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Microsoft, Intel affirm commitment to business and corporate computing

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Facing increased competition, the heads of the largest personal computer software company and the biggest chip making firm are reasserting their commitment to be the technology that fuels global big business.

Microsoft Corp. CEO Bill Gates and Intel Corp. CEO Craig Barret planned to outline their joint commitment to leadership and innovation in the global workstation market Wednesday at the annual Workstation Leadership Forum in Burlingame, Calif.Microsoft in recent months has had to respond to challenges to its dominance by the upstart Linux operating system, a software supported both financially and technically by Intel.

"This is a bit like U.S. and French relations," said Drew Peck, a technology analyst at SG Cowen Securities in Boston, Mass. ""They want to generate a public image of camaraderie when obviously the friction is getting ever more intense."

Michael Erbschloe, vice president of research at Computer Economics in Carlsbad, Calif., said the announcements seem like an effort to convince consumers and analysts that "neither one of these companies are going to jump ahead of each other, product-wise."

"They are trying not just to reiterate what they've said in the past, but to show that they are still strong and committed," he said.

Erbschloe said the growing popularity of Linux, a well-regarded version of the Unix operating system used by businesses to run computer networks and Internet sites, is shaking up Microsoft.

Intel has endorsed Linux, buying a multimillion-dollar stake in VA Research, a Mountain View, Calif.-based maker of business computers that run on Linux, earlier this year.

Intel's workstation products division general manager, Anand Chandrasekher, said Tuesday that Intel's continued commitment to Microsoft doesn't undermine Intel's relationship with Linux users.

"Our task is to enable all operating systems to work best on Intel architecture," he said.

Both companies plan to unveil some of they ways their teamwork -- Microsoft's software and Intel's chips -- is helping businesses.

For example, Robert Mondavi Winery is using their systems to make digital maps and analyze data about where in their orchards to plant what types of vines. And Sony Pictures Imageworks is using the combined technologies for their new digitally animated movie "Stuart Little," based on the classic E.B. White book.

The joint announcement comes at a time when both companies are struggling to get products out.

Intel's Merced chip is now promised for mid-2000, along with Microsoft's Windows 2000.