Microsoft will roll out additional integration, performance and e-commerce enhancements to its lineup of business applications.
The company will release the Microsoft Business Network beta in the next six months, with commercial shipment planned in 2005.
The network is a set of business, desktop and middleware applications that help companies automate their trading processes using web services technology. The company already has several customers in its early adopter programme.
Among the features that will be added is the ability to support the transmission of electronic data interchange documents between high-volume partners, said Julio De Villasante, group product manager at Microsoft.
At the lower end, companies will be able to access the application with a web browser. There will also be tight integration with the Axapta ERP line of software, and Microsoft is reviewing creating similar hooks for its Navision, Great Plains and Solomon software.
Most other e-commerce hubs, such as online marketplace Transora, have demanded that companies change the ways they do business, said Bruce Richardson, an analyst at AMR Research.
The Microsoft Business Network is more accommodating in that it allows users to do things, such as manage documents, in ways similar to what they have done all along, he added.
Marc L Songini writes for Computerworld