Microsoft Corp, Redmond, Washington, has unveiled what it calls a multi-million-dollar business initiative to market its networking products and services through a worldwide reseller network in addition to its existing method of networking product distribution through OEM customers such as IBM, 3Com Corp, Olivetti, Hewlett-Packard Co, AT&T Co, DEC, Ungermann-Bass, NCR and Unisys. This investment, both in dollars and developmental effort, represents the largest commitment Microsoft has ever made stated Microsoft chairman Bill Gates without naming the figure. Through Microsoft’s new Network Specialist Programme, which will be promoted through an advertising campaign, seminar series, and trade shows, the company will be selling and supporting its network software product line through qualified network resellers, while continuing to work with its existing group of OEM customers. Microsoft will support its new resellers through expanded training, support and marketing activities as well its first authorised dealer programme; the initiative also includes a customer satisfaction programme. Over the next 12 months Microsoft is intending to add approximately 300 sales, support, developer and training personnel in the US, with a further 100 similar positions to be filled internationally. The products that are included in the Network Specialist Programme are the Microsoft LAN Manager network operating system, and the SQL Server jointly developed by Sybase and Microsoft. Also part of the programme are the DCA/MS Select Communications Workstation and Communications Server sold and supported by Digital Communications Associates Inc and resellers authorised by Digital Communications and Microsoft. During the next 12 months, the company intends to authorise 600 LAN Manager and SQL Server resellers in the US, and approximately 400 resellers internationally – to date, Microsoft says it has received over 700 enquiries from prospective resellers, with the first wave of authorised network specialists attending classes this month. It is expected that the first products will be sold through this channel by mid-August. The resellers signed for the UK market are scheduled to be announced today.