Microsoft and SAP have announced a jointly developed product to link SAP's enterprise resource planning (ERP) software with Microsoft's Office products.

Codenamed Mendocino, it will be out later this year and is the first joint product between the two despite a partnership that has gone on for a number of years, and even a discussed merger. Mendocino is one of the most significant results since the merger talks broke off last year, and could help both compete better against Oracle and IBM.

By linking SAP's software with Office, users will get a familiar user interface to more complex ERP applications. "We think this is another opportunity to expose our products to a broader range of users inside a corporation. There are a lot of users who don't use SAP functionality today," Wohl said.

Mendocino will connect Office 2003 and the current version of MySAP ERP. Users in a consulting firm, for example, will be able to instantly book time against a specific client in the SAP time tracking system when they schedule an appointment in Microsoft's Outlook.

Mendocino and some extra underlying SAP technology will be sold by both SAP and Microsoft. The product will be "easy to configure and easy to put in place," according to Wohl. Pricing has yet to be determined.