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Even if some of the software is not ready yet, Microsoft partners have been well prepared for the launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio, according to channel executives a the software giant.

Robert Deshaies, vice president of the U.S. Partner Group at Microsoft said that the channel organization has spent several months with partners, preparing them with both technical and sales training available live or in a Web-based format ahead of the launch date Feb. 27.

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 launched Feb 27, but with a beta version of its virtualization component, Hypervisor. The full version is expected in about six months. SQL Server 2008 is also delayed, not expected to go to manufacturing until the second half of this year.

But that has not stemmed the company’s enthusiasm over its launch. After all, the products are long overdue with the last version of Windows Server offered five years ago—Windows Server 2003.

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And Microsoft has been working to get everyone ready. The company’s channel organization has trained about 100,000 of its 500,000 U.S.-based partners, and is looking to increase that number to 450,000 by the end of this year. Some of the Windows Server 2008 training sessions have been more popular than others.

Among the sessions that have been full to capacity are those that cover Microsoft’s virtualization offering.

"Response to Hypervisor has been tremendous," Deshaies told The Channel Insider. "We have been filling up every type of training… and partners are polling us every day for more and more content."

Deshaies said that partners are telling end-customers about the potential cost savings available by deploying virtualization by reducing the number of servers and taking advantage of new quad-core processors and the next generation of 64-bit computing.

"It enables you to more effectively drive IT across the organization in a more cost effective in efficient way," he said.

Partners are also taking the message of business intelligence to their customers. Deshaies said that some analysts are placing the market opportunity at $25 billion a year through the channel alone. Partners can use SQL Server to bring together the data management and the performance management sides of the house, Deshaies said, and take advantage of the big market opportunity.

But the launch is not just about the new technology. For partners it also means some new sales tools to help sell that new technology. Deshaies said Microsoft has also tooled its marketing engine and framework to include four new campaigns that partners can plug into to drive lead and sales. It’s part of a larger program that 20,000 partners have taken advantage of so far this year, up from 6,000 last year.