The Microsoft Gold Plan
Microsoft introduced the Gold Certified Partner Program in an effort to update the Certified Partner Program. Gold certification has more challenging requirements than Partner certification, and provides more support for its members, which are segmented according to different solutions: E-Commerce Solutions, Software Products, Support Services, Enterprise Systems, and Hosting and Application Services (ASPs). Two more designations, Collaborative Solutions and Business Intelligence, will be added this spring.
Gold Certified ASP partners will be supported by a network of Microsoft partners that will provide applications and sales support for Microsoft's overall ASP initiative, which has three distinct stages:
Ramp up the number of Gold Certified Partners among ASPs, independent software vendors (ISVs), service providers, and other partner categories.
Create value chains among partners by promoting interaction through a directory of partner services and specific partner-networking events. The offerings will include a partner listing and the ASP Guide, which is a quarterly ASP market report.
Continue to evangelize the .NET strategy to show the value of hosting and encourage developers to build Web services.