The software giant is planning to extend its Active Server Pages Web programming language, ASP.net, to cover the popular open source Web server from Apache.
ASP.net is one of the key programming languages for developing applications for Microsoft .net, which has been heavily criticised for its lack of support for non-Microsoft technologies.
Although this development is thought to apply only to Apache running on Windows servers, it could be a precursor to its use on other versions of Apache running on Unix-style platforms, such as Linux or Sun Microsystem's Solaris.
Tony Lock, a senior analyst at Bloor Research, said, "It is a move that Microsoft is compelled to make. One of the things it shouldn't have done is to bolt down .net as a Microsoft-only product. Web services is far bigger than Microsoft, and .net must work on other platforms otherwise it will be closed off from a large sector of the market."
Microsoft is expected to announce the move this week as a partnership with Covalent Technologies for the Covalent Enterprise Ready Server. The move will be welcomed by business users who like the .net concept but do not trust Microsoft's Internet Information Service Web server following a series of vulnerabilities and fixes last year.
Lock said, "With many organisations still evaluating their Web services possibilities, the potential to use .net on Apache and other platforms would be attractive to the many companies that have not standardised on Windows."