Microsoft has re-jigged its support structure for top tier partners following criticism that the previous mechanism was too inflexible for partners and customers.
The vendor ditched its Microsoft Authorised Support (MAS) programme for Certified Support Centres (CSCs) in the UK to replace it with the Microsoft Authorised Premier Support Programme (MAPS). Microsoft plans to extend some aspects of the service to mid level partners early next year.
Hewlett Packard, Compaq and ICL Multivendor Computing were appointed MAPS from the inception of the programme, and Microsoft is believed to be negotiating to appoint Computacenter by the end of the year, leaving only Wang/Getronics and Unisys without the premier status.
George Thaw, group services manager for product support services at Microsoft, told PC Dealer: "MAPS is an augmentation of the MAS scheme. It will provide more flexibility around Microsoft's core products. MAS was very prescriptive and did not allow for enough value add."
The modified programme will allow the CSC to combine its own service packages, such as marketing and technical support, with a mixture of Microsoft's own top level support, enabling it to offer a variety of service levels.
The services it offers will allow a MAPS partner and customer to access the software giant's premier online support, attend Microsoft seminars and events, subscribe to Microsoft's resource kit, and have access to a technical account manager.
According to Thaw, although some of these services were a direct link to Microsoft, the CSC partner would remain the point of contact for the customer.
Steve Caunce, software and services marketing manager at Computacenter, said: "Customers like working with the partners, but want the comfort of having contact with the vendor as well."
Computacenter had "no immediate plans" to become a MAPS, he added.
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