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CompUSA announced Nov. 30 it had achieved Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status, the same day it became the only retail outlet to sell the software maker’s most important products to small and midsize businesses.

The certification grants the retail chain access to partner resources. CompUSA Management is also now the only retail outlet able to sell Windows Vista Business and Microsoft Office Small Business 2007. The two are available at 160 CompUSA stores with Microsoft Open Value or Microsoft Open Business licensing options: five copies or more at a 10 percent discount or more.

Microsoft described its embrace of CompUSA as part of an effort to make volume buying more feasible for home office and SMB customers, more than 50 percent of which turn to retail outlets for software, according to the manufacturer. Customers can order Microsoft’s software by mail at any CompUSA store.

Click here to read more about CompUSA’s arrangement to sell Vista and Office 2007.

The certification and resources enable staff at CompUSA’s stores to make more informed recommendations to small business customers and drive more customers to CompUSA’s TechPro service, which is occasionally outsourced to local VARs, for higher-end consultation and services.

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Microsoft said earlier in November that it expected its channel partners to benefit from the demand among small businesses for software from retail outlets, by sending more of the walk-in demand up the value chain to the Small Business Specialist partners.

The details of that measure are not finalized, nor was it clear when and where local VARs and CompUSA employees would get the services business.

“More than 50 percent of the services performed by CompUSA’s TechPros are for small business customers,” CompUSA said in a statement. “In many cases, CompUSA acts as the IT department for small businesses with CompUSA TechPro technicians specializing in providing high-end services, including VOIP [voice over IP], networking, data storage and management, security and backup, customized service plans, and repair and support.”