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CRN: Where are the real opportunities for partners for investments in margin when we look at your product line?
Roskill: I'd start off with the desktop competency. We created a desktop competency specifically around this for the set of partners who are playing in this space and really adding value. And it's not just on deployments. It's on how to manage complex configurations and getting into things like virtualization.
Ross: We introduced two years ago a solutions incentive program for our partners who carry a Gold competency in certain workloads who can lead and sell projects. Even though they transact and monetize through an LAR, we pay an incentive to the partner who created the deal. So we've got that around our private cloud products, around Lync, we had one this year around Windows 7 deployment.
We continue to use that as a way to make sure that there's a broad economic opportunity for partners to lead in areas where we're dealing in a very fast growing market where we want to take share, where Microsoft may not be a [market] share leader. And it's paying off, the partners tell us.
CRN: Where have you seen the most explosive growth and the most profitable growth? What's been the most surprising?
Roskill: The best place to take this is our competency model. We have 28 competencies that allow partners to declare a major, essentially, and be a Gold partner in that area and specialize. What's been great to hear is that 99 percent of the Gold partners are re-enrolling. That really shows that we've got the value-add with things like the Solutions Incentive program.
So pick one, say, business intelligence, with a set of partners who are very differentiated, able to add value in that space, tacking on top of a product like SQL [Server] -- which is one of the big products, but also one of the very fast-growing products, well into the double digits -- and the folks who have made the bet on that competency have invested in building out a business in this space. They're the ones who are really seeing the positive effects on their business.
And, you could take that for almost any business were in. Lync is doing incredibly well. The big ones are obviously Windows and Office. As you saw from our recent earnings, there's still a lot of energy going on in basic Windows, despite the fact the PC market didn't have a great quarter. Partners are attaching SA (Software Assurance), they're driving desktop virtualization, [they're selling] the MDOP [Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack] on top of it. And Office continues to be a many, many billion-dollar business. Hundreds of thousands of VARs resell Office.