Microsoft Opens Worldwide Partner Conference 2006 by Showcasing Innovation for Customers

BOSTON — July 11, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today kicked off the Microsoft® Worldwide Partner Conference 2006 by showcasing how innovative software and services will build unprecedented business opportunities for partners. News announced today includes the official launch of Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 R2, the Windows® Desktop Deployment Specialization within the Microsoft Partner Program, and plans to offer Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM Live, which will provide CRM customers with a software-as-a-service option from Microsoft.

The conference, Microsoft’s annual event for partners from around the world, includes three days of keynote presentations by Microsoft executives and industry experts, product- and service-specific sessions, and opportunities for structured and unstructured networking with other Microsoft partners and Microsoft team members. There are approximately 7,000 partners in attendance. The event was kicked off by Allison Watson, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft, who introduced Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer. Ballmer’s keynote highlighted how partners are a critical link in delivering on Microsoft’s vision for building people-ready businesses and described new partner opportunities across a range of Microsoft products planned for the coming year(

“If ever there was an ideal time to be a Microsoft partner, it’s right now,” said Watson. “Microsoft’s People-Ready Business wave of innovation, which will continue with launches over the next 12 months, will be one of the most exciting times in Microsoft’s history. We’re committed to empowering every partner of any type to deliver innovative role-based solutions that help customers enable their employees to work the way they need to work, to drive real revenue growth.”

To help partners take full advantage of upcoming offerings, the Microsoft Partner Program has established competencies — designations that identify partners based on expertise and specialization — and other tools that customers can use to identify the partner best suited to meet their needs. Microsoft is also offering partners a framework that will help them identify innovative partner-to-partner opportunities.

The new Microsoft software and services scheduled for delivery to customers in the near future include the second release of Windows SBS 2003 R2, Microsoft Windows Vista™, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, Microsoft Office Live, Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM Live, and Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0. To help partners draw on the wave of innovation to build revenue, Microsoft is introducing two new resources: the Demo Showcase for People-Ready Business and eight Customer Campaigns that consist of a set of offerings targeted to solve a customer problem or create a new opportunity consistent with Microsoft’s People-Ready Business vision. The eight Customer Campaigns are aligned with competencies within the Microsoft Partner Program and are based on research showing that customers are prioritizing spending on software where it can make the most difference in their business. The campaigns, designed for business decision-makers, IT decision-makers, and small businesses, focus on scenarios such as building customer connections, optimizing the application platform infrastructure, and sales and marketing. The Demo Showcase for People-Ready Business helps partners more precisely align sales and marketing efforts through the demonstration of role-based scenarios specific to each of the Customer Campaigns, which will distinguish the partner’s solution as customers experience firsthand how Microsoft technology meets their needs.

Ensuring the First Server Is the Right Server

Today in his keynote address at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2006, Ballmer announced the launch of Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 and revealed new pricing details for the product. Windows SBS 2003 R2 is an advanced solution for productivity and security designed specifically to meet the needs of small-business customers, many of which do not currently have a server. It includes new features such as the “Green Check” of software health that helps customers protect their vital business data, keep networks, PCs and servers up to date, and stay connected from virtually anywhere, anytime — all leading to increased efficiency, cost savings and peace of mind. SBS 2003 R2 also serves as a key foundation with which partners have the opportunity to attract new customers and deepen existing customer relationships by providing an integrated, affordable platform on which to build a profitable business. Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition will have an estimated retail price (ERP) of $599, and Premium Edition will be priced at $1,299 ERP, more than a 13 percent price reduction compared with Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition.

New Offerings From the Microsoft Dynamics Product Line

Microsoft Business Solutions is bolstering the offerings partners can provide to customers with two new products that embody the vision of software that is developed around the roles end users play in an organization: Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, launched last month at Tech•Ed 2006, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live, which is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2007 in North America.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, a complete business-management solution, continues its momentum in the market with the announcement of three new partners into the Industry Builder initiative. These partners — TXT e-solutions, WellPoint Systems Inc. and Atos Origin SA — will provide enhanced vertical modules for their respective industries — demand-driven planning, automotive, and financial services for the energy industry — in accordance with Microsoft’s quality standards and package them with a Microsoft customer support offering. In addition to these vertical modules, the solution’s new Web services functionality provides partners with considerable opportunity to extend the core product to meet their customers’ needs.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference 2006, Microsoft is announcing its plans to offer Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a new software-as-a-service offering that is hosted within Microsoft Windows Live™ datacenters. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live is planned for introduction in the second quarter of 2007, with partner access programs starting in late 2006. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live provides new deployment flexibility for customers and new opportunities for partners to deliver pre-built applications and solution services. All Microsoft CRM offerings — for on-premise, partner-hosted and Live deployments — share the same code base, allowing customers to choose the right option at any time and to change deployment models if their needs change. Additional information regarding this announcement will be issued later in a separate release and available at

Creating Solutions for Information Workers

One of the areas of innovation that will be highlighted on the first day of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2006 is the partner momentum Microsoft is seeing around the forthcoming 2007 Microsoft Office system. Nearly 500,000 partners have downloaded and activated Beta 2, and thousands of partners have already received training on 2007 Microsoft Office system. And, compared to the 75 partner solutions available at the time of the Office 2003 launch, there are already nearly 900 early adopter partners developing solutions on the 2007 release. An unprecedented number of partners worldwide are planning to capitalize on the $148 billion services opportunity for Information Worker solutions.

One of the new areas of partner opportunity with the 2007 release is enterprise search, which boasts a services market opportunity of $2.1 billion worldwide, according to Microsoft research. Building on the tremendous market demand after unveiling its enterprise search strategy in May, Microsoft is announcing today that over 35 partners have committed to delivering solutions to customers based on Microsoft’s search technologies, including BearingPoint Inc., FileNet Corp., Mondosoft A/S, Tata Consulting Services Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. (More details about partner solutions can be found online at To build on this partner momentum, Microsoft is introducing Quickstart for Microsoft Search, which provides partners with an easy, low-cost way to obtain knowledge, build skills and win early customers with Microsoft search technologies. All Microsoft registered partners are eligible to participate. Partners need only their Microsoft partner ID to log onto the Quickstart for Microsoft Search extranet (, and from there are given free access to training, community resources and an awards program. Microsoft expects to have hundreds of partner organizations participating in Quickstart as preparation for a Search Specialization that is planned to launch in 2007.

In addition, the company announced plans to roll out Microsoft Office Live internationally and release a new Microsoft Office Live Developer Guide, which supports partners in extending the Microsoft Office Live platform. Microsoft Office Live, currently available in beta form in the United States with over 100,000 subscribers (, will be released as a beta later this year in four additional countries: France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. The final version of the Microsoft Office Live Developer Guide will be available in August, but a preview will be available this week on Microsoft’s Partner Program Web site at

Microsoft Office: Ready for Business

Microsoft is announcing changes to its licensing program to offer resellers and system builders who sell Microsoft Office 2007 suites greater choice in how they sell the product. For the first time, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system Builders will be able to pre-install and sell Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, which was previously was sold only at retail. In addition, Microsoft is making licensing changes that will give system builders more opportunities to sell Microsoft Office by enabling them to provide their customers with a free 60-day trial of Office on a new PC and allowing them to sell the Office license after the PC purchase. With over 50 percent of small businesses purchasing Microsoft Office separately within 60 days of a new PC purchase, this represents a significant new sales opportunity for system builders that were previously only able to sell Microsoft Office at the time of a new PC sale.

To assist partners in their marketing efforts for this offer, a Small Business Customer Campaign will be available to help partners drive sales of Microsoft Office and Windows Vista based on research on key customer needs.  

Unified Communications: The Wave of the Future

Another key area of focus on the first day of the Worldwide Partner Conference 2006 is unified communications. Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group (UCG) has announced plans to extend the opportunities for partners to build solutions on Microsoft Office Communication Server 2007, the enterprise instant messaging (IM) and presence platform. Based on Session Initiation Protocol standards, the initiative will enable developers to build real-time solutions that allow Office Communications Server 2007 users to improve productivity by allowing secure connectivity with colleagues, partners and customers who use different IM networks.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference 2006, UCG will also highlight a number of significant partner announcements resulting from a UCG strategy event, held last month in San Francisco. Those partnerships were formed in support of Microsoft’s overall vision for unified communications and include major device manufacturers, system integrators, and telephony and mobile partners.

Deployment Specialization for Microsoft Windows Vista

At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2006, Microsoft announced the Windows Desktop Deployment Specialization, a new specialization in the Microsoft Partner Program. With the upcoming launch of Windows Vista, this specialization will provide significant value to partners that want to engage with Microsoft systematically. Windows Vista is expected to offer partners a tremendous opportunity to drive profit and growth through upgrades and migrations, add-on services, and customized solutions.

To ensure that partners can take full advantage of the opportunities that Windows Vista will present, Microsoft is making significant investments in demand creation, partner training and partner sales tools including support via the Microsoft Partner Program. As part of that, Microsoft today announced Windows Vista Deployment Day, which kicks off tomorrow, July 12th. Over 200 Microsoft customers deployed thousands of copies of Windows Vista Beta 2 in production business computers around the world. Early deployment of Windows Vista benefits companies and deployment partners by giving them a head start on the pending business migration to Windows Vista.

About Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference

Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference provides Microsoft’s partner community with access to key marketing and business strategies, leadership, and information regarding specific customer solutions designed to help partners succeed in the marketplace. Along with informative learning opportunities covering sales, marketing, services and technology, the Worldwide Partner Conference is an ideal setting for partners to garner valuable knowledge from their peers and from Microsoft. More information can be found at

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.

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