Microsoft Teams Up With Small Businesses and Industry Experts to Host First Small Business Summit

BELLEVUE, Wash. — March 14, 2006 — More than 12,000 small-business customers and partners are expected to participate in Microsoft Corp.’s inaugural Small Business Summit taking place today in Bellevue, Wash., and via more than 40 webcasts this week on subjects important to small businesses, including financial management, sales and marketing, computer security, productivity, and mobility. Themed Take Your Business to the Next Level, the summit brings together small-business experts — such as well-known entrepreneurs Maxine Clark, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight Inc. — to discuss best practices for small businesses to thrive.

The event demonstrates Microsoft’s passion for listening to customer and partner feedback and responding with solutions and resources that help meet the needs of small businesses. In addition, several other announcements Microsoft is making support the strategy, including a new financing option to make it easier than ever for small businesses to purchase technology solutions, and the availability of Microsoft® Point of Sale, a solution for small-business retailers now on shelves at Best Buy that is part of an expanded relationship with the Minneapolis-based retail company.

“We have an exciting year ahead of us, with major new products and services that we think will delight and surprise our small-business customers,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft and a presenter at the summit. “By putting people at the center of our software design and delivering software solutions that drive business value and work the way our customers work, we are furthering our efforts to help small businesses reach their full potential in today’s economy.”

The new extended financing option enables a greater number of small businesses to take advantage of offerings available through Microsoft Financing by lowering the minimum transaction size from $10,000 (U.S.) to $3,000 (U.S.). As a result of the lowered transaction limit, qualifying customers in the United States can get 36-month loans for complete IT solutions, including hardware and services, in addition to Microsoft software.

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 of more than $10,000. Also, as announced at the summit, the promotion, previously slated to expire March 31, will be extended until June 30 for all loans that are closed by that date. This 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.

In addition to making Microsoft Point of Sale available on its store shelves, Best Buy is the focus of an expanded alliance with Microsoft, one of many such relationships Microsoft has forged that are critical to the success of small businesses. The relationship will help customers quickly and easily find solutions and one-on-one advice about which Microsoft technology is right for their business.

Together with its partners and customers, Microsoft is delivering solutions that work the way small businesses do. Current and future efforts to deliver software and resources uniquely suited to small businesses include the following:

  • Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2. Built on Windows® Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 with Service Pack 1, Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 is the ideal server to address the needs of small businesses. It includes enhancements and new features such as the Green Check of software health and networkwide patch and update management technology, which helps keep customers’ PCs and servers current with the latest updates to enhance the security of their entire network. The Green Check of software health gives customers and partners a visual indicator that everything is up to date. SBS 2003 R2 also includes increased mailbox size limits — more than 1 GB per user — and SQL Server™ 2005 Workgroup Edition technology for SBS 2003 R2 Premium Edition.

  • Technology Upgrade Program. Starting March 1, 2006, for a limited time, Microsoft is offering customers who purchase Windows SBS 2003 SP1 Standard or Premium Edition from an original equipment manufacturer or system builder the SBS 2003 R2 upgrade media kit for a nominal shipping and handling fee. To learn more, customers can go to

  • Microsoft Point of Sale. Microsoft Point of Sale is now available on shelves at 115 Best Buy for Business outlets nationwide. These stores carry both the standalone software and Casio touch-optimized hardware package pre-loaded with Microsoft Point of Sale ready for installation. Best Buy is also offering multiple levels of Geek Squad service to support customers during and after installation. Launched in May 2005, Microsoft Point of Sale is an easy-to-use, affordable application that enables small retailers to track and manage sales, inventory and customer information. To learn more, customers can go to

  • Windows Vista Business. Scheduled for release later this year, Windows Vista™ Business is the operating system designed to meet the needs of organizations of all sizes. For small businesses, Windows Vista Business will help keep PCs running smoothly and securely so they are less reliant on dedicated IT support. It also delivers powerful new ways to organize and find information, and keeps people connected whether in the office or on the road. Features for Windows Vista Business include the following:

    • New technology and tools will help ensure that PCs are up to date, secure and running smoothly. For instance, Windows Vista Business will make PCs safer with built-in protection features against malware.

    • A new user interface, named Windows Vista Aero, is designed to deliver new levels of efficiency. In addition to the new interface, Windows Vista Business provides users with better ways to quickly and easily find and organize large volumes of critical business documents.

    • Windows Tablet PC technology will help improve productivity on mobile PCs through new capabilities such as interacting with a PC using a digital pen or fingertip in addition to a keyboard and mouse.

  • Open Value. The Microsoft Small Business Platform offer, available through Microsoft’s Open Value volume licensing program, provides a small business with Microsoft Office Small Business Edition, Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 Client Access License and Microsoft Windows XP Professional upgrade along with three full years of Software Assurance benefits such as upgrade rights, e-learning courses, a home use program for Microsoft Office system software, employee purchase program, packaged services, 24×7 Problem Resolution Support and more, all at a significant financial discount (approximately 28 percent) for every PC in the company. As well, this exciting new offer provides an opportunity for small businesses to make the move to embrace technology today with the flexibility of payment terms spread over 36 months to help free up financial resources for other needs within the business. 

Small-Business Momentum

Today’s announcements are accompanied by a breadth of ongoing Microsoft initiatives that help small businesses thrive:

  • Small Business +. Aimed at delivering a personalized customer experience, Small Business + is quickly gaining traction for its suite of free, personalized online resources and technical support to succeed in applying technology to address small-businesses needs

  • The Small Business Specialist Community. This was developed in response to input from customers and partners expressing their need to build easier connections that enable small-business customers to quickly and easily identify which technology partners are best suited to support them. More than 40,000 partners around the world are in the process of becoming Small Business Specialists.

  • Microsoft Connections. Microsoft has hit the road and conducted more than 3,000 Microsoft Connections events for small businesses. These interactive seminars forge a direct line of communication between Microsoft and small businesses, educating customers with technology tips and tricks and answering questions with ease.

  • Solutions made for small businesses. Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006 has seen strong momentum with customers and partners alike. Developed based on extensive research with customers and accountants, Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 is a full-featured financial management software solution. Also designed with the needs of small businesses in mind, Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition offers a complete suite of sales, service and marketing capabilities, as well as features that make the most of the full power of Windows Small Business Server 2003.

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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