MPN Changes Coming November To Include Gold Price Hike

Other tweaks on tap for November include consolidation of app dev competencies, shuffling of SharePoint competencies and recasting of the Desktop competency.

A price hike in the gold competency membership fee is one of several changes coming to the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) in November.

"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 via e-mail when asked by RCP about a Microsoft Australia blog entry in late July that referred to the increase.

"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 said, adding that the new price will also be disclosed in November.

The increase appears to be the first change, other than currency adjustments, to any of the Microsoft MPN memberships since the 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 those for 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.

According to figures released at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), there are about 10,000 unique partner companies worldwide with at least one gold competency that would be affected. Companies with multiple gold competencies only pay the membership fee one time.

The new Small Business competency, which launched in June, 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.

At the WPC in July, Microsoft also unveiled several changes to the competency structure that will take effect in November.

App Dev Consolidation
The MPN is merging three competencies -- ISV, Software Development and Web Development -- into one competency called Application Development. Microsoft plans to grandfather all partners in the existing competencies into the new competency automatically in November. In another move intended for development-focused partners, Microsoft is expanding the number of competencies with integrated application tracks.

SharePoint Shakeup
As one of Microsoft's most strategic and wide-reaching products, SharePoint had a stake in four different Microsoft competencies. The company is trying to simplify the MPN competency structure around SharePoint at the end of this year.

Three of the competencies -- Portals and Collaboration, Content Management, and Search -- will merge into a new competency called Collaboration and Content.

A fourth SharePoint competency is Digital Marketing, which was focused on partners providing SharePoint-based Web sites to customers. Microsoft plans to broaden the focus beyond SharePoint to capture a larger opportunity.

Digital Marketing competency partners will now also get Bing advertising credits ($2,000 for gold and $1,500 for silver). Partners in the new Application Development competency will get credits in the same amounts, and Small Business competency partners will get Bing credits worth $1,500 for gold and $1,000 for silver.

Desktop Gets BYOD'd
In a nod to the consumerization of IT trend, Microsoft is also renaming the Desktop competency. It will now be called Devices and Deployment. Microsoft describes the aim as rewarding "partners who help customers select, configure and manage a range of secure, productive devices."

About the Author

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