This post examines what it means to be a Microsoft Independent Software Vendor (ISV), defining the term. We spell out some of the benefits of participating in the Microsoft Partner Network. Then we explain the different levels of Microsoft partnership available in Canada and how to get started as a partner.

What’s an ISV?

An independent software vendor (ISV) is a tech industry term used by Microsoft and other companies to describe individuals and organizations who develop, market and sell software that runs on third-party software and hardware platforms, including Microsoft’s. For example, thousands of ISVs partner with Microsoft to develop, market and sell software for Windows, Office, Azure and Xbox.

Are you an ISV?

Sure—if you develop, market and sell your own software/ apps for just about any audience or industry and especially in the b2b space, which is our focus. You don’t have to work for or own a development studio to be an ISV, either. ISVs come in all shapes and sizes—from student startups with an idea big enough to change the world, to an established IT solution-provider entering new markets by launching their own intellectual property.

Can ISVs partner with Microsoft?

Absolutely! Thousands do. You have three options:

  • Join the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN): a free, benefit-rich partner program designed to help you grow your business by providing exclusive tools, resources and support, including allowing you to join our Cloud Service Provider
  • Subscribe to Microsoft Action Pack (MAP). MAPS costs approximately CAD $500 per year and empowers you to ramp up your business by giving you access to software, development tools, training and software and more.
  • Pursue Microsoft competencies. Microsoft Silver Certified Partners and Microsoft Gold Certified Partners have the credibility, knowledge and skills to deliver top-tier technology solutions in a cloud-first, mobile-first marketplace.

What is an ISV

What’s the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN)?

The Microsoft Partner Network services all Microsoft partners, from individuals who simply participate in the MPN community for free to Gold Competency partners. Close to 300,000 companies worldwide (and upwards of 10,000 in Canada) engage with Microsoft and their peers through MPN and benefit enormously from it. How deep you go has everything to do with your goals. For many ISVs, an annual MAP subscription is a great place to start.

What is MPN

What exactly does MAPS include?

A ton of free Microsoft software through internal license agreements. Development tools, including three Microsoft Visual Studio Professional subscriptions. Valuable training, partly through partner learning paths. Technical support, online and by phone, including coding help with Azure solutions. Access to peers. Advice/guidance on cloud profitability. Marketing assets. And a lot more. You can check out this article that details the benefits of MAPS.

What about Microsoft certification?

ISVs who want to build their competencies with cutting edge technology can pursue training to earn Microsoft Silver or Gold Certified Partners certification. Partners can build their skills in one of six centers of excellence: Application Development & ISV; Platform & Infrastructure; Data Management & Analytics; Business Applications; Mobility; and Productivity. Many ISVs tend to go for Cloud Platform competency, which focuses on Azure and Application Development. For more information about this competency training, please visit the MPN website here.

What should we expect by joining MPN?

Because of the wealth of resources available and people and organizations in it, it takes time to get to know MPN and to meet fellow partners. Of course, if you secure a MAPS or choose to explore certification training, Microsoft will assist you with a rigorous on-boarding process and ongoing support. The MPN continually evolves to best meet the needs of partners and earns a 94% satisfaction from the companies who participate.

What do we do next?

For more information and to join the MPN, subscribe to MAP and/or explore a competencies partnership, you can visit the MPN website here. Note that you will need a Microsoft email account (e.g. to proceed.

If you have questions about the MPN program or enrollment, you can call 1-800 676-7658 to speak to cloud profitability expert at Microsoft.

Microsoft Canada partner resources

The Microsoft Canada cloud profitability toolbox organizes e-books, videos, whitepapers, links and other cloud-enablement resources (including contact information) all in one place.