Microsoft Action Pack – Everything You Need To Know

If you already are a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, or you are seriously considering it, then you’ll certainly love the Action Pack that Microsoft offers its smaller partners, in order for them to save a lot of money on a plethora of products and services, that they were going to buy anyways.

In this article, I will try to answer most of the frequent questions that are usually asked about the MAPS.

What Is A Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS)?

Microsoft Action Pack is an annual subscription offered by Microsoft to their entry-level partners, that allows them to get thousands of dollars’ worth of MS products and services for just $475 USD per year.

It is meant to help you jump start your business, with access to exclusive training and marketing material, in addition to all the software licenses you might need to get started.

The products included in an Action Pack subscription aren’t limited or trial versions, a MAPS includes the full editions for internal-use (ie you can’t sell them or use them for client projects, more on this later…) of very expensive products such as Visual Studio Professional edition, Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise editions, MS Office Professional licenses and Microsoft 365 seats…etc, and so much more.

Just to put things into perspective, ONE annual subscription for Visual Studio Professional alone is normally $799 USD per year, a MAPS includes 3 of them, plus a slew of other products and services at just $475 USD a year.

What Is Included In A Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS)?

Here’s the complete list of software licenses and services’ credits / seats included in a Microsoft Action Pack subscription:

  • 3 Visual Studio Professional Subscriptions (formerly known as MSDN Subscriptions)
  • 5 Microsoft 365 E3 (formerly Office 365 E3) seats
  • 5 Intune
  • 5 Enterprise Mobility Suite
  • 5 Azure AD Basic
  • 5 Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Customer Engagement
  • Microsoft Azure $100 monthly credit
  • 1 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Work-group Server 2016 license (provides access to 5 users)
  • 2 Microsoft SQL Server 2019 Standard (per core)
  • 1 Microsoft Exchange Server 2019 Standard
  • 10 Microsoft Exchange Server 2019 Standard CALs
  • 10 Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2019
  • 1 Microsoft Project Professional 2019
  • 1 Microsoft SharePoint Server 2019 Enterprise
  • 10 Microsoft SharePoint Server 2019 Enterprise CALs (includes Standard CALs)
  • 1 Microsoft Skype for Business Server 2019
  • 10 Microsoft Skype for Business Server 2019 Standard CALs
  • 1 Microsoft Visio Professional 2019
  • 10 Windows 10 Enterprise (Current Branch or LTSC 2019)
  • 10 Windows 10 Professional (Current Branch or LTSC 2019)
  • 1 Windows Server 2019 Essentials
  • 10 Windows Server 2019 Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CALs
  • 16 Windows Server 2019 Standard
  • 10 Windows Server 2019 CALs (not edition specific)
  • 1 Windows Storage Server 2016 Work-group
  • 10 System Center 2019 Client Management Suite
  • 16 System Center 2019 Standard
  • 10 System Center Configuration Manager (current branch)
  • 10 System Center Endpoint Protection (current branch)
  • 5 Advanced Threat Analytics Client Management Licenses
  • 10 Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2015
  • 10 Windows Embedded 8 Standard
  • 10 Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Enterprise
  • 10 Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro
  • 10 Windows Embedded POS Ready 7
  • 1 R Server for SUSE Linux
  • 1 R Server for Teradata DB
  • 1 Machine Learning Server for Hadoop
  • 1 Machine Learning Server for Linux
  • Exclusive Marketing materials and virtual instructor-led courses to jump start your business
  • More exposure to Clients and membership to a rich community of partners

Please note that this list is intended to help partners understand the product licenses included in Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (Action Pack). The details however are subject to change, so be sure to review that information in Partner Center first.

Also, refer to the Microsoft Partner Network programs guide for important policy details regarding license use rights and limitations about each software product or online service that your organization must comply with.

What Are The Main Benefits / Pros Of A Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS)? Any Cons / Downsides?

Microsoft Action Pack subscription benefits / pros:

  • Access to very expensive products & services for just $475/year
  • Five advisory hours with a Partner Technical Consultant
  • Up to 10 product support incidents
  • Access to curated resources to take your solution from idea to market
  • The opportunity to be listed in the Microsoft partner directory
  • Access to turnkey marketing and readiness materials
  • Access to virtual instructor-led technical courses and certification

Microsoft Action Pack cons / downsides / drawbacks:

  • You’ll have to stay current: you only get access to the latest versions of the different products each year, so you’ll have to update your installations of a certain product once the included version in your MAPS changes .
  • Limited Support (only 10 incidents) and no free support-calls, you’ll have to pay for additional support when needed.
  • The Licenses obtained through MAPS are for Internal-use only, it’s something that Microsoft calls IUR only (Internal-Use Rights).

What Are Internal-Use Rights (IUR) of MPN & Action Pack ?

Microsoft Partner Network rules stipulate that all software offered as a program benefit can only be used internally. This applies to the overall MPN software license benefits (including the Action Pack licenses and Visual Studio Subscription products & services).

This internal use-only restriction essentially means that partners cannot use the software as part of work that they do for parties outside their own organization. Building an app that will be used by partner employees only is fine, but building an app that is part of a client project is not allowed.

What Is the Cost / Price Of A Microsoft Action Pack Subscription? Any Requirements Before I Get It?

The current price is fixed at $475 USD a year, but you need to visit the MPN portal to review the price in your location.

As for the MAPS requirements / prerequisites, you need to be a member of the MPN (Microsoft Partner Network) before you could buy an Action Pack subscription. The MPN membership is free, although you’ll have to fill out a lot of -digital- paperwork.

How Do I Get / Subscribe to & Use a Microsoft Action Pack Subscription?

Your first first step to get it would be to get the free membership to MPN. If you’re not already a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, go to the this page on the Partner Network site and select Join now.

After you’ve successfully joined the Microsoft Partner Network (for free), you can then follow the instructions on the partner site (sign-in required) to buy your first MS Action Pack subscription (MAPS).

For more on this subject, please visit the related MS documentation page.

Do Action Pack Licenses Expire? How Should I Go About Their Renewal?

Once your Action Pack subscription expires, you must uninstall all software copies obtained through the Action Pack subscription key, and delete them from all your media & storage devices.

Even if you renew your subscription afterwards, you will still have to get the software through the new key, since the old keys are no longer valid.

More on this expiration / renewal process on Microsoft’s documentation.

How Can I Expand The Number Of Licenses / Seats Included In My MAPS?

Once you get the Microsoft Action Pack subscription, you can expand what is included in your subscription by achieving the goals outlined in the incentives that are offered to you, based on your sales of Microsoft products, services and cloud offerings.

For example, Microsoft Action Pack partners initially receive five seats of Microsoft 365. Partners will receive five additional seats when they sell at least 25 seats of M365 within the previous 12 months.

Another example is that Partners receive five additional seats of Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Customer Engagement when they sell at least 50 seats of Microsoft 365 or five seats of Microsoft Dynamics 365 within the previous 12 months.

Note that the examples mentioned above are based on incentives offered to Action Pack subscribers in the US in 2019, please check your incentives in your partner center to know accurately what goals to achieve.

How is Action Pack different from MSDN (Now Visual Studio Subscription) & The MPN Gold / Silver Competencies ?

Action Pack differs from the regular Microsoft Partner Network and the Silver / Gold competencies in that you can sign up for an MPN membership for free, with no special requirements, then the competencies have to be “earned” – before you can pay for them – by ensuring that your organization fulfills their requirements.

An Action Pack Subscription however doesn’t need to be earned, you just get a free MPN membership then you buy the action pack subscription whenever you like.

As for MSDN (Now Visual Studio Subscriptions), Action Pack includes 3 professional custom ones modified specifically for MAPS users. The Visual Studio Professional (MPN) subscription does not include Azure DevOps Services benefits, Azure DevTest individual credit, technical support & the training that are available with Visual Studio subscriptions that are offered commercially.

Also, MSDN (Visual Studio Subscription) licenses are for development, test and demo purposes only, you cannot run them on a production environment, not even an internal one.

MS Partner Network (MPN) membershipMS Action PackMPN Silver CompetencyMPN Gold CompetencyMSDN (Now Visual Studio Subscription)
RequirementsSign up for free membership.– MPN membership
– Pay the annual subscription fee.
– MPN Membership
– Pass required Silver exams and skill validation.
– Meet Silver performance requirements.
– Pay the annual Silver fee.
– MPN Membership
– Pass required Gold exams and skill validation.
– Meet Gold performance requirements.
– Pay the annual Gold fee.
Pay subscription fee
Price (per year)$0 (free)$475*$1670*$4730*$1000* – $6000*
Requirements & Prices of MPN, Action Pack, Microsoft Silver / Gold Competencies & Visual Studio Subscriptions (formerly MSDN)

(*) Additional taxes and fees may apply.

Well, that is it for this article, for more information on MPN offers and programs, you can check my articles on Microsoft Silver Partners, as well as Microsoft Gold Partners. Have a nice day / evening !


I'm a senior CS Engineer from Morocco, working as an Independent Consultant and a part-time blogger.

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