Good news for business owners chomping on the bit for Microsoft Office 2010. Come May 12, Microsoft will begin selling the full version of its upcoming productivity suite to businesses, about a month before the general public will be able to get their hands on a copy.
"For businesses, we will launch the 2010 set of products, including Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010 worldwide on May 12," Jefon Fark, senior marketing manager for Microsoft Office, wrote in a blog post. "For consumers, Office 2010 will be available online and on retail shelves this June. Until then, you can get the Office 2010 beta."
All of the above mentioned products are on schedule to be RTM (released to manufacturing) in April, eWeek reports. And for those participating in Microsoft's Office 2010 Technology Guarantee, the blog outlines eligibility requirements, which entails purchasing and activating either Office 2007, or a new PC with Office 2007, between March 5 and September 30; either have or create a Windows Live ID; and redeem the actual guarantee right here.
Everyone knows customers are the lifeblood that drive a business, and to be successful, you have to balance efforts between finding new customers and retaining existing ones. Captain Obvious has been shouting this all along, and it looks like small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) are starting to listen, a new study suggests.
Market research firm Hurwiz & Associates surveyed a bunch of SMBs and found that half of them put finding and retaining customers as the biggest challenge in 2010 and No. 1 priority. Growing revenue came in second, while improving cash flow, staying profitable, and generating better leads also made the list.
"Customers are always important, but in difficult economic times every customer relationship becomes even more precious," said Joseph Nour, CEO of Protus. "Small businesses want to avoid churning customers, since it can cost as much as five times more to attract new customers than retain existing ones. The best strategy is to build a stable customer base and then work on attracting new customers from there. Maintaining quality communications is a critical part of that strategy."
Protus provides SaaS tools for SMBs and enterprises, so Nour has a vested interest in the topic. One of the solutions Protus sells is Campaigner, an email marketing service with more than 450 professional email templates and online forms designed to help expand contact lists.
Acer continues to make impressive strides in its consumer PC business, but lest the company become too one-dimensional, there's been a recent shift in focus towards the enterprise side.
"You can't be a PC player just on consumer, we need to be a PC player in all segments," Acer president and CEO Gianfranco Lanci said in an interview with Bloomberg. "This year, you'll see a big effort from our side on commercial."
Lanci went on to say that he expects servers to account for about 4 percent of the Acer's sales this year, a segment he says offers up to twice as much profit margins as its netbook, notebook, and other consumer products.
Here's one we didn't see coming. Cisco Capital SM on Monday announced a three-year, zero-percent financing offer for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the U.S.
Cisco said the financing offer applies to all Cisco products and services from $1,000 up to $250,000 as a way to "help businesses adopt state-of-the-art Cisco solutions quickly and easily."
"At a time when capital budgets are limited, our ability to provide a variety of financing options can help our customers acquire the technology they need to boost productivity and distance themselves from their competition, especially as the economy recovers," said Kris Snow, president, Cisco Capital.
In addition to the already favorable terms, Cisco said that customers who purchase at least one Small Business Architecture (SBA) may also be eligible for a three-month payment deferral.
VMWare this week announced the availability of VMWare Go, a web-based service that assists small or medium businesses (SMBs) to virtualize servers and create running virutal machines without much fuss.
"With VMWare Go, we are eliminating the skill barrier for getting started with virtualization, so companies who are concerned about not having the IT resources or expertise, especially SMBs, can now more quickly and easily enjoy the many benefits of virtualization," said Dan Chu, Vice President of Emerging Products and Markets, VMWare.
VMWare Go, like VMWare ESXi, is a free offering, and according to VMWare, has already successfully created over three-thousand virtual machines for over one-thousand beta testers.
Hewlett-Packard is stepping up to the plate with improved data protection and better backup solutions for small and medium businesses, The Register reports.
First on the list is HP's LeftHand Networks P4000 SMB storage area network (SAN) lineup, which will now come equipped with application-integrated snapshots. This will make it easier on admins, who can use the P4000 GUI to signal that a snapshot needs to be made of a volume, and the P4000 array software will handle the rest.
The second change comes to HP's Disk-to-Disk (D2D) backup product, which has been given a file interface allowing applications to view it as a NAS box. In the long-run, customers will be able to reduce their reliance on tape.
For those who want to keep using tape, HP introduced its new DAT320 tape drive. The 8mm DAT320 packs 320GB, or twice as much as the DAT160.
At nearly 10 percent, the unemployment rate is the highest it's been in 26 years, or a little over a quarter of a century. Nevertheless, SMBs are looking to the coming year with optimism and planning to hire rather than lay off more workers, suggests a new study.
Intuit Payroll pinged over 1,000 SMB owners and found that 44 percent have plans to hire in the next year, and 60 percent are expecting their businesses to grow. But there's also a bit of a quandary SMBs find themselves in.
Nearly 90 percent of the survey participants indicated health insurance benefits as key to attracting and retaining good employees, but 58 percent don't offer healthcare benefits, with nearly half saying they simply can't afford it.
"There's a wideing gap of expectations," said Nora Denzel, senior vice president of Intuit's Employee Management Solutions Division. "On one hand, we as a society assume that health and retirement benefits are part of every employee's compensation package. And yet even as these small businesses gear up to hire, according to our results, small businesses are leery about what those benefits will cost."
Intuit also found that only 1 percent of respondents reported receiving federal stimulus money, even though 74 percent admit that they are probably not taking advantage of all the benefits made available to them under the federal economic stimulus plan.