Microsoft Corp. and broadband network provider Winstar Communications Monday expanded their joint marketing alliance to encompass a broad distribution agreement between Microsoft’s bCentral small business service and Winstar’s Office.com.
The distribution agreement, which will see an integration of co-branded versions of bCentral online productivity services with Office.com’s content, is envisioned as a first step in the integration and realignment of the online business center and e-business services industries, according to Kneko Burney, director and analyst, Cahners In-Stat Group.
“The combination of Office.com’s reach, content and community, Winstar’s broadband expertise, and Microsoft’s applications prowess promises to empower users with a rich, well-integrated online work experience,” he said. “This is certainly a first step in the reinvention of how small- and medium-size businesses view the Internet and use it to operate more successfully.”
Through the agreement, bCentral’s productivity services will be made available to Office.com’s 2.5 million small- and medium-size business users. Winstar will also distribute bCentral offerings though other channels, including its nationwide direct-sales organization.
bCentral services to be offered through the alliance include:
- bCentral Business Web Services, a suite of Web-based offerings including Web-site creation and hosting, marketing tools, e-mail and domain-name registration
- bCentral Commerce Manager, which enables small businesses to submit products to multiple e-marketplaces
- bCentral Customer Manager, a contact-management service to help businesses manage their customers and boost sales
- bCentral Finance Manager, a Web-based business finance and accounting solution that integrates with e-commerce and customer management functions.
So aside from exposure to Winstar’s customer base, what does Microsoft get out of the deal? The agreement also includes an expansion of the two companies’ joint ASP initiatives to deliver new Microsoft applications to customers over Winstar’s broadband network. Winstar will now offer:
- Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server, which provides e-mail, messaging, collaboration applications and workflow application design
- Microsoft Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server, which includes video conferencing, audio conferencing and data conferencing
- Microsoft Commerce Server 2000, which enables an electronic storefront and commerce development environment
- Microsoft Passport, which offers streamlined and secure Web-based transaction authentication services.
Winstar has already implemented a Microsoft-based ASP platform which hosts Microsoft Exchange 2000 and Microsoft Office 2000 applications.
“This latest expansion of our strategic alliance with Microsoft further reinforces the shared commitment by both companies to bring enhanced business applications and online services to the business marketplace,” said William J. Rouhana, chairman and chief executive officer of Winstar. “In addition, by incorporating Microsoft’s bCentral business application services into Office.com’s integrated environment of industry-specific content and community, we increase the distribution and end-user value of each service.”
Satya Nadella, vice president for bCentral at Microsoft, added, “By combining bCentral’s integrated application services, which are designed to automate everyday business processes, and Office.com’s rich content and community features, we are delivering a comprehensive set of resources and tools to help small- and medium-size businesses run more effectively and efficiently.”