Microsoft draws new e-business road map

Microsoft Corp. detailed plans Tuesday to remodel its spectrum of software that enterprise customers can use to run standard business processes, such as collaboration, communications and emerging Web services. At the Microsoft Exchange Conference, in Anaheim, California, the company unveiled a new road map for its e-business software products that it refers to internally as "Jupiter."

The planetary reference embodies an effort that will ultimately combine several of its server software products into a series of packages for enterprise customers, Microsoft said.

Customers are expected to be able to pick and choose functionality they want to deploy and Microsoft will then offer the necessary software components that will support the various business functions, said Harley Sitner, lead product manager with Microsoft's .Net server group.

Jupiter will integrate existing software such as Microsoft's Commerce Server, BizTalk Server and Host Integration Server, as well as other products that have yet to be released, including Microsoft's Content Management Server 2002, Sitner said.

"Jupiter is a strategic initiative to integrate all of these products into an e-business platform," he said. "We're re-architecting each of them."

The first phase of Jupiter will be available during the second half of 2003, followed by a second phase of releases in the first half of 2004, Sitner said. Further details of Jupiter were not yet available. The manner in which Microsoft will package and price the initiative has not yet been determined.

Microsoft Tuesday also detailed more of its technology, known as "Greenwich," which it plans to include in the next version of its Windows server operating system. Sitner characterized Greenwich as a "real-time communication engine" that is being designed to power such tools as video and text instant messaging, as well as Web-based whiteboards that can be sketched on by multiple users at once.

The technology will be delivered as an add-on for Windows .Net Server 2003, which is expected to reach customers early next year. Microsoft said it would make Greenwich available shortly after the server software becomes available.

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