Microsoft have possibly the most comprehensive and generous partner program of any technology company. Unfortunately, just like Microsoft its self and any large organisation the program has become so big and so complex that its overwhelming.

Empower or Bizspark? Action Pack or Certified? Which specialisation – ISV,Small Buisness, Custom Development . How to get points? What bout the bonus points? which points categories are exclusive? etc. etc. etc.

The partner program site has long been regarded (even by Microsofties) as a a little impenetrable – but today something happened that had me banging my head in disbelief. I am not going trying to scrore cheap points by bashing Microsoft here – after all its just like any company, they do some things well, and some things badly. I am just venting with a little bit of hope that someone in Microsoft will read this who knows who to contact that can get someone to get permission to someone else to authorize somebody to make a small change…

So the story :-

To get to the Certified Partner level the most appropriate path for an ISV is the “ISV/Software Solutions Competency” – marvellously straight forward so far and a handy guide to boot!

Part of that process is to get your software certified. There are different options but the most appropriate for many is the “Platform” Tests for ISV/Software Solutions and Hosted Solutions Competencies. In my case the two relevant parts of this test are Windows Server Component & Managed Code.

Now keep with me here – the “Windows Server Component” test is actually the “Works with Windows 2008” test.

So you think that passing this you can use the nice “Works with Winodows 2008”  logos, right? Well no.

Now the Platform Test for ISV doesn’t automatically let you use the logos, its a separate process for that.

“ISVs that select the Windows Server foundation component of the Platform Test for ISVs and pass without any waivers, are eligible to participate in the Works With Windows Server Logo program and receive the “Works With Windows Server Logo”

So you have to submit it twice, a bit daft but no biggie. (I defy anyone without prior knowledge to figure this lot out first visit.. or maybe I am dumb?)

The process for the “Works With Windows Test” is itself actually very well done – you load the testing tool on a server, it verifies all sorts of requirements such as UAC enabled and looks for many common problems in MSI files. You install your software, run it and then unintstall it. It then verifies you’ve not borked anything on the OS and cleaned up after yourself. All the things that customers worry about. Finally it creates a submission package to send to Veritest or Wipro for further tests and validation. All in all pretty neat and the testing is much more comprehensive than previous versions of the Works With program.

So here’s the rub though

A) For “Windows Server Component” part of the ISV Platform test you set test Windows 2008 system and test your app. Run the test and submit for verification. (At least until Dec 31st 2009)

B) For “Works With Windows” test you must after July 15th use Windows 2008 R2 RC and repeat the exact same test as A and submit again for verification.

Yup that’s right – during the strage period of July 15th to Dec 31st 2009 you have to do EXACTLY the same test on two different operating system for absolutely no reason I could fathom. Why can’t the changeover dates between 2008 and 2008 R2 be the same for both testing programs?

Confusing? Yes. Totally unnecessary? As far as I can tell. Frustrating? Oh yes!

P.S. Thanks for Julia, Padraig and Yu at Veritest and Paul on Microsoft’s Windows Server Logo Program team for your help and putting up with my whining.

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