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Microsoft Launches NXT to Spur ISVs to Windows

Microsoft has a formal new program to lure independent software vendors from Linux and Unix to Windows.

Launched Dec. 16 as a pilot program, the initiative is called NXT, with the tagline "What's next for ISVs." Microsoft is aiming the program at ISVs with existing non-Windows solutions that drive $5 million or more in revenues. Microsoft is offering incentives and resources to help those ISVs quickly port their applications from Unix or Linux to Windows or from competitive databases to SQL Server.

The program is going to be delivered through partners with application porting experience and includes benefits that Microsoft values at $100,000. ISVs will need to qualify for each benefit in the program separately, and the quantities of each benefit are limited, making the program first-come, first-serve.

Microsoft puts the benefits in six buckets: plan; develop; test; sell; launch and market; and sustain or upgrade. Examples of the benefits include free day-long strategic briefing engagements and two-day architectural design sessions, discounted proof-of-concept workshops, discounted application porting services, complimentary VeriTest software testing, complimentary membership at the Certified or Gold Certified level in the Microsoft Partner Program, press release templates complete with supportive quotes from Microsoft, assistance in developing case studies and funding for marketing campaigns.

Delivery partners who will offer the NXT services include Aditi, ArtinSoft, ASNA, Augmentum, Aztecsoft, Barry-Wehmiller International Resources, DTR Business Systems, Ness Technologies Inc., NIIT Technologies, Persistent Systems, Sonata and Symphony Services.

Microsoft's pitch for the program marshals powerful economic arguments. According to IDC research covering 2002-2004 cited by Microsoft, software revenue generated on Windows amounted to $91 billion, compared to $53 billion for Unix and $4 billion for Linux.

While the specifics of NXT are new, the concept of attracting ISVs to Windows has a long history at Microsoft. The early days of Windows NT were marked by aggressive programs to get vendors to port their applications from the then-dominant Unix platform to Windows. Microsoft launched significant efforts to attract ISVs to Windows 2000 too. At the time, however, most vendors were committed to the Windows market opportunity and were being encouraged to move quickly from Windows NT to Windows 2000. Much of Microsoft's Windows 2000-related migration campaign revolved around getting customers to migrate their systems from Unix to Windows.

Now, with Linux servers making up a growing percentage of new server shipments, Microsoft again faces a situation where some ISVs look to platforms other than Windows as a first development target. Meanwhile, many of the Unix applications that once seemed destined for industry-standard hardware running Windows when it came time to upgrade have been finding their way to Linux-based systems.

Microsoft's NXT site can be found www.isvnxt.com/index.aspx?ID=0512001.

RCPmag.com editor Becky Nagel contributed to this report.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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