SAN FRANCISCO, July 23, 1999 — As part of its commitment to meeting the needs of specific customer segments, Microsoft Corp. today announced Microsoft® Business Advantage, a solution-oriented Web site developed for small and medium-sized businesses. Microsoft Business Advantage, http://www.microsoft.com/biz/default.asp , is a Web resource that allows businesses to obtain volume discounts through online licensing, access technology solutions ranging from e-commerce to networking, and be referred directly to Microsoft Certified Solution Providers (MCSPs). The site was announced on the first day of Fusion 99, Microsoft’s annual worldwide business symposium for MCSPs.
The site was created specifically for small and midsize businesses – those with five to 500 PCs, in the United States. “Last year, midsize businesses alone spent $5.2 billion – about half of their entire PC budget – on technology service and support,” said Paul Bazley, general manager of the Small and Medium Enterprise Marketing Division at Microsoft. “Microsoft Business Advantage was created specifically to give small and midsize businesses a point-and-click way to not only receive volume product discounts, but to access the information and expertise that can help them make the best technology decisions possible.”
“Many businesses in search of technology solutions turn to friends or colleagues to provide information or references,” said Roy Martinez, controller and systems administrator of Borba Farms, a midsize business with 150 employees. Located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the company utilizes modern technology to produce food and fiber. “There are so many questions that can be answered with all the information in one place. There is a real need for that one-stop shopping, where I can go to not only figure out how a product will integrate with my system, but where I can license it right away and be connected to the technology providers who can deploy what I need.”
“Microsoft Business Advantage is online for a very good reason,” Bazley said, noting that there are 3.6 million businesses in the United States with Internet access, and more than half a million businesses with e-commerce-enabled Web sites. “I think we’ll continue to see businesses looking to the Internet as a way to conduct business. This online resource can point them in the right direction.”
Online Licensing, Technology Solutions and Provider Referral
The Microsoft Business Advantage site includes three components: online licensing, technology solutions and a referral engine that links businesses to MCSPs.
Through this component of the site, businesses with as few as five PCs can receive multiple licenses for Microsoft products at volume discounts. Users simply identify the products and the type of license (new or upgrade) they want to order. The order summary can either be printed and faxed to a user’s preferred reseller, or automatically submitted to one of the six participating online resellers. The participating resellers are CDW, CompUSA Inc., License Online Inc., MicroWarehouse Inc., SoftChoice Corp., Softmart and Software Spectrum Inc.
As part of the Open License Program, businesses can make an up-front volume purchase that establishes a discount level for a two-year period. Established in 1993, the Open License Program ensures that subsequent purchases, even if a single license, can be made at that same volume discount level during the two-year period. The financial savings for a business depend on the number of licenses it orders. A business ordering five licenses for Office 2000, for example, would save approximately 23 percent through the Open License Program. For larger orders, the discount could be even greater.
Case studies and business success stories illustrate a variety of technology solutions designed to help businesses address some of the technology solutions facing businesses
(e.g., networking, the Internet and intranets, e-commerce, collaboration, and data tracking and analysis). The content, which will be updated frequently, can guide businesses though such issues as whether they need a proxy server or how a new product will integrate with their existing system.
The referral engine connects businesses to approximately 9,000 MCSPs in the United States and Canada. Businesses can search for the technology providers by location, as well as by the service or solution they are seeking (e.g., custom application development or Y2K services). MCSPs are channel organizations that employ at least two Microsoft Certified Professionals and can demonstrate competency on Microsoft products. Although MCSPs have proven Microsoft product expertise, they also have experience with a multitude of other products and technologies.
Technology Providers Benefit From Microsoft Business Advantage
The site benefits technology resellers as well, with features designed to increase the efficiency of software licensing and the speed of connecting businesses to technology solutions. In terms of the online licensing component, even technology providers that do not resell software
can benefit from being able to direct their customers to a simple, online licensing program. Providers that do sell software licenses can use the site to configure and print an Open License order for their customers. In the case of License Online, one of the six resellers participating in the licensing component of Microsoft Business Advantage, customers will be able to select their MCSP or value added provider (VAP) from a pull-down menu, or one will be chosen for them based on their ZIP code.
According to Access Media International (AMI-USA.com), only 18 percent of small businesses have a full-time, dedicated in-house support staff to deal with technology issues; more than half look to independent consultants for help making technology decisions. The site’s solutions component illustrates technology success stories, highlighting ways in which businesses can make the most of their own resources as well as how and when to seek additional assistance. Finally, the referral engine links businesses directly with MCSPs in the customer’s area. Those interested in more information about Microsoft Business Advantage should visit http://www.microsoft.com/biz/default.asp .
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