Sunday, July 06, 2008

Dear Microsoft: What Does Partner Relationship Mean To You?

Vlad, Vlad, Vlad.

First: Stop poking me with a stick!


Second: I have a long history of supporting a move to more professionalism in our profession.

Third: Sole Proprietor is not equal to "single point of failure."

In the 21st century, a sole proprietor can have spectacular support behind them. The larger SBS community, the local SBS user groups, Dove Help desk, MSPSN Help Desk, Zenith Help Desk, Eriq Neale help desk, and more.

Who knows? They might even get support from a Microsoft MVP.

Plus, a whole bunch of these Sole Entrepreneurs are extremely qualified technicians.

- - - - -

Overall, I'm a big believer that you run your business as you see fit; I run my business as I see fit; and Microsoft runs their business as they see fit.

But when a vendor (e.g., Microsoft) makes a major change in their channel support (e.g., eliminating free critical business support), then they owe their partners an explanation.

If any readers have not attended an XChange/Everything Channel event, I recommend they do. See this post, this post, this post, and this post.

Mature consultants know this: You align yourself with vendors who make the relationship worthwhile.

Rule One: You align yourself with vendors who make the relationship worthwhile.

Rule Two: You align yourself with vendors who are the most profitable.

Rule Three: Vendor Programs change. If you trust them, and it looks like you're headed in the right direction, you keep the vendor. If it looks like they're abandoning the channel that makes them successful, you find alternatives.

Having said all that,

Microsoft still needs to explain to the huge family of Small Business Specialists what they're doing with the Microsoft Support program.

You admit that the Microsoft Indian support sucks, but make up a story of how this is related to filtering buffoon consultants from the system. Okay, whatever. I believe that, if Microsoft could find technical support in India (or anywhere else) for four cents less per hour, they'd bite.

Microsoft needs to check off a box on their internal audit that says "Provided first level technical support." Yes/No.

There is no requirement that the first level of support for SBS is competent.

or that they've ever seen the product before.

Microsoft's highest level of technical support for SBS is spectacular and amazing.

You get there by one of three methods:

1) Call the support line. Pay your money. Talk to an unskilled, unprofessional, untrained technician. Get pissed off. Piss him off. Escalate the call. And four hours later, get yourself escalated to qualified technical support.

2) Work through back channels because you live in Dallas, golf with superstar team, have an inside contact, etc.

3) Pay $8,000 to get a straight line to competent tech support.

With very very few exceptions, the entry level support for SBS is as horrible as it has ever been. But starting in August, you'll have to pay for it, even with a server down!

Vlad, you have to remember that you are not the average Small Business Consultant. Your tech support needs are different from ours. Most consultants don't have an extra $8,000 to drop on Microsoft so they only talk to competent technicians. This change might not have an effect on your business, or my business, but it will have a serious effect on many sole entrepreneurs.

Let's see, if I support 15 servers, and Zenith charges me $450 per year to support them . . . I'll have more than $1,000 left over, and I'll never have to call Microsoft again.

Microsoft absolutely has the right to charge for tech support.

But when they make a change that dramatically affects their so-called partners, they need to explain what the change means to the relationship.

Channel Partner.

Partner relationship.

Channel Partner Relationship. It should mean something.

If it doesn't, find partners who take it seriously.


  1. I am all about the sharp stick and poking.

    SPF, sole proprietor that shoudn't be touching a server, consulting shop that needs to call Microsoft for troubleshooting help because a good backup wasn't made..... pretty soon it's not going to matter what support group name the ISVs stick you in because you'll be on Google or Microsoft cloud that a 3 year old can configure.


  2. Anonymous5:02 AM

    Gentlemen - please! You can't fight in the War Room.


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