Powers Unfiltered

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

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Gold No More

February 2nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

As has been widely reported, Microsoft is ditching the “Gold” designation for its partners.  We’re OK with that — in fact, we thought we’d get ahead of the curve and ditch our Gold certification now.

It’s time to renew our Microsoft partner program membership (always an adventure, although somewhat easier than it used to be).  Despite the remaining huge shortcomings of the program (don’t worry, I won’t repeat my one million earlier posts on this subject), we’ve decided to renew again.  A quick look at the requirements showed we could easily renew at the Gold level, or the Plain Old Certified level, based on the number of “Partner Points” we have (or could accumulate by our renewal date).

BUT a more careful review showed two changes.  One, the Gold designation will vanish partway through this renewal period for us.  And Two, to achieve Gold, there’s a new requirement that we force our customers through yet another Microsoft “customer satisfaction” survey process.  So in exchange for further inconveniencing our customers at Microsoft’s request, we get a tag that will be discontinued shortly?  Only Microsoft (and frankly, only the Microsoft Partner Program group) could come up with a new anti-customer requirement just in time for a program to be phased out.

No brainer right? — no thanks.

OH, but you should HEAR the wailing and pleadings from the Partner group.  “Do you REALLY want to give up ALL the benefits of being GOLD??”  Ummm, you mean the ones you’ll supposedly be taking away this year anyway?  Yes.  “Do you REALLY want to renew at a REDUCED level?’  Ummm, you mean the level ALL Gold Certified Partners will have later this year?  Yes.  (I especially like that second argument, which I’ve heard both from humans on the phone and from the automated messages on the Partner Program Web site — “we really don’t think Gold is important, we’re phasing out the program, now we’re stressing ‘competencies’ over simple program level designations, but surely you don’t want to renew at the level of those unwashed masses beneath you?”)

So in any case, look for the handsome blue logo to replace the handsome gold logo we’ve been using, and look for no other differences whatsoever in our fine relationship with Microsoft and its customers.  (Except of course for the slight improvement for our own customers — the ones we won’t be hassling with another request for “just 10 or 15 minutes” to fill out another meaningless survey from Redmond.  You’re welcome.)

Tags: Partnering with Microsoft

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Deborah // Feb 3, 2010 at 12:18 am


    I couldn’t agree more. I’m seriously thinking about taking it a step further and bidding MSPP goodbye. The partner program has never really figured out where ISVs fit. We get tons better value from VSIP.

    The final straw was trying to jump through the new customer satisfaction survey hoop. The points awarded are based solely on the answer to one question: the customer’s overall satisfaction, on a 1 to 4 scale. Those results are weighted in some bizarre way that doesn’t resemble anything I remember from my statistics classes. One bad response– entered in error! — threw the entire result off, and cost us the few points we need for Gold. I tried to get that entry corrected. MSPP’s response? “Once a customer has completed the survey, responses cannot be altered under any circumstances. This ensures data integrity of the CSAT results for all Partners.” What a fine piece of Catch-22 double-speak that is!

    Glad to see you’re blogging again.

  • 2 john // Feb 3, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Deborah – Good to hear from you again, although I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the CSAT results. That’s worse than “Catch-22 double-speak;” it’s plain ignorant. I mean that literally — ignorant of any widely-accepted industry practices for addressing poor reviews (deliberate or accidental) that have been around for many years. Ebay has decent procedures, as do many hotel and restaurant review sites. Yet Microsoft continues to re-invent processes (badly) that others have already invented and improved for years. The Microsoft Partner Program’s tenacious unwillingness to learn from the successes and mistakes of others dooms it to slow improvement and frequent backsliding.
    And I totally agree — VSIP rocks, and it’s even more ironic that MSPP has a fantastic example of how a partner program can and should work, right on the same campus.

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