Microsoft partners extend .net reach

Microsoft is working to give companies the ability to transform and manage internal Windows-based apps as .net-enabled Web...

Microsoft is working to give companies the ability to transform and manage internal Windows-based apps as .net-enabled Web services.

In a move to make use of third-party Web services development efforts, Microsoft will announce a three-year alliance with emerging application developer Softricity.

Microsoft's aim is to use Softricity's SoftGrid platform and ServerGuard component to encapsulate and to priority-redirect small portions of application code without rewriting that code.

The result is designed to improve the speed and management of applications running in the .net environment, said Dewey Forester, business development manager for the platform strategy group.

"A big topic of conversation with users is application deployment and management," Dewey said. "[Softricity] can extend the value of core technologies like Windows Terminal Servers, as well as address versioning issues like allowing different versions of Windows to run on the same server at the same time."

Companies such as Softricity have the potential to be identified with Microsoft's .net initiative by delivering much-needed sophisticated management capabilities to complex corporate environments.

Softricity's SoftGrid platform has the capability of transforming DOS to 32-bit programs running on .net and Windows 98, 2000, and NT. A Windows XP client will be available later this year. Future versions of SoftGrid are also expected to include a detached mode, PocketPC, and other on-demand models.

The company is working to enable all types of applications from 10-year-old homegrown programs to the latest productivity suites, said Stuart Schaefer, chief technology officer of Softricity.

By allowing remote workers to work offline and access applications while provisioning occurs, the technology should help companies strengthen administration of licences and usage, said Dan Kusnetzky, vice-president of system software research at IDC.

"Their ability to encapsulate environments and fix registries so incompatibilities don't stop people, might be seen as a godsend as [customers] face change in [migrating to a Web services/.net] environment," Kusnetzky said.

But given Microsoft's various licensing restrictions, Dwight Davis, senior analyst at Summit Strategies, questioned the complex situation users might face in using a technology such as Softricity's to access portions of applications such as Office.

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