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Amazon.com Enters the Web Services Age

E-tailing giant Amazon.com put out a welcome mat for developers by launching Amazon.com Web Services, styling it as a platform for the creation of applications and tools to shuttle Amazon.com's features to other sites.

The Web services initiative from Seattle-based Amazon.com is designed specifically for developers and Web site owners and is being made available free.

"Developers can now incorporate Amazon.com content and features directly onto their own Web sites," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. "We can't wait to see how they're going to surprise us."

No doubt the best surprises for Bezos will be the ones that increase sales at Amazon.com.

The retailer said the Web Services push would allow third-party sites to search and display products from Amazon's site, and enable visitors to those sites to add items to their Amazon.com shopping carts.

Amazon.com Web Services is also integrated with the Amazon.com Associates Program, an affiliate marketing operation that allows other sites to earn referral fees from purchases made at Amazon via links on their Web sites.

Web services are a standardized way of integrating Web-based applications using the XML, SOAP, WSDL and UDDI open standards over an Internet protocol backbone. They allow different applications from different sources to communicate with each other without time-consuming custom coding.

The Amazon version gives developers access via XML and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol).

Web services were first thrust into the public eye as a lucrative approach to conduct electronic business over the Internet about two years ago, and the concept has hardly grown stale ... it's just morphed a bit.

For example, Microsoft recently announced the free availability of the Visual Studio .Net integration software development kit (SDK) and an online help center for developers building .Net architectures.