"With NEC we have plans to strengthen the work we do together," announced Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft. Outlining existing work being carried out by the two companies, he added: "We're also expanding this partnership into the high-end enterprise area."
"Microsoft's goal is to make sure Windows servers are, in terms of their power and capabilities, the most powerful servers available, as powerful as anything available in the mainframe or Unix arena." he said
"NEC, through its advanced hardware technology and through its very rich systems integration capability, is working with Microsoft, guiding us in terms of what we need to do, not only in the product but coming together to create a solution for our customers."
The two companies have agreed to work more closely in three broad areas: the development of highly reliable, high-performance servers including those based on 64-bit versions of the Windows operating system and Intel's microprocessors; the establishment of a systems integration service to combine such servers with Microsoft's .Net initiative; and the development of Internet services that combine .Net and the servers to be developed.
The server development work will focus on three main areas, from low-end blade server or rack-mount servers through machines based on up to four 32-bit processors to large, fault tolerant machines with eight or more 32-bit or 64-bit processors, said the two companies. Additionally, the two will work on testing and evaluation of Internet protocol - storage area network (IP-SAN) and network attached storage systems.
The deal announced with Microsoft is similar to one with HP that NEC unveiled just over a year ago. Under that agreement, NEC and HP said they would work together to develop servers based on Intel's IA-64 architecture and HP's HP-UX Unix operating system.
Koji Nishigaki, president of NEC, said that NEC is now going to let the market decide whether it wants Windows or Unix-based systems. He declined to comment on what the agreement means for the HP alliance.
"From now on, Windows will become more enhanced," Nishigaki said at the news conference. "Furthermore, a market driven approach will be taken so we will let the market decide. As a system integrator we have an obligation to respond to those needs and we believe this is the way to broaden our business."
Whatever the market decides, Gates said, it is one of the best areas to be at present. "Demand for very reliable, high-end servers is going to be an expanding market, probably one of the best markets in the computer industry," he said.
Microsoft has similar agreements with Hitachi and Fujitsu while NEC has a partnership with Oracle.