Microsoft SharePoint Powers 2010 Virtual Kickoff

REDMOND, Wash. — May 12, 2010 — Today business customers can dive into the next generation of productivity: Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010. Those who want a demonstration of what the new software can do have a unique venue via today’s virtual kickoff.

Today’s virtual launch event, hosted on Microsoft SharePoint 2010, is happening concurrently in more than 60 countries and in 26 different languages.

To help celebrate the availability of the new products, Microsoft is throwing its largest ever simultaneous worldwide launch. In addition to on-site activities at dozens of the company’s subsidiaries, the launch will be accessible live and on-demand through a new virtual launch platform built on SharePoint 2010. The company expects more than half a million people worldwide to participate via the launch website, says Carol Matthews, a senior digital marketing manager for Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Group.

“It is an extremely important milestone for these products, and today’s launch will help amplify the moment and get as many people as possible participating and talking about them,” says Matthews, who headed the cross-group team that built the virtual event and its content. “Without SharePoint 2010, we couldn’t have afforded to do this launch at this scale.”

Matthews turned to SharePoint as the means to quickly and cost effectively build a platform that subsidiaries could customize with their own content. As the result of new capabilities in SharePoint 2010, today’s launch is happening concurrently in more than 60 countries and in 26 different languages. At the site, people can actively participate in the event through a host of social networking tools such as live Q&As and “ask an expert” chat rooms.

Matthews called the virtual launch a perfect showcase for the new version of the product.

“Oftentimes people think of SharePoint as a great resource for intranets,” she says. “I don’t know if it occurs to them that it’s phenomenal for public websites as well.” Today’s event highlights SharePoint’s capabilities on both the public-facing front end and the content-management back end, Matthews says. “It’s all one platform and one execution, so it’s cost-effective and easy to manage, even on this scale.”

Today Matthews calls SharePoint 2010 the hero of the day, but it wasn’t on her radar a year ago when she was asked to plan the managed launch events. She had assumed she would leverage Microsoft’s existing event platform for it, but budget constraints forced her to reevaluate. The importance of the 2010 launch meant she needed a wide reach, but she also had to do it cost effectively. She also wanted to ensure there were no barriers to participation, meaning she needed to think about social networking.

Those needs got Matthews to evaluate several different platforms and think about building a traditional website. “Then I thought, ‘wait a minute – that’s what SharePoint is for,’” she says. At the time, SharePoint 2010 was still in beta, so Matthews looked at the 2007 version. Then she started asking about new features in the upcoming release.

“In the beginning, we thought about eventually migrating the platform to it, but not using it for the launch,” she says. “It became more and more apparent to that we should use 2010 for the launch itself.”

Carol Matthews, a senior digital marketing manager for Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Group, headed the team that built the virtual event.

When she first brought up the idea with senior executives, there was some hesitation. “There was a bit of pause about using beta code for the biggest concurrent worldwide launch ever,” she says. “But when I started explaining, heads began nodding, and people were saying ‘Of course, that’s why we built SharePoint.’”

Matthews says integration with Visual Basic and other new features in SharePoint 2010 made development faster and more efficient. The team was able to scale up quickly as more and more subsidiaries wanted to participate in the launch. Perhaps most importantly, SharePoint let them dial up the platform’s social networking capabilities to encourage active engagement.

“This is the right moment in time for people to hear from other people, not necessarily Microsoft,” Matthews says. “It’s about third-party voices validating our offering. This entire thing is designed to give the microphone to other folks.”

By using SharePoint 2010 to execute digitally, Microsoft spent a fraction of what it did for the Office 2007 launch but will reach hundreds of thousands of more people, Matthews says.

“Microsoft executives have it exactly right – SharePoint is a locomotive,” she says. “I am thanking my lucky stars that we went with SharePoint 2010 for this launch. I would be in a world of hurt without it now.”

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