Microsoft partners rage against channel changes

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Microsoft partners rage against channel changes

Microsoft’s decision to remove the Internal User Rights (IUR) licensing benefits offered to partners has sparked fury, as recorded by CRN’s survey on the affair.

CRN will reveal full details of the survey next week, but for now we can report that hundreds have completed it and that partners are overwhelmingly angry about Microsoft’s actions.

Goodwill towards the vendor has collapsed.

One of the questions we asked was “If someone from Microsoft called to ask about these changes, what would you say to them? (Keep it respectful, please!)”

Here’s a representative sample of the responses.

Microsoft the greedy

Plenty of partners feel that IUR can’t be costing Microsoft all that much, making its axing stingy. Here’s some typical responses:

  • “You make BILLIONS off us, give a little back or lose us completely
  • “This is a significant blow to the global channel which just makes me believe you are either being greedy or punishing 95% of the channel for the mistakes of 5% which is unfair. Your partner first approach now feels like Partners... who cares about them!!!”
  • “Added to the recent removal of regional reps for smaller partners like ours, this is another slap in the face, and it's sad. It feels cheap, and no excuse. It's not like Microsoft is unprofitable.”
  • “Stop being greedy and don't forget the demographic of professionals that have assisted Microsoft get where they are today.”
  • “Ill-considered, punitive to those who learn and support your products, offers no ‘partnership’, greedy - for such a wealthy company, counter-productive, huge financial and organisational impost on businesses that actively promote and support your business, reduces competency value to negative.”
  • “It’s only MSFT's bottom line they are looking at, not the value it adds to partner services”

We’re outta here

Plenty of comments suggested their authors would work with other vendors in preference to Microsoft. Here’s a sample of those sentiments:

  • “We're not going to be beating the Microsoft drum anymore.”
  • “Partners need to use the products to recommend them. We were just embarking on a Devops Journey now may consider jira.  We use Dynamics PSA and have supported Microsoft even though it is an inferior product.  Now I will look at alternatives.”
  • “We are either part of the tribe fighting with it, or outside and fighting against it - your choice. Appalling lack of insight in this decision and clear message of what the future holds.”
  • “For years Microsoft has been chipping away at partner revenue streams with the move to cloud services, this is the final straw. I’m about at the point of exiting the industry. Microsoft like many other vendors won’t be happy until they keep all the revenue. If you don’t want us to use your products internally then fine we’ll look elsewhere and recommend our clients do the same. “
  • “Microsoft built its business on the back of partners like us; this move will crush whatever last remaining allegiance we have for Microsoft products.”
  • “These changes have made me consider what other vendors and products I need to explore. It will seriously impact my business financially so I need alternatives to promote to my customers and for my own use.”

Breaking the link between experience and selling

Lots of respondents said that IUR gives them experience with Microsoft products that helps them to sell. The worry that breaking that link in the chain won’t help.

  • “To sell effectively to SMB we need to know how software really works not just the marketing hype. This makes that more difficult to do and will also push us towards other solutions.”
  • “We use the IUR for Office 365/Azure to build our solutions, automate our business and provide recommendations to other MSPs - who in turn will use and recommend to their own clients. Removing these IUR rights makes us much more likely to explore other options. Removing the existing IUR pulls the rug out from under us, forcing us to reorganise our dev environments and take things out of the cloud to save money on consumption.”
  • “I am unsure what outcome was anticipated from this? Surely it is in everyone's interest to be able to say ‘...we use it in our own business, and this is why you need too’?”
  • “We're disappointed as this will stymie uptake of new products within our customers as we pilot internally first and IUR has been a big part of this.”

The survey also turned up comments on the following themes:

  • Being a member of Microsoft’s partner programs costs money, and partners wonder where those fees are going;
  • The decision is short-sighted;
  • The IUR changes feel like unwarranted punishment
  • The manner in which the IUR changes were revealed – an update to a web page – was not respectful.
  • IUR and other programs were being abused by some, but the response is disproportionate.

CRN will offer a full report on our survey early next week, a timeframe that will allow us to understand if any announcements from Microsoft’s Inspire partner conference address partner concerns.

A note about methodology

CRN did not verify that respondents are partners. But we did track when we received surveys, and the IP addresses from which they were sent. We noticed a spike in survey completions at around 3AM Australian time, with a few repeat IP addresses in that batch. As it is extremely unlikely that Australian partners responded at 3AM, and repeated IP addresses suggests an attempt at manipulating our survey, we have excluded some submissions from consideration for this story and from our future analysis of the data our survey generated.

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