When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

16 July 2005

Microsoft's Partner Program

Hot tip:

If you are a small IT development or consulting operation that sells or develops solutions using Microsoft products, there is a very affordable (and completely legitimate) way to obtain licensed copies of Microsoft software for much less than the cheapest retail cost you'll find--cheaper, even, than academic pricing.

Sign yourself or your company up for Microsoft's Partner Program if you're a consultant, or the Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) if you're a developer.

My little company is a member of the Partners program, so I can only speak to that. As a registered Microsoft Partner (the application for basic membership is free and takes about twenty minutes to fill out; all information is subject to validation, but Microsoft's criteria for acceptance are evidently very flexible) you are eligible to subscribe to the MAPS (Microsoft Action Pack) program.

What does MAPS get you?

For $299 a year, you get not-for-resale licensed copies (supporting up to ten installations) of basically everything in Microsoft's productivity, operating system (including server O/S) and collaboration-tools line. This means: Microsoft Office 2003 Professional (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, FrontPage); Microsoft Visio; Microsoft Project; Microsoft OneNote, etc. on the productivity side, and Server 2003, Sharepoint Portal Server 2003, etc. on the server side. With free quarterly updates and a couple of prepaid "support incidents" tossed in to sweeten the pot.

Buying any one of these applications new at retail would cost more than $299, especially pricey ones like Project 2003 (the Standard version of which has a street price around $400, with Pro being much more expensive); this is one of the best deals going for small consulting organizations.

MSDN is generally more expensive, but considering that you can set yourself up with Microsoft's complete suite of development tools plus support, it's a pretty great deal too.

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