With all the announcements over the past few months, coming at various Microsoft conferences and events, Microsoft Partners were feeling a little left out. Some had taken to the social media wires to voice their concerns and express the feeling of a lack of love. Some had taken to blog posts to scribble out their disdain for Microsoft's roadmap, and even more were building discussions offline to prepare a possible future without Microsoft. Partners thrive on Microsoft products to ensure business stability, grow their industry, and drive revenue.

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As announced, significant improvements in Microsoft products will be coming fast and furious in the next few months, culminating in a strengthened vision around a highly cloudified business for Microsoft. Seemingly shouldering the burden of the entire world with its technologies, Microsoft caused Partners to feel as if they were no longer needed. This is a problem. If Microsoft alone can provide for every want and desire for every organization when it comes to computing, what void is left that Partners can fill? Microsoft has always been very good at "just enough," meaning they provide solid software and services, but leave gaps and holes that Partners can take advantage of to build a business upon.

At just the right moment, Microsoft's Worldwide Partner (WPC) event kicked off in sunny, humid Houston, Texas. And, despite the normal cheerleading we've been used to at this event, there were significant bits of meat thrown to Partners during the week to help ease their minds that Microsoft has not forgotten them.

In a new Partner document (downloadable here: Microsoft Partner Network Disclosure of Upcoming Program Changes), Microsoft has outlined changes to its Partner program that will take effect in January 2014 in two main areas:

  • Integration of cloud benefits. To help ensure that our broader partner ecosystem can access the value of cloud programs, select competencies and MAPS will offer cloud benefits. These include: online service advisor incentives and sales accelerators, differentiated cloud support and cloud internal use rights for Office 365, Windows Intune, CRM Online, and Windows Azure.
  • Improved partner support and resources. To help partners be successful, Microsoft is investing heavily to improve cloud partner support, tools and marketing assets.

The new document goes into much more detail about each of these two main areas, but rest assured you won't find any mention to existing programs, only changes coming so as to bolster Microsoft's cloud focus. Partners will have opportunities to become fully educated in the ways of the cloud and then incentivized for selling Microsoft cloud solutions.