Microsoft Makes Action Pack Digital

First bundle under new distribution model will include Windows 7.

Microsoft moved to digital distribution for the Action Pack in June.

The Action Pack, formally the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS), is a quarterly bundle of trial software for internal use by Registered Members of the Microsoft Partner Program. Since Nov. 30, 2007, partners have also had to pass an exam to receive the Action Pack, a move instituted to reduce abuse of the popular deal. Roughly half of Registered Members subscribe to the Action Pack. Certified Partners and Gold Certified Partners have access to a different kit.

Even with the elimination of the costs of shipping physical media, Microsoft is keeping the price of the program at $299 plus tax for U.S. partners. The price was briefly listed online as $199 due to a typo on the Microsoft Partner Portal, a Microsoft spokesperson said. Subscribers can elect to continue to receive physical media along with the downloads for $498 per year. The timetable for the rollout of digital distribution varies by country.

In addition to reducing environmental impact by going digital, Microsoft says in promotional materials that the digital setup will allow partners to download the software either immediately or at a later date. The digital setup will also make it easier to manage user access, license keys and a license statement. Access to the digital Action Pack is through the Microsoft Partner Marketing Center.

Contents of the first digital Action Pack this month should include 10 licenses each of the following: Windows 7, Office Enterprise 2007, Virtual PC 2007, Hyper-V Server 2008, Virtual Server 2005 R2 and System Center Essentials 2007. It should also include five licenses of Dynamics CRM 4.0 Workgroup Server and one license each of Small Business Server 2008, Essential Business Server 2008, Home Server, SQL Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, SharePoint Server 2007 and other software, according to Microsoft FAQs.

About the Author

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