Microsoft has confirmed that the final code for its much delayed BizTalk server software has been released to manufacturing and that the product will ship in January 2001.
After initially being touted for release last year, but not reaching the beta stage of production until August 2000, the release will be a relief for Microsoft as some commentators had begun to doubt the company's ability to deliver the product in the near future.
Designed for users to interconnect online marketplaces, XML-enable applications and integrate their back-end systems, BizTalk lets companies link dissimilar computers to share information for ecommerce.
It requires SQL Server 2000 to work, and comes in Standard ($4999) and Enterprise versions. The latter includes multiple-chip and clustering support, as well as a software development kit, and costs $24,999 per chip.
Microsoft also released version 2.0 of the BizTalk Framework, which specifies the way the software giant believes companies should exchange data. Specifically, it tells businesses how they should implement XML and Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol), which is supported by Microsoft and IBM among others.
However, Microsoft's offering will face stiff competition from March 2001, when it will go head-to-head with the ebXML technical specification due to be released by standards body Oasis (Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), which is supported by Sun Microsystems and its partners.
It also competes with some of the specifications suggested by a third player, RosettaNet.
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