Midsize Business Vision Comes Alive for Microsoft’s Customers and Partners

MUNICH, Germany — Nov. 6, 2006 — At Convergence 2006 EMEA, the first Convergence event in EMEA, Microsoft Corp. today announced an offering of new tools, services and role-based solutions to help simplify the deployment, management and support of IT infrastructure for midsize businesses.

Midsize businesses — of which there are 1.4 million worldwide and 384,000 in Europe* — face the same challenges as enterprises, such as the business demands of globalization and increasingly complex regulations. But they must manage with considerably restricted resources.

In an effort to better understand how midsize businesses should think strategically about their IT investments, Microsoft commissioned Professor Michaela Draganska of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business to study the effects of IT investment on business performance. In her study, “Strategic IT Investment in Midsize Firms,” Draganska identifies the importance of core IT investment to overall business performance and productivity, and shows that IT is not a commodity, because companies that view IT as a strategic asset to drive value and growth for the business see higher gains from IT investment.

“Midsize business customers have enterprise-like needs but are challenged with unique resource constraints that could be better addressed by the IT industry. In the past year Microsoft has made great strides by focusing our investments on removing complexity via role-based solutions,” said Davide Viganó, general manager of worldwide midmarket marketing and acting worldwide midmarket lead of the Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners Group at Microsoft. “Today is a milestone in the journey to realizing our midmarket vision of merging the two worlds of people and processes to drive business success and delivering the right tools to our partners to better serve midsize businesses.”

Resources and Tools to Facilitate Acquisition and Deployment

For its customers and partners to adapt to the world’s fast-paced and ever-changing environment, Microsoft is announcing a series of resources and tools that are designed to contribute directly to the growth and profitability of midsize businesses.

The availability of the Windows Vista™ operating system is an important leap forward for the long-term success of midsize businesses worldwide. The Windows Vista Readiness Assessment tool is designed to help midmarket customers and partners determine the readiness of existing PCs to run Windows Vista and provides guidance on assets and the capabilities of systems suitable for running Windows Vista. With this Microsoft® tool, partners will be able to quickly evaluate the entire client environment without having to install software on any desktops.

Delivered to 40,000 Microsoft partners worldwide, the Demonstration Showcase for the People Ready Business Version 2 will show how Microsoft software can deliver real solutions using a roles-based framework with customized demonstrations to fit the business needs and business role of the customer. New demonstrations include Windows Vista Enterprise, Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007, Office SharePoint® Server 2007, Office SharePoint Server for Search 2007, Microsoft Office Exchange 2007, Windows Mobile® 5.0 and Microsoft Dynamics™ AX 4.0. Available solutions within the Demonstration Showcase are Microsoft software solutions designed to reduce IT complexity and uniquely amplify the efforts of every individual, team and manager in an organization, helping them make the greatest possible contribution to business success.

In addition, HP and Microsoft’s network of frontline partners is expanding to 13 countries throughout Europe, Asia and North America, providing services from more than 10,000 partners worldwide. Through their joint strategic initiative aimed at small and midmarket businesses, Microsoft and HP, with their trusted frontline partners, enable midsize businesses to have ready access to reliable, proven and integrated technology. The frontline partner program provides technical resources and marketing support for joint channel partners to design and deploy integrated solutions for customers. Solutions are built on solid and security-enhanced IT infrastructures that help reduce complexity while enabling better productivity and profitability of midsize businesses. Customer deployment, installation and support are provided through trusted local advisors to help businesses deliver more affordable and optimized solutions that are ready to be implemented.

Furthermore, Microsoft continues to invest in a deep connection with its customers by expanding the Midsize Business Center, a one-stop online destination that provides tools and resources with which customers can profile their business, assess their technology and licensing needs, connect with other customers and partners by solution area, and plan future IT implementations. The Midsize Business Center will be available in 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North America, with the goal of reaching 80 percent of the world’s midsize businesses.

Available on the Midsize Business Center and other Microsoft Web sites, the Solution Finder Web service connects customers to partners as they look to resolve a business need. In just a few clicks, customers can compare offerings, identify a solution and contact a partner that fits their business need. It’s an easy and powerful way for partners to increase the visibility of their solutions to customers and other Microsoft partners. As of today, Solution Finder draws on an inventory of more than 9,700 partner solutions.

Finally, Microsoft is addressing affordability issues and helping to reduce pricing pressure for midsize businesses by expanding Microsoft Financing (available in 12 countries) in the United Kingdom and Germany through its partner alliance with CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT), a leading global provider of commercial and consumer finance solutions. Leveraging the deep experience and advanced online capabilities of this alliance, Microsoft Financing delivers a streamlined, fully integrated offering and dedicated sales forces to offer customers flexibility and choice as they acquire software, hardware and services.

More information on Microsoft’s offerings for midsize businesses can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/midsizebusiness/default.mspx. More details on midmarket products and news announced at Convergence 2006 EMEA can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre/emeaconvergence/default.mspx.

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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