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Microsoft's head of business applications has appealed to partners to team-up and sell Microsoft's full suite of e-commerce software to beat-off Oracle and SAP.

Doug Burgum, senior vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), said Friday companies who decide not to create their own internal MBS practice should work with others to offer customers the complete range of Microsoft applications and tools.

In making the appeal, Microsoft confirmed it is going after enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) opportunities in the enterprise space, having initially entered business applications some years back with a view to providing ERP and CRM for its staple small and mid-market customer base.

Burgum called it a "necessity" not a "nicety" for Microsoft to fight Oracle and SAP who are challenging Microsoft in portals, tools, platforms and business applications. "If you can deliver the full Microsoft stack you have a better opportunity to win the business," Burgum told Microsoft's Worldwide partner conference on Friday.

He stressed partners using MBS have won business in enterprise-level accounts, with deals in the $1.3bn range. Microsoft business applications made "clear enterprise wins" during Microsoft’s fourth fiscal quarter, with deals at major fashion apparel, film production and oil and gas companies according to Burgum.

As expected, Burgum also tried to sooth concerns over MBS's Project Green roadmap, saying it was something partners can bet their business on. Project Green, the integrated version of Microsoft ERP and CRM, will be delivered in two waves between 2005 and 2007 and then after 2008.

The first wave will see increased similarity between applications at the interface level while the second wave will bring greater convergence, with a single Software Development Kit (SDK) planned for partners building plug-ins to the suite.

Fresh from previewing Microsoft CRM 3.0 at TechEd Europe this month, Burgum told partners: "Green is here now. It can be sold with confidence because [it] all leads to the leading-edge technical solution down the road."

MBS has been beset by under-performing sales along with a shifting roadmap for Project Green. Acknowledging these problems, Burgum insisted Microsoft was in business applications for the long-term. "When Microsoft got into this... Microsoft understood that wasn't a sprint, it was more of a marathon or more like the Tour de France, where you get up each day and peddle some more miles."

He pledged Microsoft would spend a record amount on marketing and advertising for MBS during the coming fiscal year. ®

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