The companies said they would collaborate to make it easier for Netweaver users to build applications using Microsoft's Visual Studio .net tools.
Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft, said, "Using web services to connect the critical business information and processes in SAP Netweaver with the power and productivity of Microsoft .net will give our mutual customers a competitive edge."
Under the agreement, SAP said it would offer a new version of the SAP .net Connector tool in August. The new version promises better support for Microsoft's Visual Basic.net language and tighter integration with Visual Studio .net.
SAP has also promised to provide sample applications for developers to implement "smart clients" to access SAP capabilities from Microsoft Office System applications using Visual Studio 2005.
The aim of a smart client is to provide end-users with a full graphical user interface (like Windows), which can be managed and controlled from a server. Microsoft's smart client is being developed for Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system. Visual Studio .net 2005 provides tools with which users can build applications with a smart client user interface.
Analyst company Gartner described SAP's adoption of Microsoft Office System and future Microsoft smart client technology as "more significant", compared with the other aspects of the collaboration between the two companies.
However, it noted that SAP's commitment so far has been to offer sample applications to other developers. "Gartner believes SAP has made no commitment to deliver applications using this technology," the analyst company said.
Gartner also pointed out that SAP has yet to unveil its plans to deliver Visual Studio versions of its Netweaver tools, even though it is already working on Java versions for the IBM-driven Eclipse platform.
Through its collaboration with SAP, Microsoft said it would offer "repository managers" that integrate SAP Netweaver knowledge management functionality, Windows Sharepoint Services and Microsoft Exchange Server. They are expected to be available in early 2005.
l Under another partnership agreement, SAP will join its customer relationship management and mobile software with Research In Motion's Blackberry device.
The deal will allow field staff to access and update information from MySAP CRM on the move. The software, which requires no manual synchronisation, will give users the ability to view sales orders and CRM analytics reporting remotely, SAP said.