While enhancements to its four ERP suites—Great Plains, Navision, Axapta and Solomon—have been expected for some time, what Microsoft revealed Wednesday is how it is categorizing current and future ERP product development.
Based on the companys concept of "Integration Innovation," Microsoft has identified five themes, or development pillars, as central to the suites respective development efforts: best total cost of ownership; adaptive processes; empowered users; connected businesses; and insightful.
Microsoft said it has worked with customers to define and hone the pillar requirements and pointed to a beta program with Stulz-ATS as an example. The program apparently defined better user interface functionality to be included in Great Plains 8.0, expected in June, which falls under the empowered users category.
The revelations from Microsoft come on the eve of MBS senior executive Doug Burgums testimony next week in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) trial that seeks to block Oracle Corp.s $7.7 billion hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft Inc.
Burgums testimony, scheduled for next Wednesday, could be a pivotal point in the trial, which is based on the DOJs summation that a merger between Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., and PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., would be bad for competition in the software industry and ultimately bad for consumers. The deal, according to the Justice Department, would shrink competition at the enterprise level from three players—Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP AG—to two.
The DOJ will look to Burgum to cement Microsofts stated plan of remaining as a midmarket business application player for the foreseeable future—or at least for two years, in antitrust parlance.
While Burgum has said publicly that Microsoft plans to focus on the midmarket for the foreseeable future, its considered a well-known secret that the company is vying for the enterprise market.
Recent revelations that Microsoft had been in pre-merger talks last year with applications giant SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, put to rest any doubts that Microsoft has its eye on the enterprise space. At the same time, the company is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar code unification of its ERP suites. Dubbed Project Green, the unified suites are expected in 2006 or later.
Upgrades to the current suites will come this year and next. Solomon 6.0 will be available in July. Navision 4.0 is expected later this year, and Axapta 4.0 is scheduled for release next year.