This article from the Redmond Channel Partner magazine points out that...
"The number of [Microsoft] Gold Certified Partners has more than doubled in the past two years, jumping from about 7,000 in 2006 to more than 14,400 today, according to Microsoft figures. (Meanwhile, the number of Certified Partners has dwindled rapidly, dropping from about 30,000 worldwide in 2006 to just more than 17,500 today as, presumably, most of those Certified companies move up to Gold Certified status.)"
So in 2006 Microsoft had 7,000 plus 30,000 = 37,000 partners and in 2008 they have 14,400 plus 17,500 = 31,900 partners which is a decrease of 14% in two years. Makes you wonder if Bill jumped ship because he saw this downturn coming?