Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Microsoft Action Pack, New Assessment Criteria and New Special Edition Toolkits

As a Microsoft Registered Partner, I'm able to utilise the fantastic Microsoft Action Pack Subscription. This enables me to run my business on the same technologies I recommend to my clients, as well as evaluate and prepare for new and upcoming technologies. Combined with my TechNet Plus subscription, I'm able to evaluate a wide range of Microsoft technologies cost effectively. Virtualisation also enables me to test networks larger than my physical network.

Recently Microsoft introduced an assessment requirement to gain access to the Action Pack. This assessment requires partners to take an e-Learning course and then pass its associated assessment with a minimum score of 70%. This assessment must be passed every two years to receive uninterrupted Action Pack Subscription updates (see Eric Ligman's blog post on Action Pack Downgrade Rights for the best reason to not have your subscription lapse). The recommended courses are:
  • Selling Microsoft Windows® Small Business Server 2003
  • Implementing, Managing and Deploying Applications in Windows Server 2003
  • Designing, Deploying and Managing a Network Solution for the Small and Medium-size Business
  • Selling Microsoft Solutions to Small Business
  • Implementing Microsoft Solution Accelerators for Small Business
  • Introduction to Selling SQL Server 2005
  • SQL Server 2005: Essentials for Sales Professionals
  • Volume Licensing for Small and Medium Businesses
  • Small Business Sales and Marketing Assessment (Small Business Specialist Requirement)

All but the Small Business Sales and Marketing Assessment (SBSMA) are Online Tutorials. The SBSMA is classed as an Assessment and as mentioned above is a pre-requisite to become a Small Business Specialist.

Microsoft also introduced two Special Edition Kits to the Action Pack. These are the Web Solutions Toolkit and the Small Business Specialist Toolkit. Both of these toolkits require additional assessment to be performed prior to issuance.

The Web Solutions Toolkit requires one of the following e-Learning courses to be passed with a minimum score of 70%
  • Microsoft .NET Assessment
  • Microsoft Expression Assessment
  • Microsoft Office Live Developer Assessment

I completed the Microsoft Expression Assessment quite easily, as I had recently used Expression Web to build my Web site and have been playing with both the Expression Design and Blend CTPs over the last few months.

The Small Business Specialist Toolkit requires that you have completed the requirements to become a Small Business Specialist. The full details can be found here. The short form of this is:

Both of these Special Edition Kits will be refreshed biannually.
Another good reason to perform e-Learning and become certified!

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