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Microsoft has made its latest thrust into the internet futurama that is Web 2.0, by issuing a second batch of pre-release code for its Atlas technology along with a toolkit for Visual Studio developers to build Atlas controls.

Atlas is Microsoft's client and server framework intended for developers constructing applications using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) with ASP.NET.

Microsoft launched its first pre-release, community technology preview (CTP) of Atlas in March. The company has this week updated that with a second CTP, fixing bugs in its planned gadgets - Microsoft's equivalent of widgets, used to access online services outside of the browser, that are found in Apple's OS X Tiger. Microsoft has disabled cross-domain access to DataService services by default with its bug fix.

As with last month's CTP, this latest release comes with Microsoft's by-now familiar Go Live licenses, enabling developers to build real-world applications using the code but without the safety net of protection from Microsoft should things go wrong.

Microsoft is also releasing an Atlas Control Toolkit for Visual Studio developers to build client-side controls for consumption by ASP.NET on the server. The toolkit includes source code and documentation. Additionally, Microsoft said it planned to release the source code as a Shared Source project, allowing developers from Microsoft and other "selected" community members to contribute code back to the code base.

AJAX is the cause celeb - some would say great enabler/badger - of Web 2.0. The technology is being seized upon by many who hope to build on-line applications whose interfaces offer the level of functionality found on the desktop. Arguably AJAX's biggest driving force in the industry has become Google.

While AJAX offers great promise on a functional level, it's not necessarily that easy to use when building applications. Adding to the confusion are at least 19 AJAX and AJAX-related frameworks, all created with the purpose of providing developers with an outline of how to build distributed applications and online services using JavaScript and XML.

Microsoft is adding to the mix with Atlas, only it is bending AJAX to Windows on the client and its web/server-side ASP.NET rival to JavaServer Pages (JSP) technology. ®

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