Microsoft has hit back at criticism of its Small Business competency giveaways, claiming that the new accreditation has enjoyed a "huge amount of interest" since its launch last year.
At the start of the month, the vendor released 3,000 free exam vouchers towards the Small Business competency, a move which some partners took as an indication that the newly created competency was unpopular with partners.
Last year, the Small Business Specialist accreditation was scrapped in favour of the new competency, which Microsoft's partner strategy and programme director Janet Gibbons said would take time to become established, like any other new accreditation.
"The Small Business competency was launched mid-2012. As with any new competency, it takes time to become established; the combination of requirements, exams and the offerings are new," she said. "We respect the fact that partners will earn competencies at a time and occasion that suits their particular business cycle."
She added that exam giveaways and competency offers are not new, and are aimed at supporting partners in gaining new accreditations.
"Providing special offers related to exams is not new. We occasionally make available short-term incentives, cost reductions and other special offers for partners undertaking training and examinations. Among these are two-for-one exams [and] second shot, [which] enables someone to take an exam a second time for free if they fail the first time. Some may be linked to specific exams, some may be generic," she said.
"We have had a huge amount of interest in gaining the Small Business competency and we [are] committed to offering appropriate and helpful support for those considering attaining the competency – which may be their first. As part of this, these examination vouchers are available to partners across our entire global partner network."
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