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Microsoft offers Web help to small businesses

Redmond announces "Small Business +" program, which gives owners of small businesses free Web-based training, other resources.

Microsoft on Monday announced a new "Small Business +" program that offers owners of small businesses free Web-based training and other resources. The training collection includes tutorials on both business issues and Microsoft software, initially Microsoft Office. Microsoft is also offering additional free, and for-fee, online technical support geared toward small businesses. The new products are designed to complement the forthcoming online tools, which are also aimed at small businesses.

"The primary business of small business owners is business not technology," said Doug Leland, general manager of the small business unit with Microsoft's partner division. The paid service comes in three levels: a $149 bronze level that includes six online chats with a support person, a $299 silver level that includes unlimited online chats for a year, and a $499 gold package that includes unlimited online support as well as three phone-based support calls. Microsoft is also offering small businesses free basic Web help for simple matters and a 45-day free trial of the silver-level service.