HP, Microsoft ally for NT

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp. earlier this month announced a sweeping strategy for jointly delivering products and services that could further boost the role of Windows NT and other Microsoft products in the enterprise environment.

The strategy covers everything from Windows NT servers and NetPC-style thin clients to systems management and administration software designed to lower the cost of managing computing environments. The two companies also plan to cooperate on systems integration and support services.

Much of the product development will be managed by the firms' corporate offices but HP and Microsoft will develop joint marketing and support strategies tailored for the federal market the companies said.

While covering a broad range of products this joint push into the enterprise environment focuses on the role of Windows NT industry watchers said. In particular Microsoft appears interested in leveraging HP's extensive experience in that environment analysts said.

"Microsoft has recognized that Windows NT does not win unless it has a robust services offering around it " said Jennifer Beck a principal analyst for Dataquest's worldwide IT services group in Westborough Mass. "Any time you are introducing a new operating system into an enterprise this is not something you want to try at home alone."

The joint strategy has three primary components: products and services for addressing total cost of ownership (managing the cost of computers over the product life cycle) Windows NT Server-based enterprise solutions and solutions for environments with a mix of computing platforms.

HP Moves Into Consulting

As part of the partnership HP is developing consulting services in its professional services group to support federal Windows NT customers said Alan Lawrence manager of strategic programs at HP's federal computer products organization. "That is something a lot of our customers have been crying out for that we can't deliver today " Lawrence said.

Peter Hayes general manager of Microsoft's federal district said the two companies would be working together in the weeks ahead to develop more formal strategies for the federal market. The arrangements likely will include partnering on an account-by-account basis as well as teaming on strategic bidding opportunities Hayes said.

"The two groups combined are going to be able to offer our federal customers a lot " said Hayes who had worked on building the alliance before joining Microsoft Federal last month. While the two firms have worked together before "the technology agreement puts us in a more cooperative setting" and enables the two companies "to be a little more proactive" in providing services and solutions he said.

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