Dan Truax General Manager, Global Partner Solutions

Coming to the Cloud Solution Provider program: seat-based offers in new commerce

Work colleagues having a meeting and looking at laptops

Update November 11, 2021: With the release of CSP seat-based offers in the new commerce experience, partners asked for additional time to deploy the technical and operational changes required for the transition. As a result of these requests, Microsoft has revised the timelines for the release. The full Partner Center announcement is available here.

  1.  Resetting general availability date. Originally scheduled for October 14, 2021, this release’s general availability – when introductory promotional pricing will be available for commercial seat-based offers in new commerce (see below) – has been moved to January 2022. This ensures that partners are able to utilize the tooling (both in Partner Center and via API) to migrate existing CSP customer subscriptions easily and efficiently to new commerce. This capability is especially important for Indirect Providers and their downstream indirect resellers that have thousands of subscriptions to migrate.
  2. Giving more time for customer transitions. Microsoft will extend the period during which subscriptions can be renewed on the existing platform to June 30, 2022 (instead of the previous date of March 10, 2022).  This gives partners three additional months before subscriptions must be renewed in the new commerce experience.  As previously announced, however, the ability to place new orders on the existing platform will end on March 10, 2022. 

To accelerate adoption of the new commerce experience, Microsoft will offer two timebound promotions beginning in January 2022, available on commercial seat-based offers in new commerce: a 5% discount on annual-term offers, and monthly term offers priced the same as annual term. Monthly term promotional pricing will be in effect through June 2022. Annual term promotional pricing will be in effect through March 2022; however, Microsoft reserves the right to extend annual term promotional pricing up to, and including, June 2022. Learn more about promotions here

On October 1, 2021, Microsoft launched incentives rebates for new commerce seat-based offer transactions in the CSP program under the Microsoft Commerce Incentive (MCI) program, for direct bill partners, Indirect Providers, and indirect resellers. More information on these earning opportunities can be found here: Microsoft Commerce Incentive resources  

Looking ahead 

The new commerce journey is not finished with the January general availability. Partners can expect high-value CSP seat-based offer innovations in the new commerce experience later in 2022, including: 

  • More three-year terms for seat-based offers in addition to the current D365 offers. 
  • Home Use Program (HUP), which allows a customer's employees to receive a discount on purchase of certain M365 consumer offers.
  • Multi-geo add-ons for M365, which enable a user on a subscription to tap into the Microsoft datacenter nearest to the user location.

Microsoft expects partners to have transitioned all commercial annual term subscriptions in the existing CSP business to the new commerce experience by July 2023. 

Update October 5, 2021: Today, we published updates to timing related to seats-based offers in new commerce. Details below and timing updated in the original post.

On October 14, 2021, Microsoft will move seat-based online services offers to the new commerce production environment, enabling all partners in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program to transact these offers. This technical release, a precursor to general availability, provides CSP partners with new sales capabilities and delivers operational efficiencies.

We realize partners need time to implement these changes and ensure successful adoption. To accommodate the requirements for partners’ operational and sales readiness, we are adding several weeks for partner preparations to deploy new commerce seat-based offers and the new policies and capabilities leading up to the general availability release in early January 2022. We will continue working with partners as they test and operationalize changes needed to transition existing business to new commerce, and we will introduce additional features to new commerce to improve the partner and customer experience. Please review the readiness assets and partner training  along with technical resources to support your transition.

To coincide with the January general availability launch, Microsoft will offer two timebound promotions, on monthly-term and annual-term offers, between January and June 2022. The promotions will apply to all new commerce seat-based commercial offers except Windows 365, and to subscriptions of up to 2,400 seats. These promotions on new commerce offers are designed to encourage migration to the new commerce experience. Further details regarding these promotions will be provided soon.

Other than shifts in timeline, all other capabilities, features, and policies as part of the October technical release remain unchanged.

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Technology has amplified change for organizations worldwide. As a result, our customers’ businesses are constantly evolving, and the Microsoft partner ecosystem must continue to evolve with them to effectively meet their needs.

We’re on a transformational journey with our new commerce experience. This is a multi-stage, multi-year investment in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program aimed at accelerating partners’ business growth, reducing licensing complexity and costs, and enabling partners to address how customers prefer to purchase. In 2019 we added the new commerce experience for Microsoft Azure, and we’ve continued to add new capabilities including our most recent announcements to help partners transition to the new commerce experience in the CSP program for Azure.

Beginning 1 September 2021, we will enable sandbox testing for the new commerce experience in the CSP program for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform, as well as Windows 365, ahead of general availability for new commerce transactions of seat-based offers in January 2022 (note: seat-based offers in new commerce will become available in Brazil in February 2022). This release builds on what we have already implemented: If you have a new Azure offer (Azure plan) subscription or buy perpetual software, server software, Azure Reserved Instances, or third-party marketplace offers through the CSP program, you already are benefiting from features on the new commerce platform.

As we transition the remainder of our cloud portfolio to the new commerce experience, let’s take a closer look at its advantages and opportunities —and how you can get involved early.

Streamlining product subscriptions in the new commerce experience

Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform are all signature solutions that customers know and rely on to address a wide range of business scenarios. Partners will be able to sell these products in the new commerce experience in the CSP program starting in October, offering customers a consistent and simplified purchasing experience. We are featuring three-year term options to lock in subscription pricing for Dynamics 365 (currently available in CSP) and Microsoft 365 (coming in March 2022), and we’ll announce additional offers as they become available. You can also secure favorable pricing with long-term commitment in advance of the recently announced commercial price increases for Microsoft 365. The new commerce experience for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform will include new monthly term offers that allow cancellation and seat-count changes in any month. New features include tools that streamline subscription management and the transition of existing subscriptions to the new commerce experience.

Windows 365—the world’s first cloud PC—will be available in the new commerce experience for the enterprise purchasing motion starting in September 2021, and in the CSP program beginning in October 2021. Announced and launched earlier this year, Windows 365 securely streams the full Windows experience to any customer device without needing virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) expertise. In the new commerce experience, Windows 365 will be available exclusively through a month-to-month subscription, with no long-term commitment and the ability to adjust seat counts in any month with per-user pricing.

Transitioning to the new commerce experience positions you and your customers for future growth. Though you can take a phased adoption approach, keep in mind that new subscription orders, offers, and renewals for seat-based offers in the CSP program will be exclusive to the new commerce experience beginning in March 2022—so it’s critical to plan accordingly. Also planned for the CSP program new commerce in March: feature enhancements for Windows 365 and three-year term offers, hybrid use benefits (HUB), home use program (HUP), and multi-geo add-ons for Microsoft 365. Adopting seat-based offers in new commerce early in this phased transition will simplify licensing, give customers additional term options, and, most importantly, maximize your growth potential.

Move to new commerce early and save

To help partners transition customers to the new commerce experience, we will have two introductory promotions between January and June, 2022, for direct bill and indirect provider partners transacting in the CSP program. Partners can see which promotions they’re eligible for on the promotions page in Partner Center, and the introductory promotions for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform will be added in January and monthly Global Promo Readiness guides are available on the partner website. More information on using promotions to attract new customers is available here. (note: these promotions will not apply to Windows 365).

Also, starting October 2021, we will be launching incentives for new commerce transactions in the CSP program under the Microsoft Commerce Incentive program (MCI), for direct bill partners, indirect providers and indirect resellers. More information on these earning opportunities can be found here: Microsoft Commerce Incentive resources

Laying the foundation for future features

Not only will these changes immediately improve the purchasing experience, they also will enable us to build out future capabilities by incorporating proven offer types from other Microsoft licensing programs. The new commerce experience brings the CSP program into alignment with other programs, such as the Enterprise Agreement, so that all customers have a consistent purchasing experience and are subject to the same terms and conditions for cloud purchases—regardless of the Microsoft sales motion.

The new structure also better insulates partners from the financial impact of customers who are less likely to commit to a long-term subscription or who might violate an annual-term subscription agreement. Under the new commerce experience, partners will be able to forecast revenue more accurately and mitigate the impacts of shorter subscription terms through premium pricing on the monthly-term option.

How partners can get involved

To help partners prepare for the January launch of seat-based offers in the new commerce experience for the CSP program, starting in September, Microsoft is enabling sandbox tenants with which partners can integrate APIs and make test transactions in new commerce.

  • If your organization doesn’t have a sandbox environment set up, review and follow the steps to create one.
  • Review the API documentation in the OPS Readiness Collection for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platforms, and Windows 365 in the new commerce experience in CSP.

By creating a more unified cloud environment, the new commerce experience opens a wealth of possibilities for creating new customer-centric solutions. As adoption milestones draw closer, I encourage you to check back often for the latest release updates, resources and promotions. We’ve designed these changes with partners in mind and will be with you every step of the way as you transition to the new commerce experience to better meet the needs of your customers.