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January 19, 2006

Microsoft to add governance to Office Project 12

Following the usual script of making stealth acquisitions of obscure partners to fill out its product line, Microsoft Corp announced that it has acquired UMT, a tiny project and portfolio management and consulting firm based in New York City.

By CBR Staff Writer

Key UMT executives and product development engineers will join the Microsoft Office Project team, while UMT’s consulting arm will become a separate Microsoft consulting group to mentor clients.

As is typical with this kind of deal, Microsoft wouldn’t make any spokespeople available to discuss their new acquisition.

But the strategy is pretty clear. Project portfolio management has become a key product area for IT governance that is drawing many household names.

Over the past year, IBM and CA have joined others like Mercury, Borland, Compuware, and traditional project management vendors to deliver IT its own version of an ERP system. At some point, Microsoft had to dive in.

Significantly, UMT is being incorporated into Office, rather than the Visual Studio group. That indicates that the acquisition is not simply a response to provide an IT governance tool, but instead, to address business users as well.

That would make the product useful to the SMB sweet spot of Microsoft’s market, a sector that typically does not have large IT operations.

UMT will beef up Microsoft Project and Visio. It will add capabilities to Microsoft Project 12 for evaluating what projects should still survive, provide better project updating visibility, and incorporate bells and whistles juicing performance for larger deployments. Meanwhile, Visio 12 will add new graphic capabilities enabling redesign of processes and systems.

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Project 12 and Visio 12 are expected to be available as part of Microsoft Office 12, the code name for the next version of Office, in the second half of 2006.

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