Microsoft Aims to Support Small Business Success

Unless you’ve been confined for the last few years on a remote South Pacific island with only Tom Hanks and a volley ball to keep you company, you know that Vista, Microsoft’s new operation system, is due to debut on January 30. What you may not know is that this event, which coincides with the availability of Microsoft Office 2007, is the largest Microsoft product launch since 1995.

As such, the company has sounded the trumpets, pulled out the stops and hit the road to get the word out to small businesses across the country. According to Cindy Bates, Microsoft’s general manager, small business group, this launch and its implications for small business is unprecedented.

“The timing of the release of Vista and Office 2007 is unique. These solutions will redefine the way small businesses work today and in the future. They will lower the bar to success for small businesses and help them to compete,” she says.

Microsoft Across America
To help small businesses understand what Vista and Office 2007 offer, Microsoft is hosting a number of events. Microsoft Across America offers free seminars through early March in 59 cities. The event offers three tracks designed for specific audiences: small business owners, IT managers and Microsoft partners. Technology-equipped trucks and interactive seminars (usually hosted at a local theater or other similar venue) demonstrate how Windows Vista and the 2007 Office release can help SMBs work more effectively, stay remotely connected to relevant people and business data, backup and protect their desktop, and more effectively manage contact information.

The agenda for January through March 1 looks like this:

  • How to use the innovations in Windows Vista
  • A first look at the newly redesigned Microsoft Office system user interface
  • Windows Vista Success Stories
  • An overview of new features in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
  • Demonstrations of the 40 new applications for Windows SharePoint Services available for free download
  • How the new features in Office Accounting 2007 and Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager can help small businesses save time, get organized and conduct business online

Microsoft Small Business Summit
Following last year’s successful inaugural event, Microsoft plans its second annual Small Business Summit — a free five-day-long online event featuring 58 on-demand Web casts across a range of topics including financial management, sales and marketing, productivity and mobility and computer security.

Bates notes that more than 15,000 people registered for the summit, and that they’re hoping to double that number this year. “The summit is a rich opportunity for small business owners to learn how Microsoft products can help them accelerate their business.”

The summit runs from March 19 — 23, 2007 and you can register for it here starting Thursday, January 25.

While Microsoft has yet to announce the summit’s key speakers, last year’s lineup was impressive, and chances are this year will be no different. If you care to check out last year’s Web casts to tide you over until March, you can download them here.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of

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