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Microsoft reports SharePoint sales hike

Microsoft said it sold more than two million end-user licences for its SharePoint Portal Server in June, marking a dramatic increase in sales over the previous 12 months.

The figure contrasts sharply with recent claims by analysts that the adoption rate has been slow for the knowledge management software sold by both Microsoft and its main rival in the collaboration market, IBM's Lotus Software Group subsidiary.

The apparent boom for SharePoint Portal Server came during the last month of Microsoft's financial year and preceded the 31 July deadline for users to sign up for the company's new Software Assurance licensing program.

A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the company sold 2.2 million SharePoint Portal Server licences last month. However, the company declined to explain the sudden surge in sales, nor would it disclose how many of those licences were sold as part of enterprise software deals that bundle multiple products together.

There are some compelling reasons to buy into the SharePoint technology in its own right, according to Andre Haroche, chief information officer at Liberty Travel, which operates and franchises travel agencies.

Liberty deployed SharePoint PortalServer software two months ago as a knowledge management tool for its 125 IT staff. "We actually needed it as a strategic base to our knowledge management system," Haroche said. "It's very easy to install. It's very easy to maintain."

Haroche said a principal motivator for choosing SharePoint was its tight integration with Microsoft's Windows File Explorer software, which lets users access shared files on their corporate networks. Within a month of deploying the software at Liberty, "everybody was using it," he said.

Royal Caribbean Cruises is another travel company doing a limited test of SharePoint. Jose Machado, development manager for Internet systems at Royal Caribbean, said the cruise line bought 15 end-user and two server licences for less than $10,000 (£6,356). SharePoint is now running on one server in the company's purchasing department, he said.

"We are not looking at it for any large-scale deployment right now," Machado said. But if the tests go well and Machado can get funding, Royal Caribbean is likely to install the software on an intranet for use across the company, he added.

Royal Caribbean plans to rely upon Java-based technology to link its core reservation systems to Web services applications, Machado said. But he said the company would use Microsoft's .net architecture for other purposes, such as corporate portals aimed at employees.

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