Microsoft Latest to Launch Business Portal

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Microsoft Corp. is out with its new business portal that aims to make its software and service the point-of-entry for corporations.

Microsoft said in a press release it has created the portal for companies "employees, suppliers and customers with easy access to information and processes that are critical to maximizing efficiency and profitability, all from a single, Web-based portal."

Microsoft says the portal will be fully integrated with its Great Plains and Solomon business applications to harmonize corporate information and business processes.

Microsoft Business Solutions said the new portal uses a "role-based model," which gives companies a Web-based mechanism for reviewing sales reports, provide queries for customer data, as well as being able to enter orders or access corporate reports.

Microsoft emphasizes the portal is a "browser-based delivery" system on a corporate network, or users can access applications Microsoft has developed with Great Plains and Solomon through Microsoft Business Portal via Windows Terminal Server.

Microsoft said the new portal is built upon its .NET architecture giving businesses what it calls "security-enhanced, role-based access to information and applications, with integrated workflow management for increased productivity." Microsoft also emphasized the portal will have enhanced security to protect against unauthorized access or possible data or code tampering.

Microsoft Business Portal is available immediately in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand through Microsoft Certified Business Solutions reselling partners. It is planned for release in the United Kingdom, Middle East, Africa and Asia/Pacific in the third calendar quarter of 2003.

Microsoft said "user access licenses are priced at $45 to $65 per user, based on the number of licenses purchased. Other applications will be available for an additional fee. For example, the Human Resource Management Self Service Suite, expected to be available mid-2003, can be purchased as a suite for $5,000, or as individual modules ranging from $500 to $2,500."

Microsoft recently released Great Plains 7.5, what it calls an integrated suite of programs based on the former Microsoft Business Solutions Dynamics and eEnterprise applications, which offers a collaborative approach to information management. Great Plains 7.5 includes enhanced supply-chain management and manufacturing features to handle customer service and inventory, distribution and order management.

Microsoft is not alone in the business portal market. Sybase , Oracle , IBM , BEA Systems and other business software companies either have, or are developing business portals. These software vendors are beginning to offer more sophisticated portal technologies, including collaboration tools, such as e-mail, instant messaging and content management.

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