Microsoft buys LinkAge Software for Exchange interoperability

Microsoft has sought to bolster its credentials as an enterprise mail provider by buying LinkAge, a Toronto-based email connectivity and directory synchronisation software vendor. Microsoft wants LinkAge products to broaden interoperability between its Exchange Server and other mail systems.

Microsoft has bought a Toronto-based email connectivity and directory synchronisation software vendor, seeking to broaden interoperability between its Exchange Server and other mail systems, according to company officials.

The acquisition of LinkAge Software Inc. is part of Microsoft's strategy to become an enterprise mail provider, according to one analyst.

"A key part of enterprise mail is integration with legacy mail systems," says David Marshak, vice president and senior consultant with Patricia Seybold Group in Boston, Massachusetts.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed in a press release this morning. Microsoft and LinkAge officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

LinkAge products integrate Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes and cc:Mail with several other platforms, including Exchange. They also ease interoperability between Exchange and legacy messaging systems such as IBM's OfficeVision (PROFS) on VM. Exchange already interoperates with Lotus' cc:Mail, Microsoft Mail, Novell Groupwise, Digital's All-In-One, and X.400 messaging systems.

LinkAge's email technology will be integrated into Exchange, and Microsoft will support LinkAge's customers, officials said. The LinkAge development team will become part of the Exchange development team in Redmond, Washington, and the support and consulting employees will stay in Toronto.

Microsoft's chief competitor, Lotus Notes, already has strong legacy system interoperability via Lotus' SoftSwitch product, Marshak says. Netscape's strategy, in contrast, is to basically ignore legacy systems and say its products will only connect with standards-based systems, he says.

"Microsoft's strengthening its legacy story gives it a very strong position vis-a-vis Netscape in companies that do have multiple mail systems," Marshak said.

LinkAge's existing customer base, however, will be anxious to see how Microsoft handles LinkAge's current products, which integrate Notes and cc:Mail with several other mail systems besides Exchange, Marshak says.

LinkAge, in Toronto, Ontario, can be reached on the Web at http://www.linkage.com/.

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