April 24, 2007 — SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) and Microsoft Corp. (NYSE: MSFT) today announced that they have deepened their relationship and extended their product road map for Duet™ software for Microsoft® Office and SAP, a solution that allows information workers to interact with select SAP business processes and data through Microsoft Office applications. The companies will jointly enhance Duet with additional business scenarios, platform capabilities and development tools. The upcoming version, Duet 2.0, is planned for the end of 2008 and Duet 3.0 is planned to be released soon after the next generation of SAP® Business Suite applications and Microsoft Office software, including Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server. This announcement from SAP and Microsoft underscores the companies’ continued investment in shaping the future of Duet to ensure that it benefits their joint customers.
Following are some new features customers can expect in Duet 2.0 and Duet 3.0:
• Enhanced and new business scenario support for sales and supply chain management, and other business scenarios — extended capabilities will allow sales professionals to manage sales leads and opportunities within SAP® Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) from Microsoft Office. Additionally, supply chain managers will have new capabilities for purchasing and legal contract management. There will also be support for selected governance, risk and compliance scenarios.
• Expansion of Duet to support unstructured processes, information and team collaboration through embracing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft’s business productivity platform. The combination of SAP Business Suite and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server streamline the way people do business by truly connecting people, process and information.
• Enhanced Duet tools and infrastructure interwoven with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, so customers and partners can customize existing scenarios and create new ones. New scenario templates and development tools allow organizations to adapt existing Duet scenarios and build new scenarios that meet their evolving business needs.
For more information on Duet, visit http://www.Duet.com.
Duet still rates as one of the sparse crop of “corporate alliances” that actually produced substantial product, but there are some sour notes in the harmony since Microsoft persists in competing with SAP’s core business with their Dynamics line which has its own Office connector. For now at least, the companies are papering over the cracks:
The Duet partnership had appeared somewhat strained last month when Microsoft unveiled plans to come out with Dynamics Client for Office and SharePoint, a new product to more tightly integrate its own rival Dynamics business applications with Office and its SharePoint Web portal. Microsoft, which has tended to focus more on small to midsize users, also promised to compete more aggressively in the enterprise applications space against both market leader SAP and number-two player Oracle Corp.
Microsoft executives positioned the Dynamics Client, due out in May, as “a superset” to what Microsoft and SAP currently offer with Duet. For instance, unlike Duet 1.0, the Dynamics Client will provide Microsoft’s customers and partners with access rights to information and processes managed by Dynamics so they can customize and build their own Office business applications.
During Tuesday’s press conference, SAP and Microsoft executives were keen to stress their ongoing commitment to Duet and limit their likely competitive clashes. The two vendors remain “good friends,” according to SAP CEO Henning Kagermann. “Every so often we’ll meet in the market and will act as fair competitors,” Apotheker added.
It will be interesting to see how well that works out.
A variety of Microsoft news items that didn’t find a post of their own this week:
Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet reports that newly appointed Microsoft SVP Jon DeVaan is wasting no time reorganizing the Windows Core Operating System Division for building the successor to Vista (codenamed “Fiji”). The changes don’t take effect until Vista gets out the door though.
In other personnel news, Rick Devenuti, senior vice president of Microsoft Services and IT, is retiring. Devenuti oversaw Microsoft’s managed services effort. Also WSO2 hires mash-up master from Microsoft. The master is Jonathan Marsh and WSO2 is a startup founded by ex-IBMer Sanjiva Weerawarana that sells support and products for the Apache Axis Web services tools.
Steve Ballmer’s Business Week interview also produced the revelation that Microsoft is not losing money on each Zune sold although he would have liked it better if Apple had kept the price of the comparable iPod at $299. This is directly contrary to previous Microsoft statements.
Microsoft’s Internet Protocol television (IPTV) efforts received a big boost from hardware vendors Tuesday, after Cisco, Motorola, Philips and Tatung all announced new set-top boxes that support Microsoft IPTV Edition software.
Some Belgian newspapers not only don’t want to be indexed by Google, they’re complaining to MSN too. I’m being facetious, of course. What they really want is a cut off the top. In other legal news, Microsoft is trying to get the lead opposition lawyer in the Iowa antitrust cased removed.
The Microsoft OpenDocument Format plugin for Microsoft Word will be released October 23. You’ll recall that this saves Microsoft’s bacon with some customers demanding open document formatting standards.
Microsoft continues to offer more assistance for businesses willing to build infrastructure with Microsoft Office as a front end:
With the release of Office Business Applications (OBA) Reference Application Pack (RAP) this week, Microsoft in essence is acknowledging that they are on to something big in the enterprise market.
Microsoft is calling this the second generation of OBA and is in response to wide acceptance of the first generation.
Like Duet, a product partnership with SAP that offers up the Office suite of products as a standard interface for SAP backend applications, OBA RAP will do the same, but this time not tied to any vendor’s backend system.
Josh Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, said that OBA is significant because Office is certainly one of the better interfaces around for knowledge workers.
The release of the OBA reference for building the front end to a supply chain management system will demonstrate that a company can build a procurement process with a combination of Outlook, Word, and Excel and do everything they want, said Greenbaum.
Windows CE is wide open to attack compared to desktop Windows according to a security researcher at Kaspersky Labs. Bound to happen.
As expected, SAP and Microsoft today announced their Mendocino joint project under the name Duet:
Twelve months after first unveiling plans to create “Project Mendocino” — a joint product that enables people to interact quickly and easily with SAP business processes and data through Microsoft® Office applications — SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) and Microsoft Corp. today announced that the two companies are scheduled to ship the product on time in June, 2006. The product is officially named Duet software for Microsoft Office and SAP. Nearly 100 joint customers and industry partners — including Atmel, Infosys, and Kimberly-Clark — have been exploring the software’s benefits in early release versions since late 2005. SAP and Microsoft also announced plans to enhance the capabilities of Duet this year and to release additional business scenarios in the second half of 2006.
Duet allows information workers to use their familiar Microsoft Office environment to access selected SAP business processes and data. This improved and flexible access to dedicated SAP application functionality will help companies who use Duet to save time and money, increase process compliance, and improve decision making.
Each day, millions of information workers use the Microsoft Office system to work and collaborate. However, most of them also must tap into enterprise processes and information in order to do their jobs. Lacking a unified link between a company’s structured business process and accurate information can lead to unsound decision making and non-compliance with company policies. With Duet, companies can increase user adoption of enterprise systems and business processes by offering a familiar environment that is rapidly deployable and requires virtually no training.
Undoubtedly good business for both companies.