Microsoft has formed a joint venture with Japanese electronics company Hitachi to provide Windows 2000-based software and consulting services, initially for the Japanese market.
Launching in October, the alliance will initially focus on the Japanese market with targeted annual sales of $190m. There are plans to expand the venture globally.
However, financial details, such as investments and the size of each companies' stakes, will be decided later. The firms also plan an initial public offering for the venture in the future but did not specify a timeframe.
The alliance will sell applications based on programs such as Microsoft's database server, SQL Server, Exchange groupware, and Biztalk Server for ecommerce, targeted at ebusinesses.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates stressed that the pact is global. "This is the first global alliance with a Japanese company that Microsoft has entered into," he said.
The partners will also collaborate in areas such as computer network consulting, systems integration and web hosting services. In addition, Hitachi will establish 10 customer solution centres throughout Japan.
Microsoft will also help Hitachi develop products using Microsoft software and Hitachi hardware such as high-end PC servers and large capacity storage systems for storage area networks.
Etsuhiko Shoyama, president and director of Hitachi, said the partnership would combine Hitachi's experience in developing hardware with Microsoft's technology infrastructure.
The venture will employ 300 people, but that number is expected to more than triple to 1000 by March 2002. Hitachi will also train 10,000 engineers how to install and maintain Microsoft products.
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