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Microsoft buys email help

The software giant acquires LinkAge Software, a maker of email connectivity tools, and will integrate the company's technology into its Exchange Server.

Continuing its recent shopping spree, Microsoft (MSFT) today gobbled up technology that will allow users of the Exchange message server to share addresses and send attachments to users of other messaging systems.

Toronto, Canada-based LinkAge Software, a privately-held company, is the latest to join the Microsoft fold. Microsoft officials would not disclose terms of the deal.

LinkAge Software builds software that connects divergent email packages and synchronizes the directories found in most groupware software systems. The Toronto firm's products include a Notes Connector from Lotus Development's, as well as tools for connecting legacy IBM email systems to current products.

The LinkAge software will be integrated into the Exchange Server product line, said Exchange group product manager David Malcolm. He would not say if LinkAge would make it into the next version of Exchange, which goes by the code name "Osmium."

Users of current Exchange-based systems can swap email with other SMTP-compliant server systems. Under the SMTP standard, however, file attachments and directory views that let users locate one another on a network are not guaranteed, said Malcolm. The LinkAge software will let Exchange clients share attachments and directories with packages such as Novell GroupWise, Microsoft Mail, Lotus cc:Mail, and X.400-based groupware.

LinkAge Software was founded in 1985. The LinkAge development team will be moved to Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, campus while the consulting and support staff will remain in Toronto. Approximately 35 of 40 LinkAge employees will remain with Microsoft, said Malcolm.

The acquisition continues a furious period of investment for Microsoft. The company has added multimedia player Dimension X and WebTV Networks to its roster and has invested $1 billion in cable giant Comcast.