Entrepreneurs Gather at Microsoft’s Small Business Summit

REDMOND, Wash. — March 19, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. hosts its second annual Small Business Summit this week, a nationwide event that provides small businesses with the tools and information they need to help their business soar. More than 30,000 small-business owners and partners from around the country are expected to participate in this free event held online with a first-day event in Redmond, Wash. The summit features more than 58 sessions covering small-business topics including branding, sales and marketing, security, business efficiency and mobility, and participants have the flexibility to join online from their home or office. In addition, small-business owners can go to their local participating CompUSA store to watch the webcasts, network with peers and have a direct dialogue with Microsoft and CompUSA representatives who understand their unique technology and business needs.

Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft, kicks off the event with a keynote highlighting new solutions and resources developed specifically for small businesses, including the unveiling of the company’s breakthrough phone system software for small businesses, code-named “Response Point.” As a part of Turner’s keynote, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, will make a video appearance to announce the new product, designed to radically simplify the total phone experience for small businesses.

“With more than 20 million small businesses in the U.S., they continue to be a critical element in fueling our economy. We believe technology can play a fundamental role in helping small businesses succeed and can allow them to create their own unique competitive advantage,” Turner said. “The unveiling of new products, such as ‘Response Point,’ highlights our efforts to carefully listen to the feedback and input of our small-business customers and take a very deliberate approach to bring the right solutions, resources and services to market for this important business segment.”

The event is one of the largest U.S. events for small businesses. Attendees will hear from industry luminaries including noted author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki; Baby Einstein Co. LLC founder Julie Clark; and Wayne Best, chief economist at Visa U.S.A.

“We recognize the demands customers face on a daily basis,” said Cindy Bates, general manager of the U.S. Small Business Group at Microsoft. “We’ve listened to our small-business community, and based on feedback we’ve expanded the number of webcasts and in-person events this year, including adding a full day devoted to startups. Attendees can immediately apply the knowledge they gather at the event to help their businesses start, grow and thrive.”

New Solutions Designed for Small Businesses

“Response Point” phone system software is designed to be easy for small businesses to use and manage. Microsoft developed the software based on conversations with small-business users in which they assessed their current telephone systems and how their “pain points” could be improved. As a result, “Response Point” simplifies the phone experience for end users and empowers even an average PC user to manage most system changes. It can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook® and Microsoft Exchange Server, and features speech recognition software so users can operate their phone through voice commands. Microsoft is working closely with industry partners D-Link Systems Inc., Quanta Computer Inc. and Uniden America Corp. to develop the phone system, which will be available later this year.

The fifth day of the summit will be devoted to startups, the 675,000 U.S. companies that are created each year. Microsoft will unveil the Microsoft Startup Center, a free personalized toolkit, available at http://www.microsoft.com/startupcenter, designed to help new business owners successfully launch their businesses. Through an easy-to-use format, the site provides advice on what is needed to turn a business idea into a legitimate launch.

Also during startup day, Rich and Jeff Sloan, creators of StartupNation LLC and hosts of StartupNation Radio, will discuss 10 effective steps for starting a small business. “We’re excited to share our proven road map to success for startups,” Rich Sloan said. “We’ve replaced the scariness, the confusion and the mystery with real-world and practical steps people should take to move from ‘great idea’ to ‘open for business.’ We’re thrilled to be participating once again in this seismic small-business event.”

Small-Business Momentum

The power of Microsoft’s small-business software has been enhanced dramatically with the release of Windows® Small Business Server 2003 R2, Windows Vista™ Business, Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Microsoft Office Small Business 2007, Microsoft Dynamics™ point-of-sale solutions, Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007 and Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007, Microsoft Office Live and Microsoft adCenter.

Steve Acorn, president and CEO of Student Painters, commented on the Microsoft products designed for small businesses. “With the combination of Windows Small Business Server, Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, we were able to scale up our capabilities in step with the growth of our business,” he said. “These products have met our need for an integrated environment that makes our network more efficient and provides security-enhanced remote connectivity to e-mail for all staff members.”

The following Microsoft products designed for small businesses enable customers to focus on their core business priorities:

  • Windows Vista Business and Office Professional 2007 work together to help small-business owners protect business data, manage e-mails and customer contact information, and easily store and access information regardless of whether they’re in the office or on the road.

  • Microsoft Office Live provides small businesses with the tools necessary to gain an online presence, including a free Web site, domain name and e-mail addresses. Microsoft Office Live is also offering a new free Web seminar series that gives small businesses access to some of today’s most dynamic business leaders. New speakers and sessions are offered every month at http://www.officeliveseminars.com.

  • Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007 and Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 deliver the tools needed to perform everyday financial tasks such as creating and tracking customer quotes and invoices, accepting payments and returns, managing inventory, and tracking purchases. Office Accounting Express 2007 and Office Accounting Professional 2007 also help customers expand their business online and easily integrate with online services such as eBay® and PayPal®.*

  • Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 helps small-business owners improve employee productivity, protect vital business data and stay connected virtually anywhere and anytime. It is also a platform for line-of-business applications such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition, enabling companies to access customer information anywhere.

  • Microsoft adCenter is an easy-to-use software platform that makes creating and managing search-based ad campaigns a snap, without the time and expense of a media buyer, and puts small-business advertisers in control of their campaigns. In addition, it helps advertisers reach one of the largest global audiences on the Internet.

  • Microsoft Dynamics point-of-sale solutions, including Microsoft Dynamics – Point of Sale 2.0 and Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System 2.0, enable small retailers to level the playing field in today’s competitive retail environment. With their ease of use, affordability and reliability, Microsoft Dynamics point-of-sale solutions help small businesses manage inventory, control cash, reduce costs and improve customer service.

During the Small Business Summit, Microsoft will announce the winners of its Total Tech Makeover contest and I’m Going Places sweepstakes. The grand prize for the Total Tech Makeover is $100,000 (U.S.) in technology and services, and the winner of I’m Going Places will enjoy the use of a private business jet for 10 hours.

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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