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Borland, Microsoft tie .Net knot

Borland cozies up to the software giant by licensing the .Net Framework and announcing plans to build a new line of programming tools for the Web services software line.

Borland Software has licensed a key piece of Microsoft's .Net software and will build a new line of programming tools for .Net later this year, the companies announced Monday.

Borland expects to be the first company to license Microsoft's .Net Framework Software Development Kit (SDK) and incorporate it into a product. The .Net Framework SDK is a set of tools designed to make it quicker for programmers to write and run .Net applications on Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Microsoft uses the .Net name as a catchall marketing phrase to describe its products for building and using Web services software. Web services applications adhere to a set of standards for exchanging data between otherwise incompatible systems.

The product that Borland intends to develop with the .Net Framework SDK will address so-called application development life cycle capabilities, company representatives said. Life cycle tools typically refer to applications that manage the life of a software application--from planning through modeling, design, testing, installation and maintenance.

The goal of licensing and embedding Microsoft .Net software tools is to make Borland's life cycle products more attractive to .Net developers, according to the company.

In October last year, Borland acquired TogetherSoft, which makes application modeling and design tools. The forthcoming Borland product that incorporates the .Net Framework SDK will be an enhancement to TogetherSoft's current .Net product, said Simon Thornhill, vice president and general manager of Borland's rapid application development business unit. The revamped TogetherSoft tools are scheduled for release later this year.

The joint announcement also seeks to demonstrate Borland's intention to remain an independent provider of development tools for Microsoft's .Net program, Thornhill said. "Companies working with .Net don't want a complete lock-in to Microsoft," he said. The Scotts Valley, Calif.-based software maker also sells programming languages and tools for the Java language.

After IBM's announced acquisition of Rational Software in December, industry analysts speculated that Microsoft might purchase Borland, in part to attain Borland's application modeling tools. But a Borland acquisition could be problematic because of the company's large investment in programming tools for the Java language, which Microsoft's rivals favor, analysts said. When the Microsoft takeover rumors began to circulate, Borland reiterated its desire to stay an independent company and serve the both .Net and the Java developer communities.