Microsoft Pumps Up bCentral With Launch Of Two New Services, Improved Web Site

REDMOND, Wash., April 17, 2001 — Enhancing its current set of popular Web-based business applications, the Microsoft® bCentral™
small-business service today launched two new online offerings and unveiled a new bCentral.com interface.

bCentral Web Site Manager Custom is a comprehensive full-service package that provides small businesses with hands-on assistance from professional Web consultants throughout the processes of planning, launching and maintaining a Web site. bCentral Finance Manager offers comprehensive Web-based accounting to give small businesses improved control and secure access to key financial data any time and anywhere. In addition, bCentral Finance Manager integrates with other bCentral services, including its customer management and e-commerce applications, enabling complete management of business financial data, customer information, transactions and more. Adding to its growing set of valuable business applications, Microsoft has redesigned the bCentral.com interface to provide small businesses with a better Web experience for by helping them stay connected to the important business information they want and making it easier to find.

bCentral Offers Best of Both Worlds When It Comes to Getting on the Web

The bCentral Web Site Manager Custom offering builds on Microsoft Corp.’s successful suite of Web site tools, called Business Web Services, launched in October 2000. Not all companies have the time or desire to design and create their own Web site from scratch. In fact, according to AMI Partners, of the 5.3 million companies expected to have Web sites by 2004, more than half are expected to subcontract Web development services.

bCentral Web Site Manager Custom provides the best of both worlds to small businesses. The service includes a professionally designed custom Web site as well as the ability for users to self-manage text changes and additions. bCentral Web Site Manager Custom also includes domain registration, site hosting, business e-mail, online marketing tools, telephone support and follow-up marketing consulting, all for less than $50 a month and a low one-time setup fee for the custom site creation.

“Many customers want to build their own sites from the ground up while others want the expertise of an experienced Web designer to give them a custom look,”
said Satya Nadella, vice president of Microsoft bCentral.
“But all of them want the flexibility to make their own changes without spending a lot of time or money. This new service complements our existing self-service offerings with a full-service solution that still offers all the value, ease of use and flexibility of our current site management tools.”

The initial setup fee, offered at a special introductory price of $399 (U.S) for a limited time, offers the following to small businesses:

  • A professionally designed Web site

  • Setup of one domain-based e-mail account (
    “me@nameofmybusiness.com”
    )

  • Registration of custom Web address for one year

  • Submission of the site to major search engines

  • Integration of e-mail marketing services, which allow a business’s customers to automatically add themselves to mailing lists to receive newsletters, special offers and announcements

  • Professional Web consultation

  • The option to add an online catalog, a shopping cart and real-time credit card processing to facilitate sales on the Web

The $49.95 (U.S.) monthly fee provides customers with unlimited technical customer support via telephone, live online chat and e-mail; unlimited self-updates and self-edits via the Web-based editing tool; a semiannual marketing review with a Web consultant; up to 40 MB of storage for the Web site; registration with major search engines using key words specified by the customer; enhanced listing in the MSN® Yellow Pages directory; 5,000 banner ads on other Web sites each month; and 1,000 e-mail credits each month to be used with the bCentral e-mail marketing service, ListBuilder.

For small businesses that want a completely do-it-yourself experience, bCentral Business Web Services deliver full Web services without custom design and ongoing consulting for $29.95 (U.S.) per month.

bCentral Finance Manager Rounds Out Comprehensive Set of Hosted Applications

One of the fastest-growing categories in hosted applications is Web-based accounting, which provides small companies with all the functionality of local accounting solutions combined with the benefits of the Web, such as anytime, anywhere access and integration with
e-business. Today also marks the launch of bCentral Finance Manager, Microsoft’s Web-based accounting offering, which brings unique benefits to small businesses that want an easier way to manage their financial data as well as a powerful tool that integrates directly with the bCentral customer management and e-commerce solutions without requiring complex or costly technology infrastructure or software.

The subscription-based Finance Manager service offers complete accounting functionality, including general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable and reporting capabilities. The $29.95 monthly subscription fee includes access for up to five users (access for additional users can also be purchased), making it easy for business owners to collaborate with an external bookkeeper or accountant and delegate financial management tasks to employees – all via secure Web access.

“With the launch of Web Site Manager Custom and Finance Manager, small businesses now have an incredible range of options available for how they want to streamline and automate everyday business processes using the power and simplicity of the Internet,”
Nadella said.
“Our goal has been to build a set of services, each of which has rich, individual value for a business but that work together to simplify and transform the way a business operates so that even the smallest company can thrive in the interconnected economy.”

In addition to the new services, bCentral has unveiled a new look for the bCentral.com Web site, which is the most successful small-business destination on the Web and the primary site to access bCentral services. The redesigned portal takes a more solution-oriented approach to providing information about bCentral services, offers improved navigation, and makes it easier for users to take advantage of the valuable bCentral editorial content. bCentral attracts more than 3 million unique users each month.

About Microsoft bCentral

Microsoft bCentral offers small-business owners the tools and resources they need to run their companies more efficiently. With more than 1.6 million registered users, bCentral is the leading destination on the Internet to provide integrated software services and information to

address critical small-business needs such as customer management, financial management and expanded e-commerce capabilities. bCentral is located on the Web at http://www.bcentral.com/ .

About Microsoft

F ounded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq

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

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the 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 http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

Related Posts