Microsoft Significantly Increases Spending on Customers

SEATTLE, July 23, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. President Steve Ballmer told financial analysts today that the company will increase significantly the level of investment in systems and initiatives aimed at
“delighting customers,” a vision that goes beyond merely satisfying them. Speaking at this year’s annual Microsoft® Financial Analyst Meeting, Ballmer said the company plans to increase spending by nearly $200 million on technical support, senior information technology consultants for enterprise accounts, customer feedback and other efforts designed to build on Microsoft’s solid commitment to customers.

“We hear a lot about customer satisfaction in this industry, but every dollar we spend on support, technology development, testing and marketing should be focused on making every aspect of a customer’s experience with Microsoft a delightful one,”
said Ballmer, who was named president of Microsoft on Tuesday.
“We have a strong tradition at Microsoft of focusing intently on what customers want. Customer focus is as much a part of our culture as writing code. We want to build on that tradition and culture by listening more, reaching out more, offering to help more.”

In his presentation to more than 150 financial analysts, Ballmer outlined Microsoft’s goals for new programs and increased spending in the following areas:

  • Microsoft will increase its investment in product support to improve online and technical support for all customers.

  • Microsoft also will increase spending on technical support for its Microsoft Certified Solution Providers and value-added providers – independent technology companies that provide Microsoft product-based solutions to hundreds of thousands of Microsoft customers worldwide.

  • Microsoft is increasing the number of senior information technology professionals it places within customer organizations to do IT architecture and planning and to help customers accelerate achieving business value from their IT investments.

  • This summer, Microsoft will launch a new worldwide resource and engagement program for IT professionals, patterned after Microsoft’s successful developer and partner initiatives.

  • Microsoft is kicking off a major customer feedback study, which will explore future customer and partner needs regarding Microsoft support and services. It will measure key factors in the overall business relationships with information technology professionals at large and medium-size companies, value-added providers, software developers and Microsoft Certified Solution Providers.

Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates expanded on the customer theme, outlining several important areas of focus for future product innovation:

  • Developing new, simple PCs and peripherals

  • Continuing to simplify the interface customers use

  • Unifying multiple, often confusing, information storage locations on PCs

  • Improving on manageability and administration for larger organizations

  • Building a natural user interface, one that enables customers to interact with their PC using speech and movement

“Our focus in the coming year is on building technologies and relationships that are entirely customer-centered,”
Gates said.
“Whether their PC is used at home or in a school, small business, hospital, corporation or some other setting, we want customers to feel enthusiastic about the products and technologies we make. We need to listen carefully and frequently to our customers and partners and really understand how they want to see not only our individual products but the totality of our products and services evolve.”

Gates projected research and development spending in excess of $3 billion during the coming fiscal year, driven primarily by work in the areas of collaboration, graphics and distributed computing.

Also speaking today at the Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting were Paul Maritz, group vice president for platforms and applications; Pete Higgins, group vice president for interactive media; Jeff Raikes, group vice president for sales and support; Bob Herbold, chief operating officer; and Greg Maffei, chief financial officer.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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