Microsoft's global channel boss says partners' eight-month wait for the Office 365 Open programme was necessary to ensure its systems were running smoothly.
The software giant earned a big cheer at last summer's Worldwide Partner Conference when it announced it would bring Office 365 to Open licensing, making it possible for resellers to bill customers directly for the first time.
Although the move took longer to materialise than expected, Microsoft earlier this month finally revealed that its cloud productivity suite will be available on the Open price list from 1 March.
Speaking to CRN, Jon Roskill, corporate vice president for the worldwide partner group at Microsoft, said it was important not to jump the gun.
"We have been working on this for a while, and the core here is that we did not want to bring [Open licensing for Office 365] to market until we were sure we had a mechanism that would be successful," he said.
"Enabling a cloud subscription through the channel model takes core work in the product, and we have done a lot of development work to get this done. We have been running trials with this for some time and everything is working well, so we are excited to go to a broad scale now."
Up until now, resellers have not had control of Office 365 billing themselves, and have earned pre-set margins on sales of the cloud-based product. From 1 March, resellers will have the ability to invoice customers directly, and then pay their distributors for the licences, who will in turn be invoiced by Microsoft.
Microsoft's sales excellence programme manager Eric Ligman gave more details on how VARs can make the most of the new programme on his blog this week.
Roskill was unable to share further information on Office specifications on Open licensing, and the vendor has advised partners to consider it as a new way of selling and not necessarily as an individual SKU.
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