Software partners roll out for Microsoft launch

As the Microsoft Corp. roadshow descended on San Francisco to launch a new server operating system Thursday, a dozen or more software vendors used the occasion to roll out new and upgraded products that work with Microsoft's software.

Microsoft was set to launch three products: its Windows Server 2003 operating system, SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) database, and Visual Studio .Net 2003 development environment. Following is a selection of partner products that were also announced:

-- Oracle Corp. said the latest version of its Oracle9i database is available now for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003, along with its clustering software for running the database across a group of servers. Oracle is among Microsoft's most vocal critics and its database competes head-on with SQL Server, but the company is committed to supporting the most popular operating systems, said Bob Shimp, vice president of Oracle 9i marketing. In a statement, Oracle said it was pleased to offer "the best database software on Windows."

-- Corporate Radar said it has tuned the latest version of its software to run well on Windows Server 2003. Corporate Radar version 5.0 is a business application that includes portal, data warehouse and data analysis technologies, giving workers access to "business intelligence" through a Web browser. The main benefits of the new Microsoft platform are in performance and scalability, allowing customers to scale from hundreds to thousands of users, the Novato, California-based company said.

Version 5.0 is also the first "fully .Net version" of Corporate Radar, meaning the application can access data from a company's .Net applications, said John Seratt, vice president of sales and marketing. Available now, Corporate Radar is aimed primarily at midmarket companies with revenue of US$5 million to $500 million. Pricing is typically US$75,000 for a 250-user license including data warehousing, business intelligence tools and the portal front-end, Seratt said.

-- DigitalPersona Inc., in Redwood City, California, announced the availability of its U.are.U Pro fingerprint authentication system for Windows Server 2003. The product helps prevent unauthorized access to data and applications using a fingerprint template stored in Microsoft's Active Directory and a biometric fingerprint reader that sits on a user's desk.

The software takes advantage of a new feature in the directory called Active Directory/Application Mode (AD/AM). For Digital Persona, it means a company can deploy U.are.U Pro for a particular department without having to change the directory schema for their whole organization, something they previously had to do, said Vance Bjorn, the company's CTO.

-- Wise Solutions Inc. launched Wise 5 for Visual Studio .Net 2003, the first version of its tool for creating software installers that runs inside Visual Studio, much like a plug-in. Also, Wise 5 is the first of Wise's products that automates the creation of an installer for distributed applications such as a Web services, Wise, of Plymouth, Michigan, said.

Wise 5 is available immediately from Wise and its resellers. The product comes in Enterprise, Professional and Standard editions. The Enterprise Edition costs between $800 and $2,000 per license depending on the license size, Wise said.

-- NetManage Inc., of Cupertino, California, announced its OnWeb Host Integrator tool for Visual Studio .Net 2003. Due out in the third quarter, the tool will allow developers to link applications created using Microsoft's development environment with IBM Corp.-compatible mainframe systems, said Vijay Lal, NetManage marketing director.

Previous versions of OnWeb Host Integrator created standalone or J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition)-compatible applications. The new version expands NetManage's tools to cover Microsoft's .Net application framework, which competes with J2EE. Pricing for the product had yet to be determined.

"Microsoft developers will have access to the enterprise data stored in mainframe systems; .Net now becomes a very viable framework for enterprises," Lal said.

-- ArtinSoft SA announced two consulting services to help customers convert Java-based applications to Microsoft's .Net Framework and Visual Studio .Net 2003. One service includes analysis and testing to come up with the most cost-effective way for a customer to convert an application; the other involves ArtinSoft engineers working alongside a customer's development team until the conversion is complete. Both services are available now in North America, Latin America and Europe; pricing varies depending on the scope of the project.

Visual Studio 2003 .Net includes tools for converting applications from Visual J++ to Visual C# .NET. ArtinSoft's services convert JSP (Java Server Page) programs to ASP.Net, Java to Visual C# .Net, and J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) to Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the .NET Framework, the company said.

-- At least one desktop application vendor piggybacked on the Windows Server 2003 launch. Anystream Inc. of Sterling, Virginia, unveiled its Agility Presenter, which allows users to capture live PowerPoint presentations for online distribution. The captures, which can include audio and video, can be viewed using Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player, Anystream said.

Introductory pricing for Agility Presenter with audio support is US$99, and US$149 for a version that also supports video. The product is available immediately. Later this year, planned to coincide with Microsoft's Office System 2003 launch, Anystream will offer a hosting service for the Agility Presenter presentations.

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