How Microsoft.Net will jumpstart e-commerce
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In a courageous�some say desperate�move recently, Microsoft announced its "vision and road map" to the fast-rising Web services software platform. The new vision is a dramatic change for Microsoft, which pioneered and perhaps perfected the process of upgrading to full-blown versions of software.
Microsoft.NET, previously referred to as Next Generation Windows Services, returns the behemoth to its roots as a tools provider, enabling developers to combine pieces of Microsoft's productivity software with its communications offerings. Microsoft also plans a new user interface that will connect multiple devices, such as PDAs and mobile phones, to the Internet and each other.
Microsoft.NET services will be cloaked in XML, a technology that promises to transform e-commerce from the hot B2B of the moment to a charged B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) environment this year. For example, businesses will be able to purchase each other's Web services to quickly build their own companies and/or combine services to provide new products to customers.
"By creating a unified platform through which devices and services cooperate with each other, Microsoft will unleash a new wave of developer opportunity and creativity that will move us to a level of power and simplicity," said President and CEO Steve Ballmer.
Microsoft.NET services will include Identity, Notification and Messaging, Personalization, Schematized Storage, Calendar, Directory, Search and Software Delivery. These services bring together elements of Windows technology with Internet-based Microsoft services such as Passport, the MSN Hotmail� Web-based e-mail service, MSN Messenger and MSN Communities.
In an effort, perhaps, to repair its reputation in the security area, Microsoft also plans to add privacy features to the new platform, including a hosted personal Information Agent that will deliver consumers the ability to access, view, edit and delete the personal information that they enter at various sites.
By Laura B. Smith, a contributing editor based in Swampscott, MA.