REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 28, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today announced Microsoft® Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 3.5, a hosted solution that enables service providers to equip small and midsize businesses (SMBs) with enterprise-class e-mail services, mobile device data access, team Web sites and online presence information. In version 3.5, Microsoft incorporates new mobile synchronization capabilities, a variety of security enhancements, and new tools that lessen management time and extend customer acquisition opportunities for hosting partners. Further, with the latest release of the solution, Microsoft underscores its commitment to building strategic relationships with telecommunications and hosting service providers to deliver a range of services to businesses.
“More and more small and midsize businesses require advanced enterprise-class features once reserved only for corporations with extensive IT budgets. The latest release of Hosted Messaging and Collaboration addresses that issue with unprecedented new features for these organizations,” said Pascal Martin, general manager of Worldwide Hosting at Microsoft. “Hosting providers are clamoring for ways to meet the demands of their customers while keeping a tight rein on costs. By providing a consistent platform, we give our hosting partners the tools to upgrade to the latest software and thereby differentiate their offerings with minimal effort and cost.”
Business-Class Communication Tools for SMBs
Targeted at companies with between 10 and 250 users and delivered through hosting providers, version 3.5 provides business-class communication tools on a variety of computing mediums, such as a desktop computer in the office or a mobile device on the road. This update offers small and midsize businesses a cutting-edge messaging and collaboration solution with minimal upfront costs, and helps reduce the need for internal IT resources. End users can now benefit from Microsoft messaging solutions through Windows Mobile™-based phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) running Windows Mobile 5.0. With direct push technology, users will now have up-to-the minute access to e-mail, calendar appointments and task notifications. New mobile security features include the ability to wipe data from devices that have been lost or stolen and set up automated rules to help prevent access by unauthorized users.
“For a company our size, running and maintaining our own e-mail and document-sharing server is a proposition we would prefer to avoid. Yet communicating with both customers and our employees is such a critical component of business, it’s not an area of operations we can neglect,” said Graeme Lloyd-Roberts, technical director at Bellwether Enterprises Ltd. “Through our hosting provider, we have a robust, stable e-mail system, document-sharing capabilities, and access to the latest and greatest software. We have enterprise-class technology at small-business prices.”
“Small and midsize companies see a benefit in choosing enterprise-class hosted e-mail services in response to the growing complexities of in-house messaging systems, brought on by the challenges of managing spam, virus prevention, storage, archiving and compliance requirements,” said Marcel Nienhuis, senior market analyst at the Radicati Group Inc. “Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration is an attractive option for service providers because it allows them to meet this demand, along with helping provide additional revenue opportunities. With service providers hosting the solution, small and midsize businesses can focus on their business without worrying about technology concerns or recurring costs.”
Enabling Service Providers
With Microsoft Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 3.5, service providers can help simplify application deployment, accelerate customer acquisition and improve customer satisfaction through a complete, end-to-end messaging and collaboration suite. The pre-engineered solution includes deployment automation tools and scripts, code samples, and documented procedures and best practices that help allow for rapid time to market. Management and monitoring tools ease administration of the solution and help provide superior service levels to end users. Additional new features in version 3.5 include these:
Automated password synchronization between hoster directories and end-customer accounts
New customer migration tools and updates to key technology components
“Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration has enabled us to cut our solution deployment time two-thirds by using the pre-tested provisioning system as the foundation for our turnkey private-label Hosted Exchange platform,” said Ravi Agarwal, chief executive officer of groupSPARK Inc. “Our resellers see mobility as a key driver for their small and medium-sized business customers, and the version 3.5 upgrade allows us to quickly meet their demand without making a large investment in our platform.”
“Microsoft provides a consistent platform that enables us to fully upgrade to the latest solutions available without having to perform a forklift upgrade every two or three years,” said Mark Adams, managing director of Cobweb Solutions Ltd. “The resellers we engage with see mobility as a key driver for their small and medium-sized business customers. Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration 3.5 will allow us to meet that demand, while also cutting deployment time of the entire solution by 67 percent over the best alternative of building the capabilities from scratch.”
“For a communications company like TELUS, the Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration is a very good way to simultaneously offer connectivity and hosted services,” said Robert Tasker, vice president of product marketing at TELUS Business Solutions. “It allows us to combine our expertise in hosting and services management with Microsoft applications so we can offer the business market a complete managed solutions portfolio.”
Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 3.5 will be available worldwide today, Nov. 28. More information on Microsoft’s hosting solutions can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/serviceproviders/hostedmessaging.
Those interested in more information on Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration version 3.5 can attend a free Microsoft seminar, running worldwide from December 2005 through February 2006. Registration information is available at http://www.msattend.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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