Blending Capabilities

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2004-11-29 Print this article Print

The agreement between Microsoft and Dassault calls for the latter companys five PLM suites—Catia; Enovia; SmartTeam; Delmia; and SolidWorks, a suite of components that extend Dassaults capabilities—to be optimized for Microsofts complete stack, including Office, the .Net Framework, SQL Server, "Yukon," 64-bit computing, SharePoint Portal Server and BizTalk Server. Future co-development work includes leveraging "Longhorn," Microsofts upcoming version of Windows, expected in 2007, and Web services development.

The companies also pledged to work together to hammer out an XML standard for trading 3-D documents—and therein lies the rub.

Dassault backs 3D XML, its proprietary standard, but its rival, UGS, backs a more pervasive standard, JT Open, which uses an XML wrapper for document transfer. JT Open was developed by a company, Engineering Animation Inc., that UGS acquired.

UGS, of Plano, Texas, last week announced its JT2Go offering, a free 3-D viewing product that enables companies to share detailed 3-D product and manufacturing data globally using the JT format. The offering, to be available next quarter, includes JT plug-ins for Microsoft Office that enable a JT file to be embedded and viewed in any Microsoft document. The result is that product development teams and supply chain members can review drawings, view and interrogate 3-D product information, and collaborate on bill-of-material information.

"Its all about the dueling standards for 3-D collaboration," said Kevin OMarah, an analyst with AMR Research Inc., in Boston. "Its tough to get to a standard because both UGS and Dassault want to maintain control around the kernel of their CAD systems. In principle, [both] want to have users drag their 3-D file into e-mail or into Microsoft Word, and thats a huge potential enabler for collaboration."

While Dassault and Microsoft have had a technology partnership for the past 10 years, whereby Dassault has optimized some of its software for .Net and SQL Server, the idea here is to co-develop products that enable integration at the back-end level for collaboration in the simplest form: e-mail.

Microsoft stressed during the conference call two weeks ago that its relationship with Dassault is not exclusive and that it will look to similarly deepen its other PLM relationships.

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