As of October 2022, Microsoft is changing the name of its partner program. Previously called the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), it is now the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP).

The name shift reflects Microsoft’s current focus on cloud-based solutions instead of traditional software tools. However, the changes go beyond a new name and acronym. Microsoft has also streamlined solutions designations into six different areas. These new categories represent a significant simplification of the nearly 20 Microsoft partner competencies previously available in both Gold and Silver tiers.

Here is a closer look at the new Microsoft Partner Program changes and how they may affect both partners and customers.

A Closer Look at What Is Changing

The previous MS Partner Program designations focused on nearly 20 competency areas, including Cloud Platform (for Azure), Cloud Productivity (for Microsoft 365) and Security. Organizations earned Silver (regular) or Gold (expert or premium) status based on the number of certified employees, monthly revenue, and product adoption.

The IT professionals providing MS services and expertise had to take exams and meet performance benchmarks to attain their status. They also needed to show customer growth in their competency areas.

After the switch to the Cloud Partner Program, there are only six solution designations:

  • Data & AI (Azure)
  • Infrastructure (Azure)
  • Digital & App Innovation (Azure)
  • Business Applications
  • Modern Work
  • Security

Partners can still qualify for these designations based on the capabilities of their employees, but the criteria is stricter after the MCPP transition.

These changes affect all Microsoft partners, whether they customize or sell services, provide software solutions, or sell devices. The previous competencies have no impact on qualification for the new designations.

Finally, the Gold and Silver tags have been replaced by a single Solutions Partner tag. The legacy designations are no longer valid in October 2022, though partners who renewed their designation before September 30 will get the benefits associated with their status until their next anniversary.

Are Current Microsoft Service Partners Affected?

Because of the elimination of the Gold and Silver competency levels, many partners may feel a negative impact from the partner program changes.

The new Solutions Partner tag requires a higher level of qualification. This means that many companies with Microsoft Partner Network Silver competencies have to make improvements to qualify for the new MCPP Solutions Partner designation. Even some services with borderline Gold ratings may have trouble reaching the threshold for Solutions Partner status.

In addition to certifications and performance (addition of customers and revenue), partners need to meet customer growth requirements. This means an increase in the number of solutions deployments or new adoptions. In other words, the partner must be actively increasing or upgrading the usage of MS products by their clients.

From Microsoft’s perspective, partners need primarily focus on MS products and services and do $7,000 or more in monthly recurring revenue, specifically with Microsoft. Some partners do focus solely on Microsoft solutions, but others offer many different branded solutions, so they may find reaching these thresholds more challenging.

Advanced Specializations

There is a second tier for MCPP destinations. Advanced specializations show a high level of technical expertise in a given area. Any company achieving the Solutions Partner designation can try to qualify for an advanced specialization, but those who do not obtain Solutions Partner status will not have the chance to qualify.

These additional designations exist for each of the six Solutions Partner areas.

In most cases, partners need their employees to obtain specific certifications to demonstrate their expert-level status and qualify for advanced specializations. These accreditations usually involve advanced training and passing exams to prove expertise.

Why would Solutions Partners want to pursue this advanced accreditation? Because those who qualify for advanced specializations will be able to win more business and market-specific services to clients in need of cutting-edge expertise.

How Will the Change Affect Customers?

The launch of the MCPP designations brings new challenges to some partners, especially those who currently hold Silver status with the MCP program. However, customers benefit from the changes.

The designations and advanced specializations provide a better definition of each partner’s areas of expertise. The new arrangement allows customers to better assess the services a partner offers and decide whether or not they fit their needs.

Also, the new designation system ensures that partners are truly qualified and have employees and processes to deliver promised services. Not only will the partners be able to work on cloud-based solutions, but they will be adept at working specifically with Microsoft products.

How Is Softlanding Affected by the Change?

The changes to the Microsoft Partner Program can negatively impact some partners. However, Softlanding stands out when it comes to new MCPP designations. Softlanding already has the level of experience and expertise to make the successful transition from MPN competencies to MCPP Solutions Partner designations.

Softlanding has already achieved five of the six MCPP Solutions Partner designations.

  • Data & AI (Azure)
  • Digital & App Innovation (Azure)
  • Infrastructure (Azure)
  • Modern Work
  • Security

We have also already earned nine advanced specialization designations. If you need assistance choosing, deploying, upgrading, or switching to Microsoft products in your organization, Softlanding can handle nearly every aspect of the process.

If you need an expert to provide Microsoft-managed solutions, transition to the cloud, or other IT services, contact Softlanding today.

Written By:


Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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