Today at Microsoft® Worldwide Partner Conference 2004, Rick Devenuti, corporate vice president of Microsoft Services and IT at Microsoft Corp., announced the launch of Microsoft Services Partner Advantage, the newest global service offering for industry partners. Designed to meet the unique service needs of the Microsoft partner community, the Microsoft Services Partner Advantage offering provides scalable and customized support plans including direct access to Microsoft tools and internal resources that enable partners to efficiently develop on, deploy and support Microsoft products and technologies.

To provide Microsoft partners with more predictable and consistent support, the Microsoft Services Partner Advantage offering includes a suite of support, consulting and development services designed to meet the technological and budgetary needs of partners currently registered with the Microsoft Partner Program, ultimately supporting them in driving more value for their customers. Microsoft Services Partner Advantage will be offered in phased global availability and in three cost-effective plans for registered partners:

*Microsoft Services Partner Advantage Standard Plan is a prepackaged service option that is coordinated by a pooled team of phone-based services resources and offers online resources, problem resolution support and proactive services designed to cover a partner’s foundational support needs.

*Microsoft Services Partner Advantage Plus Plan is a more inclusive, customizable service option designed to meet a partner’s comprehensive support needs. It includes proactive consulting services, workshops, problem resolution support, service delivery planning and online resources—all managed by a designated services resource.

*Microsoft Services Partner Advantage Business Solutions Plan is a Microsoft Services Partner Advantage offering exclusively created to serve the individual needs of Microsoft Business Solutions partners located in the United States and Canada. This fixed-price, prepackaged service plan offers designated Microsoft Business Solutions services account management with in-depth experience, technical services advisory hours, loyalty and support usage reports, and access to the Microsoft Business Solutions Consultant Resource Center, in addition to training and technical support benefits with a guaranteed response time.

“The goal of the Microsoft Services Partner Advantage offering is to strengthen partner advocacy within Microsoft, creating open channels of communication between partners and Microsoft technical experts,” Devenuti said. “Our goal is to support our partners in order to drive more value to customers.”

“By leveraging Microsoft Services Partner Advantage support benefits, Capgemini has a direct line to Microsoft that helped us increase our overall service to customers throughout the entire cycle from sales to deployment,” said Deanne Handron, global alliance executive of Capgemini. “And with the existing partner support offerings, including Presales Technical Support, we receive a service that offers technical expertise, product know-how and competitive intelligence during the sales process.”

*Microsoft Services Partner Advantage is the newest addition to the benefits of partner support offerings currently available through the Microsoft Partner Program. Others include the following: Technical Service Coordination (TSC). Microsoft Services Partner Advantage extends access to the TSC, which in the past was available to Gold Certified Partners only, across the entire partner community. TSCs are partners’ direct link to Microsoft and assist in escalating urgent support needs assisting with in-depth support-related questions such as assistance on security-related issues and new product readiness.

*Managed newsgroups, Professional Support five Packs, Business Critical Support and Concierge Services are also available at no extra charge to registered, Certified and Gold Partners and can be utilized for everything from troubleshooting and incident resolution to best-practice sharing and server-down assistance.

*Presales Technical Support (PTS). Partners can utilize the expertise available via this service for competitive software information, troubleshooting, compatibility issues and licensing. Certified Partners and Gold Certified Partners have unlimited use of this service at no extra charge.