Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) today (yesterday) launched Microsoft(R) Office Small Business Edition 2003, a new version of the personal and business productivity software, designed for small businesses. This unique solution has been developed to address small-business customers’ important business needs. As a result, small businesses will be able to reach their potential by attracting new customers and strengthening existing customer relationships, improving their marketing reach and sales efforts, and increasing employee productivity by providing easier access to information and better protection against junk e-mail.
“Our small-business customers have repeatedly told us they think technology should be a seamless solution that solves their core business problems — and we agree,” said Orlando Ayala, group senior vice president of Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners at Microsoft. “Together with our partners, we are extremely excited to be introducing Office Small Business Edition 2003 into the marketplace, giving small businesses the type of technology they deserve. This product was designed to address business ‘pain points’ specific to small businesses, and we truly believe it will positively impact the way small businesses conduct their day-to-day business.”
Office Small Business Edition 2003 has the familiar look of Microsoft Office but with powerful new features, including Office Outlook(R) 2003 with Business Contact Manager, specifically designed for small businesses. One of the key issues facing small businesses is the inability to effectively follow up with customers and prospects because customer information is often scattered across many places; there is not one integrated view into the sales pipeline. With Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager, employees can manage their customer contacts more efficiently, track sales opportunities and run reports on sales activities — all with software they already know.
Many small businesses are overwhelmed by the flood of spam, which is annoying and time-consuming, and distracts employees from their work. Junk-mail filtering in Outlook 2003 helps reduce spam and helps protect people’s privacy. Moreover, Outlook improvements enable people to handle e-mail more efficiently and take action faster. Businesses that have been using Office Small Business Edition 2003 have experienced time savings of 30 minutes per day for each employee, as a result of the e-mail enhancements alone.
Small businesses often do not have the time or resources to market their products and services to stay ahead of the competition. Office Small Business Edition 2003 now includes — for the first time — the PowerPoint(R) presentation graphics software, along with Publisher and its professional templates designed to help small businesses create impressive sales and marketing materials for print, the Web, e-mail, presentations and CDs. In addition, customers have free access to Microsoft Office Online, a new resource providing additional solutions, training and support to small businesses, which often have limited technology support.
“For our business, it has become increasingly important to access integrated information so we can make informed decisions for our business and provide excellent service to our customers,” said Eric Meslow, president of Oregon-based Timbercon Inc. “The new Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager dramatically changed how my company approaches sales management. With Business Contact Manager, we can manage our sales efforts more efficiently, which we expect will result in an approximate 20 percent increase in sales.”
The introduction of Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 underscores Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to the underserved small-business market, and represents the company’s latest effort to deliver solutions built to meet the unique and diverse needs of this market.
“An immediate concern for small businesses is evaluating how they can run their business more effectively, how can they save money,” said Raymond Boggs, vice president of Small/Medium Business Research at IDC. “But looking ahead, many recognize an even more important question is how can they work better with customers and prospects, how can they make money.” Boggs noted the addition of Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager, Office PowerPoint 2003 and Office Publisher 2003 as part of Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 will provide small businesses with key resources to establish and strengthen customer relationships.
Microsoft understands that small businesses face the challenge of getting more done in less time with fewer resources, and provides solutions to enable them to operate more efficiently. As part of Microsoft’s 2003 lineup of small-business solutions, the company also recently launched Microsoft Windows(R) Small Business Server 2003, a fully integrated server product optimized to help small businesses automatically protect their data, significantly increase their productivity, and extend their customer reach while also reducing complexity and administration time. Windows Small Business Server 2003 in combination with Office Small Business Edition 2003 enables small businesses to enhance communication and coordination, especially for employees who want to stay connected while away from the office. Office Small Business Edition 2003 and Windows Small Business Server 2003 also provide users with an easy way to share information and schedules, work together on documents and prepare for meetings. As well, it enables secure sharing of up-to-date business information such as prices or order status with employees, business partners or customers.
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