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Microsoft Gives P2P a Chance

Moving to add support for decentralized applications to Windows XP, Microsoft Wednesday unveiled a beta of its Windows XP Peer-to-Peer Software Development Kit (SDK).

The SDK features updated Windows XP application programming interfaces (APIs) and enhancements to the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) networking stack, intended to help developers leverage P2P infrastructure to create decentralized applications and services, like collaboration and data sharing features, for business and customer scenarios.

"By supporting both decentralized and centralized models of computing and information sharing, Microsoft can best address the high-level needs of its business customers, who need to be more agile, more flexible and more responsive to customer needs," said Jack Ozzie, vice president of developer services at desktop collaboration software maker Groove Networks. "the enhanced peer-to-peer support for Windows XP will enable developers to more easily build decentralized applications."

The APIs add support for scalable P2P name resolution, efficient multipoint communication, the creation and management of persistent P2P groups, and distributed data management. Microsoft said that the APIs described by the SDK will allow developers to focus on applications and not low-level plumbing required to support most P2P scenarios.

The IPv6 enhancements include support for Network Address Translation (NAT) traversal and an IPv6 firewall.

The SDK and the associated Windows XP Peer-to-Peer Networking Update capitalize on the capabilities of IPv6 to provide support for automatic tunneling, which allows IPv6 communication over existing IPv4 networks. It also allows NAT devices -- which are typically used in a home where a single public IPv4 address is shared among multiple computers with private IP addresses -- to communicate with each other without forcing the users to manually configure them.

The SDK is available for download here. The company said it expects to make the final release of the SDK and the Peer-to-Peer Networking Update later in the year.