Microsoft, Digital, MCI deal aims to make intranets easier to build

Microsoft, Digital and MCI Communications are describing their new alliance, announced

this week, as an example of how the computer-communications convergence can help small and large business customers

quickly combine groupware with intranets.

Chairmen from each of the companies gathered in Bellevue, Washington, to announce this nonexclusive alliance that will offer

customers communications services such as World Wide Web connectivity and management, email, messaging, and

groupware. The services are scheduled for availability this US summer.

The new offerings will be delivered over MCI's managed network services. They will be built with the Microsoft BackOffice

suite on Windows NT with Microsoft's new Exchange Server messaging software and Internet Information Server (IIS)

Web server package. Digital's Alpha workstations will form the RISC hardware for the initiative, officials say.

"These new services will respond to an incredible demand for companies to share information internally and with customers

and suppliers," says Microsoft head Bill Gates.

Some analysts, however, say the jury is still out on well such cooperation will benefit users.

"Let's see what the synergy is," says Tim Sloane, director of messaging for the Aberdeen Group. "They certainly have not

announced specific products that show a tremendous amount of synergy. So far they've only talked about deploying what

they've got as a team."

The intranet, email/messaging, and groupware alliance builds on existing two-way ties between MCI and Microsoft,

Microsoft and Digital, and Digital and MCI. It joins MCI's local and wide area managed network services with existing

Microsoft software -- Exchange, IIS, and Windows NT -- and Digital's powerful Alpha servers.

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