Microsoft has scrapped its increasingly complex partner programs and replaced them with a streamlined version that it claimed would offer greater flexibility and recognition to its channel.
The software giant has removed the myriad certified partner programs and rolled them into one structure dubbed Next Generation Partner Program.
Kerstin Baxter, director of the partner group at Microsoft Australia, confirmed Microsoft would announce the changes this week at its annual worldwide partner conference in New Orleans. The plan affects all Microsoft's 775,000 partners globally.
'In the next two or three weeks, we will be contacting everybody [here] - all the partners - by telephone or face to face to discuss it,' she said.
Baxter said the move was aimed at rationalising and simplifying its program and recognising an increasing level of channel partner specialisation in terms of certifiable competencies.
The new program had been partly driven by partner complaints about the current system, she said.
Partners would be classified using a new point system based on various criteria adjusted to the local market size, such as certifications in 11 competency areas, Microsoft revenue earned, end-user references and customer satisfaction.
Importantly, certified partners may choose registration according to their specialisation. Previously, only Gold partners could advertise a particular competency, Baxter said.
Also, some restrictions on how many certified professionals a company must have before qualifying for a particular designation have been removed, she added. 'Smaller companies will be able to differentiate themselves [better] in the market,' Baxter said.
Partners should update their details as usual, and from April next year all partner details will be moved to an electronic records system for the new program. 'We want to make it as simple as possible for all our partners,' Baxter said.
For more information and the Australian channel's reaction to the change, see the next issue of CRN.