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Microsoft adjusts channel programmes amid COVID-19 pandemic

Firm will provide upgraded incentives and additional go-to-market resources

Microsoft has announced it has relaxed its partner programmes as it looks to provide more support to channel businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announcing the details in a blog post, the Redmond giant said it will offer companies a number of improvements, including upgraded incentives, additional go-to-market resources, as well as skills competency extensions for products such as Azure.

Microsoft said the changes have been designed to provide increased flexibility to channel firms, regardless of whether they plan to accelerate or slow down business during the coronavirus disruption.

'We've heard from many partners that it's challenging to meet requirements and renew existing competencies in the current climate," explained Microsoft partner chief Gavriella Schuster.

"To help you focus on supporting your customers, if your competency anniversary date is between January 1 and June 30, 2020, we are extending your existing competency or competencies through your next anniversary date in 2021."

Microsoft also revealed it has increased a host of partner incentives to help businesses navigate their way through the current climate, including online training and resources, as well as greater access to digital marketing resources.

An increased number of digital testing centres mean certification exams can be taken at home, with the tech giant waiving rescheduling fees and extending voucher expiration dates.

There will also be hundreds of in-person technical training sessions available via virtual platforms, the firm said.

"Effective April 1, and through September 30, we have increased the incentives payout at the 15% milestone for all qualified entitlements for non-FastTrack partners, and added a new incentive payout at the lowest qualified entitlement level for FastTrack partners," Schuster explained.

Additionally, Microsoft is postponing the enforcement phase of its Microsoft Partner Agreement until later this year, while Software Assurance Deployment Planning Services (DPS) and Software Assurance Training vouchers created prior to 1st April 2020 have been extended by 90 days.

"For decades, Microsoft partners have been at the centre of how we deliver technologies and business transformation to customers," Schuster said. "Today, more than ever, we need to collaborate and co-innovate to meet those customers' needs. For our part, that means ensuring that we’re giving you the support you need in the weeks and months to come."

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