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Microsoft lures resellers with Office 365 perks and payments

Bigger rewards and single-point billing

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WPC 2012 Microsoft is rejiggering its commercial platform to woo resellers with bigger discounts and finder's fees, as well as adding a simplified billing system for Office 365 that some resellers have been awaiting for years

In terms of rewards, Redmond is upping the upfront payment it makes to resellers as an advisor's fee to 18 per cent, and then increasing the benefits depending on the number of sales they make. Resellers shifting over 2,500 seat sales will see bigger bonuses, and the top partners can get as much as 23 per cent in rebates.

Certainly the resellers at Monday's opening keynote of the Worldwide Partners Conference in Toronto applauded the news, but the biggest cheer of the entire session came when Kurt DelBene, president of Microsft's Office Division, announced that the billing system was to be simplified in something called the Open Office 365 program.

"Since I took this job two years ago it is the number one thing that you have been asking me for," he told the assembled resellers. "'Give me a version of Office 365 that I can sell along with my services and recognise that top line revenue', so we bought that to you."

Under the new scheme, rather than have multiple invoices sent to the client and the reseller, companies will get a single bill from their partner company. Resellers also can purchase year-long Office 365 licenses on a per-person basis and use those to sell onto users, as well as selling via current systems if they so choose.

The move has been in the pipes for around 18 months, Ross Brown, VP of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, told The Register. It required a complete reworking of Microsoft's commerce platform, but enough resellers have demanded such a change that it will be made with the launch of Office 15 code.

Brown explained that Microsoft was also making more of an effort to woo resellers who deal with Redmond's rivals. It recently held strategy meetings with 140 partners with a view to them developing a Microsoft business unit – not to compete with the competition, but to augment it, Brown insisted.

But the biggest gripe Microsoft resellers have, according to Brown, isn't licensing or even the sputtering economy, but a skills shortage for qualified and useful staff.

"It's all about access to talented people," he said. "Many resellers now have more business than they can hire for – there's a real drought of people who can work in SharePoint and Lync and the crazy-fast growth in those markets." ®

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