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Microsoft, IBM Close Controversial Message Spec

One year after sparking angry outcries from a rival specification faction, Microsoft, IBM, BEA Systems and Tibco Software have completed their specification for a key component of Web services messaging.

According to a Microsoft document, the four companies have published a completed a spec for WS-ReliableMessaging, which allows messages to be delivered between distributed applications in the wake of software, system or network failures.

Reliable and secure messaging are considered to be key building blocks to Web services, which allow applications to talk to one another to perform complex tasks.

The foursome touched off a firestorm of anger when it announced that it would work on such a project last March because it came in the wake of a WS-Reliability spec that performs similar functions.

This spec was forged in January 2003 by Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, Oracle and Sonic Software. Like the WS-ReliableMessaging spec announced by Microsoft and its partners after it, WS-Reliability was created to guarantees message ordering, message delivery and the removal of duplicate messages.

At the time, Sun's Ed Julson, group marketing manager for Web services standards and technologies, accused Microsoft, IBM and the others of creating a spec that, because of its similiarities to the earlier proposed WS-Reliability, could divide a still coalescing industry.

He told internetnews.com that IBM and Microsoft aren't turning over their published specs to standards bodies for review, which he called akin to "Chinese water torture."

While there have been several struggles among software makers jockeying for position in creating in Web services specs, which could see the light of day in standards bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium and OASIS, few, if any, have been as inflammatory.

Analysts often say the bickering among the groups must stop so Web services adoption can move forward.

Available for review now, WS-ReliableMessaging is bound by the SOAP standard and WSDL extensibility model to ensure interoperability.

WS-ReliableMessaging by itself does not define all the features required for a complete messaging solution. Rather, it works in conjunction with other Web services specs, including WS-Security and WS-Policy.