The new software, now called Duet, will debut at the end of June. The price is set at $125 per desktop. Customers using Duet will also need a license to SAP's latest version, mySAP ERP 2004, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft and SAP went live with a joint Web site called Duet.com, which includes blog posts from product marketers and developers, live videos and webcasts, and testimonials from early adopters. The site also includes a demo of the product. The two software vendors plan a joint press conference today to formally unveil Duet.
The first version of Duet shipped at the end of December to 40 customers and 10 partners.
Duet 1.0 connects daily SAP processes with Microsoft Office products. Using Microsoft Outlook, SAP users can access some SAP systems for routine transactions such as human resources (HR) tasks, time management, budgeting, and analytical report distribution. Microsoft also unveiled a white paper download about the product.
For example, the product allows an end user to submit vacation requests and update and access employee HR files by pulling SAP data into Microsoft Excel. Meanwhile, the data on the desktop is in sync with the data on the server.
Of more importance than a name change, the announcement today gives more specifics around the roadmap of Duet, said Paul Hamerman, vice president of enterprise applications, Forrester Research Inc. Hamerman said a second release will provide more significant functionality, including sales activity and purchasing management that will expand Duet beyond a few self-service features.
"The initial scenarios are pretty thin, but I think more importantly they are providing a more comprehensive vision around what kind of applications could be offered under this partnership," Hamerman said.
Microsoft itself has been retooling its Dynamics brand ERP software by incorporating Dynamics into a more Microsoft Office-like environment. Microsoft's Dynamics initiative, aimed at the midmarket, is far more extensive than Duet, Hamerman said, and it will virtually synchronize the Microsoft environment with the Dynamics environment.
"Compare that to what SAP and Microsoft are doing jointly to provide some useful functionality and you'll see that Microsoft is retooling the entire interface around Office, and that is much more extensive," Hamerman said.
Duet will require customers to use Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or higher, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 or higher, and SAP composite application framework runtime found in SAP NetWeaver. Customers must also be using the Microsoft .NET framework to use the software.
The software is compatible with Microsoft Office 2003 Professional Enterprise Edition and Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional or higher.
Software support explained
According to the new Web site, the product will be supported by a joint team from Microsoft and SAP and centralized in two locations that will serve the Americas and the Europe and Asia markets.
"First-level support (logging the initial question) will be handled by the company from which the customer purchased Duet," Microsoft announced. "Second-level support (implementation and use questions) will be done by the joint, co-located teams. Third-level support (break-fix) will be completed by the appropriate Duet experts from each company."
While the first version of Duet supports Office 2003, SAP and Microsoft said the second version will offer much more functionality as more SAP transactions will be melded with Microsoft Office 12.