By Douglas Bartholomew Internet-based design got a boost recently when Microsoft Corp. and Unigraphics Solutions Inc. (UGS) announced a joint effort to provide software to help manufacturers create design collaboration portals. Using a new suite of software called DesignKNet (Design Knowledge Network), manufacturers will be able to reduce design-cycle time, minimize rework costs, and improve procurement efficiency. The system combines Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system and Exchange 2000 groupware communications software with the capabilities of Unigraphics' iMan and ProductVision computer-aided-design systems. The system offers real-time collaboration, so that all designers in a team can see the impact of design changes as they are made. "DesignKNet brings the power of the Internet to product development collaboration," says Tony Affuso, president and CEO of UGS, based in St. Louis. Adds Charles Stevens, vice president of enterprise and partner solutions at Microsoft, "Engineers and designers are the ultimate knowledge workers. DesignKNet takes advantage of the conferencing, collaboration, and community aspects of Windows 2000 and Exchange 2000 with the design and engineering specific capabilities of UGS' product development solutions."