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Like Action Packs? Better Start Studying

Everybody loves Action Packs, those free bundles of Microsoft applications available to just about anybody and everybody in the Microsoft Partner Program. [Editor's note: they actually cost $300.] As of now, Action Packs are nice little perks for everybody whose company is at least a Registered Member in the program. They're generally considered to be a no-strings-attached (or at least, few-strings-attached) bundle of appreciation from Redmond to partners.

Well, get ready for some strings. RCP Editor in Chief Scott Bekker noticed in a recent MSPP newsletter -- by the way, does anybody read those things regularly? -- that it's about to become more difficult for partners to get their beloved Packs. Starting at the end of November, Action Packs will become a privilege, not a right -- or something like that. Long story short, partners who want them will have to take a test to get them.

We're guessing that some of you will be none too thrilled by this prospect, and if that's the case -- or, if you think it's a great idea -- rant or rave to lpender@rcpmag.com. In the meantime, here's a transcript of Bekker's communication with a Microsoft spokesperson about the whole deal (that'll be Scott asking the questions):

Why is the change being made to require some training to qualify for the Action Pack?
In our ongoing efforts to maintain the value of this subscription to partners, beginning Nov. 30, a new online training and assessment requirement takes effect. This means partners either renewing or subscribing to the Action Pack for the first time will be required to take an online course from the Partner Learning Center and pass the associated course assessment (with a score of 70 percent or higher).

Action Pack subscribers must pass an assessment every two years. There are currently over 600 online courses and associated assessments to choose from. Most courses are an hour in length. Please check https://partner.microsoft.com/actionpack to access the most relevant training courses.

How many Action Pack subscribers are there now?
Currently, there are approximately 190,000 Microsoft Action Pack subscribers worldwide.

How is this change expected to affect that number?
The Microsoft Action Pack is a benefit available to active Registered Members in the Microsoft Partner Program. This change will be implemented to ensure we preserve and enhance this benefit for our partners. We anticipate a slight drop in the number of subscribers who are relatively inactive and expect this will curtail ineligible subscribers from obtaining Action Pack. We also expect continued growth in new markets and believe that the upcoming releases of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 will fuel excitement within our partner community to "use, learn and sell" these exciting technologies.

Scott's exchange included some additional comments from the spokesperson.

It's also important to remind our partners that end user customers are not eligible for the Microsoft Action Pack and should be guided to purchase subscriptions like TechNet Plus, which is designed to meet needs of IT professionals.

If partners have any questions about the Action Pack changes, the following resources are available:

  • Regional Service Center: The Regional Service Center can provide you with partner-specific resources and support. Contact information can be found at https://partner.microsoft.com/mapsrsc.
  • Action Pack Managed Newsgroup: Ask questions or post feedback about MAPS. To access the newsgroups, sign in to the Partner Portal (https://partner.microsoft.com) and click on "Online Assisted Support" under the "Support & Security" tab. From there, click on the link to the Managed Newsgroups.

So, there you go: Time to get cracking, Action Packers! Sharpen those pencils, break out those study materials and, while you're at, drop me a line about this new program to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 09, 2007 at 11:54 AM


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