Microsoft Partner Program Aimed at Small Businesses

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-10-02 Print this article Print

Some 5,000 Microsoft partners meet the IT needs of small business.

Microsoft is reaching out to help small businesses find IT support by introducing the Small Business Specialist Community, some 5,000 Microsoft partners who have gone through training, passed exams and been designated by the software maker as being able to meet the IT needs of small business. Each partner is able to offer technology advice, support and service to small businesses, which Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., defines as having 50 or fewer employees, and can also use the new Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community logo.
Given that there are about 20 million small businesses in the United States alone, the move should help Microsoft sell more of its solutions, while its partners get to rack up consulting and support fees.
And, as many of those partners are small businesses themselves, "they truly understand what it means to run a small business," said Eric Ligman, Microsofts senior manager of community engagement for small business in the United States. Microsofts small-business Web site now also contains a new tool that customers can use to type in their ZIP code and be presented with a list of small-business specialists in their area. Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 provides a full stack of basic network services at an affordable price. Read more here. "We hope by raising awareness of our program that small-business owners will recognize the qualified help that may be right in their neighborhood. We value the direct and powerful impact on the U.S. economy that small business brings and hope that with this program we can make a difference," Ligman said. Microsoft also announced Oct. 1 a new service, Office Live Workspace, that will let customers access, share and collaborate on documents online. The existing Office Live offering will be rebranded Office Live Small Business, a change announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the companys Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver in July. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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