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Martin LaMonica

Staff Writer, CNET

SAP is poised to release the first product stemming from an initiative to more tightly align its business software with Microsoft’s tools.

The two companies on Wednesday are expected to announce the availability of SAP’s Portal Development Kit for Microsoft .Net. With it, programmers can use Microsoft’s Visual Studio.Net 2003 development tools to build portal applications for SAP’s NetWeaver back-end software.

Last May, the two companies tightened their technical partnership and vowed to use a development technique called Web services to integrate their respective products. There are more than 40,000 customers who run SAP applications on Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

In June, only one month after announcing their extended partnership, the two software giants disclosed that they had held talks to merge the two companies. The talks broke down because of the complexity of any potential transaction.

With the portal builder, which will be available for free as an add-on to Visual Studio.Net 2003, SAP is seeking to tap into the large base of programmers familiar with Microsoft’s software development tools to create portal applications for its NetWeaver software. NetWeaver is infrastructure software, or middleware, that is designed to make it easier to modify and integrate SAP applications with other systems.

The portal development kit is one in a series of planned technical collaborations planned. The companies are also working on tools to better connect Microsoft’s BizTalk, Exchange and SharePoint applications with SAP’s NetWeaver and to closely link Windows with SAP applications on corporate desktops, said Tim O’Brien, a senior product manager at Microsoft.

“We recognize there’s a demand for this kind of interoperability for SAP customers on the Windows platform,” O’Brien said.