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Microsoft woos manufacturing industry

Microsoft is wooing the manufacturing industry with a new version of its Windows architecture for systems development and application integration.

Microsoft is wooing the manufacturing industry with today's announcement of a new version of its Windows architecture for systems development and application integration.

Versions of Microsoft Windows Distributed InterNet Applications (Windows DNA) for Manufacturing are being introduced by the Redmond, Washington-based company for various industries and vertical markets to make Windows more attractive as an integration point between custom industry-specific software and standard Windows client services.

The company has also announced a list of partners, including Compaq Computer, Ernst & Young, J.D. Edwards, and Marcam Solutions to support and deliver the services.

This is the software giant's latest move in what analysts consider the company's next frontier: the enterprise and resource planning market.

Instead of developing these applications, Microsoft seems to have the intention to provide the plumbing for ERP application packages with its SQL Server database, Windows NT server operating system, and Windows PC operating system, as well as launching Windows DNA, a framework for building reusable component-based software systems using Microsoft's component object modeling system.

Microsoft claims DNA will allow disparate manufacturing applications to be integrated, which will improve a manufacturer's ability to gather, share, and analyze data elements and information throughout the enterprise, resulting in better efficiency and reduced costs.

"Integration is a major key to the success of deploying a modern manufacturing system, but piecing the components together to produce such a system is often difficult, time consuming, and expensive," Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft, said in a statement.

"We're striving to make this process easier and more cost-effective for customers by developing the comprehensive new Windows DNA for Manufacturing architecture, various leading line-of-business applications and legacy solutions to create manufacturing-specific 'digital nervous systems.'"

The Windows DNA for Manufacturing relies on the Component Object Model (COM) as its foundation and acts as common "plumbing" in Microsoft Windows-based manufacturing applications, making them compatible with other applications, networks, and legacy systems.

Last year, ERP powerhouses Baan and SAP signed on to support Windows DNA and use it to build new component-based systems.