3Com to Team Up with Microsoft on Data


As part of a strategic alliance between the two companies
to accelerate advanced-network deployment, 3Com Corp. will build a 25,000-square-foot
development facility near Microsoft Corp.'s Redmond, Wash., campus, the companies
announced last week.

3Com plans to use the center to make sure that neither it
nor Microsoft loses any time when integrating each others' products, said William
Markey, director of marketing for 3Com.

Specifically, 3Com plans to integrate Microsoft's
Windows software into its networking-product line. In turn, Microsoft will build some of
3Com's networking products, including its cable-modem-headend systems, into its
forthcoming NT embedded operating system and its Windows 2000 server, executives said.

Markey said the effort, called the "converged
networking alliance," started quietly six months ago, in part to help cable operators
move forward with high-speed-data deployments.

"What we've been learning in the market is that
when operators were establishing their data headends, they were getting this big chunk of
iron in a wooden crate at the door, and they had to become instant software specialists to
integrate the billing, provisioning and network management," Markey said. "We
heard frustration after frustration."

That's why 3Com opted to build its cable-modem-headend
links "right into Windows NT software," Markey added, meaning that forthcoming
3Com cable-modem headends will come with "hooks" into Microsoft Windows.

Plus, he said, Microsoft will bundle some of its broadband
content -- titles haven't yet been determined -- into the CD-ROM installation kit
that comes with 3Com's future retail modems.

Paul Maritz, group vice president of platforms and
applications for Microsoft, said in a prepared statement, "Customers require
innovation and cost savings from their communications networks, and we're committed
to making Windows the best software platform to enable network convergence."