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One of the things that I have come to learn since joining Microsoft is how important the partner ecosystem is – the amount of investment into resources, programmes and support for partners is immense and the satisfication of Microsoft’s partners is taken very seriously.

Web and design agencies are a relatively new, but extremely important type of partner for Microsoft and represent one of the types of partners that Microsoft is actively enagaging with under the Partnering for the Future programme. For me, it’s a really exciting time at Microsoft, getting to go out and meet with a wide variety of agencies – from the large global web agencies right through to small start-up businesses that maybe specialise around user experience consultancy. Each and all are equally important to Microsoft as we think about how to create products, partner programmes, training material and support channels specifically for designers and web agencies.

As we work with web agencies here in the UK we’ll be highlighting the work that we’re doing together and profiling key players in the industry on our blog – in fact, the first profile on Paul Dawson from Conchango is up already, and we’ll be featuring thoughts from other agencies (next up is Splendid) in the near future.

For Microsoft’s existing partners Conchango is a great example of an organisation that chose to invest heavily in user experience capability and a customer-centred design approach and to make this a core part of their client offerings. This has paid off big time – they were rated by Forrester last year as the leader in an evaluation of the top 10 European design agencies.

There are of course a wide range of existing and new web-focused partners creating compelling experiences using Microsoft’s technologies and we’ll feature some of those particular projects here and at Microsoft events over the coming year as we launch both the Expression products and “WPF/E” (codename) during 2007.

Posted by: Andrew Shorten

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