Software Benefits as a Microsoft Partner

Another common question that is popping up in my day job so I reckon it’s another subject that I need to blog about.

Microsoft partners are consumers of the technology too.  They face all the same challenges as their customers: money is tight and software can be expensive.  Good news: you can get it either cheap or even free.  What you get, and how much you get all depends on what type of partner you are and what grade and type of competency you have as a Microsoft partner company.


A lot of Microsoft partners are using Microsoft software illegally.  That is a fact, and I suspect that it is quite common in the smaller/medium sized partner companies.  They can get a certain allocation of software, but often it is not enough. 

What is it that they are doing to be illegal?  They get their MSDN or TechNet subscription for a handful of users and start using it to deploy production desktops, applications, and servers all over the shop.  MSDN and TechNet have explicit usage rights, and they do not include widespread production usage, e.g your domain controller, file server, everyone’s PC/Office, etc.  The directors may not know this is happening, they may turn a blind eye to it (sticking fingers in ears and repeatedly shouting LAH-LAH-LAH-LAH when the sys-admin tells them the truth – been there), or they may even instruct it to happen (been there too, many years ago).

So how can you, as a Microsoft partner company, get a chunk of software legally for next to nothing?

Microsoft Partner Action Pack

This is an excellent bundle for small companies that are even at the most basic level in the Microsoft Partner Network: a registered partner.  In fact, you cannot have a silver or gold competency and subscribe to this pack!  The eligibility requirements are online.  The Irish rate (per year) is €289 and that includes a big list of software, really for that partner with up to 10 users.  Highlights include:

  • Office Professional Plus (10) + Project (5) + Visio Professional (10)
  • Exchange Standard: 1 servers + 10 CALs
  • SQL Enterprise: 1 server + 10 CALs
  • Window Server: Enterprise (1), CALs (10), Storage Server Essentials (1), SBS Standard (1), SBS CALs (10)
  • Windows 7: Pro (10), Ultimate (1)

A handful of Office on OVS will cost more than all that!

Silver and Gold Competency Holders

These folks tend to be bigger companies and are not suitable for the Partner Action Pack, nor are the elligible.  But don’t worry if you’re here, you get a much bigger allocation of software.  If you qualify for a competency, then you get an allocation of software that you are free to download and use.  What you get will depend on:

  • The competency: developers will get more relevant stuff for them, and systems management people will get more relevant stuff for them.
  • The grade: The gold competency rewards you more software than the silver one.

Microsoft could have published a nasty matrix.  Instead there, is a simple graphical calculator that allows you to punch in the competencies that your company has, as well as the grades, and it tells you what you are eligible to download and use.

For example, a company with Silver Systems Management and Silver Virtualisation competencies gets stuff including:

  • 2 Exchange Enterprise + 25 CALs + 25 ForeFront for Exchange (and SharePoint)
  • 25 Windows 7 Enterprise + 25 AD RMS + 25 Office Professional Plus
  • 2 Windows Server Datacenter + 4 Windows Server Standard/Enterprise
  • 15 Visio Professional + 5 Project Professional
  • All the System Center stuff
  • And LOTS more

Go Gold with those competencies and you get 100 copies of Office Pro Plus and Windows 7 Enterprise.  There is work to become a partner but you can see there is money to be saved.

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