03 October 2002 | Robin Parker
Microsoft is seeking to position itself as a major player in the business software market with a raft of new and upgraded products, mostly aimed at mid-market companies.
New software includes an industry-specific solution for US professional services firms and the worldwide release of a retail management system.
They will be followed later in the year by customer relationship management (CRM) software designed to help companies track sales, marketing and service activities.
It has also upgraded its small business manager tool, which helps to control inventories and streamline procurement, and added blanket purchase order support to the order processing solution it inherited from the purchase of vendor Great Plains.
Microsoft used its annual sales partner conference in Minneapolis last month to announce a strategic move into e-business following its acquisition of vendors Great Plains and Navison.
It said it had seen a gap in the mid-market not served by many of the vendors with which it has partnered, such as SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft.
Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, is to provide the keynote address to CRM software firm Siebel's conference later this month, despite terminating a four-year joint reseller deal.
Microsoft aims to downplay suggestions of competitive pressures between the firms by arguing that its e-business package is targeted at smaller firms.