In the beginning, there was .Net. Next up is NXT.
NXT is the name of Microsoft's latest independent-software-vendor- targeted initiative. Via NXT, Microsoft is hoping to attract and incent ISVs with more than $5 million in revenue "who are ready to migrate or cross-platform to a Microsoft operating system or database," according to the Microsoft NXT Web site.
According to the NXT site, Microsoft is looking to convince more independent software vendors (ISVs) to move to the Windows Server System of products (Windows Server, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, System Center, etc.), as well as the .Net Framework.
"NXT is designed to make your migration easier and more cost-effective by giving you exclusive resources and benefits at each and every step to help ensure your transition to Microsoft is a success," the NXT Web site said. "We recognize changing or adding a platform is a big decision. "You need solid business reasons to back that decision and top-notch support to see it through."
While Microsoft's site doesn't spell out the products from which it is hoping to convince ISVs to migrate, Unix and Linux are the main competitors to Windows Server.
The NXT pilot, that went live on December 16, 2005, said a Microsoft spokesman, and is "a stage-based initiative for ISVs." Microsoft will set milestones and allocate resources throughout the migration process, the spokesman added.
"NXT connects ISVs with an experienced delivery partner to guide them through the cross-platforming process and connecting into the Microsoft Partner Program," the Microsoft spokesman added. "The NXT delivery partner, supported by Microsoft, provides extensive experience and resources, giving ISVs the confidence that their migration process will be effective and efficient."
Microsoft has named an initial set of NXT delivery partners. All of them have a "strong track record in delivering cost-effective migration solutions," the site contends.
On the short list of NXT delivery partners: Aditi, ArtinSoft, ASNA, Augmentum, Aztec Software, Barry-Wehmiller International Resources, DTR Business Systems, Ness Technologies, NITI Technologies, Persistent, Sonata and Symphony.
These companies tout themselves as migration and interoperability experts. DTR acknowledges that "is intensely focused on providing the resources needed to successfully migrate UNIX- and Linux-based applications to the 'right' Microsoft solution." But the other partners listed don't use the "L" word in their business descriptions.
"There are two key themes here" with NXT, said Burton Group senior analyst Peter O'Kelly. "There's the Linux competitive context, in which Microsoft seeks to challenge conventional wisdom about Linux (and thus Linux applications) being infinitely portable. The second is more about ISVs porting applications from traditional UNIX platforms (AIX, HP/UX, Solaris, etc.), although this theme is also indirectly about Linux, since Microsoft is essentially encouraging ISVs to consider porting to Windows instead of (or in addition to) Linux."
Microsoft officials have been delivering two different messages when it comes to Linux and Unix. While claiming that Microsoft is interested in helping customers ensure the interoperability of Windows systems with Unix and Linux ones, Microsoft also has continued to push migration as the best choice for shops that are not running pure Windows environments.
Microsoft continues to rely on its "Get the Facts" campaign, via which it delivers results of primarily Microsoft-sponsored studies, to highlight the areas where it alleges Windows enjoys cost and reliability advantages over Linux.
At the same time, Microsoft is beginning to discuss publicly and share with customers and partners privately the fruits of comparative research it is conducting in its own Linux Lab on the Redmond campus. Microsoft is using the Linux Lab findings to challenge perceptions that Linux performs better than Windows on legacy hardware and that Linux is more easily and less frequently patched than Windows for security reasons.