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Microsoft Exchange Online and SharePoint Online as Web-Based Services Welcomed by groupSPARK

Microsoft's Expansion into the Hosted Services Market Validates the Use of Industry-Leading Applications Such as Hosted Exchange & Hosted SharePoint by SMBs.

groupSPARK, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and the leading Software as a Service (SaaS) provider of - hosted messaging and collaboration services such as private label Exchange Server 2007 and private label SharePoint 3.0, announced today that it welcomes Microsoft's further entry into the hosted services market with the beta release of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs).

Microsoft's beta release of the Exchange Online and SharePoint Online hosted services further validates groupSPARK's core vision: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services v3 while being the best-in-class messaging and collaboration applications are difficult for SMB's to setup and manage and best utilized as hosted services. Additionally, Microsoft's anticipated Q4 launch should have the effect of not only increasing the market share of Exchange Server mailboxes from 135 Million worldwide, according to the Radicati Group, but also cause many SMBs to look at hosted alternatives such as Microsoft's and groupSPARK's offerings.

Microsoft's offerings, which seemingly compete with groupSPARK, are incomplete at best, as they lack critical third party services such as BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) - this makes the Microsoft offering a non-starter for most businesses. More importantly, the Microsoft Online services will be sold exclusively through partners but without any partner branding. The lack of partner branding reduces the partner's relationship with the end customer as the customer realizes that the partner is not adding any value and simply reselling a commodity service.

"We welcome Microsoft's new entry into the hosted services market and are encouraged that SMBs will realize that hosted software services are a key tool in increasing corporate productivity and growing their business," said Ravi Agarwal, chief executive officer of groupSPARK. "Currently only 1.5 million users use hosted Exchange worldwide. Microsoft's entry into this market will cause awareness of hosted Exchange to grow and will cause this market growth to accelerate. groupSPARK is uniquely positioned to help channel partners to take advantage of this explosive growth opportunity and maximize revenue."*

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