Microsoft Partner Program Aimed at Small Businesses

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.

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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.

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