.NET My Services. Gone but not forgotten?

Roadmap gap

server room
ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

.NET My Services, Microsoft Corp's high-profile set of XML web services postponed eight months ago, seems to have dropped off the company's 2003 roadmap,

writes Gavin Clarke

.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft yesterday issued a nine-page document summarizing 2003 launch plans for operating systems, applications and tools. Product listed include Windows .NET Server 2003, Visual Studio.NET and Office 11.

Adopting uncharacteristically flowery language Microsoft said that it expects its "enterprise garden to bear its most bountiful crop yet" in 2003.

Missing from the listed offerings, though, are the one-time hyped .NET My Services postponed in April. .NET My Services, once codenamed Hailstorm, was to comprise 14 services including an electronic online address book and voice mail inbox and was trumpeted as the vanguard of a .NET web services revolution by the company.

The proposed services, though, were postponed following resistance from potential blue-chip partners concerned over security and Windows-lock-in. .NET My Services were to be operated centrally by Microsoft with access via Passport.

A Microsoft company spokesperson said at the time partners asked that .NET My Services should support federation out of the box, be able to run in the enterprise and support the addition of new services. No date was given for re-launch.

Yesterday, Microsoft's only mention of web services for 2003 was around XML protocols. The company said it would expand security capabilities of web services by building on the WS-Security specification, co-authored with IBM and VeriSign Inc.

A Microsoft spokesperson said yesterday .NET My Services had not been dropped, but edited from the official document owing to constraints of space. .NET My Services are being reworked, he said, so partners can host and develop their own "customer centric" services.

"You can expect to see a developer release consistent with these changes in 2003," the spokesperson said.

Microsoft's attempts to talk-up .NET follows a dismal year for the company's web services strategy that saw company chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates in July concede .NET hadn't made as much progress as expected.

While Gates singled out .NET My Services as being "premature", he also admitted Microsoft jumped the gun in September 2001 touting a raft of servers as .NET ready, barely months after the .NET strategy was officially launched.

.NET has seen sluggish adoption in 2002. The company estimates some 60% of customers have yet to move to .NET, itself a broad term, and so next April it is taking steps to kick-start uptake by synchronizing the release of a major server operating system with the next version of its developer suite - Windows .NET Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET 2003, formerly codenamed Everett.

Both will support WS-Security and the .NET Framework, with server supporting Universal Discovery, Integration and Adoption (UDDI) and Visual Studio .NET 2003 including Microsoft's .NET Compact Framework for mobile devices.

Other planned launches include Office 11 and related XDocs in the middle of 2003, SharePoint Team Services in mid-2003, MSN Messenger Connect for Enterprises and Greenwich in the first quarter of 2003 and 64-bit SQL Server Enterprise Edition in April.

Messaging and collaboration is a major area for Microsoft, but represents a sticking point. A version of Exchange Server codenamed Titanium is scheduled for mid-2003, however some 60% to 70% of Exchange Server customers have yet to move from version 5.5 to the most recent edition, Exchange 2000, according to reports.

Uptake of newly launched products is also vulnerable in areas where competing companies offer rival products, such as desktop productivity, messaging and server operating systems. Rivals such as Sun Microsystems Inc are attempting to lure customers that are dissatisfied with Microsoft's licensing changes, introduced by the company this summer.

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