Microsoft, Sun Update Their Technical Cooperation Work

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-05-13 Print this article Print

The companies say the new series of measures is intended to enhance product interoperability, including the development of new specifications that enable Web single sign-on between systems that use Liberty and WS-* Web service architectures.

Microsoft and Sun on Friday provided the second update of their yearlong technical cooperation work, with Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer summing up the progress by saying theyve moved from the courtroom to the lab and are now entering the market. The first update was last December, and there was scant evidence of any tangible deliverables. But Ballmer and Sun Microsystems, Inc. CEO Scott McNealy ensured that was not the case this time round, announcing a series of measures to enhance product interoperability, including the development of new specifications that enable Web single sign-on between systems that use Liberty and WS-* Web service architectures.
At a news and analyst conference in Palo Alto, Calif., on Friday, McNealy and Ballmer said the two firms had jointly developed and published two draft specifications: the Web Single Sign-On Metadata Exchange Protocol and Web Single Sign-On Interoperability Profile.
These new specifications enable browser-based Web SSO between security domains that use Liberty ID-FF and WS-Federation. Products that support the Web SSO MEX Protocol and the Web SSO Interop Profile will let companies provide users with an improved Web SSO experience from their Web browsers. The two companies will continue to further develop these draft specifications through the Web services protocol workshop process, and will ultimately submit them to a standards organization for finalization and ratification as industry standards. Drafts of the new specifications can be found at both the Microsoft Web site and on Suns site. They also announced plans to support the new specifications within their product portfolios, including Microsoft Windows Server and Sun Java Enterprise System. At Fridays event, which the CEOs described as also a customer event, Ballmer, upon taking the stage with McNealy, joked that the scratch on his head was not from McNealy. Microsoft and Sun had been hard at work for a year, he said, and had emerged from the courtroom and entered the computer lab. Now they were leaving the lab and entering the market. There are a number of areas in which the two firms can now deliver the products that customers can use, Ballmer said, but he stressed the challenge they had undertaken was not to merge their products but to interoperate while continuing to innovate separately. Next Page: Focusing on end users.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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