VSIP Plan Gets New Name

At its VSLive developer show late last month in New York, Microsoft renamed the program it formerly called Visual Studio Integration Partner program to the Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program.

The VSIP program broadens developer access to Visual Studio integration technology and provides partners with more comarketing opportunities with Microsoft.

The new program has three tiers of membership: Affiliate, Alliance and Premier, which replace the previous program's single fee-based membership level, the company said.

Microsoft does not charge a fee for software developers to join at the Affiliate level of partnership, and these partners receive free access to the VSIP software developer kit and related technologies. The SDK allows partners to integrate development tools, programming languages and other software components with Visual Studio .Net.

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Affiliate members also receive a license agreement they can click through to activate, as well as royalty-free distribution for products integrated with Visual Studio, free newsgroup technical support and an online catalog listing for available .Net-related products, Microsoft executives said.

At the Alliance level, partners pay an annual fee of $3,000 for all Affiliate-level benefits plus a one-year MSDN Universal Subscription, access to the VSIP program logo and additional comarketing activities with Microsoft.

All current partners in the Microsoft .Net Component Builder Program now automatically are VSIP program members at the Alliance level, the company said.

Existing members of the Visual Studio Integration Partner program automatically become partners at the Premier level, which costs $10,000 for annual membership.

The Premier level includes all of the benefits of the Alliance level, but Premier partners also are eligible for participation in targeted marketing activities with Microsoft and a Visual Studio .Net redistribution license and can distribute the new Visual Studio Premier Partner Edition software.

Visual Studio Premier Partner Edition enables Premier-level VSIP program members to ship their products along with the base Visual Studio .Net development environment, according to Microsoft.

There were more than 175 ISVs in the original VSIP program, and there are more than 300 shipping partner products that are integrated with .Net, according to Microsoft.

"With the new lower-barrier-to-entry membership levels, Microsoft is making the program more appealing," said Andrew Brust, president of Progressive Systems Consulting, a solution provider in New York. "I think that will help foster even greater community,Microsoft calls it an 'ecosystem',around Visual Studio .Net and .Net in general," he said.

Although Progressive Systems is not an ISV that would take advantage of the VSIP program, a larger ISV community around .Net is a good thing for companies that specialize in .Net development, Brust said.

Micro Focus, a Mountain View, Calif.-based ISV, joined the VSIP program last year. Terry Glenn, director of the Microsoft alliance at Micro Focus, said the program has allowed the company flexibility in how it packages software built on Visual Studio.Net.

The program also has given Micro Focus more comarketing opportunities with Microsoft and allowed the company to get products to market faster, Glenn said.