Did you know there are more than 4 million .Net developers worldwide? That number includes known Microsoft partners as well as millions of startups, students and hobbyists developing on Microsoft technologies every day.

Training and supporting this many people is no easy task, but it’s something we’ve been doing for years through sites like MSDN and Channel 9. This year we’ve upped the ante though, and we’re doing more for our audience than we ever have before. This year we’re offering free developer support, consolidated training, help with testing and even marketing assistance for every developer using key Microsoft technologies. This year we’re launching Microsoft Platform Ready.

To take advantage of Microsoft Platform Ready, or MPR, we’ll start by going to the MPR website at www.microsoftplatformready.com.

Since we’re new to MPR, the first thing we need to do is sign up:

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MPR does require a Live ID. If you don’t have one, you can create one by going to www.live.com and creating a new ID or by going to www.passport.com and connecting any existing email address. Let’s sign in now:

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Next we need to provide the name and URL of your company. If you are an individual you can just use an alias and your own personal URL. I also highly recommend you check the box that says you want to promote your application in Microsoft catalogs. These catalogs include promotional sites like the Windows 7 Compatibility Center and may help potential customers find you online!

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Now that we’re logged, we can see the list of technologies supported by MPR. We haven’t added any applications yet, so let’s add an application now.

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We need to provide a few short details on the application itself:

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Then we need to check the box for any MPR-supported technologies you plan to use in your application. Here’ I’m showing the information gathered for Windows Azure and Windows Phone:

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When you’re done, click the Save button and you’ll be taken back to the ‘My MPR’ dashboard.

Now you can see the application you just created under the application manager:

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And when you click on your application, the associated technologies light up on the right:

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This area shows the stage we are at with each technology. It also shows us any actions we can take with each technology. In the screenshot above, we can verify our compatibility with both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure. With Windows Azure we simply need to check a box that says we’re compatible. For Windows Phone 7, we can link in verification from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Once you’ve verified compatibility with a Microsoft technology, that’s when the free marketing resources light up. But from day one, MPR provides you with valuable resources for each supported technology.

For example, with Windows Phone 7 selected you get links to the developer tools and training across various Microsoft properties and the web.

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You can also immediately start taking advantage of the technical benefits.

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These include free developer support by e-mail and by phone.

So get started right away with the developer resources, and when you’re ready, don’t forget to take advantage of the Testing and Marketing resources available as well.

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And don’t forget to check back often! Just like our recent addition of Windows Phone 7, we’re continually evolving MPR to ensure our developers can stay competitive. We’re also looking for your feedback, which you can share with us any time at mprsupport@microsoft.com.