Microsoft also offers these same IT and consultant advantages to the general public -- including enterprise IT -- through its TechNet program. The $199 entry-level TechNet subscription doesn't include software, but it does provide free access to a single collection of Microsoft's well-respected, fee-based e-learning courses. Subscribers also get online chat access to Microsoft engineers and priority support in TechNet forums. The $349 Professional subscription adds free enterprise software licenses, two paid support instances, and increased e-learning access.
A third prong in Microsoft's consultant support is the Microsoft Valuable Professional program, which elevates selected technologists to near-god-like status in the IT world. Microsoft says it awards MVP status to "exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others." You can't apply to be an MVP; Microsoft has to notice your abilities and give you an invitation. MVPs are the rock stars of the Microsoft universe, feted at conferences and given privileged access to Microsoft's Redmond headquarters. Apple has nothing like it.
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