My vote for worst web site: the Microsoft Partner Program

It’s that time of year again – time to renew our Microsoft Partner Certification. I hate this process. I especially hate their website – it very well may be the worst design in usability I’ve ever encountered.

Unsupported browser

To start, they only want you to use Internet Explorer. Opening it in Firefox yields this lovely message:


You are using an unsupported Internet browser. Please use the most recent non-beta version of Internet Explorer to access this page. If you continue you will likely experience performance issues. Please download this supported version or proceed to the PMC page you requested.

"Please use the most recent non-beta version of Internet Explorer" So, that implies that the Partner Program doesn’t think that beta versions of IE are stable. Nice.

OK, so I click the download link (just because I’m curious), and where does it take me?

That’s right – the IE6 download site!

Not IE7. Apparently the partner program doesn’t know about IE7, even though it was released in October of 2006.

Javascript errors

And the site is chock full of errors – errors that make the site unusable:


Perhaps it’s because I’m using IE7, not IE6.

No worries, I’ll just install IE6. Oh wait, I can’t. I can only have one version of IE installed at a time. Grrr….. 

It looks like a clickable menu item…

That link that I’m hovering over in the image – the one with the hand cursor – the one with the highlighting – its not a link. It doesn’t do anything! The indented ones (such as Competency Summary) is a link, but the Manage Competencies one isn’t. Who came up with this crap?

Problem Encountered

Use that same menu – click the Go To Empower Home link, and here’s what you get:

Has this site been tested at all?

How about taking some of those partner fees we pay you, and put it towards making a useable web application?


In order to earn a Gold Partner Status, you have to earn competencies. Part of earning a competency is having MCPs (Microsoft Certified Professionals) on staff. In order to be a MCP, you have to pass Microsoft exams, supposedly proving that the individual is competent.  Part of the pushback that I get from my technical staff is that these exams don’t really teach you good development skills. If the Partner Program website was written by MCPs, then I have my doubts as well. 


  • bonnie darling

    Gary, I’m rolling with laughter too!! EVEN I, who CERTAINLY is NOT tech-savvy, can “feel your pain” as I went down this incompetent site! It’s sooooo sad, that it IS funny!!!!!

  • gary.storey

    Just an FYI:

    Thre is a tool that will install older stand-alone versions of Internet Explorer (back to v3). Handy for issues like this and for testing your code.

    Unfortunately, it does not work with Vista.

  • gsherman

    Thanks for the tip Gary!


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