Meanwhile, Microsoft is building on the success of its early access program involving 200 partners, and the general availability in April 2008 of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to announce a program expansion and related readiness tool. The new Microsoft Partner Program will provide discounts to qualified partners in the United States and Canada for use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in their own organizations. The discounted price is $19 per user per month and will be available in fall 2008. The new Microsoft Dynamics CRM ISV SAAS (software-as-a-service) Readiness tool extends Microsoft's Innovate ON program, helping ISVs evolve their on-premise solutions into on-demand services.Partners are playing a role in this, Elop said. For instance, more than 150 partners have achieved the Voice specialization; more than 2,500 partner companies have achieved the Unified Communications Solutions competency; and more than 90 companies have joined the Notes Transition Partner Program to assist businesses that are migrating to the Microsoft platform, Microsoft officials said. Meanwhile, Microsoft on July 8 introduced the WVCC (Windows Vista Compatibility Center) beta. Through this new compatibility tool, Microsoft will work to solicit continuous feedback from consumers and partners to ensure that their purchase and adoption experience remains positive long after their migration to Windows Vista. Microsoft also announced Windows Vista Small Business Assurance, a resource for partners to assist small-business customers interested in migrating from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Also on July 8, Microsoft announced the BizTalk Adapter Pack 2.0, which enables partners to create value-added solutions for line-of-business system interoperability--including SAP, Siebel and Oracle application suites -- with any .NET Framework-based application. And with this, partners can develop interoperable adapters to complement the Microsoft offering using the WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) Line of Business Adapter SDK (software development kit), allowing customers to connect mission-critical data across applications. Microsoft also announced its new Mobile Readiness Program at the conference. The program has four components: The Get Mobile Ready initiative offers Microsoft consulting to small and midsize resellers; the Try and Buy initiative deploys Microsoft mobility solutions within resellers to create SMB mobility experts around the globe and help partners showcase the technology in action; the Microsoft Partner Program Mobility Competency is a full-scale resource to train and certify resellers that are ready to take the next step in mobility; and Microsoft distributors worldwide are offering solutions to help resellers provide their SMB customers with a ready-made package of mobility offerings at a competitive price. And to help improve the purchasing experience, Microsoft added to its licensing options. Following on the Select Plus volume licensing plan Microsoft announced on July 1, the company announced additional updates to the Open Value program for small and midsize customers and Microsoft Financing solutions for customers of all sizes to help them balance growing technology needs with more flexible, manageable and predictable purchasing. "Partners have always been at the core of Microsoft's business model, and that will never change," said Allison Watson, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft. "Today we are excited to announce new business models for our online offerings, which will drive opportunity and profitability for our partners, while delivering incredible value and choice for customers." Added Elop: "We are democratizing the use of technology."
In addition, Microsoft officials said the company has seen growth in the adoption of its unified communications platform and products, including Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Microsoft Office Communications Server alone has experienced triple-digit business growth over the last two quarters year over year and is licensed to 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies.