Microsoft Pins Hopes on Clipboard

 
 
By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-03-07
 
 
 

Microsofts chief technologist Ray Ozzie on March 7 showed off his next great big idea: a virtual clipboard to "wire-the-Web."

What he proposes he calls a "Live Clipboard" for copying all the information from a Web site, then pasting it onto another site, or feeding all that data to a software program for processing.

This is all significant to Microsoft, and moreover the technology industry, because Ozzie is the brains behind a new Microsoft strategy for selling software.

So what hes thinking provides great insight into how Microsoft intends to carry out its "Live" strategy.

To read more about Microsofts Live era, click here.

The strategy is to sell consumers and businesses Microsoft services that extend its packaged softwares capabilities. Its done using an on-demand Web setting.

His clipboard idea is novel in some ways, say some commentators.

In particular, its because the clipboard can handle data on Web pages that are constantly changing, such as a financial sites real-time stock quotes.

Plus, Ozzie described a system that learns as it burrows deeper into a site and encounters unknowns, like a unique program that mashes together two different computer features.

Also of note, Ozzie said the clipboard is available under a creative commons license, which is essentially a contract written by a group independent of Microsoft.

Typically, Microsoft requires a Microsoft-written license in these circumstances.

While in many ways unique, the clipboard touches on some old themes of Ozzies. Hes been leading Microsofts push for Simple Sharing Extensions, which seems tied into his proposal.

The object of SSE is to define the minimum software file extensions necessary to allow applications to share data via popular Internet publishing means, such as really simple syndication and OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language).

"The Web has emerged from clever hacks—because theyre useful hacks," Ozzie said during a March 7 appearance at the OReilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego.

"But Microsoft cant do this alone. What will make it happen is if lots of people are doing it, using it, agreeing on data formats."

A commentator wonders of the practical purpose of such a grandiose vision.

"I want to know exactly what problems this solves for end users like me," wrote "Ryan." "As far as I can tell, the best use scenarios are moving calendar data, blog feeds and events."

To read more about how tough it could be to keep Microsoft Live safe,click here.

During his presentation, Ozzie did propose using a cell phones global positioning system, and the live clipboard, as a means to pinpoint friends locations on an online map.

Mary Jo Foley and Stephen Bryant contributed to this report.

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