Microsoft\u00a0Tuesday completed development on the newest version of its server to connects Windows environments and mainframes and will ship the software next month.Host Integration Server (HIS) 2004, which was due to ship in May, was released Tuesday to manufacturing and will be generally available Sept. 1.Microsoft added tighter integration with Visual Studio and the .Net programming model, and added IP routing features and single sign-on capabilities that match Windows credentials to those on the mainframe. Users also can now initiate transactions from the mainframe and have them reach across Windows systems.\u201cIt\u2019s been some time between versions of HIS, but we think this new version renews our commitment to this space,\u201d says Tom Casey, product unit manager in the business process and integration division at Microsoft.HIS 2004 allows users to integrate host applications, data sources, messaging, and security systems with applications running on Windows. It is a key component of Microsoft\u2019s integration strategy, which also includes BizTalk Server, and of the single sign-on component of its identity management roadmap.Deeper integration between HIS 2004 and Visual Studio development tools is highlighted by the Transaction Integrator design tool, which runs within the project designer in Visual Studio and allows developers to expose Customer Information Control System (CICS) and Information Management System (IMS) transactions to Windows as COM+ components, .Net packages or XML-based Web services.Plus, Microsoft has added a feature for tunneling SNA traffic into a mainframe over IP. The new IP-DLC Link Service lets PCs connect to z900 mainframes via IP networks.Also new is a managed provider for IBM\u2019s DB2 database, which allows DB2 data to be published as Web services and to integrate DB2 data with Windows forms, such as those produced by Microsoft\u2019s InfoPath application.HIS 2004 allows Windows servers to act as peers to IBM mainframes and AS\/400 computers with the new Host-Initiated Processing feature. The new Enterprise Single Sign-On lets Active Directory authentication credentials be passed to mainframe systems. Microsoft also plans to make an API available so third-party vendors can build password synchronization tools.HIS 2004 is available in Standard and Enterprise editions. The Standard Edition is priced at $2,499 and includes the core network, data and security integration technologies. The Enterprise Edition is priced at $9,999 and adds the Transaction Integrator and an MQSeries and Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ) bridge.