New Orleans (Oct. 10, 2003) -- Any accounting software reseller looking for more about where they fit into a highly touted “new partner strategy” from Microsoft did not hear it during the first morning’s round of keynote speeches here at the Worldwide Partner Conference.

It was a big morning for many of the 7,000 attendees, as they sat through extensive talk from top Microsoft brass including chief executive Steve Ballmer, senior VP of the Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partner Group Orlando Ayala, Microsoft Business Solutions senior VP Doug Burgum, and VP of worldwide sales and marketing Allison Watson.

None of them collectively spent more than a few minutes on MBS products or how those partners fit into this new partner strategy, which was also never fully explained during four-plus hours of keynotes.

What they did hear was a lot about products and overall company strategy, as well as an oft repeated phrase, “We are committed to our partners. Without you we can not succeed.”

Ballmer did take the time among his many topics, to briefly address a key issue many MBS partners came to the conference to hear more about.

“It has been a rough couple of years for a lot of our partners and I know there is a bit of an apprehension for some to get more involved with things our high-volume partners are used to,” Ballmer said. “The opportunities for MBS and its partners have been different than others so we will make sure we do what we can to enhance your experience.”

Ayala, Watson, and even Burgum said little more specifically about the MBS channel or products, opting to focus more on broader topics such as strategies outside of the MBS product line.

Burgum also kept with his tradition of speaking about business matters in a broad, philosophical tone.

“We do need to make sure that if this is the business you choose to stay in that we make the experience better for you than it would be working with someone else,” Burgum said. “If you think that opportunities are washed out of the IT industry, look back at all of the things people thought would never succeed or last and did.”

He followed this with a photo and story of the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

The is the first year MBS partners (who carry the company’s line of accounting and customer relationship management products) sat side by side with thousands of “classic Microsoft” resellers.

-- Seth Fineberg

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