Leading Market Intelligence Firm Ranks Microsoft Partner Program at Top of Industry

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 9, 2006 — IDC, the premier global provider of market intelligence for the information technology industry, has released a report that names the Microsoft® Partner Program as the industry leader in strategy and opportunities for partners.

The report, titled “Worldwide Software Channel Program 2005 Vendor Profiles,”* reviews and analyzes the partner programs of the top 25 vendors in the software market and places Microsoft Corp. in the lead in relation to its competitors. The Microsoft Partner Program is seen as being structurally strong and providing a competency framework that aligns with customer business issues. The report notes that Microsoft is continuing to deliver on the phased rollout of the Partner Program and making additional investments to improve its partner infrastructure.

The Microsoft Partner Program is the cornerstone of engagement for Microsoft’s worldwide network of business partners and the vital link between the company’s industry-leading platform and its partners. First launched in 2003, the program was enhanced in 2005 to strengthen the strategic advantage Microsoft’s partners have in serving customers.

“It is exciting to receive this IDC validation of the great value that partners enjoy through their participation in the Microsoft Partner Program,” said Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft. “Our goal is that any one partner of any type can, through a business alliance with Microsoft, extend their market reach, reduce costs, increase profitability and deliver innovative solutions to help customers reach their full business potential. This report is evidence of progressive movement toward realization of that vision.”

Partner Program Also Benefits Customers

The Microsoft Partner Program is designed for all partners that develop and market solutions based on Microsoft platforms, provide consulting or technical services for Microsoft systems, or recommend Microsoft technology purchases. The support, training and resources in the Microsoft Partner Program help enable industry partners to extend their market reach, reduce operating costs and help their customers achieve their full business potential.

“Over the past year, software vendors have made significant partner program investments in a bid to maximize technical and business value for partners,” said Steve Graham, group vice president of Global Software Business Strategies at IDC. “Microsoft’s Partner Program is currently leading the industry because of its strong program structure, scope of partner relationships and its ability to deliver. The Microsoft Competencies framework plays a big role in the company achieving this leadership position.”

Partners agree that the resources available through the Microsoft Partner Program provide them with strong benefits and enhance their business opportunities. “The broad support we receive from Microsoft gives my business the tools we need to offer total solutions that meet our customers’ unique business needs,” said Bart Hammond, CEO of Interlink Group Inc. in Englewood, Colo. “The Microsoft Partner Program delivers on opportunity.”

The full report is available online.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

* Source: IDC, “Worldwide Software Channel Program 2005 Vendor Profiles,” #34472, December 2005
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