Microsoft walks back channel changes following outcry

Red "Sorry!" stamp

Following extensive backlash from its reseller community, Microsoft has now backed down over proposed changes to its channel programme that would have seen partners lose access to free Microsoft software.

In a blog post, corporate VP of Microsoft's one commercial partner programme Gavriella Schuster said: "Your partnership and trust matters to us. Given your feedback, we have made the decision to roll back all planned changes related to internal use rights and competency timelines that were announced earlier this month. This means you will experience no material changes this coming fiscal year, and you will not be subject to reduced IUR licenses or increased costs related to those licenses next July as previously announced."

The proposed overhaul, announced on 5 July, would have come into effect fully from 1 July 2020 and have put an end to many of the free software benefits handed out to partners across all tiers, as well as implementing new competency requirements. This led to outcry among the community and over 6,000 people signing a petition demanding Microsoft reverse its decision.

At least one existing partner suspected this action was a deliberate effort to cut "low quality" members from Microsoft's channel that were suspected of abusing the free licence arrangement.

The company initially responded by saying it would "broaden" its partner opportunities however this failed to quell the anger of the community and a full walkback followed on 12 July.

"Our decision to rescind these changes required a thorough review, and a key determining factor was the connection and trust we have with you, our partners - a valuable asset we do not take for granted. Together, we can continue to be a catalyst for digital transformation industry-wide," said Schuster.

"We appreciate your feedback, apologize for the confusion this caused some members of our partner community, and look forward to growing our partnership with you in the months and years to come."

In a post declaring victory over Microsoft, the person who started the petition – George – said: "Partners across the world should feel a sense of victory today. The power of community transcends even the largest corporations for our power comes from the heart. Our power comes from the commitment to one another knowing that alone we can do nothing but united we can achieve anything."

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.