Over the weekend, Microsoft announced a new initiative targeting the enterprise market, with the company's current products evolving over time into .NET software services. Dubbed "Software for the Agile Business," the initiative will include a marketing blitz that will highlight ways in which Microsoft server software makes it possible for businesses to quickly adapt in these ever-changing times. The company will spend $200 million on advertising and will focus on competition with Sun Microsystems, IBM, and Oracle, three companies that are firmly entrenched in the enterprise server market. Microsoft estimates that this business is worth over $90 billion per year.

"Businesses today need to be fast and nimble to compete and respond to customer needs, yet a lot of the technology for business is big, slow and expensive," said Steve Ballmer, president and CEO of Microsoft. "We believe Microsoft offers a better and far more cost-effective solution. Over the past 10 years, we have listened to customers and focused like a laser beam on building enterprise software that gives businesses the agility they need to compete in today's marketplace. The ad campaign we are launching today is designed to show enterprise customers why they should take a good look at our solutions."

Microsoft says that Windows 2000 and its first generation .NET Enterprise Server products, launched last fall, far exceed the capabilities offered by the competition. The company notes that the concept of agility, where businesses can adapt quickly to new business conditions, is also a core component of its .NET strategy.

"There are a number of scenarios where our software really can deliver agility," Ballmer said. "First, businesses can achieve customer centricity--meaning they can drive revenue by reaching new customers, aligning their business around them and being more responsive to their needs. They can operate their business without boundaries, reducing costs and becoming more flexible both internally and externally, and enable fluid responses to changing business conditions. They can empower employees, increasing productivity and giving them the ability to get the information they need to make decisions and take quick action any time, any place and from any device. They can build a flexible technology foundation--achieving the kind of stability that was once only possible using giant mainframes, but with the low cost and flexibility of the PC. And they can save time--70 percent of IT projects that take more than a year from conception to implementation will fail. Sustainable, long-term competitive advantages in today’s fast-paced economy only come through the kind of fast, incremental, short-term solutions Microsoft can help businesses achieve."

TV commercials for the new initiative are already running. The company says that magazine and billboard advertisements will begin next month.