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Partner roadmap

We’re making continuous investments across the Microsoft Partner Network—in commerce, co-sell and the commercial marketplace, programs, and investments and incentives—to deliver what you need to grow your business and meet customers’ needs.
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Transforming with Microsoft

For decades, our partners have been at the center of how we deliver technologies and business transformation to customers. Today, driven by the pace of digital transformation, the opportunities of the cloud and the imperative of tech intensity—defined as an organization’s rate of technology adoption along with its own tech capabilities—we are innovating alongside you to meet customers’ urgent needs and new expectations.

To deliver sustained impact through our journey together—and as cloud services refocus our businesses on customer usage of those services—we are working with you to follow customer demand. We’re positioning both our company and yours for growth, rewarding partners who drive strong results for customers and making it easier to do business with us. This is how we’re bringing that vision to life.

Last modified: March 29, 2021


Partners make more possible

We believe that partnerships are built on a foundation of trust. We secure that trust by designing and delivering thoughtful, customer-first, partner-led initiatives and programs. we succeed when you have the tools and support to deliver transformative solutions that empower customers around the world to achieve more.

Our partner ecosystem is central to how we deliver solutions to our customers. As markets evolve at the pace of digital transformation, we must also evolve our partner ecosystem to ensure both your organization and Microsoft are positioned for growth.

This evolution involves continued investments across the Microsoft Partner Network—with the new commerce experience, co-sell and the Microsoft commercial marketplace, membership, and incentive-to make it the program of choice for partners. The following digital experience will take you through recent updates and changes and provide you with insight into what is coming relevant to where your organization is in your partnership journey with us.

Simplifying your commerce experience

We are committed to supporting every organization in their digital transformation. To ensure this, we are investing in technology and examining the end-to-end journeys for both you and your customers. Through this assessment, we have identified opportunities to improve our commerce platform. Here’s what we’re doing to help you build your business, drive success for shared customers, and streamline your experience with Microsoft.

Perpetual software licenses for Cloud Solution Providers

To continue to make it easier for customers to transition to the cloud, commercial perpetual software licenses are now available in the Cloud Solution Provider program. This provides you with flexibility to combine software licenses and managed services for customer hybrid cloud environments and can help speed up customers' digital transformation.

Streamlined Azure transitions for enhanced flexibility

Expanding on the new commerce experience for Azure, we have streamlined transitions of modern Azure plans between Cloud Solution Provider partners to allow for a more seamless experience if a customer decides to select a new partner to manage their Azure business. These transitions, driven only by customer decision, will only occur when both partners take action. The transition process, which is part of your online portal experience in Partner Center, causes no customer downtime and will help reduce errors, save time, and provide greater understanding.

Consolidated promotional guide

To make it easier for you to stay up to date with promotional offers available for your organization and customers, we’re publishing a new, consolidated guide that will include promotion details across all programs.

We're working to simplify your interactions with Microsoft and make it easier to grow your business.


Updates to the Microsoft Partner Agreement (MPA)

As part of a minor refresh, we will soon be updating the existing MPA with new language. If you have already signed the MPA, you will not need to re-sign. In the coming months, we’ll introduce capabilities to enable you to access updates to the MPA in Partner Center and provide a historical overview of MPA changes.

Purchasing through the Azure Plan in the Cloud Solution Provider program

In 2019, we launched the Azure Plan—the new commerce experience for Microsoft Azure in the Cloud Solution Provider program-designed to simplify the Azure purchasing process and reward you for managing your customers' Azure business. Starting in July, all new Azure business in the Cloud Solution Provider program will transact on the new commerce platform via the Azure Plan offer.

Enhanced experience with Microsoft Azure spending notifications

If you subscribed to the Azure spending notifications on the Azure spending page in Partner Center, you are now able to set up your notification preferences and designate multiple admin agents to receive them.
To best align the Cloud Solution Provider program to our joint customers' needs, we are evolving specific aspects of the billing process and certain program requirements.

European Union/European Free Trade Association (EU/EFTA) billing currency change

In the EU/EFTA region, we have updated billing from customer currency to partner currency for new commerce offers in the Cloud Solution Provider program. This approach will better align to partner and customer currency needs and regulations in the EU/EFTA region. 

Updated requirements for the Cloud Solution Provider program

As customers continue to migrate to the cloud, we’re continuing to evolve the Cloud Solution Provider program to meet customers’ changing needs and provide you with the most efficient and profitable experience. In January 2021, we updated the requirements for direct bill partners in the program.

Updated billing model for the Cloud Solution Provider program

Based on partner requests to engage with Microsoft subsidiaries at a local level, we updated our billing model for the Cloud Solution Provider program in your country. This change impacts only new commerce offers purchased in the Cloud Solution Provider program; all other billing activities remain unchanged.

Your participation in Microsoft pilot programs is a powerful way to advance your business and support your customers.

The End Customer Investment Funds (ECIF) program

As a participant in the limited pilot of the ECIF program for Cloud Solution Provider partners, you'll be able to support your customers with funding allocated for organizations working to implement Microsoft products and solutions.

New indirect provider assessment

To help you validate your abilities as an indirect provider in the Cloud Solution Provider program, we have introduced a new assessment for operational, support, enablement, and scale capabilities. The results of this assessment will help determine the best path forward for your Cloud Solution Provider business.

Creating valuable customer connections

Co-selling with Microsoft is the path for your organization to be discovered, deliver your expertise, and expand your customer footprint for positive customer outcomes. Our better-together selling approach augments your sales efforts across three channels: customers, Microsoft sellers, and other partners, driving enriched value and specialization to help customers with their digital transformation needs. You can showcase your offers to customers directly, bi-directionally share opportunities with Microsoft and other partners, and jointly sell innovative solutions to create lasting customer relationships. Here’s how we’re continuing to invest in and improve your co-selling experience.

Helping you migrate to Partner Center with deal migration wizard and more

We are in the process of completing the migration of Partner Sales Connect and OCP GTM to Partner Center. OCP GTM has been fully migrated to Partner Center, so you can now manage your co-sell collateral for all commercial solutions there.

Additional updates to Partner Center referral capabilities

In Partner Center, you can now invite other partners to co-sell with you directly. We’ve also introduced functionality that allows you to share inbound co-sell opportunities related to small and medium-sized business customers.

Co-sell qualified referrals pilot program

Your organization has been selected to participate in the co-sell qualified referrals program. As part of its pilot launch, your business will proactively receive customer referrals for relevant product and solution areas where you demonstrate expertise.

Partner-led co-sell opportunities

We have introduced functionality that allows you to share partner-led co-sell opportunities with the Microsoft direct sales team without requiring customer contact information. When related to an incentive-eligible offer, these opportunities are eligible for deal registration. The Microsoft sales team can access and reactively engage with your organization on these opportunities, but this engagement is not required. You may promote these deals for active seller engagement at any time by selecting any of the “help needed” options in the referral. 
To streamline your interactions with Microsoft, we are making changes and automating systems to improve your pipeline accuracy, consolidate your access to leads, and streamline the deal registration and sharing processes. 

Improving your referral and deal experience

We’re continuing to make improvements to your co-sell experience in Partner Center with consolidated access to leads and automated deal registration and closure. We are fully automating deal registration for Microsoft Azure IP commercial marketplace transactions and, to improve pipeline accuracy, automatically closing referrals that have not had shipments reported against them within a specified timeframe. Additionally, we are working to bring leads from Microsoft storefronts together in Partner Center so that we can provide you with consolidated and unified access to leads in the future.

Aligning co-sell contacts with referral module access

We’re introducing improvements to align co-sell contacts with referral module access and improve your user experience. After this update, you will be able to grant referral admin access to all sales contacts associated with existing co-sell offers in the Microsoft commercial marketplace. These updates will also give you recommended contacts to add to an offer and allow Partner Center global admins and account admins to limit permissions to both publish and co-sell offers by geography.

Bulk upload functionality updates

You can now import and export co-sell opportunities at scale via a Microsoft CSV-based bulk co-sell functionality. This allows you to share deals at scale or semi-automate deal updates from your own customer relationship management system of choice, without requiring duplicate data entry. 

Introducing the Partner Reported Azure Consumed Revenue (ACR) program

To help streamline your experience and improve your deal submission process, we are introducing the Partner Reported ACR data capture within Partner Center, which compensates field customer account sellers for their ACR for a software-as-a-service solution using this simplified program reporting method.
As a partner with an Internet of Things (IoT) practice, we are working to improve your co-sell experience to ensure we can jointly serve customers in this space.

Extending co-sell to distributors and resellers

We will soon extend co-selling in Partner Center to distributors and resellers so these partners will be able to engage in joint selling opportunities. 

Streamlined user management

In June, we are moving your user management into the Customer License Agreement application so that you can manage users in the same place that you’re creating and managing your licensing agreements.

Differentiating your business

We want to make it easier to differentiate your organization in the market, connect with your ideal customer, and gain the skills and knowledge required to continuously drive growth. We all succeed together when we create strong results for customers. That’s why we’re prioritizing investments that help you develop and highlight your skills and capabilities throughout our ecosystem—so we can keep building a path to our shared success.

Stand out in the market

Set your organization apart from the competition by attaining Microsoft competencies and earning Microsoft advanced specializations, each of which align to customers’ business needs. Competencies validate your broad technical capabilities in Microsoft products or technology, while advanced specializations build on competencies to help you further differentiate your organization by demonstrating your deep and repeatable experience delivering tailored customer solutions and support in specific technical capabilities.
We are launching new advanced specializations to help you better differentiate your business, highlight your specific technical capabilities, and drive customer confidence in your validated knowledge, skills, and experience.

New Microsoft Azure advanced specializations

We’re introducing new Azure advanced specializations to help highlight your organization’s technical capabilities in specific Azure scenarios. With a gold Cloud Platform competency, you can start earning the Analytics on Microsoft Azure advanced specialization. We will also be launching advanced specializations supporting other Azure scenarios such as hybrid cloud, DevOps, AI, networking, and VMware solutions. 

New Business Applications advanced specializations

Showcase your organization’s ability to help customers in their digital transformation with new Business Applications advanced specializations. With an aligned gold competency, you can start earning the Low Code Application Development advanced specialization and the Small and Midsize Business Management advanced specialization. Before the end of 2021, we will also be introducing advanced specializations for Customer Data Platform, Business Intelligence, Connected Field Service, and Supply Chain Management. 

New Modern Work advanced specializations

With our new Modern Work advanced specializations, you can distinguish your skills and experience in increasing customers’ business productivity. With a gold Cloud Productivity competency, you will soon also be able to earn an advanced specialization in Custom Solutions for Microsoft Teams.     

New Security advanced specializations

We’ve launched several new Security advanced specializations to help you further differentiate your capabilities implementing Microsoft security solutions, including the Information Protection and Governance advanced specialization. With a gold Security competency, you can start earning it to showcase your organization’s proven skills and experience deploying Microsoft Information Protection workloads and providing proactive information protection strategies. You will soon also be able to earn an advanced specialization in Security Compliance and Identify Hybrid Cloud.
To better align to evolving customer needs, we’re making updates to the exams and requirements for attaining competencies and earning advanced specializations.

Exam updates for the Data Analytics competency

The Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI exam was no longer available starting in January of 2021 and was replaced by the Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI (DA–100) exam as a requirement for attaining the Data Analytics competency’s Power BI option. If you completed the Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI exam prior to January 2021, the exam will remain valid until January 31, 2022. 
To ensure that Microsoft competencies and advanced specializations recognize your specific capabilities, we’re updating select prerequisites and benefits.

Microsoft Business Voice now available in competency benefits

To help you deliver the best customer solutions and services, particularly in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space, and to build your capacity and skills, we are adding Microsoft Business Voice—the Microsoft 365 SMB voice solution—to our competency benefits package for the Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions competency. 

New option for Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions competency

We introduced a new option for attaining the Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions competency. This option is intended for partners with Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions who serve small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers. You will now receive new Dynamics 365 Business Central benefits if you attain the competency using the Cloud Business Applications SMB option.

New measurement for the Cloud Business Applications competency

We’re implementing the Partner Contribution Index model for the Cloud Business Applications competency to ensure we’re taking a holistic approach to the variety of signals across the customer journey. This model is meant to measure a partner’s true competency, beyond the pre-sales phase, to better recognize positive outcomes for you and your customers. 

New Microsoft 365 benefits for competency renewal

We’ve added Microsoft 365 to the package of benefits included with your competency to help you build your capacity and experience helping customers stay connected.  

Managing your partnership

Our mission—to empower every individual and organization to achieve more—starts with trust. Across our partner ecosystem, we are only as secure and compliant as our weakest link: that’s why we’re continuing to improve our systems and processes to further ensure compliance for your business, for our shared customers, and for Microsoft. We’re also continuing to make improvements to our programs, processes and experiences—streamlining and simplifying how you can access information and manage your business with us, so you can focus on growing your business and your success.

Updates to Microsoft Partner Network program requirements

We’re continuing to improve compliance requirements for the Microsoft Partner Network program, including more rigorous verification of partner business profiles to support a compliant and protected ecosystem. Additionally, partners can now add their Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number when they enroll in the Microsoft Partner Network, providing business legitimacy by allowing customers to search their organization.

Updates to role-based and specialty certifications

Microsoft role-based and specialty certifications may be renewed at no cost when you pass a corresponding online assessment. In June, new role-based certifications will be valid for one year.

Updates to Cloud Solution Provider requirements and capabilities

We're continuing to improve compliance requirements for the Cloud Solution Provider program, including more rigorous verification of partner business profiles and the submission of additional customer information to support a compliant and protected ecosystem. we are also providing enhanced reporting capabilities for direct bill partners and indirect providers for greater understanding of their agreement and compliance status. To provide business legitimacy and allow customers to search your organization, you will soon be able to add your Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number to your organization's profile in the Cloud Solution Provider program.
Continue to get the most out of your membership with supplementary resources, go-to-market services, and co-sell capabilities.

Unlock more resources with a Microsoft Action Pack

You have the opportunity to supplement your membership with technology and tools to help your organization continue building solutions, including five technical advisory hours of personalized guidance, product licenses, up to 10 product support incidents, and branding that denotes you are a Microsoft partner. 

Partner go-to-market toolbox access

You'll soon have access to the partner go-to-market toolbox, which provides everything you need to co-brand with Microsoft, from developing robust co-marketing plans to designing co-branded assets. Ultimately, it's designed to help you accelerate lead generation and cloud customer acquisition. Coming soon for partners with gold competency and/or ISV partners with an incentive eligible offer.
Find more ways to get involved in the Partner Network to expand your business, connections, and impact. Come together with other partners at Microsoft Inspire, participate in our campaign to spotlight partners building for a more sustainable future, and share the news about a new initiative designed to support Black and African American partners in and beyond our ecosystem.

Join us for Microsoft Inspire in July

Join us on July 14 and 15 for Microsoft Inspire, our largest partner event of the year. The no-cost digital experience is where our partners from around the world come together to create and strengthen connections, build their business, empower possibilities, and celebrate together. It is our opportunity to discuss strategy, innovation, differentiation, growth, and how we can best serve customers together, with inclusion and resilience. Submit your nominations for the Partner of the Year Awards by the April 21 deadline and expect more information in the coming months.

Help us #BuildFor2030

Inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, our #BuildFor2030 campaign helps partners who are making a difference amplify their solutions in the Microsoft commercial marketplace with added go-to-market benefits. Browse other spotlighted partners or nominate your impact-focused solutions to be featured.

The Microsoft Black and African American Partner Growth Initiative

Microsoft is committed to addressing racial injustice by growing the representation of Black and African American-owned businesses within the Microsoft partner ecosystem by 20 percent over the next three years. The Black and African American Partner Growth Initiative is designed to provide participating businesses with access to key resources, personalized support, connections, and offers within the Microsoft Partner Network. 

Investments and Incentives

Our partner investment and incentive programs are designed to reward you for delivering strategic solutions that drive strong results for customers. This year, as we optimize our incentive portfolio to meet evolving customer needs, we’re simplifying how our programs work and maintaining stability in investments for cloud opportunities. To help you meet customers’ cloud-based solution needs, we’re focusing on three priorities: enabling new ways of working, facilitating your growth, and accelerating customer digital transformation.

July announcement of updates for fiscal year 2022

As we approach our new fiscal year starting in July, we want you to continue recognizing the value and increased opportunities in your relationship with Microsoft. We also want to focus on outcomes that drive mutual success at every level of the ecosystem. In early July, we’ll announce the investments and incentives portfolio refresh for fiscal year 2022, which will include updates to services and devices incentives programs.

Updates for Microsoft Azure Stack and Microsoft Xbox Game Pass

We’re continuing to invest in Partner Center as the central hub for you to manage your relationship with Microsoft. As part of that investment, we’re onboarding fiscal year 2021 Azure Stack and Microsoft Xbox Game Pass into Partner Center for payout capability only. 

Streamlining Microsoft Azure incentives

We merged the Azure incentive program into the Microsoft commerce incentive program to provide you with more flexibility and streamline your earning opportunities for driving Azure consumption. This year, we expanded our recognition of engagements with customers to include more opportunities for rewards when you develop and drive value with customers via Partner Admin Link (PAL). You can continue to earn recognition and incentives with PAL when you help customers develop, build, and manage their Azure environments.

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