Partner Advocate

MSPP Web Site Gets a Facelift

For a once-drab site, a little polish goes a long way.

Since signing up as a Registered Member of the Microsoft Partner Program nearly a year ago, I've never been impressed with the official MSPP Web site. It's one of those sites that leaves you feeling that you're missing resources you're entitled to just because it's so poorly organized.

I ran into my latest problem with the partner site in late July while testing Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2. I tried to follow a link to a new OEM System Builder blog. Rather than taking me to that page, the site flashed a message warning that I was using an unsupported browser: "Please use the most recent non-beta version of [IE] to access this page."

I was steamed, and I blogged as much on RCPmag.com. I've been a big fan of IE 7, and for a Microsoft site not to support its own browser seemed a bit much. A little more than a month later, the reason Microsoft hadn't bothered to re-engineer the old partner site for the IE 7 betas became clear: An overhaul was in the works and the new site is now live. (I still contend that's only an excuse for anyone but Microsoft, but as Jesse Jackson once noted on "Saturday Night Live," "the question is moot.")

From what I can see, the new home page is a 1,000 percent improvement. I remember the entry page in the old site that looked like a dead end, with little content aside from the partners' own registration information. The new home page is dominated by links to current promotions, programs and resources.

Tabs along the top (IE 7-inspired, perhaps?) provide navigation to the home page and to sections dedicated to program membership, products and solutions, sales and marketing, licensing, training and events, and support and security. Each of these tabs has deep content beneath it.

Microsoft's promotional materials state that the software giant aims to get Microsoft partners to use the site weekly. Anyone who operates a Web site would envy the potential traffic of 380,000 unique visitors (the current number of partners signed up for Microsoft's programs at all levels) stopping by on a weekly basis. If you haven't used the site in awhile, it's worth a look.

Microsoft says the new design is based on partner feedback and Web best practices. It's certainly a best practice to have a well-organized site. A high-quality Web site is an indication of the health and quality of a program, company or government agency. But it's only an indication, and Microsoft's Partner Program site previously masked a good program. I'm glad to see the site catching up with the quality of the program, and I'm looking forward to Microsoft's continued work on its pages.

The changes look good to me as an occasional user who doesn't rely on the site for sales, marketing and other types of support. I'd really like to hear whether the new site helps you work more effectively. Let me know at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

About the Author

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

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