TORONTO, July 12, 2004 — Microsoft opened the second day of its premiere annual event for its worldwide channel of business partners by focusing on the company-wide initiative known as “Integrated Innovation.” With more than 5,500 business leaders, marketing executives, sales professionals and solutions architects in attendance, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2004 event runs July 11 – 13 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Building on last year’s launch of the Microsoft Partner Program, the company is using this year’s partner conference to unveil programs and resources closely aligned with the Microsoft Solution Competencies to help partners capture additional business opportunity.
Prior to the this week’s conference, PressPass spoke with Microsoft executives scheduled to deliver keynote addresses on the second day of the event: Paul Flessner , senior vice president, Server Platform Division; Will Poole , senior vice president, Windows Client Business; Doug Burgum , senior vice president, Microsoft Business Solutions; and Jeff Raikes , group vice president, Information Worker Business.
PressPass: What initiatives are underway for the Microsoft Windows Server System?
Paul Flessner, Senior Vice President, Server Platform Division Click image for high-res version.
Paul Flessner: Since we announced the formation of Windows Server System over a year ago, we’ve seen tremendous excitement from both customers and partners. For partners, Windows Server System provides a comprehensive server infrastructure for building flexible business applications at a lower total cost.
On the initiative front, we recently announced the Common Engineering Roadmap for Windows Server System and the first deliverable on the roadmap — the Common Engineering Criteria for 2005. These announcements outline the baseline functions or requirements that customers will need to effectively derive additional value through the integration and interoperability of their Windows Server System products — to, essentially, “do more with less.” What this means for partners is that they have a clear roadmap of how we will deliver greater value across Windows Server System, and an ongoing vision and commitment for integrated server infrastructure.
PressPass: From your perspective, what’s the value of partnering with Microsoft?
Flessner: I believe Microsoft offers the most compelling partnering opportunity in the industry. From its inception, Microsoft has been a truly partner-driven organization. As a company, we strive to understand the challenges our partners face, and to understand their hopes and aspirations. We make an investment in research and development that is unprecedented in the industry. And the investments in tools, resources, people and programs that we’re announcing at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2004 are further evidence that our commitment to the success of our industry partners is, and will remain, unwavering.
PressPass: Can you explain Windows Service Pack 2 and the opportunities it presents for partners?
Will Poole, Senior Vice President, Windows Client Business Click image for high-res version.
Will Poole: We are very confident the additional security functionality in Windows Service Pack 2, coupled with improved security manageability, is something that our partners will find very valuable. Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies brings users of Windows XP the latest in security updates and innovations built by Microsoft. It establishes stronger default security settings and automatically installs unique new security features that will help users better protect themselves and their computers from hackers, viruses and other security risks. With Windows XP SP2, partners who provide solutions and services to customers will find stronger security tools and flexible group policy settings, resulting in lower maintenance and improved security. Hardware partners will also realize benefits from SP2, including updated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, along with improved support for hardware and drivers, all of which will enable a more productive, hassle-free computing experience. We’ve also made it easy for software partners to plug into the new Windows Security Center for antivirus and firewall monitoring. Windows XP SP2 gives our partners in the AV and firewall industries more exposure in the operating system and helps to remind customers of the value of third-party AV/firewall protection.
PressPass: What is the goal of Windows Marketplace?
Poole: This is an ambitious undertaking that we’re going to roll out incrementally. Microsoft Windows Marketplace will be a comprehensive shopping and download Web site that will make it easy for customers to discover and experience the full breadth of partner products that are compatible with Windows, all in one place. The first version is expected to be available for consumers in the United States this fall. This version of Windows Marketplace will provide a broad selection of hardware, software and peripherals that support the Windows platform. For future versions, we are looking at adding functionality that will give partners even more opportunities to provide additional offerings including services, consulting and more.
PressPass: Microsoft says it is strengthening its commitment to business applications. How?
Doug Burgum, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions
Click image for high-res version.
Doug Burgum: Microsoft is strengthening its commitment to business applications in a number of significant ways. First, Microsoft continues to make industry-leading levels of investment in research and development to enhance and further develop both existing and future business applications. We have major upgrades to our ERP and CRM solutions planned for fiscal year 2005. We have released or soon will be releasing enhanced versions of Microsoft Business Solutions–Great Plains, Microsoft Business Solutions–Navision, and Microsoft Business Solutions–Solomon. Our current products and future products will not only provide great solutions for business customers, but will provide a platform for ISV partners to extend and build upon, helping us grow and maintain a healthy ISV ecosystem. In addition, for the next five years Microsoft is investing significantly in sales, marketing and development efforts specific to the small and mid-market segments. These investments will help us fulfill our mission of serving these market segments with technology and services that are truly empowering and innovative.
PressPass: What does the concept of Integrated Innovation mean for Microsoft Business Solutions partners?
Burgum: Integrated Innovation is a Microsoft-wide initiative that ultimately provides a greater degree of value to customers and our partners who serve them. Integrated innovation is about building efficiencies in the way businesses operate by ensuring that systems work together seamlessly. For Microsoft Business Solutions, Integrated Innovation is about providing reselling partners with complete, seamless solutions for business customers and a deep platform for ISV partners. By combining the best platform and application technology with a rich partner ecosystem we will help our customers best realize their full potential.
PressPass: What efforts are being made to work effectively with Microsoft Business Solutions partners?
Burgum: Working with Microsoft Business Solutions partners continues to be one of our top priorities. This year the Microsoft Business Solutions competency is being officially launched, and feedback so far has been very positive. The Microsoft Business Solutions competency will help partners differentiate themselves and more quickly and effectively identify opportunities. It will be a clear indicator to potential customers that these partners have the breadth of experience required to successfully deploy the technology they need to run their businesses more effectively. Within the competency, partners can choose from the four ERP products or Microsoft CRM. We’re investing in marketing for partners, and in research and development. As of July 1, Microsoft Business Solutions partners have been officially integrated into the Microsoft Partner Program.
PressPass: What is the Information Worker competency, and why should partners pursue it?
Jeff Raikes, Group Vice President, Information Worker Business Click image for high-res version.
Raikes: The Information Worker competency is among the first of the Microsoft Partner Program competencies to debut. The Microsoft Office System provides a set of desktop programs, servers and services with which partners can build customized solutions. The Information Worker competency recognizes those partners who have achieved the technical know-how on the Microsoft Office System and who have customer references for their solutions. Moreover, the Information Worker competency is appealing to partners because the popularity and familiarity of Office affords them a broad marketplace for Office-based solutions and services. In the marketplace, customers need to connect employees and teams with each other, improve internal processes, and maintain easy access to business information. Obtaining the Information Worker competency is one important way for partners to demonstrate that they can build solutions in Collaboration, Portals, Project Management, and more. Microsoft offers many training options for partners to become skilled on the Microsoft Office System. Thousands of partners have already built applications and service offerings around these solution areas and we’d like to see thousands more take advantage of the business opportunity.
PressPass: What is ‘connected productivity’ and what benefits does it present for Microsoft partners?
Jeff Raikes: When deployed together, Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003, Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, and Windows Mobile Devices can result in increased productivity for individuals and teams in an organization. When we think of this holistic solution and the significant opportunities for partners to build and sell solutions, we call it connected productivity. Similarly, there are other key solution scenarios around Portals and Enterprise Project Management. Through these various scenarios, partners can receive Office desktop deployment services, Microsoft Office System end-user training, supporting materials, special customer engagement offers, opportunities to work with the Microsoft sales team, and connections to the various subsidiary partner programs.
PressPass: How many partners are currently signed up to deliver solutions based on the Microsoft Office System and what kinds of success are they experiencing?
Raikes: The partner momentum we’re seeing behind the Microsoft Office System is very positive. There are more than 70,000 partners trained on how to build Microsoft Office System solutions and partners have developed more than 2,500 solutions. In addition, there are already hundreds of partners that have achieved the Information Worker competency since its recent inception. Overall, Microsoft Office products are trusted and familiar around the world among both home and business users. The fact is that customers are more likely to invest in a solution that leverages familiar tools than in something new. For our partners, that’s a competitive advantage.