Microsoft continues to evolve worldwide partner program

Microsoft announces enhancements to its Partner Program to help partners extend market reach, increase operational efficiency and realize maximum business potential.

MINNEAPOLIS, July 9, 2005 -- Today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2005, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) unveiled the next evolution of the Microsoft(R) Partner Program, the cornerstone of engagement for Microsoft's worldwide network of business partners, to enhance the vital link between the company's industry-leading platform and its partners and to create a strategic advantage by which partners can better serve customers worldwide. Building on the momentum of the program's launch in 2003, Microsoft will introduce four new Microsoft Solution Competencies later this year and has announced a new competency-like designation that is immediately available for partners specializing in small business.

The program will provide simplified membership management for partners, expansion of support and training resources, and enhancements to online tools and infrastructure to help reduce partners' cost of doing business and increase their market reach and profitability.

"Microsoft takes a truly collaborative approach to working with partners," said Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group at Microsoft. "The strategic evolution of the Microsoft Partner Program is a reflection of our commitment to working closely with our industry partners to build and refine a world-class program for the sole purpose of helping them meet and exceed their business objectives. Microsoft's success and the success of its partners are one and the same."

New Competencies Help Partners Extend Market Reach

Microsoft Solution Competencies serve as one of the key cornerstones of the Microsoft Partner Program, allowing partners to clearly define their areas of expertise in specific solutions that reflect their business model. At the same time Microsoft Solution Competencies make it easier for partners to position their specialties to customers, better align their businesses with Microsoft product groups and marketing initiatives, and form closer relationships with other Microsoft partners.

Building on the momentum of the existing Microsoft Solution Competencies, Microsoft unveiled four new competencies and a new competency-like designation to help better match a partner's business focus to a customer's needs. The new Microsoft Solutions Competencies include the following:

     *    Custom Development Solutions provides support for technology
          partners that deliver custom-built value-added solutions for
          customers that require optimization of business capabilities using
          the Microsoft platform. Specializations within the Custom
          Development Solutions Competency include these:
          --   Applications Infrastructure Development is designed for
               partners that deliver applications built on core Microsoft
               products and that support the infrastructure which manages the
               business process in a customer organization.
          --   Smart Client Development is designed for partners that provide
               custom-developed solutions accessed via a client, such as
               Microsoft Office or a Windows(R) operating system.
          --   Web Development is designed for partners that focus on Web-
               enabled deployment solutions for customers.
     *    Mobility Solutions supports mobility-focused independent software
          vendors (ISVs), system integrators, consultants and mobile solutions
          resellers that have a goal to extend their business models, and
          infrastructure partners that build mobile components for existing
          solutions on the Microsoft Windows Mobile(TM) platform.
     *    Licensing Solutions were developed for partners that specialize in
          licensing and software asset management (SAM) solutions. The
          Licensing Solutions Competency has two specializations:
          --   License Delivery, created for partners with proven expertise in
               design, recommendation and acquisition of Microsoft volume
               licensing options
          --   Software Asset Management, which positions partners to take
               advantage of a growing demand for SAM solutions to help meet
               tighter governance and corporate compliance requirements
     *    OEM Hardware Solutions is intended for partners that build and
          deliver desktop or server hardware systems and those that design and
          manufacture hardware devices used as computer parts, peripherals or
          accessories. There are two specializations in this competency:
          --   System Builder Specialization recognizes partners with proven
               expertise in building, assembling and preinstalling Microsoft
               software on high-quality PC or server hardware systems.
          --   Device Manufacturer Specialization recognizes partners with
               proven expertise in designing and manufacturing hardware
               devices with Microsoft technologies in mind. These devices are
               used as computer parts, peripherals or accessories.
     *    Small Business Specialist is a new competency-like designation
          available for all partners, including registered members. It helps
          them underscore their skills in providing solutions and services
          tailored to small-business customers and helps customers easily
          connect with partners that have the skills and solutions customers
          need. Those partners that achieve this designation will be
          highlighted on Microsoft's Small Business Center site. The Small
          Business Specialist Community was created to provide easy access to
          software, training and resources to help partners meet the needs of
          small-business customers.

In addition to offering new competencies, Microsoft is renaming two of the original nine competencies to better reflect the value and purpose of these competencies and offer partners an opportunity for more-targeted segmentation.

     *    The Microsoft Business Intelligence Competency will be renamed Data
          Management Solutions with Database Management and Business
          Intelligence as the underlying specializations to simplify the
          program experience for partners delivering against the Microsoft SQL
          Server platform.
     *    The Microsoft Integrated E-Business Solutions Competency will be
          renamed Business Process and Integration to better reflect its
          support for partners that are integrating systems and providing
          interoperability services.

Finally, the existing Microsoft Business Solutions Competencies will see a new and deeper focus on verticalization to help partners focus their efforts on vertical opportunities in their local markets.

Tools to Drive Business Success

The Microsoft Partner Program has enhanced its benefits, resources, tools and processes to help improve operational efficiency and maximize business potential. The following provide world-class training and enablement, as well as marketing and sales resources and tools.

     *    Partner Learning Center is a single location that provides partners
          with Microsoft training online. The Partner Learning Center will be
          rolled out to 60 countries in 34 languages. Benefits include a
          combination of global offerings via the Web and local delivery of
          training and better tracking of completed training.
     *    Partner Channel Builder is a networking tool that helps partners
          create business relationships among other Microsoft partners that
          have complementary skills and expertise. The purpose of the Partner
          Channel Builder is to drive collaboration that will help partners
          realize new business opportunities, expand services to existing
          clients, and deliver innovative, integrated solutions.
     *    Partner Marketing Center enables partners to directly market
          solutions by delivering modular go-to-market and industry-focused
          materials in multiple applications, making it easier for them to
          create and execute customized marketing campaigns using the tools
          available in the Microsoft Office System.
     *    Partner Solution Profiler helps partners market solutions online to
          extend new business efforts to potential customers. It also gives
          partners online access to networking opportunities with other
          Microsoft partners.
     *    Solution Finder provides customers with a way to find companies and
          solutions on the Microsoft Web site through keyword searches that
          map to their business.
     *    Partner Vertical Resource Center is a new online tool that will
          assist partners in expanding their vertical market focus by offering
          a framework for opportunity identification, business planning and
          marketing execution.
     *    New! Response Management for Partners. Rolled out earlier this year,
          this new, security-enhanced, confidential Web-based tool offers Gold
          Certified and Certified partners a way to escalate Microsoft-related
          customer and partner issues directly to Microsoft.
     *    Telephone-based Presales Technical Support (TPTS), now with
          Competitive Sales Assistance, is an unlimited benefit for Microsoft
          Certified and Gold Certified partners. Available either by telephone
          or online, TPTS is designed to assist partners in closing
          competitive sales by leveraging the expertise of Microsoft's
          internal presales support professionals to review product features
          and capabilities, troubleshoot deployment problems and give
          scenario-specific configuration guidance.

For partners, these new and existing tools should provide value across their entire business cycle, helping improve their efficiency and driving new opportunities. "The Partner Channel Builder tool, with its two-way model, is making communications much easier," said Julie West, vice president of operations with independent software vendor WennSoft in New Berlin, Wis. "As a vertically specialized ISV, we don't sell direct, which makes locating VARs that specialize in the same vertical market essential to our success. To find an appropriate VAR in a specific geographic area used to require several phone calls. But this tool makes communications much easier."

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 is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

NOTE: Microsoft, Windows and Windows Mobile are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

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