Ending weeks of speculation,


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Siebel Systems


announced an alliance Monday to build Siebel applications on Microsoft's.NET framework. But analysts said the hyped-up deal was largely ano-brainer that's unlikely to lead to any major changes anytime soon.

Under the so-called "multi-year global strategic alliance," Siebel andMicrosoft engineers will work together to maximize performance of Siebelapplications on Microsoft's new .NET platform. The .NET platformrepresents Microsoft's effort in Web services, the latest software buzzwordfor integrating disparate systems. In addition, the alliancemeans:

Siebel will use .NET tools as its primary development toolset.

Siebel and Microsoft will provide joint sales, marketing and customersupport.

Siebel applications will use .NET to better integrate with MicrosoftOffice and operate on mobile devices.

Siebel will optimize its applications for Microsoft Server operatingsystems and Microsoft SQL Server.

Overall, analysts said they don't see the agreement significantlyboosting revenue for either company.

And as some analysts

had feared, the agreement makes no mention of an exclusive agreement by Siebel to operate on only the .NET framework, whichmany said would alienate another heavyweight Siebel partner --


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"Without a doubt, any time you have that kind of big announcementfavoring Microsoft, IBM and a few others are going to be upset," saidJoshua Greenbaum, a technology consultant and principal with Daly City,Calif.-based Enterprise Applications Consulting. But "no enterprisesoftware company in their right mind would become that kind of


"In the background, everybody's going to keep working with everybodypossible, because at the end of the day the last thing you want is to let apetty technology war get in the way of selling application software,"added Greenbaum, referring to the war between Microsoft's .NET frameworkand IBM's support of J2EE. His conclusion about the Siebel-Microsoftalliance: "I think it's much ado about not a whole lot."

Erin Kinikin, a vice president in Giga Information Group's CRMpractice, agreed that Siebel will remain "very independent" on the serverside, while the agreement with Microsoft will lead to better integration ofSiebel's customer-relationship management products on the desktop, whereMicrosoft dominates with applications such as Office, Excel and Outlook.

"The significance of the announcement is really that Siebel is thefirst vendor to say that a Microsoft-only client is the reality of today'sbusiness world," she said. But "this is not going to revolutionize theworld today."