Microsoft loses Gold in favour of partner specialisations


As part of the overhaul of its current Partner Programme announced on Monday, Microsoft has revealed it will be dropping its Certified and Gold partner accreditations in favour of a series of specialisations in a range of technologies and markets.

Customer feedback indicated that end users wanted an easy way to find deep skills and specialism within the Microsoft channel, says Clare Barclay, director of SMSP strategy & programmes, Microsoft UK.

There will be 30 specialisations in the new Microsoft Partner Network. Explains Barclay: “We’re trying to create more specialism in the way that partners position themselves to customers. If you say to a customer, ‘I’m a Gold Partner’, customers don’t necessarily know what that it is, and you have to explain, whereas now you’ll either be a Competency or and Advanced Competency Partner.”

While Microsoft partners will be either Competency or and Advanced Competency Partner, their customer-facing brand would be Microsoft Partner Network Business Intelligence or Microsoft Partner Network Small Business, Distribution Partner, for example.

Says Barclay: “We’ve had the current Partner Programme for seven years. If you think about how much the market and conditions have changed in the last seven years... There are so many new business opportunities, online, Software plus Services, the move to virtualisation, cloud – all these things were not in existence seven years ago. We felt that now was the right time to evolve the partner network and think about how they way we are set up helps our channel drive business going forward.”

She adds that the transition to Microsoft Partner Network will take place over the next 18 months. The changes will start when partners renew into the programme in October, and then the branding changes will start in 2010.

Barclay also said there was a feeling of optimism among the 300 UK partners attending Microsoft’s World Partner Conference in New Orleans.

“There’s a lot of excitement over the product line-up we have over the next 12 months. Obviously market conditions are tough at the moment, but genuinely the line-up they have seen around Windows 7, the announcements around Software plus Service and Azure,” she maintains.

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.