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Fujitsu has sweetened its relationship with Microsoft at the high end of the server market with the two companies announcing today a long range shared development plan.

Specifically, Fujitsu has turned to Microsoft for help tuning Windows Server 2003 and the future "Longhorn" Server OS on its Itanium-based servers. Fujitsu plans to roll out its first Itanium system running Windows Server 2003 in the first half of 2005. As part of that roll out, the two companies plan to team on various benchmarks and software porting efforts.

Fujtsu's Chairman Naoyuki Akikusa and Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer announced the deal in Tokyo.

"By combining Fujitsu's platform products and integration expertise with existing Windows assets, this expanded collaboration makes it possible to offer Windows-based systems with the most advanced level of mainframe-class reliability to customers who demand maximum system availability for their mission-critical systems," said Akikusa.

As Akikusa rightly points out, Microsoft can benefit from Fujitsu's mainframe and high-end server expertise. Despite years of trying to creep deeper into data centers, Microsoft remains a fringe player. Intel's Itanium processor, however, and backing from HP have strengthened Microsoft's competitive position against Unix vendors such as IBM and Sun Microsystems. That is unless you look at Itanium's sales, which once again take Microsoft back to ground zero.

To help push things along, Fujitsu plans to send a team of engineers over to Redmond. The staffers will work on OS performance tuning and improving the ways in which Fujitsu's management software works with Microsoft products. The end goal being a cocreated mission-critical type platform that businesses can rely on for very high-end functions.

By 2007, Fujitsu hopes to sell about $7.2bn in hardware and software as a result of the partnership.

Not to be forgotten is Fujitsu's recent deal with Sun in which it will supply Sun with processors from mid-2005 on. Both companies will also resell each others' SPARC-based servers.

Like IBM, Fujitsu is covering all the bases with its server gear. ®

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