.NET's New Evangelist Emphasizes Openness

SAN JOSE, CA—According to Microsoft's new man in Silicon Valley, the company 's vision for the next generation of Web-services-based computing is "not at all proprietary," but is "totally open." And the "core and key behind it all" is XML. "Without this core descriptor for data, the impact of the Web and Web services would take a lot longer," Dan'l Lewin said. "It's broad, it's industry supported, and it's open. With XML emerging, and some of the tools associated with it, the revolution is on its way."

Speaking to attendees at this month's Software Development West conference, held here, Lewin described and demoed Microsoft's XML-based .NET initiative and technologies, which he said are designed with plenty of room for competitors. Openness was practically the theme of his presentation.

"We now have some open, interoperable standards," he said. "The question is, what is the computing model? I think intelligent devices at the edges of the Network are the key. It's really all about smart clients, and at the end of the day, [it's about] what kinds of standards required to bring... new Web-services-based computing to the end user.... Smart devices are the natural evolution of distributed computing," he said. "It's a natural progression, and that's the computing model that is going to win over time."

Lewin is vice president of .NET Business Development at Microsoft's new Mountain View, CA, facility. Lewin's job is to promote the .NET strategy to potential partners, software developers, and corporate customers in this area. He also acts as the Redmond, WA-based company's liaison for other matters in the valley. "As much as there has been historically this stuff against Microsoft in the valley," he recently told the San Jose Mercury News, "you have to take some of that with a sense of humor and recognize it's just business."

Fully half of Lewin's presentation was devoted to a demonstration of the new .NET tools. Rob Howard, a program manager at Microsoft, walked the audience through the drag-and-drop addition of a new third-party Web service to an existing Web site and showed how the Web service itself could be created quickly, starting with nothing more than a database.

Lewin announced that version 2.0 of the SOAP toolkit would be shipping later this month. The toolkit works with Visual Studio 6.0 and supports any language and any application that supports COM. He also said that the current beta of Windows XP operating system will now contains a native SOAP processor.

.NET deliverables announced during the keynote included "HailStorm," the current code name for a set of Web services; a new programming model supported by Visual Studio.NET, and the .NET Enterprise Servers. "Passport," a currently available user authentication service seen in the product demo, is also part of the .NET platform.

Microsoft has been expanding its presence in the valley. Chairman Bill Gates recently christened the company's new technology center in Mountain View. Microsoft is betting its survival on a new Internet strategy that depends on winning over local software developers and forging partnerships with other technology leaders.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].