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Microsoft has injected an additional $3 million into its Big Easy program, aimed at helping small businesses with the cost of IT, and expanded the scheme to include higher subsidies and new licensing options.

The Big Easy program was launched in February and offers SMBs a subsidy to spend with the VAR of their choice on technology. Microsoft has already spent $10 million on the program and will now invest a further $3 million. It has also opened the scheme up to include higher subsidies on Windows Server OS and Small Business Server products, Open License and Software Assurance coverage for SQL, Window Server and SBS, and Open License for Office Project.

Eric Ligman, Senior Manager U.S. Small Business Community Engagement at Microsoft, said the scheme will also be retrospective. “If a small business has purchased any of the software that we have now opened out to include from February, then they will get the subsidy back,” Ligman said.

After a user makes a purchase of one or more of the specified Microsoft products, they fill out a redemption form on the Microsoft Web site. The user then chooses which partner they would like to spend the money with, so, Ligman said, it could contribute to money discounted from training on the product or on installation, and the check is made out to the solution provider that the user chooses.

“We now have multiple product lines in the scheme, so the more products an SMB purchases, the higher the subsidy they receive to spend with a VAR,” Ligman said.

However, Ligman did admit that the money could be spent with a VAR that did not make the original deal. “It is possible that a user could choose to spend the money elsewhere, so we have been advising our VARs to help the customers with their redemption forms, and walk it through with them online,” he said.

Big Easy was originally designed to help VARs and small business with the plethora of Microsoft offers by putting them all under one umbrella, which Ligman said was “hard for SMBs to consume and get the most out of." He added, "This helps SMBs with the cost of services, which can typically cost more than the software, and helps drive end user and VAR engagement,” he said.

The Big Easy program will run until June 27, 2008.