Ellison: When will you be rolling out the new partner programs?
Flynn: Weve looked at how we have been doing our partner programs, and we wanted to focus on making changes. So we started this project about a year ago. its coming to fruition in the January time frame.
We decided to roll it out in phases to our partners. The first group were rolling it out to is our existing Gold Certified and Certified partners. Thats going to happen in the December.
In April, were opening it up to Registered members. Microsoft has about 675,000 partners on a worldwide basis. About 35,000 of them are Gold Certified or Certified members. So the majority of our partners are not engaged in our Gold Certified or Certified program today. We have had traditionally a Web site for them and a set of benefits for them but its always been done in a rote manner. One of the things were doing is creating a home for these partners as Registered members. This will create much more of a community for them and give them much more recognition that theyre formally a Microsoft partner. They will receive more structured benefits instead of receiving things on sort of an ad hoc basis. That is one of the big changes with the new program.
In July, were opening it up to our Microsoft Business Solutions partners. These are, traditionally, the old Great Plains partners that have been operating as a separate entity under Microsoft Business Solutions. Their program has been unique to that partner set. One of the things were doing is combining the MBS program and the traditional Microsoft program as one program. That will be happening in the July time frame. Were doing this because our MBS partners are on a calendar year that runs from July until June so their program doesnt expire until June.