Microsoft Exchange, which we are told was first conceived five years ago, was finally demonstrated to UK resellers at the software giant's Inside Track dealer jamboree in Birmingham on March 8 and 9. The product, we're assured, is ready to ship and will be launched in early April.
This was the second year for Inside Track, so Microsoft took note of last year's feedback to tweak the agenda. Said UK MD David Svendsen: 'The fact that Inside Track exists confirms our approach to working with our partners. Last year was the first Inside Track and the feedback was very clear. Dealers wanted it to be run again, they wanted it to start later, and they told us what they wanted to see in the breakout sessions.' Five key areas formed the backbone of the breakout sessions: Windows 95 and its adoption by organisations was one. Nineteen million copies of W95 have been sold since the August launch, and the dealer channel has experienced its first wave of home users and small businesses. Svendsen predicted that the second wave would bring medium-sized organisations into the W95 fold.
Windows NT Server is creating tremendous momentum, claimed Svendsen, and it formed another key area of the conference, as did the Internet. Microsoft caught the Internet wave rather late in the day and has coined the phrase 'Embrace and Extend' to sum up its approach.
Microsoft Exchange formed the fourth key area, and the company flew over group channel manager John Frederiksen from Seattle to demonstrate the product. The final key area was 'enhancing your skills'. 'You need to get as much out of Inside Track as you can,' Svendsen told delegates.
So did they? Some certainly got rather more than they bargained for at the gala dinner. Though there were some tired and emotional faces by the close, Microsoft reseller group manager Chris Lewis was pleased with the feedback. He said: 'The event seems to have whetted appetites and answered as well as raised some questions.' Resellers seemed to feel that it was good value for money and were pleased with the depth of the breakout sessions.
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