RealTime IT News

Microsoft's Partners Embrace Upcoming Office

With the launch of the 2003 upgrade to its renowned productivity suite less than two weeks away, the Redmond, Wash., giant has stepped up its marketing efforts by unveiling strong partner support of the various components of Microsoft Office Systems.

At its Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, Microsoft officials announced that hundreds of independent software vendors are adapting components like InfoPath, Exchange, SharePoint or Project Server into a variety of business intelligence, collaboration, work management and business process solutions.

Microsoft, which commands the single-largest developer base in the world, has always prided itself for building a strong third-party community around its core products. The company has recently added a host of new partners into the value-added reseller (VAR) program. For the first time, VARs from companies like Microsoft-acquired Great Plains and Navision will be part of a new Microsoft product launch.

Microsoft partners come from the local communities and industries of the world and disseminate the programs offered by the corporate giant in pieces individual companies can use. Having these partners on board and excited is what Microsoft was hoping for, according to Chris Capossela, Microsoft Project Business Unit general manager.

"Optimal usage of Enterprise Project Management requires that business strategies, culture and processes match the IT infrastructure," he said. "It is exciting to see the incredible momentum that our partner community is creating around these kinds of solutions."

The consensus of the attendees was fairly positive, according to Mike Gotta, an analyst from META Group who attended the conference. The two major items he said many of the partners were looking at were security and patch management.

"Security is very big; the partners may not have the expertise themselves to deliver a secure application, they're looking at Microsoft to deliver," he said.

If you were to play a word-association game with a network administrator, one of the words you might hear mentioned often is "vulnerable." Patches to Microsoft products are almost a weekly necessity for businesses to keep their network safe.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive officer, addressed the issue of patch management at the conference, saying there would be a manageable system in place. Now, patches will be available on a monthly basis (excepting emergency fixes) and over one integrating patching system -- not the current 68.

"Microsoft's partners are looking for value," Gotta said. "Going into the enterprise arena, there is a lot of pressure by companies like IBM and the open-source community. They've got to convince partners there's a value."

The new patch management program is "a good value message to deliver," he said.