November 12, 2008, 10:45 AM — The Microsoft muckety-mucks say they aren't, but a lot of Microsoft partners say otherwise. Several partners have noticed that partner-allocated marketing budgets are gettting slimmer these days.
A report on SearchITChannel.com asked several Microsoft partners to comment about the issue, and they report a notable change in Microsoft's attitude about marketing and about partnering overall, with some partners reporting that funding for joint marketing initiatives are down by half. In a rough economy, marketing is often the first line item on the budget chopping block, and this may be the case at Microsoft as well, despite their contention to the contrary.
Could it be that Microsoft is starting to move attention away from its traditional base to focus on its cloud-based SaaS offerings? Perhaps it's not that the marketing budget is down in real terms, just being shifted to other priorities. There's no doubt that this is a big part of Microsoft's overall strategy, especially in light of competition on this front from Google, and it's still not clear what role the partner channel is going to play in Microsoft's SaaS strategy.