Microsoft Throws Its Financial Weight Around

Under its new SmartPay promotion, set to run until June 27, 2008, partners can now offer customers low introductory 12-month payment options, which start as low as $50 per month, said Brian Madison, worldwide general manager for Microsoft Financing, in an interview with CRN at Microsoft's worldwide partner conference in Denver.

Microsoft had previously offered financing only on its Dynamics enterprise software products, according to Madison. Partners can now use the financing for bundled deals consisting of software, hardware and services, with a minimum deal size of $3,000, he said.

"We work closely with channel partners, and train and educate them on how to offer financing to customers, and they can then package it up themselves," said Madison.

Computer giants like Hewlett Packard and IBM have had such financing programs for their partners for years.

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Microsoft partners applauded the new finance offering. "When you have billions of dollars in the bank, and you're financing things that have no tangible cost, it makes sense for you to get aggressive on that," said Matt Scherocman, a director at PCMS IT Advisor, a Cincinnati-based Microsoft Gold partner.

"They're pretty easy to work with and I've been pretty impressed with the program so far. It's just a smart way for them to use their billions in the bank to go get more business," Scherocman said.

Microsoft is offering a self-service, online tool partners can use to access pricing and proposals, and obtain 24/7 credit approval online for up to $250,000, Madison said.

"One of the biggest benefits for partners is cash flow. We'll pay a partner in a day, as opposed to them waiting between 60 and 120 days for the customer to pay," Madison said.