Microsoft has confirmed that it will have a beta release of its Biztalk product out in July.
Bernard Vergnes, chairman of Microsoft Emea, speaking at the IDC ecommerce forum in Monte Carlo, confirmed the date for the first beta of Biztalk, which was formally announced in March.
Biztalk is, according to Vergnes, "like lego, it will click together regardless of colour, shape or form," to enable companies to exchange information on the Internet with partners of any size, many of whom have been attracted to ecommerce - yet put off by the cost and complexity of setting up EDI connections.
"It glues the integrated tools of today with existing systems of yesteday," he added.
Biztalk will use the power of the microprocessor to do this.
"You don't need big mainframe or Unix solutions," said Vergnes. Microsft's aim, he explained is to provide adaptable solutions that can accommodate all the partners in a supply chain, from large retailers who have invested in EDI, to small businesses where the Internet is a more obvious answer.
He insisted Biztalk was a supplement to EDI, not a replacement.
Microsoft has already started up a steering committee in the US to define a schema for Biztalk, which Microsoft claim's is platform and language neutral and based on industry standards, including XML.
Members of the committee include Commerce One, American Petroleum Institute, Boeing and Merrill Lynch.
A European steering committee is to be announced imminently, Vergnes said. It is already working with Proctor & Gamble and Sainsbury's.
According to IDC, business to business ecommerce revenue will grow from $10 billion dollars in 1998 to more than $200 billion in 2002.
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