Partners Baffled By Microsoft's Mixed Messages On Free Office 365 Migrations Program

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It's been about three weeks since Microsoft revealed its plan to offer free Office 365 email migrations to customers, but partners say they're still confused about what impact this move could have on their businesses.

Microsoft will start offering free "on-boarding" and Office 365 email migration services to customers in deals of 150 seats or more sometime this fall. It's part of a coming update to Office 365 Fast Track, a program that debuted last year aiming to speed Office 365 sales and deployments.

Partners who've built businesses around delivering Office 365 services see this as a potential incursion into their turf. And several told CRN Monday that they're baffled by the mixed messages they say they're getting from Microsoft about how the Office 365 Fast Track program will impact the channel.  

[Related: Microsoft Exec Discusses Plan To Offer Customers Free Office 365 Migration Services]

"Everyone in the field has their own interpretation of what this means, but the reality is, nobody knows jack," one disgruntled partner told CRN. "The stories are changing more than a meteorologist giving a weather forecast."

Some Microsoft representatives have told partners that the details of Office 365 Fast Track have been communicated incorrectly, both by Microsoft itself and by CRN, three partners familiar with the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect their business relationships.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to CRN that its reporting on Office 365 Fast Track to date has been accurate.

Microsoft reps have also told partners Office 365 Fast Track is still in flux and could see changes to make it more palatable to the channel before it's rolled out, sources said.

Meanwhile, other partners who've spoken with Microsoft about Fast Track said they're under the impression that the program could go even further than Office 365 email migrations, possibly expanding at some point to include Microsoft performing hybrid migrations for customers.

We've reached out to Microsoft for comment on this point and will update if we hear back.

Partners suspect there's an internal conflict going on at Microsoft around the role partners should play in selling and deploying Office 365. Microsoft's Office division is in one corner, and its worldwide channel group is in the other, partners speculate.

"Microsoft wants customers to deploy Office 365. To date, they believe that customers haven’t been doing so quickly enough," one partner told CRN. "From what I can tell, the Microsoft Office Division believes their engineers can do a better job than partners -- and Microsoft Consulting Services -- in delivering Office 365 professional services."

NEXT: Why Partners Think Microsoft's Plan Won't Work

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