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Will Next Generation Windows Services pull the rug from today's B2B business model?

Will Next Generation Windows Services pull the rug from today's B2B business model?

By Laura B. Smith

If you've been thinking about connecting to an e-business marketplace, if for no other reason than to be where all the action is, take some time to consider how long this new paradigm might be around. Microsoft's Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) are about to pull the rug out from underneath Web exchanges and other B2B business models, says Charles Gerlach, an analyst with Mainspring, a consultancy in Cambridge, Mass.

NGWS is a set of programming tools that lets businesses build Web services that deliver new functionality to Web users. Ideally, these Web services would be wrapped in eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and be able to interact with each other. Microsoft describes these services as reusable building blocks on the Web that can be combined into 'megaservices' to accomplish tasks such as billing, relationship management, multi-protocol communications, personalization and directory services.

In this new world, consumers will interact with personal Web portals that superficially resemble My Yahoo but incorporate a much richer range of services, according to Gerlach. Brand is likely to be of diminished importance and many e-tail business models will no longer be viable, he says. Granted, Microsoft has already postponed the introduction of NGWS until late June, and the entire strategy is a question mark until the Justice Department decides the company's fate.

Regardless, the coming Web services infrastructure has the potential to turn the entire Internet into a Web marketplace while dramatically reducing the costs of B2B integration, Gerlach says. So should you put your B2B plans on hold? Better make sure whatever connections you make are cloaked in XML.

Laura B. Smith is a contributing editor based in Swampscott, Mass.

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