The Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS)

Microsoft Action Pack

I’ve seen the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) discussed on the forums in the past and thought it deserves a full dedicated article. Honestly, it’s one of the best values offered to small tech business. The subscription is required if you want your business to have the “Microsoft Small Business Specialist” credential. If you want a cost effective way to learn current Microsoft software while actively using it to run your business, then you need to check this amazing subscription deal from Microsoft.

The Microsoft Action Pack is offered by Microsoft through their general partner program, which is free to join. Once you are a partner you can choose to subscribe to one of two versions of the action pack subscription:

  • Action Pack solution provider – For partners who support, install, maintain, and sell solutions on the Microsoft platform. US$329.00 per year
  • Action Pack Development and Design – Includes everything from the action pack solution provider plus tools for businesses that design and develop applications for the Microsoft platform. US$429.00 per year

Both MAPS subscriptions comes with a basic Technet subscription as well, which contains a plethora of Microsoft software available to download for testing or troubleshooting purposes only. Technet has operating systems from Windows 3.1 to Windows 7, and everything in between (Windows Server, SQL server, etc)!

I’ve read that the software offered in this package is estimated to be worth around $20,000 if you were to buy retail licenses of everything!


The MAPS subscription allows the business partner to use the software licenses within the their business. This means that the partner will be able to use Microsoft’s most current software on a daily basis in a business environment. Obviously this is great because the partner gets to learn the software first hand which makes it easier to support and sell to customers. The multiple licenses allow you to use the software on multiple machines within your organization and/or use it to learn a specific application in a virtual environment (ex. if you want to certify in an application).

I find the subscription well worth the cost since I have access to just about all of Microsoft’s active software either through MAPS or Technet. It’s a cost effective (and legal!) way for the IT professional and business owner to get their hands on Microsoft software.

Microsoft’s general partner membership also offers training videos and access to Technet support. The videos are great for learning about many different Microsoft products, from sales overviews to technical tutorials.

Microsoft Small Business Specialist Credential

The Microsoft Small Business Specialist credential is Microsoft’s certification for partners that specialize in support, installation, sales, and deployment of Microsoft products to small and medium sized businesses. Upon obtaining the credential, the partner is allowed to use the “Microsoft Small Business Specialist” logo, then is listed in Microsoft’s pinpoint partner finder, and gains access to the small business partner community.

It serves as another way to set your business apart from others if you have expertise in Microsoft’s small business solutions or if you want to compete in the small business support market. In order to obtain this credential the business must:

  • 1. Register as a general Microsoft Partner
  • 2. Pass the Small Business Sales and Marketing Skills Assessment
  • 3. Have somebody in the organization (or a contractor) pass one of the following exams:
    • Exam 70-169: TS: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuring (Effective October 2011)
    • Exam 70-515 : TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
    • Exam 70-523 : Upgrade: Transition your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Web Developer Skills to MCPD .NET Framework 4.0 Web Developer
    • Exam 70-642 : TS: Windows Server 2008, Network Infrastructure, Configuring
    • Exam 70-648 : TS: Upgrading from Windows Server 2003 MCSA to, Windows Server 2008, Technology Specializations
    • Exam 70-649 : TS: Upgrading your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
    • Exam 70-653 : TS: Windows Small Business Server 2008, Configuring
    • Exam 70-680: TS: Windows 7, Configuring (Effective October 2011)
    • Exam 70-683 : TS: Windows 7, Preinstalling for OEMs

Here is a list of software included in the MAPS subscriptions:


  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft Project Professional 2010 – 5 Licenses
  • Microsoft Visio Professional 2010 – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft Business Contact Manager 2010 – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft MapPoint North America 2011 or Microsoft MapPoint Europe 2010 – 10 Licenses


  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Standard – 1 License
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Standard client access licenses (CALs) – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Standard – 1 License
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Standard CALs – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise – 1 License
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise CALs – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise – 1 License
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 CALs – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 client management license (ML) – 10 Licenses
  • Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 server ML Enterprise – 3 Licenses
  • Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010 Management Server – 1 License
  • Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010 server ML Enterprise – 3 Licenses
  • Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010 client ML – 10 Licenses


  • Windows 7 Professional- 10 Licenses
  • Windows 7 Ultimate – 1 License

Windows Server

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise- 1 License
  • Windows Server 2008 CALs (not edition specific) – 10 Licenses
  • Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server CALs – 10 Licenses
  • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials – 1 License
  • Windows Web Server 2008 R2 – 1 License
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation – 1 License
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials – 1 License
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard – 1 License
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011 CALs – 10 Licenses

Business Solutions

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Workgroup Server 2011 1 Server
  • 5 Users Maximum An upgrade license for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 2011 is available for companies that want to support more than five users.

Additional Software included in the Design and Development Subscription

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional
  • Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Web Professional 3 Licenses
  • Also included: Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter for development and testing.

For Further Reading:

Chuck Romano

About the Author

Chuck Romano
More articles by me...
Chuck Romano is a business and technology professional with over 9 years experience in document imaging and 11 years in computer repair. Chuck provides results driven expertise in fields such as Healthcare IT, document imaging/workflow systems, marketing, and management.

Comments (10)

  • Curtiss says:

    This is a great idea for the small business solutions provider, but what about the really small business guy. The solo, mobile technician. Would MAPS be worth the cost? I’m a one-man band and am constantly looking for ways to improve how I conduct business and how I promote my business to others. Having the Microsoft Small Business Specialist credential would be fantastic and a great way to set myself apart from my competition.

    • Chuck Romano says:

      This totally depends on your goals and how you would use the subscription. If you are looking to expand into the small business and managed IT service market, then I don’t see how this can hurt at all; actually I would highly recommend it if you are servicing business that run on the Microsoft platform. Are you looking got certify in any particular applications? This is also well worth it as you have access to Technet as well. If you don’t think you will use the software, or don’t see a benefit to having the Small Business Specialists credential, or service Linux and Apple customers, then it’s probably not for you.

      I did not get it off the bat. I waited until I started getting some cash in and purchased necessities. I thought it over and figured it was a great value, plus if you expand your organisation it comes in handy. Remember the credential itself will not get you business, it depends on what you actually learn, how you apply it, and how you sell it. Think of it as an investment, if the $329 per year can contribute to you bringing in more cash flow in one way or another, then it’s worth it. Hope that helps.

  • Brad Ray says:

    Just be careful with the desktop OS licenses, they are single use only. Meaning that if you decide to swap over to an SSD drive on your laptop, you permanently reduce your license count by one every time to re-install onto different hardware. Once a license is used up, it cannot be replaced. Kind of strange that it is aimed at technology professionals, yet we are the ones who are most likely to installed, upgrade, tinker, install again etc. Once you blow through your 10, you can’t get anymore and your software will fail to activate etc. When I ran into this, they pointing me to the website explaining it and suggested that I purchase a different kind of license if I frequently change/upgrade my computer.

    • Curtiss says:

      What kind of license did Microsoft suggest you buy? I can see the merit in mass licensing especially for those clients who want Windows rather than Linux.

      • Brad Ray says:

        The desktop OS licenses are different on MAPS than any other type of license. Usually with Open License, retail, even OEM as long as you aren’t trying to install it on multiple computers at the same time, once it is removed from the original computer, it can be re-installed on different hardware and you still own your license (except for OEM, as it has to be the original PC, but you can still upgrade the hardware and be OK). MAPS is unique is that you pool of 10 licenses can be depleted down to 0 and then you can no longer install the desktop OS. All other forms of licensing that I am aware of do not work this way. If you purchase 10, you will always have 10, regardless if you decide to upgrade your computer and re-install every 3-4 months. They specifically mentioned Open license.

        Don’t get me wrong, MAPS is still a GREAT bargain, I just want people to be aware of how they work before they blow through all their OS installs like I did.

    • Connectsim says:

      you also have to make sure that if you are purchasing this for mainly the windows 7 licenses they are not full licenses. They are upgrade licenses only. So your previous machine needs a valid copy of an older operating system. You can install this on a barebone machine but win7 os will ask you to validate your license key which doesn’t come with MAPS.

  • Ryan says:

    Thank you for such great information. I can see this as a great asset to my business

  • Evelyn says:

    I saw that for Solution Provider there is access to >70 softwares in Technet for evaluation. But is this available to Development and Design subsription as well through MSDN?
    Please enlighten me.

    • Chuck Romano says:

      Hi Evelyn,

      Both versions of the MAPS subscriptions come with Technet, but I’m not sure how the MSDN subscriptions work. I perused Microsoft’s site and while I don’t see anything mentioning “technet” it does seem that depending on what MSDN package you get it comes with a certain amount of software licenses for testing. Perhaps someone who does more application development can answer that better. Depending on what you business goals are I would check with Microsoft to see what would better suit your needs.