Microsoft casts wide net to sell, service Win 2K

IDG: What role will Microsoft consulting play for customers rolling out Windows 2000?

Willingham: Microsoft Consulting Services can certainly play a role in helping larger enterprises plan and architect their Windows 2000 deployments. In addition, we have over 5000 solution providers who we have been very busy training on this product and giving technical information so that the options for customers are quite broad.

Customers say they want to see on-site, around-the-clock availability from Microsoft like they've historically seen from IBM or Hewlett-Packard.

Certainly we offer those services - around-the-clock [and] on-site. For customers who love IBM and HP support, both of those companies offer services around Microsoft's platform as well.

Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said you have 350 customers with Microsoft consultants in that kind of situation. Can you accommodate more?

The focus of our consulting services is on the very largest, most complex accounts. We believe we have the resources available to cover those large enterprise organisations that tend to put together a large services team to approach a large deployment project. We also have the many solution provider organisations that we work quite closely with.

What is Microsoft doing to make W2K migration work and cost as painless as possible?

Let me just talk about three particular tools. The first is SysPrep. It allows people to prepare a system exactly how the administrator wants it set up with the operating system, with the applications, with the settings.

They can duplicate it using third-party duplication software. It allows them to blow that out to all their desktops. It allows them to get unique security IDs and user names that happen on first boot.

There's a setup manager wizard so an administrator can set up an installation script with specific settings and then the setup program can run unattended on the user desktop.

Remote Install Services [allows] for the storage of images or setup files or scripts. Those can be used by any machine that's plugged in to the network to install Windows 2000 on the desktop.

What kind of resources are allocated to Microsoft's customer focus?

The most important thing for us is to address those top customer issues that IT has with our platform: things like reliability and availability, thinking about helping them deploy very secure infrastructures, helping them learn how to reduce costs.

We have a key relationship tool today that helps get us access to a number of these people. It's called TechNet. We touch over a million customers a year around the world in TechNet seminars. We also have the TechNet Web site.

What are the new signs of a customer focus on a pragmatic level?

The thing that is new is increased investment both in increasing the number of those seminars and increasing the number of people inside Microsoft who are working on those programs and information products.

The other thing that will be most pragmatically visible to customers will be a change in how you see Microsoft do things as simple as advertising. In the past, advertising was done product by product. What you'll see going forward is more of an integrated message in our advertising.