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Microsoft, IBM Give Back to The Little Guy

Microsoft extended a set of olive branches to the little guy in the United States, offering small businesses an IT services promotion that could put $100 back in their coffers for every license they purchase.

The IT services promotion is a way for businesses that purchase a minimum of five Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 licenses, together or as stand-alone products, to receive a check from Microsoft to use toward services such as software installation.

Customers can also apply these promotional funds to access, track and analyze customer information from one central location and use professional templates to create marketing materials and business plans.

To wit, companies that purchase a Windows Small Business Server 2003 license through Open Value may be eligible to receive $100 per license. SMBs that purchase at least five qualifying Microsoft Office 2003 licenses through Open Value may be eligible to receive up to $100 per license.

Firms that purchase a minimum of five Office 2003 licenses and one Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 license through Open Value may be eligible to receive up to $125 per license.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant is also offering the Small Business Platform SKU for small businesses within the Open Value licensing program.

The SKU makes it easier for SMBs to buy and manage software by providing a license for every PC in the company for Microsoft Office 2003 Small Business Edition, a Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 Client Access License and Microsoft Windows XP Professional Upgrade. These come with up to three years of Software Assurance benefits.

The SKU has a retail price of $922 per PC, which makes it a 28 percent platform discount beyond the discounted pricing already built into the Open Value license program, according to Microsoft.

Customers that choose the SKU with the three years of Software Assurance benefits are entitled to free upgrades to Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 12 when those products are released.

"We're serious about empowering small businesses with the technology, services and support necessary to help them thrive in a very competitive marketplace," said Cindy Bates, general manager of the small-business division of Microsoft's U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group.

Not to be outdone, IBM unveiled 22 new services and products from its Express Portfolio for SMBs. These include RFID perks, storage and backup and e-mail recovery.

IBM and Microsoft often find themselves duking it out in the multi-billion-dollar SMB space.

Microsoft primarily plays there, while Big Blue has fortified its more cost-effective offerings over the last few years thanks to its popular Express platform.

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