Microsoft has said it plans to step up its investments in Asia over the next two years, as it moves to strengthen its position in the area of 'mission-critical' technologies.

"Over the next two years, we're going to invest about $14m in resources and facilities," said Chris Sharp, Asia-Pacific general manager of server and tools products at Microsoft, during a phone interview.

As part of these investments, the company will assign 100 technical specialists to work with customers and ISVs (independent software vendors) on mission-critical software products, including Windows 2003 Server and SQL Server 2005. The company also plans to open two technology 'incubation centres' in Seoul and Bangalore.

"These technology centres are there to showcase the capabilities of server technology and help people port their applications to mission-critical hardware," Sharp said.

Microsoft's planned investments in Asia will boost the effectiveness of the company's enterprise sales team in Asia, said Dane Anderson, head of research at Springboard Research.

From a technology standpoint, Microsoft's products are competitive with offerings from rival vendors – but the sales cycle for enterprise products is longer and more involved than for sales of desktop OSes (operating systems) or application suites, Anderson said. "These investments help to address that," he said.

Customers that have an established relationship also expect to benefit from the added investment and new technology centres.

"We think it's pretty good for us,"James Kang, chief information officer at NTUC Income Insurance Cooperative, noting that the incubation centres are available to help his company run simulations and test new applications.