Microsoft Celebrates National Small-Business Week Recognizing Contributions Made by America's Small Businesses With New Services and Tools

REDMOND, Wash., May 17 -- According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses in the United States will produce more than half of all innovations and create 75 percent of all new jobs this year. In recognition of this, Microsoft Corp. today announced it is joining other advocates of small business, including the SBA, to show support for small businesses. Together with its partners, Microsoft is helping the 7.5 million U.S. small businesses realize their potential by expanding their opportunities through new technology services, tools and training.

"Small businesses are a major force in the U.S. economy when you look at their capital expenditures and how much of their revenue is distributed back into local communities," said Cindy Bates, general manager of Small Business for the U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group at Microsoft. "Today small businesses are looking for new ways to expand their customer base and stay competitive; many are leveraging technology to support their growth. That's why we're working to bring technology to small businesses -- making it easier for them to obtain the resources necessary for success."

Microsoft Across America (MAA) is one of several new Microsoft programs designed to make technology more accessible to small businesses and enable them to start realizing their potential right away. MAA is a mobile solutions center loaded with the latest technology tools for small businesses, such as Office Small Business Edition 2003, MapPoint(R), Microsoft Retail Management System and Windows(R) Small Business Server 2003. MAA is making stops in cities across the United States, providing small businesses with valuable hands-on technology demonstrations in the convenience of their own communities. This week small businesses are invited to experience the MAA mobile solutions center at the SBA Expo '04 in Orlando, Fla., May 19-21.

"We're very excited to be honoring small businesses in Orlando with SBA Expo '04, and we're happy to have Microsoft joining us as a co-sponsor," said Hector Barreto, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. "The Expo will be a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to acquire new tools, win contracts and network. I truly believe that every single one of the 3,000 attendees who attend Expo will go home at the end of the week with new ideas and tools for growing their businesses and creating jobs."

Technology Opening Doors for Small Businesses
"We're seeing that technology is leveling the playing field between small businesses and their larger competitors," Bates said. "Today more small businesses are realizing that technology can open new doors for them to compete more effectively and operate more efficiently in ways that were only available to larger companies a few years ago."

Inter | Fusion International is one of those businesses. Just three years ago, Jonathan Parrish was building custom computers for local clients from a workshop in Florida. Today, Parrish is the CEO of Inter | Fusion International, a six-person business intelligence solution provider serving clients across the South and internationally. Parrish says he discovered the business value of technology by taking advantage of one of Microsoft's hands-on services -- a free seminar series in his community.

"The seminars allowed me to identify an opportunity to build a whole new business using technology," Parrish said. "If you set your mind to understanding both the technology and business value presented in a seminar -- by going back to the office and applying the solutions you've learned -- I estimate you can earn an additional $2,500 a month beginning immediately. As a result, I've grown my business by at least 40 percent."

Microsoft is offering the free seminars in cities nationwide; topics range from getting the most out of IT investments to product demos and certification guidelines for partners. Schedules are available at .

Additional small-business resources include the following:

-- Small Business Center. Microsoft's Small Business Center is a single Web site where customers can get tailored business information and advice on how to run their business more effectively, access online sales and marketing tools as well as Web hosting, receive information on customer support options, and learn about the right Microsoft products and solutions for their needs. It can be found at .

-- Realizing Potential Award Program. Awarded by Microsoft, in conjunction with other small-business advocates, the Realizing Potential Award recognizes small businesses that have succeeded with the help of technology. Winners receive up to $50,000 in Microsoft hardware, software and services. The award is duplicated for the winner's charity of choice. The latest winner will be announced this week at the SBA Expo.