Microsoft Extends Financing Option to Small Businesses

BELLEVUE, Wash. March 14, 2006 — As its first Small Business Summit kicked off today, Microsoft Corp. announced that it is enabling a greater number of small businesses to take advantage of the financing offerings available through Microsoft Financing by lowering the minimum transaction size from $10,000 to $3,000 (all dollar figures are U.S.). As a result of lowering the transaction limit, Microsoft is enabling qualifying customers in the United States to get 36-month loans for complete IT solutions, including hardware and services, in addition to Microsoft® software.

In addition, Microsoft is further reaching out to small businesses by making a 90-day deferred payment promotion available on all qualifying transactions and loans of $3,000 or more, an offer that until today was available only on transactions above $10,000. The promotion, previously slated to expire March 31, will extend until June 30 for all loans that are closed by that date, company officials said.

With the addition of small-business announcements and partnerships revealed today, the new financing option and the deferred payment promotion are yet another example of Microsoft’s continued investment in providing solutions and resources designed for small businesses. The expanded Microsoft Financing offering is available immediately from authorized Microsoft partners, so customers don’t have to spend time finding financing from a separate company that may not finance the entire solution or just the software by itself.

“We know that cash flow is a top concern for small businesses and that they look for practical tools to help keep money flowing smoothly,” said Doug Leland, general manager for small business for the Worldwide Small and Midsize Solutions & Partner Group at Microsoft. “Whether small businesses simply need to update their PCs or plan to invest in their first server or a new custom business application, the fixed-rate loans from Microsoft Financing enable customers to shift their focus to acquiring what they need to move their business forward, instead of how they will pay for it.”

“Microsoft Financing is unique in that we finance the complete solution, including Microsoft and non-Microsoft software as well as the partner services,” said Brian Madison, general manager of Microsoft Financing. “Financing partner services is especially significant because small businesses typically don’t have IT staffs to do the implementation and maintenance. By lowering the minimum to $3,000, we can help small businesses acquire the IT solutions they need to grow their business while helping them save their cash reserves and line of credit for other needs.”

Customer Benefits Accrue

Customer and partner feedback were key drivers in helping Microsoft offer this new financing option. Microsoft research showed that although many small-business owners are intensive credit card users, customer feedback indicates that most prefer to use third-party financing or leasing over using cash or credit cards when making IT purchases over $5,000. (For most small businesses, a significant technology purchase typically ranges from $3,000 to $10,000, including partner services.)

“Microsoft Financing gives small-business customers choices and options right now, when they need it,” said Harry Brelsford, president of SMB Nation Inc., a systems integrator and consultant that specializes in small and midsize business installations in Seattle. “The availability of Microsoft’s one-stop software, hardware and services financing package creates an obvious solution for customers that believe they have no money to pay for other IT needs.”

More information about Microsoft Financing for small-business customers can be found in the How to Buy section at http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness.

Partner Benefits of Microsoft Financing for Small Businesses

Microsoft Financing was designed with the partner in mind. A payment calculator and a simple, two-page financing agreement make it easy for partners to propose a financing solution for the entire deal, serving as the primary contact for the customer.

“Microsoft’s compelling financing option is especially relevant to small businesses with smaller purchasing budgets and very limited IT personnel,” said Laura DiDio, research fellow at Yankee Group. “Businesses today should take advantage of the significant benefits available with the extended financing option. Partners that are not currently engaged with Microsoft Financing should seriously investigate this program for their customers.”

The expanded Microsoft Financing offering could potentially help partners realize numerous business benefits, including increasing the size of the deal and helping it close more quickly. In addition, recent Microsoft research conducted with 436 members of the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community in the United States showed that inadequate access to financing for customers was causing them to lose deals. For example, one-third of partners surveyed said 20 percent or more of their sales opportunities with small businesses fell through due to inadequate access to financing, and 90 percent said they would have won at least one additional deal with a small business if they could have offered financing. As a result, Microsoft Financing for small businesses can potentially help partners, including Small Business Specialists, to effectively reach their sales target, grow their sales volume and deliver the solutions that customers want.

Small-business customers can get information about local partners by visiting the Connect With Us section at http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness. More information about Microsoft Financing can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/financing.

About Microsoft Financing

Microsoft Financing is a financing arm of Microsoft Corp. that is dedicated to making it easier to purchase Microsoft products through financing. Microsoft Financing works with commercial financing institutions to deliver optimal customer financing solutions.

About Microsoft

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

Microsoft is a registered trademark 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.

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