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Microsoft DNA 2000 Can Reshape Web Models

Microsoft Corp. Monday announced Windows Distributed interNet Architecture 2000 (DNA), which comprises a new strategy, platform, and related set of development tools.

Windows DNA is based on the concept that more and more applications are moving to the Web, so that Web sites themselves can and should be programmable and dynamic in nature.

Microsoft's vision, as outlined by president Steve Ballmer and Group VP Paul Moritz, is that many aspects of Web sites, including internal data (such as product information from a typical catalog sites), can be "exposed" via XML so that other sites, as well as users' applications, can take advantage of that data and display and use it in new, personalized ways. At the same time, Microsoft sees that applications, written once, can be used over the Web, so another aspect of Windows DNA 2000 is the ability to create "megaservices" (essentially Web-enabled, object-oriented building blocks) that can be utilized by Web sites or applications.

Megaservices, and other applications, will be made available by published XML schemas via http://biztalk.org. Biztalk is certainly Microsoft's creation, though it's nominally an industry initiative and set up as a .org site to give the appearance of being an accepted industry standard (complete with its own "community"), which it's not.

Microsoft has genuinely addressed a number of important things in its DNA strategy, and it's wholeheartedly embracing XML, which should make many standards people happy. Its new product strategy includes new releases of Windows 2000 (for which Release Candidate 2 is due this Wednesday), Commerce Server 4.0, BizTalk Server, AppCenter (for managing server farms with complete failover capabilities), SQL Server, and Visual Studio; all of which have native XML capabilities.

The demos shown Monday demonstrated aspects such as the ability for a consumer to add a catalog site's products to his own view of the site by dragging and dropping the site into Outlook 2000; and a developer adding dynamic business logic from an external site with a single line of code. While business models and other considerations such as security are only beginning to be addressed, Windows DNA 2000 has the potential to ultimately change the face of the Web as well as Microsoft's entire business model. It warrants careful watching.

Microsoft and XML: Embrace and Extend

Microsoft's new Windows DNA 2000 strategy depends heavily on XML (eXtensible Markup Language). To make this possible, Microsoft has been adding support for XML in many of its products:

  • Internet Explorer 5.0: already has native XML support
  • Windows 2000: will be completely ready for XML with built-in XML parser, support for advanced XML features such as streaming, persistence, and record set translation.
  • SQL Server 7.0 will include limited XML integration and direct URL access, while the next version, code-named "Shiloh", will be fully XML-enabled.
  • XML Transaction Integrator, to be available next year, will allow CICS and IMS transactions to be executed in an XML environment.

Microsoft is also submitting a draft specification to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), which defines a messaging format for XML that operates over the HTTP protocol. Adoption of SOAP as a standard would greatly help acceptance of Windows DNA 2000 as a standard as well. For more information on SOAP, see msdn.microsoft.com/xml.