Orlando - The annual ritual that is SAP's annual Sapphire conference, combined for the first time with the annual user group conference, drew a reported 15,000 to Orlando this week. Amid the spate of announcements - general availability of the latest SAP ERP system; a new business unit dedicated for compliance, a SRM acquisition (Frictionless Commerce), a $125 million product development fund with NetWeaver application partners - a good bit of attention was devoted to Duet, a two-week old arrangement combining SAP application end points and Microsoft Office productivity tools. Though SAP added no new release to the earlier announcement and Microsoft had a very small presence at Sapphire, the subject of Duet came up in every keynote address and press event during the first two days of the conference.

Duet - which one analyst called a "business mashup" of Office products and SAP information and processes - and has been offered as a way to bring budget monitoring and reporting, travel management and organization/recruitment files from SAP to a zero-footprint desktop. But technically, the possibilities are far greater than that.

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