If you’re buying Microsoft software, Windows product keys, or other Microsoft-specific items from a third-party company, you’ll want to know that they can be trusted. Thanks to the Microsoft Certified Partner Network, it’s easier than ever to tell when a company is partnered with them and the specific rank they hold among all other Microsoft partners.
Microsoft Certified Partner
There are three foremost partner ranks in the program, and each of them signifies a different kind of relationship with Microsoft. The first is Microsoft Certified Partner companies and firms (MCP), which are companies that work with Microsoft in an official capacity. They aren’t treated as a close part of Microsoft itself, but they’re authorized to offer their products and provide some support to customers. For example, a site that sells product keys may be an MCP.
Microsoft Gold Certified Partner
A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner (MGCP) has managed to earn Microsoft’s trust and pass a list of extensive tests. These companies are often connected to Microsoft through data management or software development and will have access to Microsoft technology and services for free. These companies need to use Microsoft products as their primary platform or tool and occasionally become a de facto part of Microsoft itself if their help is required.
Microsoft Certified Training Partner
A Microsoft Certified Training Partner (MCTP) is a company that Microsoft has authorized to offer training regarding Microsoft products. They will usually offer courses that directly deal with Microsoft software and more generic IT training, but this can vary from company to company. Since they represent Microsoft, every instructor has to earn and retain specific qualifications and certifications. These companies aren’t hard to find since they’ll be quite open about being an MCTP.
How do I find one?
There are apparently over 640,000 partners in the Microsoft Partner Network, which can seem like a staggering number to search through. However, you don’t need to go through all of them: any company that works closely with Microsoft is likely to be one, so look at reputable and well-known brands to see if they freely talk about being partners. Remember that this partner number covers every type of business. If you’re looking for product keys, you can ignore any training-focused or support-focused companies to make your search easier.
You can often find these companies by just searching for Microsoft partners, too. There are a handful of lists online, and you can find them via official channels like the Microsoft Solution Partner Portal or the Azure Marketplace. Not every Microsoft Certified Partner or Windows Certified Partner that you can work with will appear here. Still, it can be an excellent place to start your hunt, especially if you’re not urgently looking for a solution to an immediate problem.
How do they identify themselves?
Most partner sites will mention that they’re partners somewhere, even if it doesn’t seem immediately obvious. Some will include the phrase “Microsoft Certified Partner” right on their front page, or have some kind of badge that they’ve placed on an area of their site as an award for getting certified. Others will identify themselves as partners of Microsoft without using those specific terms, but this doesn’t make it any less truthful.
You’re more likely to find that Microsoft Gold Certified Partners will display their partner status up-front since the Gold partners have worked much harder and earned a much higher honor. The same can be said for Training partners, although not always – if they don’t offer training as a customer-facing service, they might not openly display it to the public. Once again, they might not use those exact words.
Why does it matter?
Whether you’re looking for a reliable Microsoft software training service or a trusted software reseller, you’ll want to be sure that you’re getting the best quality possible, especially in this modern age of website scams and fake business deals. Individual customers and company representatives alike should try their harder to identify trustworthy businesses at all times, especially when Microsoft software such as Windows is involved.
Now that you have a general understanding of the Microsoft Partner Network, you should find it slightly easier to tell if you’re buying from a company that Microsoft trusts to represent them.