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Sizing the Microsoft Partner Program, er Network

How many partners will be affected when Microsoft rolls out the Microsoft Partner Network (the replacement for the Microsoft Partner Program) next month? All of them, presumably, and that's quite a lot. Despite a recession that's been deepening through the United States and much of the world since late 2007, the number of companies in the Microsoft Partner Program has remained fairly steady.

A year ago, Julie Bennani, general manager of the Microsoft Partner Program, was optimistic that the program would double in size over the next few years. Like almost everyone else, she has tempered her expectations because of the grinding economic realities of the last year. "We are at about flat," Bennani told me recently. "Given the economy, it's a pretty good size."

The company is still using the broad figure of 640,000 partners to describe its overall ecosystem. That fuzzy figure includes unregistered partners. It's also a figure that's been subject to somewhat mysterious variation. In the past it's been quoted by senior Microsoft executives as encompassing anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 partners.

By the more concrete metric of partner companies that are actually registered as either Registered Members, Gold Certified Partners or Certified Partners, the worldwide figures have also been fairly stable in the last year.

By May 1, 2008, there were 395,184 Microsoft partners worldwide. As of April 2009, there were 394,000 -- a drop of less than 1 percent.

Growth in the number of partners internationally hides a fairly substantial drop in U.S.-based partners. The U.S. partner rolls fell by 13 percent to 122,000 in 2009. That decline was largely driven by a 15 percent drop in the number of U.S. Registered Members from 130,000 last year to 110,000 this year.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 17, 2009 at 11:58 AM


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