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Those looking for a reaction to channel changes announced by Microsoft need not look for body language at partner events or go through reseller statements line by line, but just need to see if a petition has been launched.
Over the past couple of years, the online petition has become one of the main ways that the channel has been able to publicly share its unease with Microsoft’s plans.
In the summer of 2019, a petition was the main medium to express disappointment about the moves by Microsoft to stop giving partners the chance to enjoy internal use rights images on its software. That was followed last autumn by another online call for the channel to make its displeasure with Office 365 price increases known.
The channel has again taken the petition approach to register its concerns with the overhaul to Microsoft’s partner programme changes announced earlier this month.
Apart from a name change – from Microsoft Partner Network to the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program – the other headline-grabbing decision was a move away from gold and silver to an approach that used the two bands of solutions partner and specialisations/expert.
The vendor’s channel chief Rodney Clark said that Microsoft is giving partners six months’ notice before the changes came into effect in October, and even after that there is an additional year to get up to speed.
That reassurance has not gone far enough for many partners, with around 600 signing a petition calling for a reverse in the move to change the partner tiering structure.
The crux of the protest is that the focus of the new programme is placed heavily on selling, particularly in generating fresh customer sales; and the decision to rank partners out of a score of 100, with 70 the minimum needed to trigger a “partner capability score”, which will prove to be a bar too high for many.
“This unwelcome change to the Microsoft Partner Network is being touted as a good one for partners and their customers. However, the only [one] to really benefit from this change is Microsoft,” stated the petition.
“The upcoming changes in October 2022 to the Microsoft Partner Network program are yet another attempt by Microsoft to eliminate their loyal 400,000 partners across the globe,” it added.
The creator of the petition is also concerned that there is a drive by Microsoft to reduce its 400,000 partners by raising the bar.
Even in the comments, there appeared to be some confusion, with some pointing out that Clark had been clear that existing benefits would not be withdrawn, while others voiced support for the vendor.
The emergence of the petition indicates that the vendor needs to do more education around its plans, but also underlines that many eyes will be looking towards online petition platforms for further reaction.