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Microsoft Revokes Partner's Gold Status

A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner based in India has had its certification stripped by Microsoft based on complaints the partner company was using phone scams to drum up business, according to a report.

The Web site for the U.K.-based magazine PC Pro reported Wednesday that Microsoft had revoked the Gold status of Comantra.

According to the magazine, Microsoft acted after more than 18 months of complaints that the Gold Certified Partner was cold-calling users in the United Kingdom and elsewhere and offering to remove nonexistent malware for £185. In some cases, Comantra employees may have posed as Microsoft employees, according to the report.

"We were made aware of a matter involving one of the members of the Microsoft Partner Network acting in a manner that caused us to raise concerns about this member's business practices," PC Pro reported a Microsoft spokesman as saying in a statement. "Following an investigation, the allegations were confirmed and we took action to terminate our relationship with the partner in question and revoke their Gold status.

"There are no circumstances under which we would ever allow partners or any other organisations to pose as Microsoft," the spokesman continued. "We view matters such as these extremely seriously and take immediate action if such behaviour is brought to our attention and found to be the case."

Comantra's director Rajesh Bajaj told the magazine Microsoft's move was a surprise and said online reports of Comantra's business practices resulted from "negative marketing" by competitors.

Like all Gold Certified Partners, Comantra's right to use that logo would have ended soon anyway (see "Certified, Gold Certified Logos, Benefits Expire in 7 Weeks"). On Oct. 31, all partners are required to use only the new Microsoft Partner Network logos, which do not include Microsoft Gold Certified Partner or Microsoft Certified Partner as official partner levels.

Noting the PC Pro report, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for security vendor Sophos, blogged later on Wednesday that Comantra may have had its status officially revoked but visitors to its Web site wouldn't know. "Hmm...Maybe someone should tell Comantra to update their website and remove that Gold Partner logo?" Cluley wrote next to a screengrab showing the Gold logo on the Comantra site.

Comantra has since removed it from a rotator that now shows only logos from "Norton from Symantec" and "McAfee Secure."

Posted by Scott Bekker on September 21, 2011