Microsoft Reaches More Than 1 Million Small Businesses in Three-Day Virtual Summit

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 14, 2008 — Beginning today, Microsoft Corp. hosts its fourth annual Microsoft Small Business Summit. This free, virtual gathering will feature more than 35 experts offering small businesses valuable information and insights on topics ranging from marketing and finance to productivity and technology. Broadcasting live to more than 370 syndicated Web sites and partner sites from Microsoft Studios, the Small Business Summit will reach more than 1 million small businesses worldwide during the three-day event. Summit participants can connect with each other and partners for recommendations during topical seminars and use new interactive components such as Twitter (http://twitter.com/sbsummit) and a live chat room located at http://www.sbsummit.com.

“With the issues of today’s complex global economy, the Small Business Summit is more important than ever,” said Bill Rielly, marketing director of U.S. SMB Solutions at Microsoft. “Small businesses want to learn what they can do to keep up with their larger competitors. We are blending key presenters from our March 2008 event with a new lineup of experts that will share tips and strategies for small businesses to remain competitive and operate efficiently.”

Expert Advice on Riding the Economic Seas

One of this year’s featured speakers is Nell Merlino, co-founder, president and CEO of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources to help women grow their microbusinesses into million-dollar enterprises. During her summit segment — as well as in a separate podcast available at http://www.sbsummit.com and various online outlets including the Count Me In Web site, http://www.countmein.org — Merlino will share advice for maintaining and growing a small business, especially in tough times. For example, she will recommend ways for small businesses to be more valuable by aligning with customer needs and give tips on how to streamline operations with information technology for greater efficiency.

Summit participants also will hear from peers about what measures they are taking to stay afloat and be successful in a down economy. These peer presenters will include winners of the Microsoft Bump the Slump contest. The contest, held July 31, 2008, to Oct. 1, 2008, recognizes small-business owners who provided the best tips in one of three categories: IT, marketing and general business. Three of America’s top small-business experts, Steve Strauss, Rieva Lesonsky and Jeff Wuorio, judged the tips in each category based on their clarity, application and potential business impact. Clay Johanson, Matt Lewis and Pamela Viveiros were selected as the award winners. In addition to the opportunity to present at the Small Business Summit, the winners in each category also received $25,000 in Shell gas cards.

Cost-Saving Technologies to Help Tackle Tough Times

Realizing small businesses are an important part of the country’s economic development, Microsoft has small businesses in mind. To address their needs and the demands they face, Microsoft announced the upcoming public webcast of Windows Essential Server Solutions, including Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008, scheduled for Nov. 12. Those interested can go to http://www.thedreamserver.com to attend.

The Windows Vista Small Business Assurance program also offers small businesses a special discount to help them move to Windows Vista with confidence. In a recent survey commissioned by Microsoft, Microsoft heard from small businesses that they are three times more likely to favor Windows Vista once they start using it. When small businesses purchase a new PC with Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2008, they can receive free support, compatibility assistance and one-on-one coaching from Microsoft to help ensure a smooth transition. Further details are available at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/assurance.

About Microsoft Small Business Summit 2008

The October 2008 event, one of the most comprehensive and free online small business conferences ever created, features speakers such as Nell Merlino, co-founder and CEO of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence; Pete Blackshaw, executive vice president of Strategic Services for Nielsen Online and co-founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, among other credentials; and Steven Rogers, professor of management and director of the Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. On day one of the summit, Microsoft will announce winners of the Bump the Slump contest, a peer-to-peer forum where small business owners posted tips for how they personally navigate a down economy.

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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