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Microsoft buys business software maker NCompass

The software giant fills a hole in its software portfolio by acquiring the maker of software that manages Web content.

Microsoft filled a hole in its software portfolio Monday by acquiring NCompass Labs, maker of software that manages Web content, for about $36 million.

NCompass, which competes against the likes of software makers Interwoven, Documentum and others, is a 5-year-old company that makes software that helps businesses create and maintain Web content.

Microsoft plans to sell NCompass software as a stand-alone product as part of its family of Microsoft.Net e-business software, which serves as the foundation of Microsoft's new Internet strategy to drive the Windows operating system more fully onto the Net. Products in the software family include SQL Server 2000 database, software that stores and collects corporate and Web data and Exchange 2000 messaging software.

"Microsoft previously had some content management capabilities built into their product line, but they never called out the content management features specifically into a single product," said analyst Evan Quinn, of the Hurwitz Group. "Microsoft must have seen demand for content management rising and saw NCompass as an opportunity to offer good products in this space."

Quinn added that rival software makers, such as IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems, also have some Web content management features in their products.

Microsoft executives said NCompass' software, called Resolution 4.0, is available immediately. Microsoft plans to rename the product Microsoft Content Management Server 2001 later this fall. The product will work with Microsoft's other .Net e-business software such as Commerce Server 2000 for building e-commerce Web sites; and BizTalk Server 2000, software for connecting different computing systems together, so companies can exchange data and conduct business over the Web.

NCompass is the latest edition to Microsoft's business software family. Microsoft in March announced the SharePoint Portal Server, software that allows businesses to create portal sites for their employees.