Microsoft widening federal sales channels

Microsoft Corp. is making a new, "gigantic" push for more public-sector sales?an area in which the software company acknowledges it hasn't invested as much as its competitors in the past decade.

"The amount of investment we're putting into this is 100-fold more than what we were doing two, three years ago," said Scott Suhy, director of business development for Microsoft Government, estimating the new investment at "millions of dollars."

In a presentation to government resellers today at Microsoft's Reston, Va., office, company officials outlined a new government strategy that entailed hiring about 20 more people, conducting more R&D, and targeting specific IT products to the federal sector in areas such as command and control, e-government, health care, Section 508 and security.

Microsoft said it plans to keep the Extensible Markup Language at its core, which officials said would boost its Web services business to agencies and let them share information more easily.

The company said it will knock harder on the doors of systems integrators and other partners to respond to agency requests for proposals and win more government IT dollars, similar to the strategies of companies such as Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp.

One product area in which Microsoft will step up its sales to government agencies is network management.

The company plans to release new versions of its Systems Management Server, Operations Manager and Applications Center server platforms, starting in September and going through next year, said Warren Atkinson, a Microsoft federal technology specialist.

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