Baan Co. is preparing to launch marketing and software upgrade efforts in a bid to repair its tarnished image with corporate users. But some customers and analysts said it’s not clear whether the struggling business software vendor’s strategy will work.

Baan, which nearly went out of business two years ago before it was bought by London-based Invensys PLC, is trying to win new customers by focusing on the industrial manufacturing, electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. The company is also touting the planned rollout next fall of an applications upgrade that will support XML and Web services technology.

Brian Zrimsek, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., said he approves of Baan’s new strategy. But, he added, “Baan’s challenge continues to be that of execution and the cloud of viability that still hangs over them.”

Microsoft offers helping

Microsoft Corp. recently announced that it will launch a program early next year aimed at easing the financial burden for small- and medium-sized companies that sign multi-year contracts to license its software. Called Open Value, the licensing program will allow some customers to spread out software payments over a period of three years when purchasing products such as the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office. It is comparable to “zero-down” financing, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Currently, customers who sign up for the company’s enterprise licensing agreements, known as License 6.0, have to pay an up-front fee in addition to annual fees over the life of two- or three-year contracts. Microsoft enacted that new licensing model in July and has received mixed reviews for it from customers and analysts. Microsoft said Open Value will be available in North America in early 2003. Eligible customers are those with anywhere from five to 500 PCs, the spokeswoman said.

Dell’s server numbers continue to grow

Dell Computer Corp. was the only top-five vendor to post year-over-year revenue growth in the server market during the third quarter, according to recent research by International Data Corp. (IDC).

Worldwide server revenue was US$10.6 billion for the quarter, a 5.6 per cent decline over last year’s third quarter, during which businesses struggled with the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. Dell’s server revenue for the quarter climbed 7.5 per cent to US$920 million worldwide, placing it fourth in marketshare based on revenue. Leader IBM Corp., with nearly 30 per cent marketshare, saw its revenue slip 0.4 per cent, by IDC’s calculation, while number-two vendor Hewlett-Packard Co.’s revenue dropped 15.8 per cent, to US$2.88 billion. Sun Microsystems Inc. ranked third, with revenue down 3.4 per cent at US$1.28 billion.

CIPS says personal privacy is at risk

Proposed policies allowing criminal investigators to intercept Internet and wireless communications are flawed, according to the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS), a body representing IT professionals.

The proposals came about after Ottawa asked stakeholders to give feedback concerning the search and seizure of electronic communication in the wake of the events of 9/11. CIPS is calling on the government to ensure that law enforcement investigations are not compromised; to appoint a minister to ensure that the interests of citizens are represented; to ensure that only police officers and national security investigators have powers to intercept personal electronic communications; and to ensure that any personal information collected should be used only for the purposes of criminal investigation, and not shared with other countries unless approved by a superior court judge. The Canadian government’s proposed policy on electronic communication can be found at:

Massachusetts not ready to let go

Massachusetts filed an appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s recent Microsoft Corp. antitrust settlement ruling on Nov. 29, a case that the state now expects to pursue alone as the other non-settling states accept Kollar-Kotelly’s remedy and focus on enforcement, state Attorney General Tom Reilly said during a press conference.

“After a complete remedies trial, we were disappointed when the district court did little more than accept Microsoft’s loophole-filled deal,” Reilly said. Jim Desler, a Microsoft spokesperson, said that Massachusetts’ actions would not affect the company’s plans. California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah, West Virginia and the District of Columbia were the parties that declined to sign off on the federal government’s initial proposed settlement with Microsoft. By continuing to pursue the case, the states won important concessions that strengthened enforcement provisions, Iowa’s Miller said.

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