All those stories you’ve been reading saying Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft are negotiating a tie-up no stronger than mutual regard in terms of systems management products are only about 1% of the story. Our sister newspaper Client Server News of today confirms that the proposed alliance is far broader and significant. Look for promises of devotion not much short of nuptials on Wednesday of next week, March 19th, when Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and HP CEO Lew Platt are slated to plight their troth at the former’s Developer’s Days conference. There have been cries and whispers of such a team-up for some three years, but this time it’s for real, extremely reliable sources affirm. The question is how much of their hands the pair will show from the git-go. The alliance is reportedly very broad in scope. But a fly in the ointment appears to be DEC which, CSN hears, has so far managed to thwart such an axis by holding its alliance contract with Redmond under Microsoft’s nose and threatening legal action if Microsoft attempts to duplicate such a relationship with anybody else. Bad blood created by such threats has kept Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and DEC CEO Bob Palmer from the joint appearances originally envisioned when their alliance was signed, though one has to wonder about Microsoft’s good faith in that regard. After all the sandy basis for this alleged lovefest is DEC’s threat to sue Microsoft’s ass for poaching its intellectual property in the form of the Mica code that became NT (CSN 178). Microsoft settled by paying DEC about $105m including the $75m Microsoft kicked in to bolster DEC’s NT service and support. Whether the HP-Microsoft entente is also based on IP trespass remains to be seen, but money is supposed to be changing hands. Depending on how far Lew and Bill push it in front of the no doubt delicious crowd, they may wax eloquent over NT as HP’s strategic direction, HP as Microsoft’s Internet partner, HP as NetPC provider, HP as service provider and – this one should really rankle DEC – HP as NT-Unix integrator for the enterprise. As for the DEC-Microsoft alliance, does anybody but DEC takes it seriously?