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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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July 9, 2012 |

Windows 8, Office 365 Top Agenda on Day One of Microsoft WPC 2012

The opening day of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2012 focused on Windows 8 and Office 365, including a new billing process and better margins for partners. By Rich Freeman

The opening day of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2012 focused on Windows 8 and Office 365, including a new billing process and better margins for partners.

By Rich Freeman

Get ready for a big year.

Actually, get ready for an “epic year.” That was the message from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other Microsoft executives as they sought to rev up partners on opening day of this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto, Ontario.

“This will kick off what I consider to be the most epic year in Microsoft history,” said Ballmer, who later called the next twelve months “a year of unparalleled opportunity” for both Microsoft and its partners.

Not surprisingly, the main focus of day-one attention was Windows 8. The morning’s big announcement was that the newest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system is on track to reach its release-to-market milestone by the first week of August, and to reach general market availability—in 231 global markets and 109 languages—by the end of October.

“Windows 8 is simply the biggest deal from our company in at least 17 years,” Ballmer said.

Easing Office 365 Woes for Partners
But there was perhaps even bigger news for channel pros concerning Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based communications and collaboration platform. Responding to years of partner complaints about the meager margins Microsoft pays on that product, Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft’s Office division, announced new revenue-sharing arrangements that will benefit at least some Office 365 resellers. Effective today, partners who sell 150 seats or more will be eligible to collect as much as 23 percent margins in the first year after an Office 365 deployment, 11 percent higher than previously.

DelBene also introduced a second offering that addresses an equally common source of partner frustration: Microsoft’s insistence on handling customer billing for Office 365. Based on Microsoft’s popular Open License volume-buying program, the new Microsoft Office 365 Open program will allow partners to bill customers directly for Office 365 licenses, and bundle Office 365 charges together with other Microsoft licenses on a single, packaged invoice.

Details about Office 365 Open, as well as on eligibility for higher Office 365 margins, will be released soon, according to comments after the keynote by Eric Ligman, partner experience director in Microsoft’s SMS&P partner organization.

Yammer: The Future of Social Business?
Also on the agenda this morning at WPC was Yammer, the corporate social media service recently acquired by Microsoft in a transaction valued at $1.2 billion. Both Ballmer and DelBene hailed that product’s “viral adoption model,” in which users can create an account without seeking or receiving anyone’s permission.

By integrating Yammer with the rest of its business platform, Microsoft equips technicians to manage and secure those accounts, DelBene contended, offering a best-of-both-worlds combination of consumer flexibility and IT control.

“There are huge integration opportunities here to really make Microsoft and all of you the leaders in this space,” DelBene said.

Even greater opportunities lie ahead for partners around Windows 8, Windows Azure, Office 365, and Office 15, the forthcoming update to Microsoft’s venerable desktop productivity suite, Ballmer remarked.

“This year is the most important year,” he said. “It’s the core of Microsoft re-inventing itself for a modern era.” And Microsoft’s partners, he added, stand to benefit every bit as much as Microsoft itself.


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