Microsoft Strengthens Partner Programs and Resources To Provide Road Map to .NET Solutions

ATLANTA, July 14, 2000 — Today at Fusion 2000, Microsoft Corp.’s largest annual event for certified partners, the Redmond, Wash.-based software company outlined a number of new programs, initiatives and business opportunities for partners surrounding Microsoft® .NET, a new generation of Internet software services. The four-day event will also feature key strategies for enabling Microsoft’s partners to capitalize on .NET business opportunities. Microsoft President and CEO Steve Ballmer outlined these enhancements as a follow-up to related announcements made at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference, July 10-14, which focused on the developer path to Microsoft .NET technology.

“The announcement of Microsoft .NET technology represents one of the most important innovations in our company’s history,”
Ballmer said,
“but it will not translate into customer value without the support of our partners. Fusion is our chance to show partners how they can play and win on .NET.”

In addition to partner program enhancements, .NET training offerings and the expansion of Microsoft’s Enterprise Services Framework to enable solutions on the .NET enterprise platform, Ballmer discussed new opportunities for ASPs to build on today’s hosting platform and prepare for .NET opportunities. He also emphasized partner opportunities to enable small-business .NET solutions through the upcoming release of Small Business Server 2000.

Microsoft Announces New Benefits for Microsoft Certified Solution Providers

As a benefit of the Microsoft Certified Solution Provider (MCSP) program, MCSPs will receive solutions content, including best practices from Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS). To help them enhance services they deliver to customers, MCSPs will receive consultant assessment and readiness tools, which provide technical road maps to prepare them for customer engagements, and Enterprise Knowledge Management Gems, which are best practices from MCS technical communities whose aim is to help technical professionals be more efficient in delivering high-quality services. These
“gems” contain highly leveragable content for quickly deploying solutions to help drive service capacity. MCSPs also will receive training via Windows® Media Events as well as early releases of white papers.

Solutions Service Offering Subscriptions Now Available

Also announced at Fusion was the availability of a collection of innovative consultant engagement solutions that will help MCSPs develop a more profitable services business. These offerings are based on proven field practices from Microsoft Consulting Services, partners and customers worldwide. They apply the models and principles from the Microsoft Readiness Framework (MRF), Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) and Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) to address customer needs and .NET scenarios. Effective August 15, Microsoft Enterprise Service Offering subscriptions will be available for an introductory price of $5,000 (U.S.), 50 percent off the standard price. This offer will extend through Jan. 31, 2001.

Microsoft .NET Training Investment

Also today, Microsoft announced it will make a multimillion dollar investment in subsidized .NET technology solutions with a focus on Microsoft SQL Server™
2000, Exchange Server 2000 and e-commerce solutions training for many of its customers and partners. This is the first deliverable toward Microsoft’s $2 billion commitment announced June 5 at Microsoft Tech●Ed. The investment falls on the heels of and is similar to the Windows 2000 training initiative, in which more than a quarter million Microsoft customers and partners worldwide were trained on Windows 2000. Roughly 60 percent of the investment, scheduled to launch in the fall, will be aimed at partners, and 40 percent at customers. The key targets will be members of the Microsoft certified partner program, Value Added Providers (VAPs) and enterprise customers with curriculum to address infrastructure, design, development and deployment of .NET technologies. More information can be found on the Training and Services Web site at .

Increased Flexibility for Microsoft CTECs to Deliver E-Learning Solutions

Content interoperability remains a key challenge for customers looking to deploy e-learning solutions and for solution and content providers looking to meet the needs of these customers. Microsoft today announced it will support Learning Resource INterchange (LRN) by delivering forthcoming content from Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC), Microsoft Press and the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN® ), enabling Microsoft Certified Technical Education Centers (CTECs) to easily customize and update content. An XML-based specification, LRN provides a standard way to assemble, define and edit e-learning content and is supported by content providers and platform vendors to bring greater choice and investment protection to customers who are implementing or planning an e-learning strategy.

Microsoft is committed to supporting industry standards for e-learning and has released Learning Resource INterchange Toolkit version 2.0 to provide partners with the tools required to create LRN-compatible products and content. Toolkit 2.0 continues its focus on enabling content interoperability by adopting the final IMS Global Consortium Content Interoperability Specification 1.0 approved on June 8, 2000. The LRN Toolkit 2.0 is available for free at (connect-time charges may apply), and builds upon the work that Microsoft and partners delivered with LRN Toolkit 1.0 in February. LRN makes it easier for content providers and customers to build, deliver and purchase interoperable e-learning content and titles.

“LRN is so critical that leading vendors, like and SmartForce, are utilizing it as a building block of their business for e-learning. is building LRN support into its entire product line,”
said Robert Stewart, general manager of Training and Certification at Microsoft.
“SmartForce is essentially moving its entire online content into LRN. We are very excited with the industrywide support we’ve seen of LRN.”

Other e-learning leaders have joined Microsoft in formal support of LRN and the IMS specification and are utilizing the LRN Toolkit 2.0. These include Centra,,, The Forum Corp., Information Management Group (IMG), IntraLearn, KnowledgePool, Macromedia, Mindlever, NETg, NIIT, SmartForce, Southrock, Training Associates and Websters.

Microsoft Certified Partner Program Expands to Provide .NET Onramp

Microsoft also announced plans to enhance its most popular partner program, the Microsoft Certified Solution Provider program, by expanding it to include a broader variety of partners — including independent software vendors (ISVs), application service providers (ASPs) and integrators — to offer a clearer path to selling solutions based on the .NET platform. The new Microsoft certified partner program, available to partners in October 2000, will also institute special designations for partners who specialize in the areas of e-commerce, infrastructure, knowledge management and business intelligence to help customers more easily identify experts in these service areas.

The key criteria for achieving this designation will revolve around a unique concept of using proven real-world experience and customer referrals to determine an appropriate level of competency. Though no additional membership fees are incurred, partners must complete certification tracks in each of the areas. Partners who meet these new qualifications will receive additional resources, including access to exclusive Web communities and special events, early access to products and readiness information, more customer referrals and increased engagement with Microsoft in the field.

A pilot program focusing on e-commerce is expected to begin by November of this year, with a full rollout slated to take place Jan. 1, 2001. Partners whose services map to the designations offered may elect to join this new program. Partners interested in the E-Commerce Expert Program pilot can visit .

Microsoft will also consolidate online partner Web sites under a new Internet portal and make additional improvements to streamline partners’ access to resources and everyday interactions with Microsoft.

“Microsoft works closely with its partners across all phases of the IT life cycle to offer business value to our mutual customers,”
said Ian Rogoff, vice president of the Enterprise Services and Partner Group at Microsoft.
“As the Web continues to change the way technology enables business, customer demand continues to grow for faster, more efficient applications and services. Microsoft’s programs and resources must continue to be flexible and evolve to ensure that all types of partners are getting the resources they need to succeed. Microsoft is taking a significant step toward meeting those needs with the Microsoft certified partner program.”

“Onyx is pleased to be part of the Microsoft certified partner program and its efforts toward developing solutions around the .NET Framework,”
said Brent Frei, president of Onyx Software Corp.
“The recent developments in Microsoft’s partner programs have benefited Onyx by providing broader access to the various groups within Microsoft and will help us continue to deliver leading technology and solutions to our customers on the Software as a Service business model.”

Changes to the MCSP program, which formerly focused on traditional resellers and solution providers, will open up Microsoft certification to a new set of partner business models and help a broader group of partners better identify themselves to customers as certified to deliver Microsoft solutions. It also will better facilitate partners in connecting with customer references and with one another to explore relationships and complementary service offerings.

Microsoft Delivers Prescriptive Guidance for Enterprise-Class .NET Solutions

Microsoft also today announced additional components of the Microsoft Operations Framework and the Microsoft Readiness Framework, which complement the Microsoft Solutions Framework. The frameworks provide partners and customers with a consistent approach and common language for planning, building, deploying and managing technology solutions through phases of the IT life cycle.

The Microsoft Operations Framework provides comprehensive technical guidance for achieving mission-critical system reliability, availability, supportability and manageability on Microsoft’s products and technologies. The MOF IT Service Management best practices have been well documented with the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency’s (CCTA) IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). As a result of these initial efforts, Microsoft has released a series of e-commerce white papers, located at , that address the high levels of reliability and availability to operate business-to-consumer Web sites.

The Microsoft Readiness Framework provides prescriptive guidance to partners and customers, beginning with individual and organizational assessments and leading to customized road maps that enable the successful implementation of Microsoft solutions. To define capabilities that an organization and individuals need to successfully implement a .NET solution, Microsoft has drawn on industry practices and standards by teaming with ODR-USA Inc., a leader in the field of change management. Two new MRF scenario-based assessment tools will be showcased at Fusion 2000:

  • Technical Competency Assessments for Windows 2000 Desktop Deployment

  • Organizational Capability Assessments for E-Commerce Supply Chain

Microsoft Solution and Partner of the Year Awards

At Fusion 2000, Microsoft also will announce winners for the worldwide Microsoft Solution and Partner of the Year Awards. A panel of Microsoft judges selected 29 finalists out of more than 875 entrants from around the world. The finalists were chosen based on excellence and innovation in customer solution delivery and service. The worldwide winner in each of the six award categories will be announced July 15 by Charles Stevens, vice president of Microsoft’s Enterprise and Partner Group.

Fusion Premiere Sponsors

Premiere Sponsors for Fusion 2000 include Compaq Computer Corp., DIGEX Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., INTERNOLIX Corp., Nortel Networks Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc. and Unisys Corp. Each sponsor will have prominent booths in the exposition hall open beginning Friday, July 14 at 5 p.m. EDT. The expo will be split into four distinct segments related to key partner service areas.

About Microsoft.NET

The Microsoft .NET Platform, announced June 22 at Forum 2000, is Microsoft’s initiative for creating an advanced new generation of software that melds computing and communications in a revolutionary new way. This vision offers developers, businesses and consumers the ability to harness technology on their terms and the tools they need to create truly distributed Web Services, making information available any time, any place and on any device.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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

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