SAP cozies up to Windows 8 with mobile apps, platform support

The move reflects SAP and Microsoft's close partnership over the years

SAP said Tuesday that it plans to roll out a series of mobile applications for Windows 8, a move that underscores the companies' deep partnership at a time when many observers believe Microsoft's new OS is in for a tough ride.

In addition, SAP is planning to add support for Windows 8 mobile application development for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 through its SAP Mobile Platform, which has been renamed from Sybase Unwired Platform, according to the announcement, which was made at the Sapphire and Tech Ed conferences in Madrid.

SAP has also renamed the Sybase Afaria mobile device management platform. It is now called SAP Afaria and will also support Windows 8. Intel-based Windows 8 tablets are now certified for SAP Afaria as well.

The six Windows 8 mobile applications SAP plans to roll out will be "for use on devices of various form factors," according to a statement.

These include WorkDeck, a "persona-centric app that offers contextual integration of various information sources and processes into a role-based view," SAP said.

Other applications include Manager Insight, which provides employee profile information; Learning Assistant, a training application; Interview Assistant, for coordinating employee searches and hiring processes; Customer Financial Fact Sheet, which provides data about clients' finances and order activity to sales representatives; and GRC Policy Survey, with which employees can "review and acknowledge relevant policy changes and fill in surveys to ensure they understand the policies," SAP said.

Trial versions of all the products will be available for download.

In addition, developers will be able to create HTML5 and JavaScript-based mobile applications inside Microsoft's Visual Studio, then deploy them through SAP's mobile platform, which provides advanced security, authentication and high availability, according to a statement. SAP intends to give partners the ability to develop Windows 8 applications on the platform and is also making a free developer trial of it available.

Wednesday's announcement also noted that SAP will develop Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 applications, but didn't provide any specifics. Nor did SAP give availability and pricing dates for its Windows 8 applications.

Still, SAP's move should provide a significant albeit not entirely surprising endorsement of Windows 8, which has been dogged by reports of slow initial sales.

SAP and Microsoft, while competitors in some areas, have engaged in many high-profile co-development efforts over the years, such as Duet, an integration between SAP's business software and Microsoft SharePoint.

Critics such as Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff have even predicted that Windows 8 will be the "end of Windows."

Such talk, however, doesn't reflect the reality of how deeply ingrained Windows and other Microsoft technologies, such as Office and Active Directory, remain inside corporate IT environments. Should SAP fail to support Windows 8, it could face some blowback from its customers that decide to upgrade to the new OS.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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