP) without customer consent until October 31 US time.
After that, customers will again have to approve all GDAP relationship requests.
Microsoft bills GDAP as “a more secure model for administering customer tenants” that “adheres to the Microsoft zero trust principle of least-privileged access.”
Partners can request specific Azure Active Directory (AD) roles for performing administrative activities on behalf of the customer, if the customer approves.
Around October the tech giant will “stop creating new DAP connections when a new partner/customer relationship is created and will begin removing DAP relationships that have not been used for 90 days,” according to the announcement.
“Later, Microsoft will transition active DAP relationships to GDAP with a limited number of Azure AD roles.”
“We’d like to remind you that if you don’t perform admin activities for your customer, DAP should be disabled,” Microsoft said.