How to Become a Microsoft Certified Partner

Becoming a Microsoft Certified Partner (MCP) or a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner (MGCP) requires some very focused testing since the company won’t just partner with anybody who asks. Each Microsoft Certified Partner acts as representative of Microsoft itself, and that means that strict guidelines are in place to weed out any companies that aren’t ready to work with them. But how does the process work, and what do you need to do ahead of time?

Microsoft Certified Partner (MCP)

Microsoft Certified Partner companies (also known as Microsoft Silver Certified Partner companies) are those that have partnered with Microsoft, gaining access to their products at a discounted rate and earning some extra direct support from them. These companies are more like conventional partners, keeping a steady mutual agreement that allows the two companies to support one another through how they operate.

There are plenty of these companies around, and many of them sell Microsoft software or other products while also offering their own items and services. These are the most basic form of a partner, and some of the most common.

Microsoft Gold Certified Partner (MGCP)

Microsoft Gold Certified Partner companies are much rarer and are expertly hand-picked to become an honorary part of Microsoft itself. They take on far more responsibilities but have free access to Microsoft software (including Windows licenses), instant 24-hour support, and a direct connection to some significant projects under Microsoft’s banner.

Becoming an MGCP is far harder, so you won’t find many, and a lot of them are more internal than external. Some will still openly do business with regular customers, but many become an honorary part of Microsoft, working directly on their projects. 

Is my company ready to be certified?

To begin your tests, you’ll need to meet specific competency requirements that prove you’re capable of offering something they find useful. These competency areas include:

  • Applications and Infrastructure: this includes cloud platforms, app integration, DevOps, and general datacentre work.
  • Business Applications: this can be resource planning, cloud-based customer relationship management, and other business-related software uses.
  • Data and AI: anything to do with data, analytics, artificial intelligence usage, and general data platforms.
  • Modern Workplace: this will be communications, content, collaborations, portfolios, Windows software, midmarket cloud solutions, and even something as simple as messaging.

Silver competency has lower requirements, and there are various examples within each section (and subsection) that have to be taken. Gold competency doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll become an MGCP, but it is always a good idea to aim that high. Gold competency awards are displayed on your public business profile.

Advanced Specialisation

Beyond the regular Silver and Gold competency tests, there are also more advanced and specialized tests that can be taken relating to specific areas, services, products, and tasks. Earning the right to do an advanced specialization can require your business to get verified by Microsoft. Current advanced specialization options include things such as:

  • Data Warehouse Migration.
  • Linux and Open source Database Migration.
  • DevOps practices.

These specializations may change based on what Microsoft might need, so they won’t always be consistent.

What does it earn me?

Becoming part of the Microsoft Certified Partner Program gives you easier access to a lot of items that Microsoft offer, including support, software, and training. Regular partners will get discounted prices on software and other products, while Gold partners get free access to whatever they need to keep performing their role. This will be on a case-by-case basis, though.

Partners also get to truthfully claim that they’re part of the Microsoft Partner Network and that they’re a certified Windows partner with a direct link back to Microsoft. This can be an excellent status booster, but it can also be a nice way to make customers more interested in purchasing from you and acts as a seal of quality for all kinds of business purposes.

The training can expand your business, and some companies will often take advantage of the reduced software prices to expand offices or get more employees. This is encouraged by Microsoft to an extent – as long as the partner can continue to do their job, Microsoft will give them access to any support they need.