Microsoft has bowed to partner pressure and given back billing ownership to resellers selling Office 365.
At a packed basketball stadium at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the software giant announced the launch of the Office 365 Open programme.
Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office division, said: “Partners are a key part of our success. We have learned a great deal from partners – they want a market in which it is simpler to sell products and they want to make more money on every transaction.
“As a result we are offering the Office 365 Open Programme. It works just like Open does with other products, meaning partners get to bill customers directly for Office 365.”
In answer to the profitability requests, DelBene said the vendor is giving partners the opportunity to earn up to 23 margin points in the first year alone.
“That is 11 points more than any other year,” he said.
Explaining the size of the market, he said Office 365 has been deployed five times faster than Office 2007, and the global Office market is currently standing at one billion user desktops.
“We have 200,000 users in the cloud, covering 88 countries worldwide,” he said. “We are addressing a potential four billion users worldwide.”
Janet Gibbons, director of partner strategy and programmes at Microsoft UK, said the announcement will also give partners ownership of top-line revenue.
“One of the concerns outlined to me from UK partners was some not being able to provide customers with one invoice, which meant the turnover was not counted as their own. Now these changes will allow them to bill the customer and own the top-line revenue," she added.
However, Gibbons was quick to stress that partners wishing to stick with the original way of selling Office 365 can still do so: “Many of our new born cloud partners that do not have a legacy of selling different licence types, prefer us to handle the billing on their behalf, so we still will. It is about giving them the choice.”
DelBene also revealed that the vendor is hard at work at the next Office iteration – Office 2013.
"Office 2013 is the most ambitious release that we have ever done," he said. "It will be the first time that we ship everything at the same time. The opportunities for partners around Office 15 will be even greater than with Office 2010. We are getting more ambitious, and our partners are more ambitious. This is going to be a huge year for Office overall."
He was unable to reveal exactly when Office 2013 would be released.
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