Students around the world are using their Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification to show colleges and future employers that they have a true mastery of the Microsoft Office suite. In fact, some talented students even go on to compete in a world competition for Microsoft Office.
Each year, Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, and the leading provider of learning curriculum, practice tests and performance-based IT certification exams that accelerate academic and career opportunities, hosts the MOS World Championship. This event is a global competition, testing top students’ skills on Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Are you a hard-working student, looking to show the world your Microsoft Office skills? Check out these four easy steps below to find out how you can get involved in the Microsoft Office Specialist Championship.
Learn. Before you’re ready to compete, make sure you’re a master of the Microsoft Office Suite. Certiport has collaborated with multiple learning partners to make preparation easy. You can learn the skills you need to earn a top score on your MOS exam.
Practice. Now that you’ve expanded your knowledge, it’s time to apply it. You can hone your Microsoft Office skills using various practice exams. These performance-based assessment and test preparation tools will prepare you to earn your MOS certification by creating a true “live in the app” experience. You’ll be a master in no time, because you’ll be practicing skills as if in the Microsoft Office application.
Certify. You’re ready to show your skills! Microsoft Office Specialist exams are only delivered in Certiport Authorized Testing Centers. However, with more than 14,000 testing centers worldwide, there’s bound to be one close by. Find a testing center near you, and don’t forget to reach out to the testing center to schedule an appointment. Make sure to push for a score over 700 to be eligible for the MOS World Championship!
Compete. If you’ve earned a top score, then the MOS Championship is your next step. Qualification is simple. When you take a Microsoft Office Specialist exam in Word, Excel or PowerPoint, you’ll automatically enter the MOS Championship and could be chosen to represent your country.
To represent your country at the MOS World Championship, you’ll need to first be named your nation’s champion by competing in a regional competition hosted by Certiport’s network of Authorized Partners. You can see the full list of partners and nations that compete here. In addition, each country has its own selection process, so make sure to connect with your local Partner to find out how you can prepare to compete in the MOS World Championship in 2020.
Interested in learning more about the MOS World Championship? Connect with us at [email protected].
This month, we’re announcing updates to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to help improve your security posture, updates to Microsoft Teams and Outlook on the web to help you be more productive, and updates to Desktop Analytics and Office 365 ProPlus to streamline IT management and improve efficiency.
Here’s a look at what’s new in July.
Strengthen security while simplifying processes
New capabilities help you protect against, discover, and remediate cybersecurity threats.
Go passwordless to reduce risk and improve account security—This month, we announced the public preview of FIDO2 security keys support in Azure AD. Now, with FIDO2 technologies, you can provide users with seamless, secure, and passwordless access to all Azure AD-connected apps and services. Additionally, administrators can assign passwordless credentials to users and groups and allow self-service sign-up. To get started, check out our step-by-step documentation on enabling passwordless sign-in for Azure AD.
Discover, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities in real-time—Last month, we announced the general availability of Microsoft Threat & Vulnerability Management (TVM). TVM delivers a new set of advanced, agentless, cloud-powered capabilities that provide continuous, real-time, risk-based vulnerability management. If you already have Microsoft Defender ATP, the TVM solution is now available within your Microsoft Defender ATP portal. If you don’t have a subscription, you can sign up for a trial of Microsoft Defender ATP including TVM.
Improve productivity and collaboration
New capabilities in Microsoft 365 help you collaborate easily with others, organize tasks, and quickly find answers.
Communicate and collaborate more easily with new capabilities in Microsoft Teams—This month, we added new capabilities to Teams including Read receipts and Priority notifications to help ensure time-sensitive messages are received and prioritized. We also announced the new Announcements feature to highlight important news and now post a single message across multiple channels.
Finally, the new time clock feature in Teams for Firstline Workers brings clock in/out capabilities to the Team Shifts module. And the targeted communication feature enables messages to be sent to everyone within a specific role—such as sending a message to all cashiers in a store or all nurses in a hospital.
These updates for Teams will be rolling out over the next couple of months.
Add polls to your Outlook emails and book meeting rooms with Outlook on theweb—This month, we’re announcing two new generally available features in Outlook on the web. With Microsoft Quick Poll, you can now add polls directly to your Outlook emails, so recipients can vote directly in the email or click the provided link and vote in a browser window. To get started, download the Quick Poll add-in for Outlook.
Additionally, you can now easily book meeting rooms in Outlook on the web. When creating a meeting, you can quickly see which rooms are available, search by city or room, and view rooms that are available during recurring events.
Make answers in Yammer more discoverable—Now, questions in Yammer will stand out from general discussions with new, unique styling. Post authors and group admins can also mark the best response to questions as a “Best Answer,” making it easier for users to find answers. These changes are currently in private preview and will roll out to all Office 365 subscribers later this summer.
Work together on tasks in Microsoft To-Do—Now, you can assign a task to someone on a shared To-Do list and work together to knock out tasks more quickly. To get started, just @mention someone to assign them a task, and everyone on the shared list will be able to see it.
Streamline IT management
Data-driven tools help you deliver seamless software deployments and improvements for Office in virtualized environments.
Improve the quality and reliability of software deployments—This month, we announced the public preview of Desktop Analytics, a cloud-based service that provides intelligence for you to make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows clients ahead of new Windows 10 deployments. In combination with System Center Configuration Manager, Desktop Analytics is designed to create an inventory of the Windows apps running in the organization and assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10. Desktop Analytics is currently offered as an Office 365 service and requires an Office 365 subscription in your Azure AD tenant. To get started, enable Desktop Analytics in the Configuration Manager console.
Improve the Office app experience in virtual environments—This month, we announced new capabilities to help improve the user experience in virtualized environments. First, FSLogix technology, which improves the performance of Office 365 ProPlus in multi-user virtual environments, is now available at no additional cost for Microsoft 365 customers. Second, Windows Server 2019 will now support Office 365 ProPlus and OneDrive Files On-Demand in the coming months. Lastly, Outlook, OneDrive, and Teams are getting new capabilities to improve the user experience in a virtualized environment.
Drive digital transformation with new Microsoft cloud regions—Microsoft Office 365 services are now available from our new cloud regions located in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These local datacenters open the door for more organizations to embrace the benefits of the cloud with resilient cloud services that can help meet data residency, security, and compliance needs.
We retired the “Online” branding for the Office apps on the web. You’ll see this change reflected in the product experience in places such as the app headers, platform-specific commands, and help menus. This change reinforces that Office is a cloud-connected experience, which you can use through apps on the desktop, web, or mobile devices.
We recently announced OneDrive Personal Vault, a protected area in OneDrive that you can only access with a strong authentication method or second step of identity verification.
Upcoming changes to Microsoft Dynamics 365 pricing will lead to lower licensing fees for some users while possibly raising the cost of the cloud-based business applications platform for organizations with 100-plus seats.
Microsoft described the changes, scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, in a blog post this week. The company gave partners advance notice of the new pricing scheme at last week’s Inspire conference in Las Vegas.
Midsize and larger organizations that use more than one application could face significant increases, because of Microsoft’s decision to unbundle Dynamics 365 apps and sell them a la carte. Currently, the cloud apps come priced as bundles, with many companies on a Customer Engagement Plan at $115 per user/month. The plan includes five core applications — Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation and Marketing.
The new individual pricing would cost $95 per user/month for one app, with $20 “attach licenses” for additional apps. Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president for business applications at Microsoft, said in the blog post that customers preferred having the option of adding or removing applications as their companies grew and changed over time.
But users of Dynamics 365 CRM software would likely pay more for that convenience, Dolores Ianni, an analyst at Gartner, said. Those customers typically employ multiple applications in the Customer Engagement Plan.
Dolores IanniAnalyst, Gartner
“If you’re using four applications and you had a thousand users, well, your price went up 158% — it varies wildly,” Ianni said. “I feel that a majority of renewing customers are going to be substantially impacted by this change.”
Microsoft claims 80% of its customers are using only one application, but anecdotal evidence indicates otherwise. Conversations with Microsoft customers — and a review of their contracts — show that the largest enterprises with 1,000 or more users could pay substantially more in some cases, Ianni said. Organizations with 100 or more users could also pay more, even if they’re using only one application. Companies with more than one application would get hit harder.
Microsoft could offer its largest customers promotional deals that would mitigate the price hike, Ianni said. The company often provides such breaks when changing pricing.
Readiness tips for Dynamics 365 pricing changes
Organizations should prepare for the new pricing structures by analyzing which employees use which applications today. Businesses can sometimes find ways to cut costs after getting a complete understanding of how workers are using the software.
“They’re going to have to do their homework to a much greater degree than they did in the past,” Ianni said.
The Puget Sound region has been home to Microsoft for more than 30 years. As the company has grown, the area has changed. New industries have brought more jobs, fresh opportunities and greater prosperity.
But new housing has not kept up with job growth, and the Greater Seattle area has become the sixth most expensive place to live in the United States.
That means many of the workers who make a community function – such as nurses, police officers, teachers and firefighters – can no longer afford to live in the cities or suburbs where they work.
The problem is particularly acute in the suburban cities around Seattle. Low- and middle-income workers often face long commutes.
Every year, we bring together thousands of Microsoft partners from around the world to celebrate, connect, and learn about what’s coming in the next year. Just last week, I had the chance to join this year’s Microsoft Inspire with 13,000 of our partners in Las Vegas, and it was an amazing week full of energy and excitement.
I had the opportunity to share how we’re accelerating innovation with Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform in two featured sessions. Hayden Stafford joined me to talk about the business opportunity in FY20 for Business Applications, and Charles Lamanna and Arun Ulagaratchagan showed off the innovation and partner investments across the Power Platform. In both sessions, partners from Hitachi Solutions, VeriPark, WorkSpan, and EY joined me on stage to talk about the opportunities they’re seeing in the market. Check out the session recordings to see more.
We also shared a few major announcements with the partner community throughout the week that will deepen our partnership, align with how our business is growing, and help customers realize the potential of digital transformation. Take a look at a few highlights below.
Launching the new Microsoft Business Applications ISV Connect Program
ISVs that build on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and PowerApps can offer their customers innovative apps they couldn’t build elsewhere using connections to industry-leading cloud services on Azure and developer tools built just for them.
After previewing elements of the program in the spring, we officially launched the Business Applications ISV Connect Program on July 15th. This program brings together platform and program benefits created specifically for ISVs to support their success. We’re laying a path for a stronger partnership with our ISVs through ongoing platform investments, development tooling enhancements, and go-to-market support for mutual success. Read Steven Guggenheimer’s blog for more information about the program’s requirements and benefits.
Expanding our Dynamics 365 Industry Accelerators
We know our partners want to go to market fast. Our industry accelerators help them do just that.
At Inspire, we introduced two new industry accelerators: the Dynamics 365 Automotive Accelerator and Dynamics 365 Banking Accelerator. We also announced significant updates to the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator.
Each of these accelerators was developed in deep partnership with industry experts to provide pre-built dashboards, sample data, and workflows that align with common industry scenarios. Steven Guggenheimer’s blog has more on this update as well.
Updating our Dynamics 365 packaging model
In October, Microsoft will be moving from “one-size-fits-all” Microsoft Dynamics 365 licensing plans to focus on providing customers with the specific Dynamics 365 applications that meet the unique needs of their organization. Customers need software that aligns to their functional roles and scenarios, and they require the ability to add or remove applications as their company grows and changes over time. The new licensing model will allow customers to purchase the applications they need, when they need them. Each application is extensible and applications can be easily mixed and matched to configure integrated solutions that align to a customer’s unique business requirements.
In addition to the general availability of innovations like AI Builder and PowerApps Portals, we will be introducing new licensing options in October 2019 shaped by the feedback we’ve received from our customers and the community of makers and creators who have been with us on the Power Platform journey. At Inspire we previewed new licensing options for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow that:
Make it easier to get started with a single use case before rolling out the full platform for all users.
Make licensing easier to understand by simplifying the complex feature-level differences between P1 and P2 plans.
Customers realizing the potential of digital transformation
Throughout the event, we heard inspiring stories from customers and partners around the world.
One highlight came in Monday’s Corenote with Judson Althoff. We saw how Unilever is transforming its business with Microsoft technology, including Power BI and PowerApps. With connected data at the core, Unilever is able to increase productivity with more accessible insights and empower individuals to solve problems on their own, without a developer.
On Wednesday, Satya Nadella talked about Crane Worldwide Logistics, a Dynamics 365 customer who grew from a startup to a major player in the global logistics industry over the past 10 years. With Dynamics 365 for Sales and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Crane can seamlessly combine customer engagement data with data about customer and seller activities from Office 365, as well as from LinkedIn – even when these interactions take place outside their CRM. And with Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, sellers are able to focus on the right customers, thanks to AI-driven insights that flag existing accounts that need extra attention, as well as leads that offer the most potential.
These are just two of the stories we shared at Microsoft Inspire this year. If you missed any part of this year’s event, take some time to check out the content on-demand to learn how you can build success in the coming year.
As Microsoft strives to support the digital transformation of organizations and enterprises around the world, we continue to drive innovation and expand into new geographies to empower more customers with Office 365, the world’s leading cloud-based productivity solution, with more than 180 million commercial monthly active users. Today, we’re taking another step in our ongoing investment to help enable digital transformation and societal impact across Africa with the general availability of Office 365 services from our new cloud datacenters in South Africa.
Office 365, delivered from local datacenters in South Africa, helps our customers enable the modern workplace and empower their employees with real-time collaboration and cloud-powered intelligence while maintaining security, compliance, and in-country customer data residency. The addition of South Africa as a new geography for Office 365 increases the options for secure, cloud productivity services combined with customer data residency in 16 geographies across the globe along with three additional geographies also announced.
In-country data residency for core customer data helps Office 365 customers meet regulatory requirements, which is particularly important and relevant in industries such as healthcare, financial services, and government—where organizations need to keep specific data in-country to comply with local requirements. Customer data residency provides additional assurances regarding data privacy and reliability for organizations and enterprises. Core customer data is stored only in their datacenter geography (Geo)—in this case, the cloud datacenters within South Africa.
Customers like Altron and the Gauteng Provincial Government have used Office 365 to transform their workplaces. This latest development will enable them—and other organizations and enterprises adopting Office 365—to ramp up their digital transformation journey.
“Altron is committed to improving our infrastructure and embracing a strategy to become a cloud-first company to better serve our customers and empower our employees through modern collaboration. We’ve noticed a tangible difference since making the move to Office 365.” —Debra Marais, Lead, IT Shared Services at Altron
“Office 365 is driving our modernization journey of Government ICT infrastructure and services by allowing us to develop pioneering solutions at manageable costs and create overall improvements in operations management, all while improving transparency and accountability.” —David Kramer, Deputy Director General, ICT at Gauteng Provincial Government
Microsoft recently became the first global provider to deliver cloud services from the African continent with the opening of our new cloud datacenter regions. Office 365 joins Azure to expand the intelligent cloud service available from Africa. Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, the next generation of intelligent business applications, are anticipated to be available in the fourth quarter of 2019.
By delivering the comprehensive Microsoft cloud—which includes Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365—from datacenters in a given geography, we offer scalable, available, and resilient cloud services to companies and organizations while meeting customer data residency, security, and compliance needs. We have deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.
The new cloud regions in South Africa are connected to Microsoft’s other regions via our global network, one of the largest and most innovative on the planet—spanning more than 100,000 miles (161,000 kilometers) of terrestrial fiber and subsea cable systems to deliver services to customers. Microsoft is bringing the global cloud closer to home for African organizations and citizens through our trans-Arabian paths between India and Europe, as well as our trans-Atlantic systems, including Marea, the highest capacity cable to ever cross the Atlantic.
We’re committed to accelerating digital transformation across the continent through numerous initiatives and also recently announced Microsoft’s first Africa Development Centre (ADC), with two initial sites in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria. The ADC will serve as a premier center of engineering for Microsoft, where world-class African talent can create solutions for local and global impact. With our new cloud datacenter regions, the ADC, and programs like 4Afrika, we believe Africa is poised to develop locally and scale for global impact better than ever before.
Pending Microsoft Partner Network policy changes affecting product licensing have alarmed some partners, with more than 5,000 people signing a petition to register their disapproval.
A key area of contention is Microsoft’s plan to eliminate the internal use rights (IUR) association with product licenses included in Microsoft Action Pack and those included with a competency. Action Pack gives partners access to product licenses and technical enablement services, through which they can create applications and develop service offerings. Microsoft positions Action Pack, which ranges from OSes to business applications, as a way for new MPN members to get started. Competencies are business specializations in areas such as cloud business applications and data analytics.
The revised IUR association policy will compel Microsoft partners to pay for licenses they have been using in-house under the current Microsoft Partner Network membership terms. The new policy goes into effect July 1, 2020.
Paul Katz, president and chief software architect at EfficiencyNext, a software developer in Washington, D.C., said the policy change will cause the company to purchase five Office 365 Enterprise E3 seats. In addition, EfficiencyNext stands to lose the Microsoft Azure credits the company uses to run its website, although Katz said the policy change’s effect on the Azure benefit is somewhat ambiguous at this point. The licensing fees coupled with the potential loss of Azure credits would result in an annual net cost of about $2,400 a year, he added.
“That’s a thorn in the side, but it doesn’t change our world,” Katz said.
The stakes are much higher, he said, for larger partners with more licenses they will need to pay for. A partner with 100 Office 365 E3 licenses, for example, would need to shell out $24,000 annually, based on the $20 per user, per month seat fee.
Charles Weaver, CEO of MSPAlliance, an association representing managed service providers (MSPs), said he found out about the Microsoft policy change when a board member sent him the online petition. “It’s going to sting most of them,” he said of the licensing shift’s effect on service providers. “It is probably not going to be received well by the rank-and-file MSPs.”
The partner petition, posted on Change.org, stated Microsoft’s policies represent unfair treatment, noting partners “have been so loyal to the Microsoft business.” Microsoft couldn’t be reached for comment.
Microsoft Partner Network: Policy consequences
Katz advised partners to “get licensed up” in light of the IUR change, noting that Microsoft has been aggressive in the past with software asset management engagements.
Weaver, however, said he hopes that won’t be the case.
“I can’t think of anything more destructive to the relationship between Microsoft and the channel than that,” he said, noting the audits software vendors pursue tend to target large customers, where millions of dollars are at stake.
Stanley LouissaintPresident, Fluid Designs Inc.
In addition to causing some partners to incur higher licensing costs, the Microsoft IUR policy shift could also hinder partners’ use-what-you-sell strategies. Resellers and service providers that use a vendor’s products to help run their business gain technology experience, which they can transfer to end customers when deploying those products.
Katz said “dogfooding” — as in, eating one’s own dog food — is the best way to test products, especially for companies that can’t afford to set up a separate test environment.
But the restriction on IUR would discourage this approach and could cause Microsoft to miss out on opportunities down the road.
Weaver pointed to a potential unintended consequence of Microsoft’s action: “They stop the freeloading of MSPs from using their software, as they look at it, and they lose potentially thousands of MSPs who no longer try that stuff out and no longer have access to it and may go to different vendors and different solutions.”
A part of doing business
Stanley Louissaint, president of Fluid Designs Inc., an IT services provider in Union, N.J., said the MPN policy changes don’t affect his company but noted the unease among partners. Louissaint suggested changes in vendor policies are simply part of doing business as a channel partner.
“People don’t want to come to terms with the fact that we are resellers and we don’t, in any way, shape or form, control the products,” he said. “If [Microsoft] changes how they want to deal with us, it is what it is.”
Louissaint said the bottom line is Microsoft wants partners to become paying customers when using the vendor’s products to run their businesses. As for creating test beds to assess products, channel partners still can download software on a trial basis — for up to 180 days, in some cases, he added.
Jeff Aden, executive vice president of marketing and business development at 2nd Watch, a Seattle MSP, said the new policy “is not going to change what we do” unless there is an unforeseen effect. 2nd Watch is a Microsoft Gold partner and an AWS Premier Consulting Partner.
EfficiencyNext’s Katz said the licensing changes don’t mean Microsoft is greedy. He noted Windows Insider members can download preview versions of Windows for free, and there is a community version of Visual Studio that is free for up to five users in nonenterprise organizations.
“They are still a great company, and we are still happy to be working with them,” he said.
Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. That includes the 1+ billion people with disabilities around the world. We believe that people with disabilities are a strength for our company and a talent pool that adds not just diversity but expertise and empathy that make our products, services and culture better. Under this guiding principle, over the last several years we have launched employment programs focused on bringing in the untapped talent of people with disabilities. One of those programs is our Supported Employment program run by our Real Estate and Facilities team. Since the program started, over 270 supplier positions have been filled by external staff with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) on Microsoft campuses globally, and that number is steadily growing. The learnings have been immense and have helped shape our approach to external staffing. We are sharing these learnings with our supplier base of over 30,000 organizations around the world.
The mission of Microsoft’s Real Estate and Facilities Supported Employment program is simple: partner with suppliers and local employment agencies to make a substantial difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have historically been overlooked in the job market. To date, the Supported Employment program has resulted in external staff with disabilities across 30 unique roles within supplier companies, including receptionist, groundskeeper, bus washer, day porter, office administration, project coordinator, common area reset technician, assistant chef and dishwasher.
The list of supplier companies participating in the program is constantly expanding, and includes ABM, CBRE, Compass Group, Corporate Care, Davidson-Macri Sweeping, Exela Technologies, MV Transportation, Northwest Landscape Services, SBM, Suddath and Zee Medical.
The program began in 2013 in Redmond, Washington, at the Microsoft headquarters and has expanded to locations across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In India, 15 individuals with disabilities have been hired by our suppliers in several Microsoft locations for a variety of roles, including mailroom assistant and reception assistant. More about the program in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-skHDKAwI8
People often ask about the impact on business. Employment of people with disabilities is good for values and good for the bottom line. There are many examples of employees with disabilities who are more loyal, reducing the cost of turnover, the cost of recruitment and the cost of onboarding. The numbers show that companies that champion disability inclusion are more profitable, according to The Disability Inclusion Advantage-Getting to Equal, October 2018. But numbers are only part of this story. Equally important is the impact that hiring will have on the life of someone who faces barriers to employment. With an unemployment rate for people with disabilities that is twice that of the national average, the opportunity is real and the time is now.
All of the workers hired by our suppliers through the Supported Employment Program earn a competitive wage and receive benefits from their employers in full-time or part-time roles. This is in line with our mission and our values of inclusion. However, today in parts of the U.S. and around the globe, people with disabilities can be paid less than minimum wage, or “subminimum wage” — sometimes as little as cents on the dollar. We do not pay less than the applicable minimum wage, and we require our suppliers to do the same because we believe in fair wages for all. Last week, additional language was added to our Supplier Code of Conduct to reconfirm the obligation to pay the applicable minimum wage to everyone.
The people who have been a part of the Supported Employment Program are the strongest evidence of the value of inclusion. We encourage you to check out the stories of some of the employees in Puget Sound with these short videos: Tanya Harris, production assistant at Suddath; Austin Landon, common area reset technician at CBRE; Kyle Van Allan, crew member at Northwest Landscape Services; and Leila Miles, receptionist at Exela Technologies. We are happy to report that since these videos were released, Austin Landon has been promoted to project coordinator at CBRE on the Supported Employment Program team in Redmond.
To view more videos, catch up on all that is new, and download our open-source toolkit to start building your own program and take New Manager Training, go to our webpage: https://aka.ms/supportedemployment.
Ahead of Microsoft Inspire, company shares how it is tuning partner investments for the cloud era, including updates to Teams, Dynamics 365, Azure
REDMOND, Wash. — July 11, 2019 — On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. announced new investments in technologies and programs designed to support its partner ecosystem. The investments are aimed at helping optimize Microsoft’s partner engagement for the cloud era.
“Customers and partners alike continue to move to the cloud and accelerate their digital transformation, leading us to new and different levels of partnership,” said Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner group. “Our portfolio of programs, offers and resources for companies partnering with Microsoft is transforming to help them capitalize on this opportunity.”
The following are some highlights of the news announced today, with more details available here.
Investments in products and programs
Microsoft Teams extensions and adoption. Just two years after its launch, Teams now has 13 million daily active users and 19 million weekly active users. The company also announced new features in Microsoft Teams for every worker —including new ways to support healthcare organizations and firstline workers. Additional new partner integrations include support for contact centers, compliance recording and cloud solution providers.
Dynamics 365 updates. The company announced significant updates to the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator and two new integrations for Dynamics 365 that address the automotive and financial services industries. In addition, the Business Applications ISV Connect program is generally available, with new development tools and guidance, marketplace resources, joint field engagement processes and go-to-market support.
Introducing Azure Lighthouse. Azure Lighthouse gives partners a single control plane to view and manage Azure at scale across all their customers. This provides a better managed Azure experience with higher automation and efficiency, resulting in greater visibility and security for customers. This marks the first time Microsoft has architected a solution at this scale, with partners and for partners.
Azure Migration Program. The new Azure Migration Program (AMP) helps customers accelerate their migration to Azure. AMP offers proactive advice and tools to help mitigate risks and address common issues associated with moving workloads to the cloud.
Broadening partner opportunity
Since the inception of Microsoft’s co-sell program 24 months ago, the program has seen $9.5 billion in annual contracted partner revenue. The investments announced this week are designed to build on that opportunity:
General availability of the Microsoft Security competency. This new competency allows partners to market their expertise and provides access to a range of benefits designed to enable business growth and profitability.
Five advanced specializations. These include Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure, Linux and Open Source Databases Migration to Microsoft Azure, Data Warehouse Migration to Microsoft Azure, Modernization of Web Applications in Microsoft Azure, and Kubernetes on Microsoft Azure.
New advancements in marketplace. Additional pricing models, a rewards program and a new route to market are rolling out in July for companies that publish transactable offers in Microsoft’s expanded commercial marketplace. The pricing models include monthly and annual SaaS billing, flexible, custom-metered billing options, standard contracts, and free SaaS trials that convert to paid engagements.
About Microsoft Inspire
Microsoft Inspire provides Microsoft’s partner community with access to key marketing and business strategies, leadership, and information regarding specific customer solutions designed to help partners succeed in the marketplace. Along with informative learning opportunities covering sales, marketing, services, and technology, Microsoft Inspire is an ideal setting for partners to garner valuable knowledge from their peers and from Microsoft. More information can be found at https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/inspire.
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.
Microsoft chose to open its first European flagship store in London because the city is “hard to beat,” one of the company’s top executives has revealed.
Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer, visited the store with UK CEO Cindy Rose ahead of its launch on July 11, and he said there were “very few locations in the world” that are as appealing as the UK capital.
Capossela (above) said it contains many one-of-a-kind features, including a full-sized McLaren Senna sports car that doubles as a Forza Motorsport 7 experience, a Gaming Lounge, a Community Theatre featuring free workshops all-year-round and an entire floor dedicated to helping businesses and organisations use technology.
“Around 86 million people pass through Oxford Circus every year,” he said. “That’s hard to beat. London is also an incredibly diverse city, so we can serve lots of different customers here; it’s a very pan-European city.
“There are very few locations in the world that feature all the different parts that make up what Microsoft is. The early adoption of technology in the UK has been very impressive. That’s important when the company is thinking about what investments to make and where to make them. This flagship would not be in London if we didn’t have a very strong commercial business in this country. We thought very deeply about this.”
The central London flagship store has a modern feel, with lots of space and wood and glass surfaces. Visitors will be greeted on the ground floor by a large video wall and Surface devices on tables, with the McLaren on their right and the HoloLens mixed-reality headset to their left. A wooden spiral staircase or lifts will take them to the Gaming Lounge on the first floor, where they can play the latest Xbox and PC titles in high-quality gaming chairs and professional pods, purchase third-party laptops and accessories and get tech support, trainings, repairs and advice from the Answer Desk. All visitors can create their own personalised Surface Type Cover with Surface Design Lab, featuring a range of designs that can be etched directly onto the cover. They can also take photos in the Selfie Area.
The enterprise area on the second floor is a place to support, train and grow businesses no matter where they are on their digital transformation journey. From small companies and educational institutions to enterprise customers, the Product Advisors and Cloud Technical Experts will help customers discover, deploy and use Microsoft 365 and other resources to solve business challenges such as AI, data security, collaboration and workplace efficiencies. This floor also contains an area for hosting events, as well as meeting rooms and a Showcase space for demonstrating how customers, including Carlsberg and Toyota, are digitally transforming.
It is also the most accessible store Microsoft has ever opened, with buttons to open doors, lower desks to help those in wheelchairs and Xbox Adaptive Controllers available for gamers with restricted movement.
The 150 Store Associates welcoming visitors speak a total of 45 languages, and selected members of the team can also communicate in British Sign Language. John Carter, Senior Store Manager at the store, said the staff are a mix of ages, genders, ethnicities and abilities, and had all gone through six weeks of training to “deliver our customer-obsessed culture” from when the doors open at 11am on July 11.
Rose also announced that Microsoft is donating £1 million to three charities – UK Youth, Raspberry Pi Foundation and The London Community Foundation – to help them continue to teach digital skills to disadvantaged young people and to support grass-roots community groups in Westminster with digital and employability skills.
“I’m excited about this donation because it’s going to give these charities the opportunity to have even more of an impact across the UK. We are also auctioning 10 limited edition Surface devices designed by British retailer Liberty London, with all proceeds going to gaming charity SpecialEffect, which helped develop the Xbox Adaptive Controller.”
Talking about the journey to this week’s opening, she added: This has been a three-year labour of love for me. During my Microsoft job interview [in 2016] I remember discussing the need for a Microsoft retail store in London. That’s how long I’ve been thinking about this and planning it. I feel like that part of the jigsaw is now complete.
“What I love most about this flagship is that it’s so much more than just a shopping experience. It is a destination where we can engage with local community to bring our mission to life. Whether it’s teaching kids to code, training educators on how to use tech in the classroom, or showing small businesses and large enterprises how we can help digitally transform their organisation, this store will be the best place to experience all that’s possible with Microsoft.”
Capossela, who said it is “really important for us to have a place that people can walk into and experience Microsoft,” agreed that the store will appeal to every type of customer.
“I want all our stores to have a Microsoft vibe, be very colourful, human and approachable,” he said. “These are the things we want our brand to stand for. The London flagship has some special experiences. I feel very lucky that we have found a space as good as Oxford Circus in London.”