BOSTON — After eyeing the life sciences from a relatively safe distance for several years, Microsoft this week signaled its commitment to the sector with the launch of the BioIT Alliance, a network of industry partners enlisted to ensure that its ubiquitous desktop tools meet the demands of biomedical research.

Microsoft announced the alliance here this week at the Bio-IT World Life Sciences Conference and Expo, where the majority of attendees welcomed the software giant's pledge to address the sector's challenging IT requirements.

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