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Microsoft Wants Web Services to Get Along

While the Windows vs. Java vs. Linux debate makes for good media fodder and even better "flame baits" on discussion forums, it does little to help an IT manager who needs to marry a Java-based database in one department with a Web-facing ASP.NET application in another.

With such platform gaps in mind, Microsoft is rolling out a series of Webcasts Jan. 18 - Feb. 11, 2005, to discuss interoperability between the software development platforms of major vendors like Sun Microsystems , BEA Systems and IBM .

The Interoperability Webcast Series will feature talks from experts on the subject of implementation, guidance, strategies and methods.

Microsoft has more than 40 webcasts scheduled for the month-long series of presentations and is giving away Portable Media Centers -- Microsoft's version of the popular Apple iPod -- to attendees, according to the MSDN Webcasts Weblog site.

So far, the only vendor presenting a Webcast is Sun, which earlier this year promised to work with Microsoft on interoperability as part of its $1.95 billion settlement of long-running charges against Microsoft involving Java.

Sun had charged that Microsoft "deceptively modified Java APIs" in a beta version of the Microsoft Software Development Kit for Java by "adding Win32-specific and other APIs to the Java class libraries." The result, Sun's lawsuit said, effectively caused developers to believe they were achieving cross-platform interoperability between Java-based and Microsoft platforms.

Dave Chappell, co-author of O'Reilly books "Java Message Service" and "Java Web Services" and chief technology evangelist at Sonic Software, is one of the keynote speakers scheduled to launch the Webcast series. Chappell said that in the past four years, there's been a lot of positive work between the major software vendors to standardize Web services protocols, mainly through the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP ) work. What's required now is to build on those efforts.

"The next level of interoperability that needs to be addressed and we need to agree upon is the higher-level Web services standards that are evolving right now," he said.

The same work done to get the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) out the door will be needed to be applied to the other Web services standards.

There are still some sticking points among software vendors. For example, Microsoft, BEA and Tibco are backing WS-Eventing, while IBM, HP , Sonic Software and Tibco are championing a similar schema called WS-Notification . Both, fundamentally, are specifications that describe the communication of events within the Web services architecture.

Elsewhere, Sun, Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, Oracle and Sonic Software are backing WS-Reliability, a messaging standard within Web services. IBM, Microsoft, BEA and Tibco favor WS-ReliableMessaging, a similar spec.

Pre-registration for the month-long events is here.

According to the Microsoft Web site, neither IBM nor open source officials will be making presentations.