Microsoft partner jamboree kicks off in Dubai

Microsoft kicked off its Gulf region partner summit today in Dubai, the first major channel event held by the vendor since it united its North and South Gulf business units.

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By  Andy Tillett Published  February 12, 2006

Microsoft kicked off its Gulf region partner summit today in Dubai, the first major channel event held by the vendor since it united its North and South Gulf business units. Microsoft estimated that over 400 of its partners attended the event, which focused on helping partners organise and position themselves to make the most of the vendor’s forthcoming product releases and target specific vertical markets. The vendor says it will update its entire product range over the next twelve months. “In all organisations, our main objective is how we can galvanise our resources in a way to serve customers and partners better. The fact that we now have a unified resource allows to us to reach out with more depth,” said Orlando Ayala, senior vice president at Microsoft small and mid-market solutions and partners group. Charbel Fakhoury, general manager at Microsoft Gulf, also addressed the conference. “Today, Microsoft has offices in most of the Gulf countries and in some countries we have multiple offices. There is more requirement to provide depth and specialisation because the market has evolved to be more dedicated in its requirements and demands,” he said. Microsoft counts the Middle East as a region of emerging markets, and although it is not planning to release any programmes specifically tailored to these markets, it will focus on building partners’ skills to apply more directly to their target areas. “We are trying to empower our partners by giving them state-of–the-art tools to do business with. We have a Microsoft Partnership Academy initiative that we have established in this region and this year we are training 108 partners on a full comprehensive set of skills: soft skills, business skills and technology skills. That program has a local flavour and the number of partners involved has doubled since last year,” said Ayala. The partner summit for the unified Middle East territory also presented an opportunity for channel partners to network and build links, and work towards more territory-wide business. “When you look at the collective growth [of emerging markets], it’s three times that of the mature markets, 6% or 7% percent compared to 20% plus. We are investing millions of dollars allowing our partners the capability and possibility to be seen across the world. I would say the most important investment we are making in emerging markets is the capability to support services outside their own geography. The most innovative thing we are doing right now is investing in web marketplaces, where partners can post their solutions and be found by customers through the web,” concluded Ayala. A version of the Windows operating system targeted at emerging markets, Windows Starter Edition, is already available in Egypt and there are plans to release versions of the product in other countries across the Middle East. Microsoft office version 12 and the new Windows Vista operating system are scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of this year.

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