Microsoft looks to partners for Office push
Officials at the Worldwide Partner Conference also touted Office 12
IDG News Service - Microsoft Corp. is making a significant push to use its partners to promote customer upgrades and new sales of its Office productivity suite, a company executive said today at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2005 in Minneapolis.
Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Information Worker Product Management Group, acknowledged that many customers aren't upgrading their Office suites because they believe their older versions are enough to compete in the current business environment.
To dispel that notion and drive upgrades of Office 2003, Microsoft plans to quadruple the number of partners selling and building software on top of Office. "We're on a mission to show people that the workplace has changed and the old tools aren't really good enough," Capossela said. "We're really focused on trying to expand the partner ecosystem."
Capossela said there are 700 partners that now sell Microsoft's office productivity software, of which Office is a cornerstone. "We think that number has to get far, far bigger," he said.
Microsoft also aims to more than double the number of Microsoft salespeople focused on selling information worker products, from about 450 now to more than 1,000 in fiscal 2006, he said. Microsoft's fiscal year began July 1.
At the same time, the vendor is encouraging upgrades to Office 2003, Microsoft is also talking up the suite's next version, Office 12, and other new products in its information worker business.
At the conference today, Microsoft officials for the first time publicly demonstrated Office 12, which is due out in the second half of 2006. In particular, Microsoft touted the product's improved ability to fill out and send forms in Office using XML and a browser. Microsoft last month announced that XML would be the standard file format for Office 12.
Microsoft also unveiled a new product, Small Business Accounting 2006, which will be available in the fourth quarter and allows small businesses to do accounting using the Office suite, he said.
In addition, the vendor officially named a product that was formerly code-named Maestro. Now called Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager, it's business intelligence software that leverages Portal Server and SQL Server to enable customers to match business objectives with actual results, the company said.
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