Microsoft Announces Partner Program Changes For NCE, Teams Phones, Admin Privileges

A delay to a key date in Microsoft’s new commerce experience (NCE) campaign and a way to add margin to certain Teams Phone plans are part of the changes.

A delay to a key date in Microsoft’s new commerce experience (NCE) campaign, a way to add margin to certain Teams Phone plans and a new tool for Granular Delegated Admin Privileges (GDAP) upgrades are some of the biggest recent changes the tech giant has made to its partner program.

Even with the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant’s annual Inspire conference for partners not far off, Microsoft has used June to announce some major changes for its partners. Inspire will be held online only July 19 and 20.

This year, Microsoft partners have had to contend with some of the most controversial changes in years to the company’s partner program.


The changes include a 20 percent premium on month-to-month commitments for popular software packages including Microsoft 365 and a new partner capability score to determine new specializations replacing Microsoft’s Gold and Silver badges.

Microsoft will host some training sessions later this year to prepare partners for upcoming program changes. Sessions for the Americas are planned for July 27 and Sept. 1, according to the tech giant.

Here are seven key changes you need to know about.

Another NCE Deadline Delayed

Microsoft has indefinitely delayed the end date for legacy subscriptions moving to its “new commerce experience,” crediting more migrations and giving partners more time to adopt the change.

The original deadline for partners to move subscriptions of popular Microsoft offerings including Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 to the new commerce experience (NCE) was July 11.

The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant in an online post called the delay “a business decision.”

“Microsoft has seen an acceleration of partners migrating legacy Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) subscriptions to the new commerce platform in recent weeks,” according to the post. “We appreciate the efforts of partners that have contributed to this acceleration, and all CSP partners are encouraged to complete migrations from legacy to new commerce as soon as possible.”

It continued: “Previously, we communicated that legacy commercial seat-based subscriptions would no longer be auto-renewed on the legacy platform starting July 11. Though our goal is still for partners to migrate legacy subscriptions to new commerce before end of term, we have made a business decision to continue supporting the legacy auto-renewal functionality beyond July 11.”

Partners are still unable to buy new orders of legacy subscriptions, a change implemented in March, according to Microsoft.

Monthly incentives rebates paid to partners on active legacy commercial seat-based subscriptions are also still set to end on Jan. 1.

New Teams Rooms SMB Playbook

Microsoft introduced a playbook for partners offering Teams Rooms to small and midsized businesses (SMBs), according to an online post.

“The new playbook includes step-by-step guidance and resources across all phases of the partner journey, including understanding the opportunity, developing sales and technical skills, activating sales and marketing plans, and deploying and managing the solution,” according to Microsoft.

Opportunities for partners include infrastructure assessment, device deployment, user training, change management, ongoing management of the complete meeting environment and onsite support.

CSP ‘Scheduled Change’ Feature Improved

Partners in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program can now apply eligible promotions to the “scheduled change” feature in Partner Center.

Partner Center application programming interfaces (APIs) can show if a promotion is eligible based on the scheduled changes. Previously saved scheduled changes need to be recreated to include a promotion.

“Effective immediately, when a scheduled change is made, if an eligible promotion is available, it will be applied to the subscription when the scheduled changes are applied,” according to Microsoft. “The eligible promotion will be visible for partners in the scheduled changes UI.”

Addressing Issues With Teams Phone Licenses

Microsoft is working to fix some issues with its new “Teams Phone with calling” plan that brings together two separate bundles, according to an online post.

Starting July 1, Microsoft has changed the plan to address a “lack of margin.”

For end users based in the United States and Puerto Rico (part of “country zone 1”), Teams Phone with calling plan is priced at $15 a user a month for a phone system and 3,000 domestic calling minutes. A separate plan exists for end users in the United Kingdom and Canada and for users in other areas.

Microsoft also decided to re-enable existing Business Voice customers’ auto-renewal feature starting July 7 and ending Sept. 28.

“From September 28, any existing Business Voice customers wishing to renew their subscription will need to transition to Teams Phone with Calling Plan,” according to Microsoft.

Along with the plan for margin and re-allowing auto-renewals, Microsoft has added a “do not use” tag to existing Business Voice customers to prepare for its retirement. The tag will disappear on July 7.

“Existing Business Voice customers can continue to use their subscription per usual until the end of their agreement, at which point they’re recommended to move to Teams Phone with Calling Plan,” according to Microsoft.

The Teams Phone with calling plan brings together the Microsoft 365 Business Voice and Teams Calling Essentials bundles. The tech giant had announced its intention to consolidate the two bundles in January.

“Customers can still use Microsoft Business Voice through the duration of their agreement but can’t renew at the expiration of their license term,” according to the post. “Existing Business Voice customers at the time of renewal are recommended to buy Teams Phone with Calling Plan. For Business Voice without Calling Plan customers, the recommended license is Teams Phone Standard.”

Reduced Cancellation Window

Despite delaying the end date for legacy subscriptions moving to new commerce experience, Microsoft will maintain the July 11 start of a reduced cancellation window for new purchases or renewals of Windows Server, SQL Server, Azure SQL Edge and other software subscriptions.

Starting July 11, the 30-day window for canceling those software subscriptions in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is reduced to seven days. “This change does not apply to legacy CSP subscriptions during the transition to new commerce,” according to Microsoft.

After seven days, partners can’t cancel and no refund is available.

“With any new purchase or renewal of a software subscription in CSP new commerce, a partner will have 168 hours (seven days) from the subscription order or renewal date to cancel the subscription, regardless of the term, instead of the previous 30-day window,” according to Microsoft. “The partner will receive a prorated refund when canceling within the first 168 hours of the term (proration calculated daily).”

In March, Microsoft announced that a previously announced 72-hour window for partners to cancel commercial seat-based offers in CSP new commerce was lengthened to seven calendar days “to provide partners with additional time to make post-purchase corrections to orders.”

Solution Workspace Sayonara

Microsoft will do away with its Solution Workspace tool for partners starting Sept. 1. CRN has reached out to Microsoft for comment.

Made available to partners worldwide in 2019, Solution Workspace provides “on-demand access to resources and support to take your solution—whether an application or service—from idea to the Microsoft commercial marketplace faster,” according to a previous online post.

The tool was available to independent software vendors (ISVs) and systems integrators, managed service providers and other service businesses.

Partners with a project in progress on Solution Workspace must finish by Aug. 31, according to the tech giant.

Tool For GDAP

Starting July 25, Microsoft will offer a tool for partners with delegated administration privileges (DAP) to upgrade to Granular Delegated Admin Privileges (GDAP) without customer consent.

Partners can use the tool until Oct. 31, according to an online post by Microsoft. After that, customers will again have to approve all GDAP relationship requests.

Microsoft bills GDAP as “a more secure model for administering customer tenants” that “adheres to the Microsoft zero trust principle of least-privileged access.”

Partners can request specific Azure Active Directory (AD) roles for performing administrative activities on behalf of the customer, if the customer approves.

More information on the tool will come July 11, according to Microsoft.

Around October – toward the end of the first quarter of Microsoft’s 2023 fiscal year – the tech giant will “stop creating new DAP connections when a new partner/customer relationship is created and will begin removing DAP relationships that have not been used for 90 days,” according to the announcement.

“Later, Microsoft will transition active DAP relationships to GDAP with a limited number of Azure AD roles,” according to the post. “We’d like to remind you that if you don’t perform admin activities for your customer, DAP should be disabled.”