Combining Microsoft’s (www. microsoft.com) vision of the "digital nervous system" and Xerox’s (www.xerox.com) emphasis on linking digital and paper worlds, the two companies have announced a technology and market development initiative.
"We are empowering knowledge workers by unifying the digital and paper worlds," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft president. "Xerox’s dynamic vision and leading role in the office will allow our customers to more easily share, communicate and manage company information."
Central to the agreement is a direct link between Xerox Document Centre and the MS Exchange Server, available Q3 ‘99. The link (which has beta users including the Wisconsin Legislature) allows users to scan directly to Exchange.
It is the first leg in what looks to be a significant agreement between the companies to streamline information delivery to knowledge workers (see story on page 36 for Bill Gates’ comments on knowledge work).
Said Xerox CEO and President Rick Thoman, "Integrating the technologies and product capabilities of Xerox and Microsoft enables the timely delivery of information. It is the catalyst for knowledge sharing to become a realistic and relevant capability in the office today."
Analyst Nathaniel Palmer of The Delphi Group (www.delphigroup.com) said he looks at the near-term effects of the agreement as advances in office automation. Although significant, Palmer is more encouraged by the future the alliance may hold.
"We’re moving to the point where an MFP device is a smart appliance," said Palmer.
Developments slated for the future include:
- Xerox Document Centre running on the Windows NT Embedded 4.0 operating system.
- A combined Xerox-Microsoft interface for the Internet. Microsoft has licensed Xerox’s WebForage, a user interface technology designed to make leafing through Web pages like flipping through the physical pages of a book.
- Xerox service division Xerox Connect will work as a Microsoft Enterprise Alliance partner. Xerox Connect will promote and support the Microsoft BackOffice family.
- Compaq Computer (www.compaq .com), already a reseller of Microsoft network software, will become (along with Xerox Connect) the primary delivery channel for the Xerox Connect/ Exchange products.