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Microsoft-sponsored user group nears launch

Some final details need to be worked out, but a nonprofit organization designed by Microsoft to better serve regional user groups is nearing reality.

Organizers of a Microsoft-sponsored IT user group will hold a three-day summit in mid-January to appoint a staff of directors, choose a name and work out some final kinks before setting a formal launch date for the organization.

Dave Sanders will be executive director of the new nonprofit company, which will be similar to the International .NET Association (INETA). INETA is run by a board of user leaders who are elected by their peers.

Sanders is a former database professional and a project manager for several large financial organizations.

The new organization is part of Microsoft's effort to build stronger bonds with IT professionals. In the past, the software giant's local sales offices were the primary points of contact for user groups. Now, local Microsoft user groups will work with Redmond more directly through this as-yet unnamed company. The nonprofit will also be a source of information and education for Windows professionals.

"The potential of this organization is substantial," Sanders said. "We can do a lot of good for people who are trying to do their jobs well."

The company has already set up a Web site that provides a one-stop shop for requesting speakers from Microsoft. There are also online discussion forums in place.

The organization is still completing its business plan and looking for additional sponsors. There is no information yet on membership costs, Sanders said.


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