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Community Manager

Ask Me Anything: Opportunities for Partner Investments and Incentives (Live Event: Wednesday, July 10, 11:00am PT)

Update - July 12, 2019: 


Hello partners,

We heard your feedback and are providing clarity on the recent announcement on the blog by Gavriella. Please review the blog link below. 

Please note that the AMA recording will not be posted because the content is now out of date. 



Title/Topic: Opportunities for Partner Investments and Incentives



Hosted by Toby Richards (General Manager, Partner Go-To-Market and Programs) and Erez Wohl (General Manager, Business Strategy and Partner Investments), this 30-minute AMA video session will cover key questions pertaining to the launch of OCP’s FY20 Partner Investments and Incentives programs. Please submit your questions regarding eligibility rules, year-over-year changes from FY19, key value propositions, or anything else related to our FY20 programs. 



MS-Partners-LT-2017-03-Richards-Toby-152-2_sm - Copy.jpgToby Richards is the General Manager of Go-To-Market & Programs within the Microsoft One Commercial Partner organization. His team is responsible for helping partners connect with customer and market opportunities through the company's global partner programs. Toby has more than 25 years of experience in the technology industry, holding several leadership roles within Microsoft that include Customer & Partner Experience and Partner Support in the Services organization.




Erez Wohl is the General Manager, Business Strategy and Partner Investments Wohl, Erez 4 (1).jpgin the One Commercial Partner group at Microsoft.  He is responsible for leading the global strategy and implementation of Microsoft’s worldwide partner investments across Cloud, On-premise and Hybrid business models. Erez oversees a $2+ billion budget to drive through partner sales, growth, and deployment of Microsoft’s solutions and services.  Prior to his current role, Erez oversaw the worldwide commercial Volume Licensing pricing strategy across On-premise and Cloud products and services.  He managed Microsoft’s Volume Licensing FX strategy and global pricing framework including the worldwide

field empowerment and deal discounting strategies. Before joining Microsoft, Erez worked in management 

consulting and completed a nine year military service as an officer in the Intelligence Special Forces of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Erez holds a B.Sc. in Medical Sciences from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an M.B.A from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. 


Details to Participate: To participate in this month's AMA, start asking questions on this thread and tune in for the AMA event on Wednesday, July 10, 11:00am PT.


The top Kudoed questions will be answered first. 


To attend the event, please download the calendar invite below. The invite will contain a Teams link which will be used to participate in the event. 


Please start asking questions in the below thread, or be ready to ask questions during the event after the brief presentation.


'See' you there!

-MPC Team


Community Manager

Hello partners,


We heard your feedback and are providing clarity on the recent announcement on the blog by Gavriella. Please review the blog link below. 

Please note that the AMA recording will not be posted because the content is now out of date. 


Level 5 Contributor

100% agree with all your points. This is a staggeringly short sighted and openly hostile change to Microsoft partners, which is going to make a large number of us question what we are getting back for our significant membership fees. 


Huge cost increases aside:


A) We no longer have an easy decision to use MS products internally. Using products internally upskills us through day to day use, and results in us being comfortable selling and supporting these services to our clients. Lab time is limited in time in a busy MSP. 


B) A change to 10 net new tenants to maintain partnership is hugely problematic. Most of the customers we have onboarded (and then upsold!) in the last couple of years were already Office 365 users. Smaller MSPs or specialists partners haven't got a chance of meeting this. Our business model doesn't align with this at all - we take a small number of high quality clients on each year and provide a wide range of services to them, focused on Microsoft products. There's absolutely no way we be able to - or want to - find 10 net new to Microsoft customers every year!


I've only once had to use a support incident in many years of being a partner, but you bet we are glad they are there and see these too as a key reason to be a partner.


Community Manager


Hi @Bmartindcs , @RNW ,


Thanks a lot for these feedbacks as it is definitely important to hear from you on the Community. 

While we understand this may be an adjustment, we believe the evolution of our partner business investments will allow partners to better capitalize on the cloud opportunity. To your questions:


-The change from 4 to 10 net new tenants (bigger impact than it seems)

As cloud technologies advance, partner capabilities must keep pace.

We are updating the requirements for some of our competencies to better reflect the market and more demanding customer expectations. Available competencies are regularly assessed to ensure they align to customer needs and maintain value and differentiation for partners.   


-No value on retaining or upselling existing clients to higher skus like m365. 

Microsoft 365: Developers can get code samples, SDKs, training, and more 


-No value is placed on demonstrable skills anymore, only sales. 

We are continually looking at where and how to make investments in our partner business to create the most value for our partners. Partners have asked us for benefits that support business growth. We’re investing in helping you build your teams’ technical capabilities and increase your customer reach to sell your services.  


-Elimination of support incidents. 

Usage of these incidents by partners with competencies and Action Packs has steadily declined over the years, and only a very small percentage of available incidents was used in FY19.  


-Elimination of IUR. 

 We outlined our approach to these investments in a recent blog post, Investing in partner success and growth. Like any business, we need to prioritize where we are going to commit funding and resources. In this case, we made the decision to invest more heavily in programs and resources that support new business growth, and helping partners connect with more customers, other partners, and Microsoft sales teams. One of the trade-offs is indeed changing our approach to providing product licenses for internal use. We will continue to offer product licenses for business development scenarios such as demonstration purposes, solution/services development purposes, and internal training. Internal use rights will retire on July 1, 2020 to allow time for partners to plan.  


I really hope this clarifies a bit why some changes are taking place.


Wish you a great day ahead!

Level 5 Contributor

-The change from 4 to 10 net new tenants (bigger impact than it seems)

As cloud technologies advance, partner capabilities must keep pace.


This would make more sense if the program change was requiring partners to have passed a greater range of certifications to maintain partnerships - i.e. to demonstrate we are keeping pace with technological developments.


Instead this a pure sales push, and nothing to do with keeping pace with cloud technologies. Useful benefits that help us maintain and expand our skills (IUR licenses) are being removed, and marketing support + sales targets have been increased.


I don't know how - or why - I should be hunting for so many new clients who have no presence in the MS cloud. Our business model doesn't work at all for this sort of growth rate, when MS services are just a piece of the overall stack of software and services we are selling.


I'd probably have to aquire 100 new customers per year to get 10 that aren't Microsoft Cloud customers already, which is totally unrealistic for a small MSP (and I imagine,  impossible many MSPs much larger than us too). 



Partners have asked us for benefits that support business growth.

I doubt very much any partner meant "please dramatically increase our costs by removing IUR and support credits" when they said this...


We’re investing in helping you build your teams’ technical capabilities and increase your customer reach to sell your services.  

How is significantly increasing our costs and setting significantly more aggressive sales targets "an investment" in your partners? Additional marketing support doesn't make up for this. 


Usage of these incidents by partners with competencies and Action Packs has steadily declined over the years, and only a very small percentage of available incidents was used in FY19.  

So why get rid of them if they weren't costing much to provide? Like most partners we rely on these as a safety net, and see it as a huge postitive, despite almost never needing them.



Level 3 Contributor



I don't see how you addressed this concern:

"-The change from 4 to 10 net new tenants (bigger impact than it seems)

As cloud technologies advance, partner capabilities must keep pace.

We are updating the requirements for some of our competencies to better reflect the market and more demanding customer expectations. Available competencies are regularly assessed to ensure they align to customer needs and maintain value and differentiation for partners.   "


How does Microsoft expect us to have 10 new to Office 365 cutsomers every year?  As stated above the market is becoming saturated with existing 365 customers.  Most new customers we get already have a presence in the Microsoft Cloud.  Are you really planing to abandon all of your partners that are unable to meet this requirement?

Community Manager

Hello @rmavis ,


I am totally hearing you.

This might seem unachievable, what I meant to say is this : Meeting the updated performance requirements will enable you to deliver to end-customers expectations.


Also as a Microsoft partner, you get access to sales and marketing education, content, and services to grow your business., which will clearly count in these efforts.


Advice and training

Peer-based research and education to support and coach your team. Start off with Smart Partner Marketing best practices.

Content and resources

Ready-to-use, customizable marketing, sales, and readiness content to help you save time and promote your business.


Marketing activities to help you attract and engage customers, generate qualified leads, and expand your partnership.

​Please review this resource to learn moreGTM Services on the partner website.


Also please note the updated performance requirements will need to be met at the partners next anniversary date AFTER October 2019.


Kind regards,


Level 3 Contributor

Exactly what are the end customer expectations? Have a qualified, certified, long-term partnership with skilled technical partner who knows the client, can help with the transition to the cloud and up-sell what customer really need, attain new needed expertise for cloud?


Or they want partner who vanish if they create new tenant because they are required to do so, and not to up-sell new and higher SKU or maintain higher active usage rates.


I saw that competencies move the baseline for these. But removing IUR is a big mistake to be hones. How you want to sell a Tesla car, if you take a bus? Let me example, if Microsoft will need to pay for your account internally, did it buy Microsoft 365 E5 or take only Exchange Online, because you need only to mail? Separate testing and showcase tenants are already in demos provided. Real life experience teach people how your technology and services are. And they are great! How will you want to talk as expert on Microsoft 365 E5 if you day-to-day experience is Microsoft 365 Business? Many customer stories and wins starting with "let me showcase how we use these services".


I mean that a lot of partners will meet these requirements, but the price will be projected to project/service fees. And I personaly mean that this was not end customer expectation.


And with these resources, if all are current for all markets, these will be the real investment in this area. I am really glad if I need to delete all the stuff which is not available outside US from these marketing presentations.


And at least, someone should told these changes the departments on other side of campus. Because for example CSP teams with the current security requirements are still counting on them and telling every partner "use your IUR licenses".

Level 2 Contributor



When it comes to perfect storms the latest announcements from Microsoft are equivalent to a Tsunami for Partners!


Announcement after announcement for Partners across the globe is just lose, lose, lose! If that wasn't Microsoft's intention than you almost certainly failed to communicate properly with parters. Microsoft's reality is not aligning with the reality of partners. There is a disconnect!


Questions I have:

1) As a percentage of total Microsoft Partners how many MS Partners where consulted prior to the latest MPN changes? Exact numbers?
2) When Microsoft claims in it's announcements that "Partners have told us this" and "Partners have told us that" please provide a list of exactly which partners wanted the latest MPN changes?
3) By taking benefits away from Partners when is Microsoft going to admit to "divesting" in partners rather than investing in Partners?

Community Manager



I moved this thread here as it is a Program discussion and not related to the Ask Me Anything Event topic.

Going forward I kindly ask you to refer to this thread.


@georgerizk, I do understand the frustration that comes with the change and my strong recommendation is to keep an eye on the updates as they follow. The program is meant to create more balance (between practice development advisory services, Go-To Market services, etc.) and to help partners accelerate and grow their business as well as enable them in a variety of business scenarios.

Where a partner has an affected competency, they will receive notifications via email, partner website, and partner center about what is changing, and when, so they can prepare for that change.


Thank you,


Level 3 Contributor


Respectfully I request you actually understand that this isnt a program thread discussion. It is a valid ASK ME ANYTHING question that is being asked by THOUSANDS of your valued partners. No other questions are being raised in this AMA. Doesnt that say something to you? There is NO MORE IMPORTANT discussion that will happen at Inspire than this one. In fact I suspect you will not get any other questions about anything at all.
If you attempt to sideline this discussion as a program thread, then you have seriously understimated the ire raised in partners worldwide. In addition you will be doing your company a disservice. Every Product Lead, VP and the CEO himself must hear this discussion and answer these valid questions. Your attempts at ignoring the actual questions above by posting party line responses is patently obvious and not helpful. I realise you may not be able to change what people above you have decided. Howeve do partners the courtesy of saying "I hear your concerns, i will raise them upwards and get back to you". 
Partners will leave in droves if IUR is removed. We will not renew our silver competency if we are unable to get IUR and we have been a partner for over 20 years.

Level 2 Contributor

It would be logical if we wake up from this nightmare and Microsoft really meant they are killing off the physical IUR licenses, like for all the on-premise server products. And giving us E5 and piling on the Azure credits... That they just miscommunicated. Maybe that's the clarification that we'll get eventually? LOL...


I mean we did everything Microsoft asked us to do, yet we've been stuck with Small and Midmarket competency for a few years because we've migrated customers to exchange online, but when they weren't ready yet (or didn’t want) any of the other cloud services we kept nurturing our clients. Now after many years they've for the most part, gone all cloud now. We couldn't qualify for other, higher level competencies, because we weren't banging out new tenant accounts all day but nurturing the ones we had. And of the new customers we do acquire, they've often been through those other big partners that just bang out migrations... but leave the customers hanging.


And for our long-term clients, we've pushed them up the SKU chain from Exchange Online P1, through Office 365 E1 to E3, and now using Microsoft 365 for all our clients, from F1 to E5s... Oh, and sprinkling in Azure here and there, and doing what we can to encourage the adoption of the new Power Platform and the Common Data Service... And the reward is? a few bucks in "incentive" payouts, and a "Thanks for the money, now go sell more."


How would we have known to best utilize any of these additional products had we not been given the Dynamics / Power BI / PowerApps licenses to use ourselves? Aside from paying to go to events like Microsoft Business Applications Summit to learn, it's all self-attained. I've never seen or received an invite to anything from the partner program that says, "hey partners, join us for a virtual Power BI course and learn dashboard in a day!"


Ironically, we're just now getting to one of the best places our company has been as a Microsoft partner, we're positioned to grow as a company, due large part to the IUR program. And it suddenly feels like someone's taking their foot off the accelerator... 


If IUR is in fact taken away, we'll find ourselves lagging on adopting new and shiny, because there will be a financial barrier. Now if the partner competency fees were reduced enough to cover the difference, that might be fair.


I think it's important to keep in mind that there are a LOT of third-party SaaS products in market, that do a lot of what Microsoft's more expensive products do... And because as partners we've had IUR and used the Microsoft products, we've had no reason to try these other solutions, and have frequently pushed Microsoft as superior, only because we used it and knew it.


Basically, it feels like Microsoft is telling us that SMB is not a priority and they're OK with our customers following us if we find other products that are more economical.


This is a weird place to be right now.

Level 1 Contributor

If we lose our MPN # due to not making some ridiculous new sales target we won’t be able to sell software via CSP.
I’m 100% positive that if I go and talk to all my customers today they will not say that they want us to spend our time finding new Microsoft customers.
Like a lot of partners I have spent 32 years learning new Microsoft products, you learn by installing on your own systems because you don’t have time to do it in a lab. That’s why IUR is critical, I can’t learn Exchange in lab time. I use it in my business then because I know it I can then sell it with conviction and passion. I’m not selling Google, we’re all in with Microsoft as a lot of partners are.
My question to Microsoft is this - do you really not care about the Partners? We’ve been thinking of moving to Silver partner but I’d be crazy to do that now.
Level 6 Contributor

I disagree with moving this topic off the AMA. You're purposely silencing us. The AMA is about partner incentives and requirements, and my reply was EXACTLY about that, and this is a question that clearly a large chunk of partners care about as it's the ONLY question that has been posed so far!!! Are you going to pull this same silencing tact at Inspire next week? Should we even bother to go to that anymore either now? 


Everything you've said is simply not accurate and the same canned response being repeated across the internet right now to all those in the tech community asking the same questions. What partner, short of very large ones looking to eliminate smaller more nimble competition, are asking for this like you say??? What specific value that you speak of are we as partners getting as a result of these changes? We already previously got marketing support, so that isn't new. You're eliminating all the perks of being a partner and making it that much harder to stay one? How are we supposed to market ourselves better when you take away the Silver badge we EARNED? That badge matters to us!


We get no credit for retention or upselling, and we've found the market to be pretty well saturated when it comes to if they have a tenant or not, as this means even companies who signed up for a demo of Teams are not disqualified as counting if we pick them up and then upsell them into O365 or M365.


The IUR is a small piece of the pie, I already pay for most of our services we use internally. I care about the message this sends that Microsoft does not want to do business with smaller partners.


We have the skills and knowledge, we're not looking for free handouts. The badge means something to us! Since this is clearly about getting rid of the unqualified partners, why not just make the competencies.... about competency? We'd pass any knowledge tests with ease.


You're litterally saying you don't want to do business with us that is really disallusioning for a company that has historically been so partner oriented but looks like those days are over with. Message received!

Level 3 Contributor
Level 3 Contributor

Exactly this. These are the questions all “partners” are now asking.

Microsoft know we’ll continue to sell its products and services because they’re ubiquitous in the industry and many of us have little choice in the matter. Our customers need them so we’ll resell for them regardless of how badly we’re treated. They’ve taken the step then to push out the partners and likely save themselves a few dollars in the process. There is zero chance that any exec at Microsoft looked at the new program and said “yes - our partners will love this” so the reasoning could only have been to drop partners for Microsoft’s own financial benefit.

It’s a depressing state of affairs and I can only hope that the response at Inspire and the responses in the community makes someone at MS take another look at this.

Level 6 Contributor

Why did you delete all the replies? Specifically mine which DID have the most Kudos which is EXACTLY what you asked???

Community Manager

Hi, this is odd. The comments disappeared. I am not sure if someone else deleted the comments or if this is a platform issue. I will escalate to our tech support team to find out what happened. 

Level 6 Contributor

Your post literally says "Please submit your questions regarding eligibility rules, year-over-year changes from FY19, key value propositions, or anything else related to our FY20 programs"


We did exactly that! Our question is directly about eligibility rules, the year-over-year changes, the few value propositions remaining, and which also cover the changes in the FY20 programs. My question got the most kudos, which is exactly what you asked for and said would be the criteria for which question is answered first.


So, as a result, you effectively delete our comments by moving them into a black hole that nobody will see and pretend nobody is asking these questions.


Deleting and censoring PARTNERS is not cool and is only pouring gasoline on this fire. You should google "Barbra Streisand Effect".....

Level 5 Contributor

This might seem unachievable, what I meant to say is this : Meeting the updated performance requirements will enable you to deliver to end-customers expectations.


Andra, I'm sorry but how does telling us we need to find MORE customers "enable" us to serve our existing customers better than we are now? 


How does stripping us of all the key benefits of being a Microsoft partner serve our current customer base? (or even new customers better). Without easy access to IUR software and Microsoft support, and increasing our cost base,  we are certainly worse off for serving our customers. Giving us marketing tools to help find more customers to try and make up the lost money is not a net postive - not by a long shot.


There is simply no way I am possibly going to find 10 new customers every year who have no Microsoft cloud services already. Almost every propsect I speak to in our smarket have been with you for years. 


The people we talk to who are using Google apps, or have some creaking Exchange server in a cupboard are usually the budget-focused customers who are almost always NOTour target market at all.  Most companies in our market started using Microsoft Cloud services years ago.



Level 3 Contributor



Moving this off topic and away from the AMA is disgraceful as this is one of the most important topics going through any partner right now and every question I would want to ask Microsoft about the partner program is/was here.


I have been a MS partner now for ~15+ years, I have referred millions upon millions of pounds to Microsoft and whilst there has been minor changes here or there (usually for the negative), I have never felt as under attack as I do right now.


We partner with startups as a consultancy - we typically get 2-5 new clients a year and spend a serious amount of time with these companies. Some fail as unfortunately expected, others blossom - one of which is now at 600 seats all using Office 365 and the previous year we had a company that is now at 200 seats.


We will not be able to meet the 10 new client requirement without significantly dropping the standard of service that we offer. We much prefer to partner with companies (as did you at one point) and increase their value over becoming a rotating door for new faceless clients that we don't care about.


We had so many clients on G Suite and with thanks to Microsoft, I became CSP direct and shifted nearly all of our clients to Office 365 - out of nowhere, you then introduce a $15,000 a year support fee without proper justification (that is worth while) and simply say that it costs to support customers. The only times we have had to get support is when there are service issues - it isn't our choice.


And now this - the partner program is pretty much worthless to us now.


Believe it or not, I (rarely) email whomever is CEO when there are BIG problems/issues that I feel affect the industry or require attention.


Bill Gates would usually send a quick response or forward to a team member and issues were dealt with very fast... Steve Ballmer used to give his email address out during pretty much any talk he did and said "tell me if you have any issues", he would personally respond and get stuff sorted (think what you like about some of his decisions, he was excellent for customers/partners!)... Satya Nadella though, I have sent 3 emails since he became CEO, I have had read receipts pretty much instantly (surprising) but no response what so ever.


MS I believe is officially closed for partners.


I even registered an account here just to post this message... If this doesn't get discussed during a partner AMA, this will be crazy.

Level 6 Contributor

"you guys" moved all the replies into a different forum, saying our questions were not relevant to the AMA (AMA = ASK ME ANYTHING) which is flat out not true! Our questions were EXACTLY about this AMA titled "Partner Investments and Incentives", and my post specifically had the most Kudos which is exactly what you asked for! Why are you silencing all us partners who are all pretty much asking the exact same question??? Is this how Microsoft rolls now, kill off the partners, and then bury anything that questions anything related?


Link to where they were moved:



Community Manager



I did not have any knowledge of your posts being moved until you pointed out this other thread. @Andra, the MPC moderator, supports me as the MPC business lead. She and I did not have a chance to speak prior to her moving the comments to another thread. She and I will sync and discuss this move. I will make sure Toby and Erez aware of this partner conversation going on in the community. They can decide how to address based on the session topic of partner investments and incentives. 


Microsoft does want to hear from you and make the programming better for all partners. 


Level 6 Contributor



You litterally ignored the question with the most Kudos which was your stated criteria for what would be addressed first!


This AMA was a joke! The ENTIRE room of partners was asking the SAME THING and you ignored us all! I don't care about IUR as much as the loss of status. We're NOT a freeloader, we PAY for our services we use internally, we PAY for M365E5! We are not a partner for free licensings LIKE YOU ALLUDED TO IS HAPPENING.


  1. I renew in ❤️ months, how am I supposed to meet the new requirements in that short of time?
  2. Your slides said RETENTION is critical, yet you provide NO VALUE to it towards requirements since retention isn't valued at all?
  3. Your presentation said that you are moving away from a transactional valuation, YET the ONLY factor you are weighing is NET NEW TENANTS!?
  4. Why do we not get any credit on the MANY prospects we pick up who have dabbled in a tenant on their own, but we then upsell them from O365B to say O365BP or M365B/E???? You don't care about that!????
  5. Why are these called COMPETENCIES if you only care about SALES? Why is our demonstrable skill or knowledge not counted here?

The message loud and clear is you simply don't want small partners, PERIOD.