Microsoft, Citrix Extend Tech Alliance

The expansion calls for broad patent cross-licensing of the companies' respective terminal services technologies and a collaboration agreement to extend the Windows Terminal Server technology in the Windows Server due in 2007, code-named Longhorn. A beta-test version of Longhorn is due in the second half of this year.

The deal also provides Citrix with formal access to Windows Server source code through the next five years, which will enable the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based ISV to optimize and closely integrate its MetaFrame access infrastructure products with Longhorn.

Citrix has pledged to have MetaFrame updates ready for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2003 R2, both due this year. Its more extensive MetaFrame upgrade, version 4.0, is also due this year.

The renewed vows should put to rest speculation that the software companies are growing apart or that Microsoft's next-generation Bearpaw terminal services technology in the Longhorn server could cut MetaFrame out of the selling equation, said Ross Brown, vice president of worldwide channels and operations at Citrix.

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Sources said concerns about Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft's Bearpaw died down after the two pledged to remain faithful. Citrix, for instance, has promised not to release a Linux server version of its popular MetaFrame Access Suite, which leverages the terminal services technology embedded in Windows Server 2003.

One top Citrix partner said he wasn't worried about the two splitting up. "A year ago there was some noise about Microsoft's big push on Bearpaw technology, but six months ago that noise died down. I fully expected they'd end up doing what they're doing now," said Mitch Northcutt, CEO of Rapid App, Chicago.