Microsoft boosts support for small OEMs

New resources include a software installation tool and a support website

Microsoft has released a new software installation tool and unveiled a new support website for small OEM resellers, with the goal of making it easier for them to load Microsoft software into their PCs and servers and more quickly find out answers to technical and business questions.

OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) qualify for these new resources if they don't have a direct relationship with Microsoft, but rather buy Microsoft software from distributors like Tech Data and Ingram Micro.

Access to the installation tool and the support website is free for this type of OEM. All that is required is that they register in the Microsoft Partner Network, Microsoft announced on Tuesday.

"We are increasing our investment and innovation to help this important segment of the channel," said Dana Manciagli, general manager, Worldwide OEM, Distribution and Reseller channel at Microsoft.

"This is a real statement that we love our smaller OEMs that are out there building white boxes, competing, selling Microsoft software. We value this type of system builder and we want to give them more tools," she added.

These small OEMs are all over the world, from mature to emerging markets. They often don't brand their PCs and servers with their company names, selling them instead as "white boxes" and as custom machines. "They play an important role in the marketplace," she said.

The installation tool is called Microsoft Express Deployment Tool (EDT) and is now available for download. EDT is designed to speed up the process of installing Microsoft software, like Windows Client, Windows Server and Microsoft Office, into OEM devices, like PCs.

Until now, these OEMs have received individual "kits" for each Microsoft product they choose to install on their machines, such as Windows 7, Office 2010, Windows Server and Microsoft Security Essentials.

But now with EDT, these OEMs can use a wizard interface to preconfigure the software "image" they want to install on their machines, and then they can install the bundle in a consolidated manner, drastically reducing the time it takes to complete this process, she said.

In addition, EDT, whose interface is available in 10 languages, automatically notifies OEMs about available updates to the software they're installing to make sure they have the latest version.

Meanwhile, the OEM Reseller Support System website provides discussion forums that OEMs can use to post questions and answers about presales and technical and licensing issues. Microsoft support engineers will respond to questions that haven't been asked previously. This resource is available in eight languages.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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