Gavriella Schuster Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner

Responding to COVID-19: Microsoft Partner Network update

Update August 4, 2020: Partners with competency anniversary dates between July 1 and December 31, 2020 are eligible for a competency extension. We are extending your existing competency or competencies through your next anniversary date in 2021. Information specific to your organization will be available in Partner Center by the end of August. You will need to take action in Partner Center to pay the competency fee and complete your renewal. If you are approaching the end of your 30-day competency renewal timeframe, please contact partner support for assistance.  

Update May 4, 2020: CSP Office 365 E1 Trial updated to CSP Office 365 E1 offer.

To our Partners,

Every day, we are learning more and more about the global impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)—how the health crisis is affecting our families, employees, and businesses. I want you to know from all of us at Microsoft, the health and well-being of our customers, partners, suppliers, and employees is our ultimate priority right now. And while there is uncertainty around the world, there is also a lot of hope, with incredible examples of partnership and innovation in the face of exceptionally challenging times.

For decades, Microsoft partners have been at the center of how we deliver technologies and business transformation to customers. 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.

In my March 16 blog post, I shared some initial resources to help enable remote work for your customers and your own organizations. Based on your feedback, we’ve updated that blog including the CSP Office 365 E1 offer, which allows partners in the CSP program to initiate and manage the experience. We’ll continue updating that post as our product teams bring new capabilities online. I also encourage you to take a look at the latest updates about remote work, our commitment to customers and Microsoft cloud services continuity, and shared resources for our mutual customers.

We have also been carefully considering how our partner programs can serve our partners best, as this situation evolves. We understand that some partners may want to accelerate their pace, while other partners may want to slow things down. Regardless, what is most important for you to know at this moment in time is that we are listening to feedback from you, our partners, and doing what we can to help.

With that in mind, I’d like to share some adjustments we’re making to programs to address your feedback and provide you more flexibility.

Microsoft Teams Online Services Usage M365 (OSU) incentive 

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

Competency extension

  • We’ve heard from many partners that it’s challenging to meet requirements and renew existing competencies in the current climate. 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. You will need to take action in Partner Center to take advantage of the extension. Information specific to your organization will be available in Partner Center later this month.

Azure Expert MSP extensions

  • If you are a renewing Azure Expert MSP partner with an audit date before June 30, your program anniversary date will be extended and you will be audited against the Spring 2020 Progress Audit Checklist and due on or before December 31, 2020. For information about this specific to your organization, and the action you will need to take, please visit Partner Center later this month.
  • If you are an Azure Expert MSP partner due to renew between July 1 and December 31, 2020 against the Fall 2020 Progress Audit checklist, your program anniversary date will be extended to allow you to audit on or before December 31, 2020 and you will be audited against the Spring 2020 Progress Audit Checklist, not the Fall Progress Audit checklist. For information about this specific to your organization, and the action you will need to take, please visit Partner Center later this month.
  • If you are a newly applying partner for the Azure Expert MSP program, you will have until December 31, 2020 to complete your audit against the Spring 2020 Audit Checklist. 
  • The published program requirement increases in Azure Consumed Revenue (ACR) planned for July 1 will now take effect on January 1, 2021. The Fall 2020 Audit Checklist and Progress Audit Checklist will also take effect from January 1, 2021.

Azure advanced specialization extensions

  • If you are currently enrolled in any of the Azure advanced specializations and have a renewal date on or before December 31, 2020, your program anniversary date will be extended to June 30, 2021. For advanced specializations that require an audit, you will be audited against the checklist that is in place at the time of your renewal audit. No immediate action is needed for these extensions. This applies to the following advanced specializations:
    • Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure
    • Linux and Open Source Database Migration to Microsoft Azure
    • Data Warehouse Migration to Microsoft Azure
    • Kubernetes on Microsoft Azure
    • Modernization of Web Applications to Microsoft Azure
    • SAP on Microsoft Azure

Cloud Business Applications competency

  • We have set a new date of April 1, 2021 for Partner Contribution Indicators (PCI) scoring for the Cloud Business Applications competency to take effect as part of the requirements. Along with that, we are postponing the implementation of the baseline snapshot for the Functional Consultant metric in the new Partner Contribution Indicators scoring from March 31 to October 1, 2020. We’ll share updates on the partner website.

Training, exams, and certifications  

  • The Microsoft Worldwide Learning team recently announced plans to help ensure that your teams can get trained and certified. We’re increasing the number of digital testing centers so certification exams can be done at home, waiving rescheduling fees, and extending exam voucher expiration dates. Learn more about these updates.
  • We are moving hundreds of in-person technical training sessions to virtual platforms so that partners can continue to receive specialized training from local subject matter experts and trainers. You can see available events on
  • Microsoft Learn is your destination for free digital training, offering a comprehensive catalog of online training that includes interactive coding environments and role-based learning paths for Azure.
  • Partner Technical Services are available to help partners who are trying to close deals with pre-sales technical and deployment guidance, as well as application development assistance. This resource is available to partners who have advisory hours included with their competency or Action Pack.

Microsoft Partner Agreement

  • We previously communicated that we would begin the next phase of implementing the Microsoft Partner Agreement – enforcement – in April 2020, and that partners that had not accepted the agreement would no longer be able to transact. To help prevent disruption to partner and customer businesses, we are postponing the enforcement date until later this year and will update you when we have set a new date. If you have not accepted the agreement, please review the Microsoft Partner Agreement resources and do so as soon as possible.  

Microsoft Inspire

  • As we explore more ways to bring our partner community together, we will be moving Microsoft Inspire, our annual partner conference, to a virtual event this year. We’ll have more to share soon on the Microsoft Inspire website.

Software Assurance Deployment Planning and Training vouchers

  • We are updating our policy for how Software Assurance Deployment Planning Services (DPS) and Software Assurance Training vouchers may be used. We’re extending active vouchers created prior to April 1, 2020 for an additional 90 days. And we’re waiving the onsite requirement for delivery partners, allowing for remote Deployment Planning Services engagements through 30 June 2020. No action is required from partners or customers for these extensions.  

Go-to-market with Microsoft resources

I know that’s a lot of information to take in. My hope is that the updates and resources I’ve outlined will be helpful to your organization and your customers as we work through these challenging times. If you have questions, I hope you’ll visit the Microsoft Partner Community to continue this discussion. And of course, we will keep you updated as we have more information to share.

As always, thank you for your partnership with Microsoft and commitment to your customers. We are in this together.