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Embrace, extend, accelerate?

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Bill Gates told an adoring audience at the Networld+Interop meeting in Las Vegas yesterday that he had been getting a lot of email that says "I love you", but he didn't dwell on the latest cockup. He had grander plans - nothing less than the next-generation Internet. Having been amongst the Internet laggards in the early days, Microsoft is determined not to be caught standing on the railway platform watching the train disappearing again. The chief software architect envisioned a platform on which complex applications could be built with a variety of devices, both mobile and non-mobile, with the foundation being XML. The other main thread of his presentation was that security on the Internet must be beefed up, and no more should there be reliance on passwords. Smart cards were the answer, he proclaimed, but evidently Nathan Myhrvold, his part-time mentor, hadn't mentioned to him (if he knew) that smart card security is currnetly seriously compromised. To his credit, Gates has lightened up and now allows the scriptwriters to introduce some self deprecation. It was no surprise that Microsoft had submitted the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP 1.1) to W3C the day before Gates' speech, so that Bill could announce the big news that W3C had acknowledged its receipt. The submission was backed by IBM and Lotus, plus two independents - Don Box and Dave Winer. There was a new definition of interoperability from the chief software architect when he announced Windows Services for Unix version 2.0: since the product only allows one-way "interoperability", it would perhaps have been more honest to use all those creative juices to invent the term "monoperability" perhaps. Anyway, the product is complemented by Interix 2.2, which is designed to help move Unix applications to Windows. It seems that Microsoft is inventing a new game, which appears to be a variant of embrace-extend-exterminate. This time, with XML, it looks like embrace-extend-accelerate - move so quickly ahead and extend so frequently that every other player is at least a lap behind. Gates described the fire service that Microsoft has - "a 24-hour response team that's there taking any reports of a vulnerability..." The team certainly lives in exciting times. What was hard to understand was how Gates could conclude that "security is getting a lot simpler, even for the very complex scenarios that typical businesses require." Register factoid: The response team emailed a virus alert to registered Office users on 8 May, four days after the virus hit. ®

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