IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Microsoft Revokes IUR and Competency Requirement Changes

The abrupt about-face comes just days after Microsoft announced the revisions to partner program benefits and requirements, and in response to loud, widespread criticism from members. By Rich Freeman

Acting just days after disclosing controversial changes to key benefits and requirements for members of its partner program, Microsoft has rescinded previously announced restrictions on internal use rights to its software and steeper requirements for attaining silver- and gold-level competencies.

The just-announced news arrives days ahead of Microsoft’s 2019 Inspire partner conference, which begins Sunday in Las Vegas.

The rule changes, which Microsoft unveiled at the start of its 2020 fiscal year last week, banned partners from employing free internal use rights (IUR) to Microsoft applications as a platform for running their business operations. Partners at all levels of the Microsoft Partner Network—especially sub-competency, entry-level subscribers to Microsoft’s Action Pack software and services bundle—have long viewed IUR as a key benefit of joining the partner program.

The new competency requirements, which varied from one specialization to another, were designed to raise the requirements necessary to be identified as one of Microsoft’s best partners.

In a blog post published this morning, Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner organization, announced that all of those changes have been canceled.

“Over the last several days, we’ve heard from many of you about changes we were planning to make regarding benefits included with gold and silver competencies, and those in the Microsoft Action Pack. These included benefits related to internal use rights, or IUR—specifically the terms governing the use of product licenses to run partner businesses,” Schuster writes.

“I want to thank you for sharing your feedback with us and would like to provide an update on partner benefits.

“Your partnership and trust matters to us. Given your feedback, we have made the decision to roll back all planned changes related to internal use rights and competency timelines that were announced earlier this month. This means you will experience no material changes this coming fiscal year, and you will not be subject to reduced IUR licenses or increased costs related to those licenses next July as previously announced.”

Under the policy updates announced last week, Microsoft had eliminated access to free product support incidents for on-premises IUR software. According to a Microsoft spokeperson, that benefit is now back in effect as well.

John Krikke, vice president of Burlington, Ont.-based solution provider Onward Computer Systems, welcomes Microsoft’s change of heart, but says it wouldn’t have been necessary if the company had offered partners a chance to comment on its now defunct policy revisions and provided more warning about them.

“A partnership is a relationship that has to work for both parties,” he says. “All this could have been avoided with a better feedback loop.”

Schuster’s blog post addresses that issue.

“Each year we review how we engage with partners and evolve our approach to ensure we provide best-in-class support to you and stay ahead of market changes. As we move forward, we commit to providing even more advance notice and consultation with our partner community to mitigate concerns and address issues up front. We will continue to invest in our partner program to ensure we create opportunities for all our partners,” Schuster writes. She closed by reiterating Microsoft’s commitment to its partners.

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