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Microsoft Desktop Initiative To Push Windows XP, Office 2003 Deployments

As it faces a more serious threat from Linux on the desktop, Microsoft will invest $50 million during its next fiscal year to accelerate more corporate deployment of Windows XP and Office 2003.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant will announce at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto a revamped "Desktop Deployment Initiative" that provides partners with more business investment funds, resources and personnel to help get customers upgraded to Microsoft's latest fleet of desktop software.

Most significantly, the fund will pay for 57 new hires worldwide who will be deployed as desktop specialists in the field. In the United States, Microsoft will deploy 24 desktop experts who will be empowered to help partners and customers realize a return on investment (ROI) on software many have licensed as part of their Microsoft upgrade contracts but have not yet installed.

Microsoft estimates that only 30 percent of its installed base currently runs the three-year-old Windows XP, while a much smaller percentage has installed Office 2003. And only a third of the total Office installed base today runs Microsoft's Office XP.

The $50 million -- a substantial increase from last year's budget -- will be spent primarily on partners and will open up channel opportunities on the desktop and server, said Mark Hassall, group product manager for the Windows Client Division at Microsoft.

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