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Microsoft's First SMB Summit Opens in Redmond -- and Online

As part of its continuing outreach to small-business customers and partners, Microsoft launched its first-ever Small Business Summit this week.

More than 400 Microsoft customers and partners attended a live kick-off event in Redmond on Tuesday. At least 12,000 signed up for additional online sessions scheduled through Friday.

The free four-day summit, built around the theme "Taking Your Business to the Next Level," features more than 40 live Webcasts on topics near to SMB executives' hearts: financial management, computer security, sales and marketing, productivity, and mobility.

During the kick-off event, Microsoft also:

  • Offered previews of Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 R2 and other products targeted to SMBs.
  • Detailed new SMB financing options.
  • Announced an important new alliance with the Best Buy retail chain (see next item).

For an in-depth look at Microsoft's SMB outreach efforts, watch for the April issue of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

Best Buy Becomes a Gold Certified Partner
Best Buy has become the first national retailer to earn Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status, the two companies said this week.

Microsoft also detailed its expanded alliance with the Minnesota-based chain of electronics stores, saying the agreement will make it easier for small-business customers to determine "which Microsoft technology is right for their business."

Both announcements came during the inaugural Microsoft Small Business Summit.

Vista: Even Farther Out on the Horizon?
Rumor has it that Microsoft now plans to release Windows Vista in November. Earlier scuttlebutt had hinted that the operating system would be released during the first week of October.

The latest estimate came from a posting on the Official Microsoft Connections blog earlier this week: "Yes, Vista will be released in November of this year," a Microsoft employee wrote.

However, Microsoft, which has characterized previous discussion of specific release dates as pure speculation, took a similar response in this case. The company later updated the blog with a standard statement noting only that it expects "to make Vista generally available in the second half of this year."

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EU Rejects Call for Open Hearing in Anti-Trust Case
Microsoft, facing multimillion-dollar fines in connection with European anti-trust complaint, wants the public to have access to a hearing on the matter later this month. But the European Commission, which oversees such matters, has turned down that request.

"We believe this hearing should be conducted in an open forum," Microsoft said of the hearing, scheduled for March 30-31 in Brussels, Belgium. "We understand these sessions are normally private in order to protect the party under investigation; however, we waive our right to a confidential hearing to ensure a full and fair examination of the issues in this case."

But a spokesman for the commission -- which is the regulatory arm of the 25-country European Union -- says such cases are always closed to prevent grandstanding by the parties involved.

Posted by Anne Stuart on March 15, 2006 at 11:53 AM