This just announced publicly in the Microsoft SBSC March Newsletter:
“…if you have passed either Exam 70-282 (Designing, Deploying, and Managing a Network Solution for Small- and Medium-Sized Business) or Exam 74-134 (Pre-installing Microsoft Products and Technologies) to receive your Small Business Specialist designation, you must update your exam credentials by October 31, 2010″
What does update mean? Well you need to pass one of the following:
There are more exams proposed for developers and Business Solutions Partners that serve SMB but I’ve not seen those posted publicly so I’ve cropped the image above.
Why the change? Well Microsoft’s “Next Gen Partner Program”, while still a work in progress, is going to be much more solutions focused when in comes to the formulation of the competencies including SBSC (or SMB). Solution meaning named and structured around products or product categories that customers can relate with. And instead of having competencies within your partner level, you will have a partner level within your competency. Yes you might want to re-read that last sentence to let is soak in.
While the requirements to elevate your Partner level within your competency are still being worked on, I can tell you that the idea is, using SMB (or SBSC) as an example, that you can get in easily enough with one TS test and you have the equivalence of a registered partner within that competency. You show that you are able to properly service, sell to and satisfy your customers then you can move up a level. Makes perfect sense to me.
Keep in mind that this is a work in progress but I for one applaud Microsoft for moving the MSPP in the right direction where we can be recognized (and hopefully found within the locator) properly and not by just tech staff head count or sales volumes.