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Microsoft Previews Web Services Development Kit

Microsoft buffed up its Web services push with the announcement Monday of a technical preview of its Web Services Software Development Kit (SDK).

Microsoft said the SDK would build on its Visual Basic and .Net Framework, giving developers the tools needed to build integrated e-business applications. With the SDK, Microsoft said developers would be able to build Web services using WS-Security, WS-Routing and WS Attachments, standards developed by the Microsoft-led Web services coalition, Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I).

The SDK is available for free download on the Microsoft Developer Network.

"With Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework, Microsoft continues to lead the industry by delivering the tools to make Web services real for millions of developers," Eric Rudder, senior vice president of the developer and platform evangelism unit, said in a statement. "The Web Services Development Kit embarks on the next phase of Web services, expanding the experience of Visual Studio and .NET Framework developers, and enabling enterprises to quickly and easily connect their systems with partners, customers and suppliers using advanced Web services scenarios."

Microsoft touted the benefits the SDK provides in security, routing and attachments. The company said the SDK gives developers the ability to make XML Web services secure across the WS-Security standard, which WS-I unveiled in April. Also, Microsoft said developers could use WS-Routing standard to identify messages through their SAP message header, allowing them to go to multiple destinations. Finally, Microsoft said the SDK allows developers to add attachments to SOAP messages through the WS-Attachments standard.

The SDK builds on standards Microsoft has tried to lock in place, as it looks to make its Web services platform dominant, as opposed to rival Java-based standards. The most public face of this struggle has been the refusal of Sun Microsystems to join WS-I, which Microsoft founded in February with IBM, SAP, and other industry leaders.

Microsoft has rebuffed longtime rival Sun's demands to join as a founding member. Without such status, Sun has said it will not participate, thrusting the standards process into disarray because Sun's Java programming language is expected to gird many aspects of Web services.

In June, Microsoft held out a potential olive branch, as WS-I voted to expand its board by two seats, giving Sun an opportunity to join on equal footing. However, Sun has remained aloof.

Microsoft's own Web services push, by its own admission, has been somewhat muddled. Bill Gates admitted as much at last month's unveiling of Microsoft's long-awaited .Net server operating system, giving the company a "C" grade for its .Net rollout so far.