WinInfo Daily UPDATE, March 3, 2004

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In the News

- EU Hones Antitrust Strategy
- Microsoft Launches BizTalk Server 2004

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

EU Hones Antitrust Strategy

According to various sources familiar with the case, European Union (EU) antitrust regulators will demand that Microsoft let PC makers choose which media players to include with their Windows-based PCs, rather than force the software giant to ship a stripped-down Windows version in the European market. The EU is said to be walking away from the stripped-down Windows version concept out of fear that few people would want such a product and because Microsoft might argue that developing a custom product for just one region of the world would be unnecessarily difficult. Under the new plan, PC makers would be able to remove Windows Media Player (WMP) from Windows only when customers didn't want it or when PC makers made deals with WMP competitors. HP recently signed an agreement to ship its consumer PCs with Apple Computer's iTunes, for example, and various PC makers offer RealNetworks' RealPlayer as an option on their machines.
In addition to the media-player changes to Windows, the EU will also likely impose a fine on Microsoft. Sources say that the EU is considering a fine of about $250 million. However, a settlement by mid-March could cut that figure in half.
Although a settlement seems like a distant possibility, given the rapidly approaching mid-March deadline, both Microsoft and the EU say that they're investigating possibilities. EU sources say that the required Microsoft changes likely will be applied globally to ensure that black-market Windows versions don't become a problem in Europe and that EU restrictions applied only to the European market would probably be ineffective in curbing Microsoft's predatory behavior, anyway.
If a settlement isn't reached, Microsoft will likely immediately appeal any decision. And as happened with the US antitrust case against the company, that action could delay the outcome for years.

Microsoft Launches BizTalk Server 2004

Yesterday, Microsoft launched Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004, the third major version of the company's business-process automation and interoperability server product that adds scalability improvements, better developer tools, and access to a wider range of third-party server products. BizTalk Server 2004 solutions now run on the Windows .NET Framework, and Microsoft is touting a range of companies that have already deployed the product in live environments.
Indeed, Microsoft says that early adopters are a key to BizTalk Server 2004's success. "Our early adopters have seen rapid time to value from their BizTalk Server 2004 solutions, and we are excited about delivering these same results to more customers today," Ted Kummert, corporate vice president of the E-Business Servers Group, said. One such early adopter, the Virgin Group, uses BizTalk Server 2004 to reduce inventory loss in its multinational Virgin Megastores retail establishments; like many large companies, Virgin runs multiple disparate systems, often in remote locations.
So what's new in BizTalk Server 2004? This release includes a more scalable process-management engine that lets the product work effectively in even the largest corporate environments. Programmers can get up to speed more quickly by using the BizTalk Server 2004 developer tools that are now integrated into Visual Studio .NET 2003. For managers, a new Health and Activity Tracking (HAT) feature provides live monitoring capabilities. And a new Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) feature lets executives and knowledge workers track business processes by using familiar tools such as Microsoft Office Excel 2003 and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003.
Unlike most Microsoft products, BizTalk Server is designed to work specifically with the heterogeneous server products that large enterprises employ, so it's compatible with today's most common server applications, including those from Ariba, PeopleSoft, and SAP. BizTalk Server 2004 uses XML-based software adapters to make this integration possible.

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