As you (should) recall, waaaaaaaay back in November of 2010 (my how time flies, doesn’t it?), the former “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner” and “Microsoft Certified Partner” brands were officially retired, put to rest, put out to pasture, however you want to phrase it. Just like any good friend that is no longer with you, we look back and remember them fondly for what they were back in the day, but as I mentioned, both the “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner” and “Microsoft Certified Partner” brands have been officially retired, put to rest, set out to pasture, etc. In other words, they are no more, period. In fact, they haven’t been in quite some time and as noted in the terms of the Microsoft Partner Network agreement, as of November 1, 2011:

  • Use of the “Gold Certified Partner” or “Certified Partner” logos must cease entirely, including your marketing materials (websites, newsletters, advertisements, business cards, etc.) or in your communications and documents, such as bidding documents.
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  • If you are a former Gold Certified or Certified partner and you have not achieved a gold or silver competency by October 31, 2011, you must uninstall any software licenses that have been provided to your organization based on achieving the Gold Certified or Certified partner level. The only licenses you will be eligible to use are those that you have earned based on your current membership in the Microsoft Partner Network. Check out the License Calculator tool to see what Internal Use Rights you receive with the various competencies in the Microsoft Partner Network.

Yes, we did offer the 12 month transition period for partners to use up any pre-printed business cards, letterhead, marketing materials, etc. that still had the old logos still on them, which meant they could be used until November, 1, 2011; however, we stopped renewing any company as either a “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner” or a “Microsoft Certified Partner” way back in October of 2010. As of November 1, 2010 (again, a really long time ago), Microsoft partners no longer earn designations that are aggregated to a company level, they earn them at the skill or business solution level, which allows them to showcase their skills and better differentiate themselves. As of November 1, 2010, Microsoft partners earn competencies that showcase their skills and they can earn either a silver or gold competency for each. Let me quickly repeat a very important point, “As of November 1, 2010 (again, a really long time ago), Microsoft partners no longer earn designations at the company level, they earn them at the skill level.”

What this all means is:

  1. As of November 1, 2011, all usage of the “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner” and “Microsoft Certified Partner” logos, branding, phrasing, etc. must cease (there are no exceptions).
  2. As of November 1, 2011, there is no such thing as a “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner” or a “Microsoft Certified Partner.” These brands have ceased to exist and have absolutely zero meaning or benefits whatsoever anymore.
  3. The terms “silver” and “gold” now correspond to specific competencies that you achieve and to those competencies only. This means there is no such thing as a “Microsoft Gold partner,” or a “Microsoft Silver partner.” There are Microsoft partners with gold competencies and/or silver competencies, but there are not metal alloy brand partners (gold, silver, platinum, copper, zinc, aluminum, etc.) at a company level, period.

So to answer a question I received from a couple of partners this week and last week, yes, those email/web messages that you received saying they are from me advising you that you need to remove any and all “Microsoft Gold Certified partner” or “Microsoft Certified partner” logos that you still have on your websites, in your tweets, in your new press releases, etc. right away really are coming directly from me. Also, yes, when you see the phrase, “you are out of compliance with the Microsoft Partner Network program guidelines” in those messages, it means exactly that, you are out of compliance and need to address these items right away.

If you are a Microsoft partner today, be sure you are utilizing your new Microsoft partner logos showing off any of the competencies that you have achieved to highlight your skill sets. Be sure to use the Microsoft Logo Builder tool that we provide online to help you create your Microsoft competency logos, utilizing as many of the Microsoft competencies as you have earned within the Microsoft Partner Network. In just a few quick steps, you can select the competencies you want included to create the logo, then save and download the image(s) for use online or in your printed materials. You can also use any of these resources we provide to celebrate your success as a Microsoft partner.

If you are a business looking for a Microsoft partner to assist you with your technology needs, keep this in mind, if the company you are talking with shows you one of the “X’d" out” logos above or says that they are a “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner” or a “Microsoft Certified Partner,” please realize that these mean absolutely nothing anymore and are brands that were officially retired back in November of 2010. Be sure to look for a Microsoft partner in the existing Microsoft Partner Network with the appropriate branding and any corresponding silver or gold competencies they have earned focused on the solutions you are looking for assistance with. In fact, we have an online tool called Pinpoint to help you locate a Microsoft partner near you with the skills you are looking for.

Did you find this information helpful? If so, you may want to make sure you are utilizing all of the areas I share information online, such as:

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Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric LigmanFollow me on TWITTER, LinkedIn, and RSS and see “What I’m thinking
Director, Worldwide Partner Experience
Microsoft Corporation
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

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