Microsoft, Dassault Form Alliance

While no financial terms were announced, the five-year deal opens up a vast new area of Dassault's product lifecycle management (PLM) and 3D design solutions to operate with Microsoft software, particularly with Microsoft's .Net middleware.

"For Microsoft, the alliance will make it easier for corporate IT to deal with engineering IT," said Cyon Research's president and CEO Brad Holtz. "For Dassault, it means getting help making software run efficiently across the entire suite of Microsoft software."

In a joint announcement Wednesday in Paris, the firms said they intend to deliver solutions that will be easy to use, deploy and maintain with reduced ownership and integration costs. While Dassault's V5 PLM and 3D systems already operate on Windows client and Windows server platforms, the new cooperative arrangement will open wider to include additional Microsoft products.

Available for cross integration are Dassault PLM solutions including Catia, Delmia, Enovia and Smarteam as well as its 3D Solidworks products. Those Dassault offerings will be able to be linked with Microsoft's SQL Server, BizTalk Server, SharePoint Portal Server, Windows Longhorn and Windows XP 64-bit Edition as well as with .Net.

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Dassault's president and CEO Bernard Charles said his firm had discussed implications of a Microsoft deal with its long-time U.S. partner IBM. The Microsoft alliance won't affect the Dassault-IBM alliance, Charles told reporters.

Holtz, whose CAD/CAM consultancy has studied the implications of the alliance, said the deal won't have an immediate affect on the Dassault-IBM pact, but there could be some impact in the future. "Dassault probably drives $2 billion in revenue for IBM every year," Holtz said.

In the future, Holtz expects some Dassault users to bypass IBM's Websphere and move directly to Microsoft's .Net middleware. The Microsoft-Dassault alliance could likely drive more business to IBM's Global Services unit, too. "Specifically, Microsoft and Dassault have committed resources dedicated to a shared product road map for research and development," Holtz said.