Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has pledged $500m for a new " People-Ready" marketing initiative that aims to pitch its new operating, productivity and middleware applications to large businesses.
The initiative will tout the integration, collaboration and business features in forthcoming versions for Microsoft products such as Windows Vista, Office 2007, Windows Mobile, Exchange, and SQL Server 2005.
"People-Ready is a natural extension of our founding vision of empowering people through software. Today we take this to the next level by showing how these tools now work together in new ways to enhance innovation and drive greater value for business," Ballmer said in a statement.
The "People-Ready" tagline is meant to indicate a focus on end users, allowing users to design business processes in an intuitive way instead being limited by technology.
Unified communications for instance can break down boundaries between email, telephone, instant messaging and web conferencing. Enterprise search meanwhile has to potential to unlock information that employees previously were unable to access.
Ballmer unfolded the "People-Ready" initiative in keynote presentation on Thursday at ImpactPeople, a Microsoft sponsored executive forum in New York.
He touted Business Intelligence as another area where the software vendor intends to bring improvements. Current point products are too complex, too expensive and lack integration with products that people are familiar with, Microsoft claimed. Microsoft however plans to make Business Intelligence an integrated component of its forthcoming Office 2007 suite.
The marketing initiative by itself doesn't involve any new products and replaces the "agility" campaign that Microsoft kicked of several years ago.
"This is Microsoft talking to businesses about why it's a good IT vendor and particularly why its different from IBM," Rob Helm, director of research with analyst firm Directions on Microsoft, told vnunet.com.
IBM has more mindshare with high level executives then Microsoft does, he explained.
"It's kind of a high-level marketing camping aimed at explaining to the CEO and people at that level about why microsoft is a useful IT vendor."
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