Microsoft has announced a partnership with corporate portal provider InfoImage to further develop its "digital dashboard" concept for its office productivity and groupware offerings.
Microsoft said it hopes the InfoImage "freedom" corporate portal will provide a common user portal for the software giant's platform, which includes Office 2000 productivity software and the Exchange Server messaging and groupware.
Microsoft has trumpeted the "digital dashboard' concept as a way to help corporate "knowledge workers" function more efficiently by consolidating key information from disparate sources, both from within and outside the company.
Microsoft will contribute $US10 million toward training and certification of 150 InfoImage engineers, said Jeff Raikes, Microsoft director of worldwide sales and support. The two companies will collaborate in training, technology development, marketing, sales and services, they said in a joint telephone conference.
"We are leveraging Microsoft's platform technology with the corporate portal, and we will train InfoImage engineers to work with Microsoft," Raikes said.
Until now, InfoImage's chief customer was Lotus Development Corp., Microsoft's arch-rival in the groupware arena. Randy Eckel, InfoImage's chief executive officer, said the relationship would continue, but added that he looked forward to the new Microsoft partnership. "As the market dictates, so will our business," he said.
Analysts said Microsoft needed to develop a portal to give the digital dashboard idea concrete meaning.
"This makes the digital dashboard something other than a marketing term," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group, an industry research and development firm in Santa Clara, California. "InfoImage has what Microsoft needs: a common user interface."
The alliance also gives Microsoft a defacto development team at a time when it is occupied by finalizing the Windows 2000 release, said Douglas Gilbert, director of Cogos Consulting Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Pricing for the freedom portal software varies from $100 to $300 per user, based on volume, said Eckel said. The freedom software will be available in mid-December and will run with Windows NT/Microsoft Transaction Server and with Windows 2000 when it becomes available.
Based in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft can be reached at +1-425-882-8080,or at http://www.microsoft.com. InfoImage Inc., in Phoenix, Arizona, can be reached at +1-602-234-6900, or at http://www.infoimage.com/.