Microsoft aims at Big Blue bull's-eye

Microsoft plans to link hands with hardware and services companies on Tuesday in a push to win over IBM's midrange server customers, CNET News.com has learned.

The Midrange Alliance Program, or MAP, will see Microsoft join up with Fujitsu, Electronic Data Systems and a half-dozen other companies to try to convince businesses to look at Windows-based alternatives to IBM's iSeries servers, the latest in the AS/400 family. "We look at the iSeries as having this well-deserved reputation as superintegrated and ultrareliable," Tim O'Brien, a senior product manager at Microsoft, said in an interview. But "the road map that got it there has taken kind of this left turn."

Microsoft and its partners say that many major developers of software for OS/400, the iSeries' operating system, have stopped writing applications. The goal of the effort is to let customers know they have options to modernize their AS/400 programs other than software based on Java and IBM's WebSphere. "IBM has always just assumed that the midrange community would stick with it through thick and thin," said Martin Gossen, a vice president of alliances for Asna, an AS/400 specialist that is one of the MAP partners. "They have created almost a cultlike environment around AS/400, and they have been very successful at fighting off challenges."

News source: C|Net News.com

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