Microsoft said the program -- which kicked off on Monday -- would create a community that will "feel a sense of connection [to] and belonging with the industry, the greater community and Microsoft".
Developers who sign up for the free program will receive an RFID membership card issued by Microsoft that can be used to track participation at Microsoft user group meetings and events. As a reward developers will receive benefits such as free ASP.NET Web hosting, discounts at Harris Technology stores and discounts on Microsoft products.
The program, to be named MSDN Connection, has been set up locally by Microsoft Australia in collaboration with the various Australian .NET user groups, including the 10 Australian International .NET association (INETA) user groups.
It recognises developers in three categories:
- Recognised developer: This is the base level membership and is aimed at students, hobbyist and professional developers with no requirements;
- Active developer; This membership level is aimed at professional developers with specific Microsoft certification. At this level members are offered a profile on the MSDN connection Web site.
- Dedicated developer -This membership level is only open to a select few Microsoft developers who have shown "significant contribution" to the community. Microsoft Valuable Professionals (MVPs) and MSDN regional directors fall into this category.
While no specific criteria has been released by the company that outlines exactly how developers can move up the ranks, Microsoft sources have said that reaching dedicated developer status can be achieved -simply by increasing their level of involvement within the community."
Microsoft sources expect to sign up 3500 developers in the first three months of operation. Australian developers interested can sign up to the program online at http://www.microsoft.com/australia/msdnconnection.
The sources said the information gathered via the RFID cards would only be used to gain a better understanding of what developers are interested in for future events and user group meetings.