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Microsoft boosts partner investments

Company also reallocates one-third of its worldwide direct customer-marketing to joint-marketing with partners.

Microsoft plans to increase partner investments to $1.7 billion next year and reallocate one-third of its direct customer-marketing dollars to joint-marketing programs with its partners.

Microsoft's 13 percent increase in partner channel investments will cover additional field specialists, training, sales, marketing support and services, the company said Sunday at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2004 in Toronto. The increase in field specialists will primarily go to system builders, independent software vendors and partners who concentrate on Microsoft business software.

The increase in field specialists for business software partners comes as the software giant is increasingly facing stiff competition from Linux and other open-source software developers, who offer alternatives to Microsoft's Windows and Office.

Microsoft will also reallocate 35 percent of its global marketing dollars that previously would have gone to directly marketing to customers and instead use those funds for joint-marketing with its partners.

For example, advertisements highlighted at Microsoft's worldwide partner conference point customers to one of its gold certified partners or the Microsoft Web site, which lists Microsoft partners based on geography, expertise and other criteria.

"The increased investments have the potential to make a truly profound impact on our partners' ability to reach and serve customers in new and improved ways," Allison Watson, Microsoft's worldwide partner sales and marketing group vice president, said in a statement.