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Microsoft works to tie Windows to enterprise systems

Microsoft launches a technical-assistance and co-marketing program designed to get developers to integrate their products with its Visual Studio suite of development tools.

Microsoft is reaching out to software makers as it attempts to further the spread of its Windows operating system.

The company today debuted a technical-assistance and co-marketing program that offers makers of enterprise resource planning software and other software a means to integrate their products with Microsoft's Visual Studio suite of development tools.

The Microsoft Visual Studio Integration Program offers participants technical resources, including: software development kits and Visual Studio documentation, as well as technical information; co-marketing resources, including the right to display the Visual Studio logo for collateral and product boxes and Web promotions; and disclosure on future Microsoft technologies, the software giant said.

The new program exemplifies the company's goal to tie its software into other products, thereby making Windows more popular, especially in the higher reaches of enterprise computing.

So far, participating companies include Attachmate, Baan, Compuware, Continuus Software, Geodesic Systems, InstallShield, Intel and others.

Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 includes a suite of tools for building enterprise systems based on the Windows DNA architecture, which includes building cross-platform Web applications, as well as client/server applications, the company said.

The company has in the past been criticized for not including in its product strategy viable ways to link to business systems running on Unix and other non-Microsoft operating systems.

Earlier this year, the company announced a strategy for cross-platform integration using Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Microsoft also plans to launch later this year an integration server, code-named Babylon, that will expand connectivity to mainframe systems, such as IBM's CICS transaction processing software, and to databases and other software. One important element of Babylon is that it will enable bi-directional movement of data between Windows applications and third-party systems.