Microsoft buys Visio

In a move to furnish its business productivity products with more edge, Microsoft has announced it will acquire Visio in a deal worth $US1.3 billion in stock.

US-based Visio makes enterprisewide business diagramming and technical drawing software. Under Microsoft's umbrella, it will become the Visio Division and operate as part of Microsoft's business productivity group.

Bob Muglia, the Microsoft senior vice president who runs the group, said Visio's products will offer more to customers, including improving the ability to visualise ideas.

Visio's products are targeted at general business users, computer professionals and those who do technical drawings. The deal will allow the new Visio Division to reach more customers, said Jeremy Jaich, Visio's president and CEO. Jaich will report to Muglia when the acquisition is finalised.

Visio will continue to produce its Visio 2000 products, and Microsoft is planning no immediate changes to Visio's operations, company officials said. Microsoft executives declined to elaborate on any future plans.

Greg Maffei, Microsoft senior vice president and chief financial officer, said the buyout will enable Visio to expand its reach to larger customers and those overseas, as well as add more language versions to Visio's products.

One analyst said it is Microsoft reaching to round out its offerings.

Microsoft doesn't have a strong business graphics software line, and it "would be wise to make sure it continues to support Visio products", said Eric Klein, an analyst at the US-based Yankee Group. An effective move for Microsoft would be to bundle Visio products with its own for business users, Klein said. This would give users a powerful tool for presentations that requires a small learning curve, he added.

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Kathleen Ohlson

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