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Best Buy is First National Retailer to Get Gold Certified

Best Buy became the first national retailer to achieve Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status, the companies said Tuesday.

While the move is primarily related to a joint initiative between the companies to reach small business owners with software and services, it also highlights the rapid growth in the Gold Certified classification of the Microsoft Partner Program.

"The attainment of Gold Certified status is a testament to the expertise of the business technology consultants at Best Buy stores across the country," Tom Healy, executive vice president of Best Buy for Business, said in a statement. "The Gold Certified Partner program provides tools and training to help us better support customers locally across our store network."

Best Buy Co., Inc., based in Richfield, Minn., had about $27 billion in revenues in its last fiscal year from nearly 1,000 stores. More than 775 stores are Best Buy locations. Other brands include Future Shop, Magnolia Audio Video and stand-alone Geek Squad stores.

Gold Certified Partners make up a small but fast-growing component of Microsoft's Partner Program. With roughly 362,000 partners registered in Microsoft's programs, the 7,000 Gold Certified Partners as of the end of January count for less than 2 percent of the total. But the ranks of Gold Certified Partners have doubled since the same time in 2005, when they numbered 3,500.

By revenues, Gold Certified Partners are a much larger contributor to Microsoft's partner-based revenues than their numeric size would indicate because Gold partners tend to be some of the most active and successful participants in Microsoft's programs.

As the highest level of certification, the Gold certification requires a partner to employ two exclusive Microsoft Certified Professionals or offer a solution that has passed Microsoft compatibility testing, earn a Microsoft competency, amass at least 120 qualifying Partner Points and pay an annual fee.

According to the Microsoft Resource Directory for partners, Best Buy earned competencies in Information Worker Solutions and Networking Infrastructure Solutions; and the firm is listed as a Small Business Specialist.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.