July 09, 2012, 10:41 AM — Microsoft is modifying its Office 365 sales agreement with partners to motivate them to push the product more
aggressively, the company announced on Monday.
Microsoft wants to make Office 365 easier to sell and more profitable for its partners, said Kurt DelBene,
president of the Microsoft Office Division, at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto.
The changes have been prompted by feedback from partners. "[They] aren't shy, they like to tell us what's
working and what we need to improve on," said DelBene, during a keynote speech that was webcast.
To that end, Microsoft will let partners bill their customers directly for Office 365, and bundle in a single
invoice complementary services they provide in addition to the price of the software. This will be possible via a
new initiative called the Office 365 Open Program.
In addition, Microsoft will now make it possible for partners to earn up to 23 points of margin in the first
year of Office 365 sales, which is up to 11 points more than is possible today for many partners, DelBene said.
"As you bet on us, on the success of our product, we reward you with an additional margin there," he said.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who was on stage with DelBene, said that the company is working on new capabilities
for Office 365, including ways to make it easier for partners and their customers to deploy it.
"Office 365 will be as dynamic a product as Microsoft has ever done in terms of new capabilities coming to
market," Ballmer said.
Office 365, a cloud collaboration, productivity and email suite, was launched about a year ago, but Microsoft
hasn't yet given hard data about its adoption
Microsoft has been vocal about announcing major customer wins for Office 365, and said that it is on track to
become one of the "fastest growing offers" ever for the company.
Office 365 is available in a variety of configurations and bundles, each priced on a per user, per month or per
year subscription model. Most bundles include online versions of Office, Lync, SharePoint and Exchange.
It is an extremely important product for Microsoft because it lets the company offer customers who have
Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office the option of using those products via a cloud model.
Critics have said that it took Microsoft too long to come out with Office 365, which competes with Google Apps,
a similar suite that has been available since 2007, and with other cloud products.