Below are all the items we published in this week’s U.S. partner newsletter, delivered to U.S.-based members of the Microsoft Partner Network earlier today. If you feel that the version you received in email, targeted to you according to your company’s partner profile and your role at your company, is missing something critical from this superset, please let me know by commenting here or sending me an e-mail (partnerQ@microsoft.com).

In this post, you will find four sections of content:

  • Local Recommendations – Our U.S. East, Central, and West Regions can help you close business, and share their favorite resources.
  • Partner News – Information about Partner Network membership and partner-related campaigns, promotions, and opportunities.
  • Training Recommendations – Links to the latest training opportunities (many of them low-cost and no-cost).
  • Role-Based Training – Our recommendations about a specific product or topic; this week: Windows Small Business Server 2011 and Windows Azure.

For more partner news, resources, and recommendations, visit us on the U.S. partner portal and Virtual Partner Concierge, and join the U.S. Partner Community on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Cheers,

Diane Golshan
Sr. Marketing Manager, U.S. Partner Team
Learn more about what I do at Microsoft.



Local Recommendations

Happy New Year! If one of your resolutions for 2012 is to grow your business, we have some recommendations for resources from Microsoft that can help.

Partner News

Program Administrators: How to Manage the People Associated to Your Company's Profile
We recommend a regular review of the people associated to your company's profile in the Microsoft Partner Membership Center. Association provides individuals with access to the benefits to which your company is entitled, and can also help you earn Microsoft competencies. You can easily add ("Associate") or remove ("Disassociate") individuals from the Manage People tab, in the Requirements & Assets section, of your Membership Center dashboard. If you need help, reach out to the Regional Service Center by phone, email, or chat.

Make the Most of Your Membership
If you're new to the Microsoft Partner Network, or just need a refresher to help you take advantage of the many valuable benefits offered to members, get started with our interactive MPN 101 presentation. Experts from across the Microsoft U.S. Partner Team explain why and how benefits like Microsoft subscriptions, training, customizable marketing campaigns, Microsoft Pinpoint, and communities can help your Microsoft practice succeed.

Advice for the Year Ahead, from Microsoft Executives and Partners
In this annual article from Redmond Channel Partner magazine, Jenni Flinders and other Microsoft channel executives, as well as industry analysts, business consultants, and Microsoft partners, offer their best advice for where to focus your attention and investment in 2012 to help you meet your business goals for your Microsoft practice.

Desktop Competency Partners: Enter to Win a Samsung 7 Slate
When you pass Exam 70-681: Deploying Windows 7 and Office 2010 by February 29, you will be automatically entered to win a Samsung 7 Slate ($1,300 approximate value). Exam 70-681 is a new requirement for Desktop competency partners. Official Rules.

New Microsoft Partner Network Subscription Pricing
Effective January 7, the physical media price for your Microsoft Action Pack subscription software benefits will increase at your next renewal. If you have chosen to download your software benefits through Digital Distribution, your subscription price will not change.

Why and How to Transform Your Business to the Cloud
The "cloud" is everywhere, but what does it mean for your business, and how can you leverage your existing solutions and skills? We've interviewed the most successful cloud partners in our extensive worldwide network and compiled best practices and lessons learned. Watch our Cloud Business Model Transformation Jump Start online.

New Webcast Series for Managed Service Providers: How to Thrive with Microsoft Online Services
Starting January 18, join us each Wednesday for a four-part webcast series that will help you leverage Microsoft Online Services to protect and increase your bottom line. These webcasts feature Gary Pica, president of TruMethods and a pioneer in the managed services field.

Accelerate and Automate Deployments of Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010
Support for Windows XP SP3 and Microsoft Office 2003 ends April 8, 2014. After that date, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates. Review our new customer website and download the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to help your customers get their migrations under way now.

New Customer Website for End of Support of Windows XP SP3 and Microsoft Office 2003
Support for Windows XP SP3 and Microsoft Office 2003 ends April 8, 2014. After that date, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates. The average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months to complete. Review our new customer website and start helping your customers get their migrations under way now.

Help Affected Customers Test and Deploy Security Update MS11-100
On December 29, Microsoft released Security Update MS11-100 to address the issue described in Security Advisory 2659883. You are encouraged to review this update to determine if you or your customers are affected, and to test and deploy the update as necessary.

Prepare for the January 2012 Microsoft Security Bulletin
As part of our usual cycle of updates, the next security bulletin release is scheduled for January 10. On the Security TechCenter, you can register for the January security bulletin webcast, sign up for notifications, and more.

Convergence 2012 Opening Keynote Speakers Announced
This year's keynote speakers will be Microsoft COO Kevin Turner and President of Microsoft Business Solutions Kirill Tatarinov. Convergence is a great opportunity to hear directly from these speakers about the latest strategy and future plans for Microsoft Dynamics.

February 13–16: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Sales and Presales Industry Summit
To bring you up to speed with the Dynamics AX industry solutions, and to enable you to professionally sell and deploy these industry solutions, we're pleased to announce our first Industry Summit designed for sales and presales professionals.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 5 for 4 Offer
The Employee Self Service Client Access License enables an enterprise to expand the footprint of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to every user within the organization. The 5 for 4 offer enables you to increase the size of new deals and/or expand within existing accounts. Offer expires March 31.

January 10 Webcast: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration
Join us for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner Technical Community Call to learn more about best practices for data integration, Composite User Interfaces, and the how to use workflow for process-level integration.

Free Technical Support and Tools for Your Solution
Microsoft Platform Ready gives you what you need to plan, build, test, and market your solution. Whether you're building simple add-ins, rich-client applications, complex client and server solutions, or planning your future with cloud services, benefits include training, support, testing, and marketing resources to help you take your solution to market faster.

January 24 Webcast: Marketing Excellence Series—Making Social Media Work
Join us as Social Media Strategist from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, Kat Tillman, identifies key social media tools partners can use to build and manage their social media presence. Kat simplifies this marketing channel, creating actionable steps to help you prioritize your marketing activities.

Help Your Customers Understand the Business Benefits of the Cloud
Together, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Office 365 offer your customers sales, service, and marketing productivity enhanced by communication, collaboration, and individual productivity. This cloud-based solution is less expensive, more agile, and more feature-rich than on-premises solutions. Use our Ready-to-Go Marketing campaign materials to communicate with customers and prep your sales team.

January 10 and January 18: Voices for Innovation's State of the Union Preview Calls
Learn how tax and education issues in 2012 could affect the IT industry and your business. Join the free briefing calls on January 10 and 18, offered by Voices for Innovation and hosted by Microsoft experts.

Expert Technical Guidance, Tailored for You and Your Business
Use your Partner Advisory Hours benefit to consult with Microsoft experts for personalized sales, development, and deployment guidance that can help you design Microsoft-based solutions that effectively serve your customers' needs.

TechEd 2012 Booth Selection Opens in February
Promote your business to more than 10,000 technical strategists in one location, by reserving your space at TechEd 2012. Download the prospectus for details and make sure you are ready for booth selection in early February.

Reach New SMB Customers Through Local Engagement
Stronger connections to your community can help you reach new small business customers by hosting a technology event with a local business organization. Learn how you can generate new prospects with Microsoft Community Connections.

January 11: Grow Revenue and Close Deals with Windows Intune
In this month's call for Small Business Specialists, you'll see a demo of Windows Intune and learn the solution story behind selling it. We will explain the resources available to help you close deals that include Windows Intune, similar current offers, and the Customer ROI Tool.

Serving Small Business? Like You, We Believe in Local
The Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) offers benefits—like online technical aid and marketing assistance—to help you support small businesses in your area through the use of Microsoft products and technologies. Listen to Jeannie Cappo, U.S. SBSC lead, explain the benefits of joining in our MPN 101 presentation (Topic 8 in the left-hand navigation).

On Demand: December SBSC Call – Use Microsoft Lync to Accelerate Microsoft Office Sales
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 enables real-time collaboration with cost-effective communication delivered through a single interface that works across PCs, browsers, and mobile devices. Partners are finding that Lync is helping them accelerate sales of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office 365.

March 14: Connect Virtually with Partners from Across the United States
The Microsoft SMB Channel Development Virtual Event offers you the opportunity to do targeted networking with other Microsoft partners, without having to travel. This is a national event attended by partners across the United States, and it's a great way to build a bigger presence for your company.

Training Recommendations

Find training opportunities and recommendations anytime on the U.S. Partner Learning blog, Learning Plan Tool website, and the Local Activities Section of the Training and Events page on the U.S. partner portal.

January Partner Training Sweepstakes
Take any of our featured Server Virtualization, MDOP, Exchange Server 2010, or Windows Azure courses, and you will be entered to win a Flip Ultra camcorder, a $120 Amazon gift card, or a $25 American Express gift card. You'll earn a prize entry for each sales or technical course you attend, and there are courses for every job role. Sweepstakes ends June 30. Official Rules.

"Learn Windows Azure" Event Sessions On Demand
Watch sessions from the Learn Windows Azure event, originally broadcast live in December from the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, WA. You will learn how to get started building cloud applications from Microsoft technical leaders Scott Guthrie, Dave Campbell, and Mark Russinovich.

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 In-Person Sales Training
This half-day Microsoft Application Platform University training provides a strategic selling framework that helps you prepare to sell your solutions developed using Microsoft products. We will discuss our current private and public cloud positioning and new opportunities that our upcoming releases will afford you.

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Technical Ignite
This two-day, technical course focuses on the new features of SQL Server 2012. It combines presentations and hands-on labs to help you understand how SQL Server 2012 addresses the mission-critical, business intelligence, and database development needs of your customers.

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Hands-On Labs
Use these six virtual labs to explore technical training and features of the new SQL Server 2012 platform. Titles include Introduction to SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Information Management, AlwaysOn, Multi-Server Management, Working with Contained Databases, Exploring Power View, and Distributed Replay Utility.

Stay in Control with Microsoft System Center
Harness the power of the cloud on your own terms, using your IT skills and Microsoft's comprehensive approach to cloud computing. Use resources from Microsoft Learning to get trained and certified in Microsoft Cloud Services.

Virtualization Transforms IT Management in the Cloud
Gartner reports that "virtualization is a major enabler and catalyst" in the IT transformation to cloud computing. Use resources and offers from Microsoft Learning to get trained and certified in Microsoft Virtualization. The featured exam, Exam 70-659, is also one of the requirements for the new Management and Virtualization competency that launches in May.

Role-Based Training for Windows Small Business Server 2011 and Windows Azure

Training for Business Decision Makers
Windows Small Business Server 2011

Windows Azure

Training for IT Professionals
Windows Small Business Server 2011

Windows Azure

Training for Developers
Windows Small Business Server 2011

Windows Azure

Training for Sales and Marketing Roles
Windows Small Business Server 2011

Windows Azure

Training for Training Roles
Windows Small Business Server 2011

Windows Azure