Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

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Partnering with Microsoft — part deux

June 8th, 2006 · 4 Comments

I just posted some advice about the benefits of partnering with Microsoft.  Those benefits are real.  Now, for an equally real rant.

It’s not until you’re fully engaged with Microsoft, and you are in fact working like hell to make the most of that relationship, that you realize just how fully maddening their Partner Web site really is.  The company that brought us Passport clearly has no idea how to use it.  You’re logged in, but oops, now you’re not, better log in again.  You’re logged in, but THIS part of the site wants you to create a new (non-Passport) login and password.  I have created and forgotten more IDs and passwords on the Microsoft Partner site than on all other Web sites on Planet Earth combined.  I have lost more data entered by myself and others on our staff on the Microsoft Partner site than I can even begin to list. 

Navigation changes are implemented capriciously, so what I finally found three months ago can never be found again.  Links do not connect.  Search tools do not find.  Hands down, the best way to find anything on the site is to go to Advanced Search in Google, put in your search terms, and enter the domain partner.microsoft.com. 

You enter information about your products and services, and it is never seen again.  Oh, you wanted that information in Windows Marketplace?  That’s different.  Enter it again.  Oh, you wanted it in Channel Builder?  No, no, you don’t understand, that’s different.  Enter it again.  Oh, you didn’t say you wanted to enter a Solution so the field can see it.  Enter it again.  Oh, now you’re in the VSIP area — enter it again.  Oh, a specific vertical market?  Better enter it again.  Any way to tell if anyone has ever seen what you entered?  Nope.  It’s an act of faith.  Ever made a sale to anyone who found us there?  Nope.  Found a channel partner?  Nope.  Had a serious inquiry?  Nope.  A casual inquiry?  Nope.

Earlier this year I got so stuck in a loop in the Parnter site that I actually had to pay twice to re-join the Microsoft Gold Certified Partner program — that’s $1,576.88 (with tax) on my personal American Express card, twice, and the only way to get it back was to contest the charge through American Express (and yes, that was the Microsoft-recommended solution after a phone call to my Partner Account Manager (who is awesome), and the Partner Web Site Team, and Accounting and on and on).  Yes, I got my money back, as I knew I eventually would, but come on.

So I need to amend my earlier comment — the more work you  put into a relationship with Microsoft PEOPLE, the more you gain.  The more work you put into the Microsoft Partner Web Site, the more time you waste.  You need to accept the fact that it’s a one-way channel for information FROM Microsoft TO you, the partner; for that, it can be useful.  For anything you want Microsoft to know about you as an ISV partner — forget it.  Pick up the phone.

Oh — And WHILE I WAS WRITING THIS, my partner Robert W. Anderson, Digipede CTO and 18-year veteren of Microsoft partnering adventures, came over to me and explained that for each of the three “Ascend” programs in which we participate (Ascend for Longorn Server, Ascend for Vista, and Ascend for Office 2007, don’t ask), we’ve received an invitation to a corresponding replacement “Airframe” program, the benefits of which appear to be that we get to re-enter all our information for products, release dates, etc. AGAIN.  And they promised him a “cool gift” in exchange for signing up.  New login and password?  You betcha.

This is madness. 

Microsoft MAKES the database products and Web servers that should make such practices obsolete.  I’m not even talking about “Microsoft,” I’m talking about a single part of Microsoft that is dedicated to working directly with partners.  Fixing this would not require Microsoft Legal to talk to Microsoft Product Development or Microsoft HR to talk to Microsoft Research.  Fixing this would require the Microsoft Partner Program to talk to itself. 

The Microsoft Partner Programs are really, good — well conceived, well designed, well implemented (excluding the Web site).  The PEOPLE I have met in the Microsoft Partner Programs are really, really good.  How they can possibly go back to their offices and specify the electronic systems they do is absolutely beyond me.

I’ve accepted an invitation at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference in Boston next month.  Guess what I hope the topic is?

Tags: Partnering with Microsoft

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dan Ciruli // Jun 8, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Nowhere is this more egregious than in the ISV Royalty program. Every month, I need to report our sales of Microsoft’s products through the ISV royalty program.

    First problem: if I am reporting zero sales for a month, I have to go to a different site than I do if I am reporting actual sales. For zero sales, I report through the Call Logging Tool on their “Explore.ms” site. For actual sales, I report through their MOET extranet.

    Second problem: the two sites use different credentials! The Explore.ms site is linked with my Passport, which, in theory sounds great. The problem: it took about 2 months initially, and dozens of phone calls and e-mails, to get them to “link” it to my passport. God knows what will happen if I ever pass this reporting responsibility on to someone else.

    The MOET extranet has its own credentialing system, and pretty ungodly password requirements–including changing your password every 70 days. Just a moment a I got this error message:

    The password supplied does not meet the minimum complexity requirements. Please select another password that meets all of the following criteria: is at least 8 characters; has not been used in the previous 24 passwords; must not have been changed within the last 1 day; does not contain your account or full name; contains at least three of the following four character groups: English uppercase characters (A through Z); English lowercase characters (a through z); Numerals (0 through 9); Non-alphabetic characters (such as !, $, #, %).

    What’s the result of having numerous, differing, extremely complicated password requirements? Obviously: we take the extremely insecure measure of writing them down.

  • 2 Dan Ciruli // Jun 8, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    Oh, one other thing. When they originally set this account up for me–they e-mailed me the password.

    How’s that for defeating your own security?

  • 3 Kalle Launiala // Aug 17, 2006 at 7:43 am


    Great post, I have to agree with the points. People at the Microsoft Partnering programs are really great. They also do a great deal of work to simplify the process; to decipher all the internet site stuff.

    The current Partner management area is huge improvement of what it used to be 1-2 years ago.

    Right now I was trying to get to Airframe with “fast Googling” instead of getting the login info from registration emails… oh well I guess I’ll simply add the link to our intranet links now.

    I’ve been in process of the partnering in two companies (the latter being my own one-man-shop that’s Gold Certified Partner), and currently assisting one company to get into the program.

    That being said, I’m wondering whether there would be a room for unofficial “Partnering with Microsoft” site, that could cut through to the actual tasks, requirements and benefits of the program and how-to participate in parts of it…

  • 4 Powers Unfiltered » Blog Archive » Hey, Microsoft — get off of my cloud // Jan 8, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    […] One thing I get to do every year is renew our status as a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.  Fine.  The program requirements are difficult enough without technical hassles. Previous years have been a joy — one time, partners.microsoft.com was sufficiently screwed up that I managed to pay our $1500+ fee twice (yes, I eventually got a refund) — and this year appears to be worse. […]

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