Price Hike Coming for MPN Gold Competency

Microsoft will raise the gold competency membership fee in the Microsoft Partner Network by an undisclosed amount later this year.

"After extensive internal cost evaluations and partner consultations, we've made the decision to raise the gold competency membership fee starting in mid-November," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. "This is a global gold competency price increase, affecting all countries. Partners will need to pay the new fee upon renewal of their gold competency, which is dependent on their membership renewal date."

The spokesperson positioned the evaluations as a normal part of the yearly review to make sure benefits are "appropriately balanced" against the cost of delivering the benefits.

The new price will be made available in November, the spokesperson said. In an MSDN blog post earlier on Monday, Sarah Arnold of Microsoft's Australia subsidiary instructed partners to "[w]atch for an email detailing your country’s fee or check the competency requirements pages on the partner portal."

The increase appears to be the first change, other than currency adjustments, to any of Microsoft's MPN memberships since a new competency structure was fully introduced in October 2010. Since then the prices (in the United States) have stood at $3,800 for a gold competency and $1,850 for a silver competency. Among the various MPN fees, such as Action Packs, cloud programs and the silver competency, only the gold competency price appears to be affected.

"We don't have any further changes to discuss today, but we will inform partners at least 120 days in advance of any new changes," the spokesperson said.

The recently unveiled Small Business competency will not be affected by the price increase. The gold version of the Small Business competency already represented a fairly large increase for Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community members, who could previously join the community for the cost of a $329 Action Pack Solution Provider subscription. In an earlier nod to that effective price increase, Microsoft had announced that partners enrolling in the silver Small Business competency would have a discounted price of $999 from June to December.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is providing a temporary out for partners whose gold competency reenrollment date falls close to the gold competency price increase in November. "Partners can renew their competency 90 days before their membership expiration date, so if a partner renews before the price increase goes into effect in November, the partner will be able to renew for one more year under the current fee," the spokesperson said.

At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month in Toronto, Microsoft officials said that there were currently about 10,000 partners with at least one gold competency. Partners do not pay a membership fee for additional gold competencies after the first one.

The coming price increase casts new light on Microsoft's announcement, also at WPC, of new IDC research putting the value of the MPN core benefits used by Microsoft partners at $320,000.

About the Author

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