Official Answer:

If you like flowery marketing words then check out the description on the site http://www.microsoftcloudpartner.com/ else read on.

Short Answer:

It is an awesome FREE offer to Microsoft Partner Network partners to help them get on the Cloud and to help them build software products running in the Cloud. Cloud Essentials includes many benefits such as BPOS and CRM licenses as well as monthly free allowances for the Windows Azure Platform. This is the bit we like :-)

If you are a partner who develops software then:

  1. You need to sign up and register your application on Microsoft Platform Ready (See Q&A: What is Microsoft Platform Ready and why should I signup?).
  2. Activate Cloud Essentials at http://www.microsoftcloudpartner.com/  - you will need to phone someone as part of this so give yourself some time (true as of Dec 2010)

Longer Answer:

The Microsoft Cloud Essentials Pack includes:

  • 250 licenses for BPOS (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Communicator Online, Live Meeting)
  • 250 licenses  for CRM Online (Available late January 2011)
  • Windows Intune - 10 devices (Available Calendar Year 2011)
  • Windows Azure Platform (Available starting January 7, 2011) – which is the bit that really helps you develop applications for the Cloud.

Plus other marketing and business benefits, which as a techie go straight over my head :-)