Microsoft, Sun Update Their Technical Cooperation Work

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.

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