A Microsoft speaker at a conference on Monday came out with some interesting news that I reported on ZDNet UK. The news was that after it appeared that Microsoft wanted to cut resellers out of the relationship it had with its resellers, it then had apparently had a change of heart and was keen to include resellers in this relationship after all.
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This is what Microsoft apparently said through the director of its Software Plus Services (software-as-a-service or SaaS as the rest of world calls it) strategy Shannon Day:
" … there is definitely a movement afoot to let you resell services, and you would own the paper and agreement with the customer."
In other words the news, as reported by the trade newspaper and web site CRN, was good for resellers of Microsoft software. They could "own" any relationships they had with Microsoft and Microsoft's customers and Microsoft would be happy with a cut of any deal.
We asked Microsoft to comment or enlighten us further but received no direct reply until Tuesday. Microsoft it now seems had made an error, or rather a Microsoft executive had unfortunately given us a misleading message.
We received a statement from Microsoft:
"In Q2 2009, Microsoft will give Microsoft Online Service partners the opportunity to create a Microsoft Online Services order tailored to their customer. Once enabled, partners will populate an order with recommended services and quantities while designating themselves as partner of record. The order generates a URL the partner sends directly to the customer to confirm and complete the order. Partners continue to own and manage their customer relationships, while Microsoft manages the billing process."
So there it is. Yes, resellers can "own" the customer/Microsoft agreement but when it comes to the real heart of it, which is of course the money, Microsoft is still keeping control.