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Microsoft throws .Net over China

Software giant strikes new deal with the largest systems integrator in mainland China.

Microsoft has partnered with Digital China, the nation's leading software vendor and systems integrator, to develop .NET-based enterprise and e-government packages for the Chinese market.

The deal comes less than a week after Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said the software giant would not sell cut-rate versions of Windows in China. The agreement is expected to help Digital China, which started off as a hardware distributor, take a step toward realizing its ambition of becoming a software development and IT services firm.

Digital China, which spun off from Legend Group two years ago, has been developing software on Microsoft's .Net platform on a limited scale, particularly for office automation and logistics management.

The new memorandum of understanding, signed earlier this week, expands the scope further to cover a large number of key sectors such as telecommunications, finance, customs, taxation and e-government.

Microsoft's much-publicized .Net initiative is an attempt to bring software and online related services and applications under a single umbrella.