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Microsoft Integrates Great Plains into Organization,

Today, Microsoft Corp. completes its $1.1 billion acquisition of Great Plains Software, fully integrating the company into the Microsoft organization. The Fargo, ND software vendor creates products for managing mid-sized businesses.

While Microsoft’s business product line focuses primarily on productivity applications, such as Office, or general purpose server frameworks, such as the SQL Server database server, Great Plains’ products are targeted at specific business needs, such as payroll record-keeping and procurement management. The acquisition of the company signals a shift in strategy for Redmond.

When the merger was first announced, a number of Microsoft partners cried foul. Microsoft was now in a position where it would compete with valued partners in the ERP space, at the mid-sized business level. It is unclear if Microsoft plans to scale up the Great Plains assets for enterprise-level management.

The next generation of Great Plains products would offer tight integration with Microsoft’s .NET product family. Presumably, the software will use XML and SOAP to integrate with Microsoft servers. Microsoft also hinted that it will be accessible from a variety of .NET-enabled devices including PCs, PDAs, and the upcoming Stinger smart phone.

 Reports suggest that Redmond plans to enable users to add Great Plains reports to its Digital Dashboard using it’s C# language and WebParts, XML-based objects used in SharePoint Portal Server.

According to the reports, the Great Plains division will base its next generation of software on C#, and will be due in 2002. Dubbed “Business Desk,” it will allow end user management based on business roles.

Redmond also noted that its bCentral small business service will also leverage components of the Great Plains product family. Microsoft is aggressive in pursuing the software-as-a-service model, and may seek a niche in offering Great Plains services to small businesses lacking the resources for internal Great Plains deployments.Christopher McConnell

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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