Microsoft is rearranging its partner programme to include a third tier of smaller partners, called Registered Partners, as well as the Certified and Gold Certified partners.
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Partners will now be able to accrue Partner Points, based on their technical and business skills, to become Registered, Certified or Gold Certified Partners, Microsoft said. This change has been based on feedback from partners that were asking Microsoft to create more opportunities for smaller partners.
Microsoft has also launched a range of skill set definitions, or "competencies", to let each partner identify its areas of specialisation, market these to customers and also work more easily with Microsoft marketing initiatives.
These competencies include: Advanced Infrastructure Services, Business Intelligence Solutions, Information Worker Productivity Solutions, Integrated E-business Solutions, ISV (independent software vendor)/Software Solutions, Learning Solutions, Security Solutions and Networking Infrastructure Solutions.
Microsoft Business Solutions, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Hardware Solutions and Licensing and Software Asset Management Solutions competencies will be introduced to the programme later this year.
A website has been set up to give partners access to marketing materials and news groups, telephone and online support and access to discounted software.
Gillian Law writes for IDG News Service