A couple of months ago we ran a story in the Insider about Microsoft's partner program and the fact every dealer now appeared to be claiming to be an expert in everything – all that 'gold partner', 'silver partner' stuff. At the time Microsoft were less than forthcoming about how to resolve this issue – but now we understand the reason why: It was because they were in the process of resolving this issue and totally rewriting their entire partner program, including certifications and competencies.

Precisely because of the challenges we’ve cited, as of this month (October 2010) Microsoft no longer certifies partners overall, but instead certifies competencies. So it’s now entirely possible (and likely) that a Microsoft partner would be Gold Certified in, say, .NET but Silver Certified in Enterprise Search. As part of the transition to this change, after October 2011 they may no longer simply say they are a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.
 
In this way, there should not be any further instances of a partner saying they’re Gold Certified without offering any differentiation as to their expertise in the many and varied Microsoft technologies. In the words of our Microsoft contact “It was this, in effect, that caused the challenges with the earlier program in the eyes of our customers.”

We've attached a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation deck which explains the new regime in far more detail than most people will ever need.