Microsoft Announces "People-Ready" Business Vision

Company Previews Innovative Software Solutions Enabled by New Product Pipeline

NEW YORK, March 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer today outlined the company's vision for how people, armed with the right software, are the key to driving business success. Called "People-Ready," this vision for business is the backdrop for a series of innovative solutions in new and existing categories that Microsoft will bring to market over the next year. Addressing more than 500 business customers, Ballmer showcased new business solutions and explained how they are enabled by the integration across the company's forthcoming versions of the Windows Vista(TM) operating system, the 2007 Microsoft(R) Office system, Windows Mobile(R) software and the next version of Microsoft Exchange Server, as well as infrastructure offerings such as Windows Server(TM) 2003 and SQL Server(TM) 2005.

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"Twenty years ago this week, Microsoft -- armed with our belief in the power of software to change the world -- was listed as a publicly traded company. People-Ready is a natural extension of our founding vision of empowering people through software. Today we take this to the next level by showing how these tools now work together in new ways to enhance innovation and drive greater value for business," Ballmer said. "Fueling our vision is a series of software solutions resulting from a $20 billion R&D investment over the past three years that is producing new innovation in a range of categories. From business intelligence to the mobile work force, from collaboration to communications, and from CRM to enterprise search, the opportunity for software to deliver even greater customer value is limitless."

The company's People-Ready vision is based on the belief that people are the ultimate drivers of a business' success. A business that is People-Ready gives its people software tools that enable them to collaborate and work together globally, to contact and serve customers instantly, and to streamline and reinvent processes intuitively. Along these lines, Microsoft previewed new software solutions that will deliver even greater customer value. Ballmer said that in the coming year Microsoft will apply its product portfolio and provide differentiated offerings to a much broader set of customer needs in the following categories:

     --   Unified communications and collaboration. Microsoft is extending the
          rich capabilities of software to improve and advance business
          communications. The next release of the Microsoft Office system will
          extend desktop capabilities though new server technologies. For
          example, with Microsoft Office SharePoint(R) Server 2007, Microsoft
          enables new categories with easy-to-use customization tools designed
          for people, workflow, and easy integration of popular collaboration
          tools such as wikis and blogs. In addition, technologies such as
          Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and
          Microsoft Office Communicator will break down today's silos of
          communication (e-mail, phone, instant messaging, Web conferencing)
          and bring them together into an intuitive experience that helps
          people and organizations communicate simply and effectively while
          integrating seamlessly with business applications and processes.
     --   Enterprise search. Microsoft's enterprise search technologies are
          moving beyond empowering people to create documents by enabling them
          to better manage the information they need to be successful. Through
          powerful new software solutions that take advantage of richness of
          both the client and the server such as Windows Desktop Search and
          Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, people will have instant
          access to their most pressing information whether it is on their
          desktop, server or across their company -- all from a single,
          intuitive and familiar user interface.
     --   The mobile work force. The world of work is increasingly mobile.
          Microsoft's comprehensive approach to mobility that spans devices,
          software and networks addresses the needs of business in a way that
          no point solution provider can. Specifically, the next version of
          Exchange Server revolutionizes access by offering a speech-enabled
          and unified messaging platform that integrates e-mail, fax and voice
          mail in the user's inbox with support for a variety of clients,
          including traditional and mobile devices. The integration between
          Windows Mobile, Exchange Server and the 2007 Microsoft Office system
          enables entirely new scenarios for businesses to turn their work
          force into a mobile work force without having to manage additional
          server infrastructure, hire expensive consultants or relinquish
          their data to third-party providers.
     --   Business intelligence. One way to increase the impact that people
          can have in an organization is to give them access to the
          information and insight they need. Until now, business intelligence
          (BI) software has been too complex, costly and disconnected from the
          software tools people use every day to do their jobs, but that is
          changing. Microsoft is significantly increasing, aligning and
          broadening its investment in BI with SQL Server as the foundation
          and with the Microsoft Office system playing an increasingly
          integral role. In addition, deeper integration between the next
          version of Microsoft Office Excel(R) and SharePoint Server will make
          it easier for non-technical users to access hard-to-find corporate
          data and analyze it with simpler tools including new visualization
          technology. New solutions, including Microsoft Office Business
          Scorecard Manager 2005 and enhancements to the familiar Microsoft
          Office Excel software, transform BI into a mainstream technology for
          the most novice user by providing an easy user experience for
          accessing and working with business information so that decision-
          makers at all levels within an organization can drive better
     --   Customer relationship management (CRM). With the Microsoft
          Dynamics(TM) line of business management solutions, Microsoft is
          unifying the previously separate worlds of business process
          automation (such as CRM and ERP) with the world of productivity. For
          example, designed to be a natural extension of Microsoft Office
             Outlook(R),  the  Microsoft  Dynamics  CRM  user  experience  provides
                    workers  with  a  familiar  and  intuitive  environment  that  results  in
                    every  person  in  a  company  being  able  to  begin  using  such  tools  for
                    managing  sales,  services  and  marketing  processes.  Microsoft  CRM  also
                    adapts  easily  to  a  business'  existing  workflow  and  processes  as  a
                    direct  result  of  the  innovation  Microsoft  has  applied  with  respect
                    to  service-oriented  architecture  (SOA)  and  Web  services.  Thus
                    Microsoft  CRM  is  tailored  to  suit  people's  roles  and  meet  the
                    specific  needs  of  businesses  today.
          --      Infrastructure.  While  infrastructure  is  not  something  that  employees
                    typically  think  about,  a  significant  portion  of  Microsoft's  R&D  over
                    the  past  three  years  has  gone  into  providing  world-class,  security-
                    enhanced,  and  manageable  software  and  server  infrastructure  to
                    seamlessly  support  many  of  the  new  innovations  coming  to  market
                    later  this  year.  For  instance,  new  innovation  in  the  already
                    released  SQL  Server  2005  and  the  next  version  of  Windows  Server  will
                    play  a  significant  role  in  delivering  the  underpinnings  for  all  of
                    these  integrated  solutions  in  a  way  that  is  transparent  to  workers.

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