This And That From MBS And Microsoft SMS&P

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There was a lot of Microsoft business apps news dribbling out last week in advance of the MBS Convergence show in San Diego.

First, Microsoft execs showed off new features of the company's online Small Business Center. New additions include a new security sub-site and a partner finder.

Users can input data about their company size and needs into a Solution Advisor feature to find a local partner to help them do what needs doing. There are glitches however. A demo-doer specifying that he was a small shop (six PCs) in the Seattle area, was presented with a list that included Avanade and Tectura, two partners that might have limited interest in such a small job.

Doug Leland, general manager of Microsoft's SMS&P group, said that the system will get better parsing and pointing to more appropriate partners. (BTW, SMS&P stands for Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partner Group.)

SMS&P (say that three times fast) also unveiled a new SDK for the upcoming Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting package aka Magellan.

The SDK can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site.

The same day Microsoft Business Solutions said it bought an easy-to use configuration tool to ease Axapta implementations. Microsoft bought the ERP Complete tool from En'tegrate Software LLC, an Axapta partner. Terms were not disclosed.

That's probably a good thing, though partners deploying the current Axapta have some more breathing room since Axapta 4.0, promised for this year, has been pushed back till the spring of 2006.

Earlier this month, Microsoft made its "CompHot" competitive hotline available to partners facing the risk of losing a deal to competitive technology solutions. And on Monday, it re-announced general availability of its "channel builder" online tool.

Microsoft is now in year two in the roll-out of its massive Next Generation Partner Program. The process is iterative, with the company tweaking programs and tools as it goes along.

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