Microsoft Broadens Engagement Program To Support 600,000 Small and Midsize Technology Companies

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 19, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced new resources for value-added providers (VAPs), independent technology resellers and consultants, giving them greater access to product support from Microsoft technicians, training courses to keep their skills current, and new revenue opportunities. The resources are designed to provide 600,000 VAPs worldwide with the knowledge and tools they need to build their business deploying and supporting customer solutions around products based on the Microsoft®
Windows NT® operating system and BackOffice® family.

The new resources, available through Microsoft Direct Access at , include free online technical support (connect-time charges may apply), a Support ServiceDesk, interoperability training for NetWare and Windows NT Server, a Year 2000 Resource Center, quarterly briefings in 400 cities around the world, and special offers such as a competitive upgrade rebate.

“This year we’ve made significant investments in Microsoft Direct Access to meet the needs of the channel around training, technical support and revenue opportunities,”
said Nigel Burton, director of small business and value-added provider programs at Microsoft.
“With these new offerings, we’re providing the broad channel of value-added providers and MCSPs with the knowledge and tools needed to help businesses of all sizes harness the power of digital communications and electronic commerce.”

Technical Support Resources

Microsoft Direct Access now provides VAPs with free seven-by-24 online technical support through monitored technical newsgroups. Through the newsgroups, VAPs can post questions and receive answers from experienced senior-level Microsoft support engineers on key products such as Windows NT Server, Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server and Microsoft Exchange. Peer-to-peer newsgroups are also available on business-related issues such as how to effectively serve the small-business customer and how to deal with year 2000 issues and challenges.

The Microsoft Direct Access ServiceDesk provides VAPs with online technical information and resources, such as trouble-shooting tools, FAQs, workarounds, downloadable patches, drivers, service packs and fixes, training documentation, migration and deployment guides, and proactive notification of key support issues.

Local Quarterly Briefings

Free quarterly briefings give value-added providers an opportunity to gain early information on new technologies, technical training on existing products and insight into new revenue opportunities. In fiscal year 1998, 200,000 individuals attended Direct Access quarterly briefings in 160 U.S. cities. This year, Microsoft aims to reach 300,000 individuals in 190 U.S. cities and 600,000 individuals worldwide.

Session topics for fall 1998 include Office 2000 and the Web, integration of NetWare and Windows NT, and installation and database administration of Microsoft SQL Server

“Direct Access gives me free access to the same resources that traditionally only larger companies could access because they could afford it,”
said Ty Parker, president, PaisleyWeb.
“Microsoft understands that without information I can’t educate my clients about how my business, and Microsoft solutions, can help them.”


Through a relationship with New Horizons Computer Learning Centers Inc., one of the the largest worldwide Microsoft Certified Technical Education Centers , Microsoft now offers U.S. VAPs a two-day, incremental training course focused on integration with NetWare and Windows NT Server priced at $150 (a $600 value). The course is designed to prepare value-added providers to integrate or migrate an existing network with a Windows NT-based network and provide students with hands-on experience with a variety of interoperability and migration systems and utilities.

To further support the channel around widespread demand for Windows NT networking services, Microsoft now provides value-added providers with additional subsidized, discounted and free training offerings on Windows NT Server 4.0. These include one-day instructor-led courses on installing and configuring Windows NT Server 4.0; self-paced training on Windows NT Server 4.0; online training with an online mentor for administering Windows NT Server 4.0, Windows NT Server 4.0 user fundamentals, and the supporting Windows NT Server 4.0 courses; and free downloadable courseware (connect-time charges may apply).

Year 2000 Resource Center

According to a April 1998 survey sponsored by Wells Fargo & Co., only 23 percent of small business owners who were aware of the year 2000 (commonly known as Y2K) problem had taken any action, yet 82 percent are at risk for Y2K-related problems. This represents a tremendous business opportunity for value-added providers to increase awareness and help customers – especially small businesses – address year 2000 issues.

The Microsoft Direct Access Year 2000 Resource Center includes business methodology and awareness resources to help VAPs develop business processes and consulting services that assist them in providing customers, particularly small businesses, with year 2000 business solutions. The resource center includes Microsoft product compliance information; a consulting workbook with customer-ready presentations, report templates, promotional materials, etc.; and community resources such as a peer-to-peer newsgroup and educational editorial written by industry experts on topics such as liability issues.

Special Offer

Until Jan. 15, 1999, U.S. resellers can earn up to $2,000 on all BackOffice family products distributed under open license that include a Windows NT Server competitive upgrade or all BackOffice Small Business Server products. Registered resellers will be assigned a Microsoft representative to provide presale assistance and support.

There are currently more than 225,000 value-added providers in the United States and more than 775,000 worldwide. Microsoft Direct Access, launched in August 1997, enables VAPs, independent resellers and consultants, and Microsoft Certified Solution Providers to effectively build their business around the Microsoft platform and meet the needs of small and midsize businesses with Microsoft solutions.

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, Windows NT and BackOffice are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors : If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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