Microsoft Begins Delivering the .Net Goods

The software giant is putting some meat on its .Net bones, delivering some of the first tangible .Net services on its own and its partners' Web properties.

Microsoft Corp. is putting some meat on its .Net bones, delivering some of the first tangible .Net services on its own and its partners Web properties.

Last week, eBay Inc. announced internally the availability of both the Microsoft Alerts and Microsoft Passport services. The company told customers that they could "use .NET Alerts to stay up to the minute on your auctions. Receive .NET Alerts when you are outbid and when your auction has ended!"

This follows eBays March announcement around its commitment to Microsofts .Net software services, when the San Jose, Calif., company said it would make its own commerce engine available as an XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based Web service to .Net developers at some point.

Last week, Microsoft also released a beta version of its next version of MSN, which surfaces some of the placeholders for its forthcoming .Net My Services.

Passport, Microsofts single-sign-in Internet authentication technology, is the foundation of its .Net My Services collection of Web services. .Net My Services is the formal name for the set of consumer services that were formerly code-named Hailstorm.

.Net Alerts and more

The initial set of My Services will include not only the .Net Alerts notification, subscription, management and routing service, but others including .Net Address, .Net Contacts, .Net Inbox, .Net Calendar and .Net Wallet.

Microsoft also is working on other .Net services that are targeted at businesses, analysts say. This set of services, code-named Blizzard, will provide corporate developers with business-to-business and enterprise-oriented Web services upon which to build. One analyst, who requested anonymity, said he expects Microsoft to announce Blizzard next year.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on either the Microsoft Alerts or Blizzard .Net services.

Microsoft is also readying some new elements in its .Net arsenal. Among some of the next due to be announced, say sources, are the .Net My Services software developers kit -- which Microsoft could deliver at its Professional Developers Conference later this month in Los Angeles -- as well as a version of the .Net Compact Framework.

The .Net Compact Framework would provide developers designing mobile/wireless applications with a base set of services upon which to design applications. Microsoft is also expected to make public the .Net Compact Framework at the PDC, sources said.

They also said that the Redmond, Wash., software firm is planning to formally announce the .Net Alerts service next week and detail a number of customers, in addition to eBay, that have already signed up for the service, which will send customers alerts on a range of things, from news and sports updates to messages about goods theyve ordered or have bid on.

Internally, Microsoft refers to this service as "one of our next major technical initiatives," describing it as "the Microsoft .Net Alerts Megaservice, whose platform is a core part of its .Net My Services" Web services initiative.

Its technology is at the heart of .Net Messenger Service, and it will deliver numerous types of alerts -- presence, mail, calendar and commerce among others -- to many types of destination devices like PCs, mobile phones and the like "at massive scale," the documentation says.

Microsoft engineers have been concentrating on developing the alerts infrastructure and platform, including the ability to manage user subscriptions and provide transient storage for events.

A recently released Microsoft white paper on .Net My Services says the initial set of .Net My Services will include the following:

  • .Net Alerts -- notification subscription, management and routing
  • .Net Address -- electronic and geographic address for an identity
  • .Net Profile -- name, nickname, special dates, picture
  • .Net Contacts -- electronic relationships/address book
  • .Net Location -- electronic and geographical location and rendezvous
  • .Net Inbox -- inbox items like e-mail and voice mail, including existing mail systems
  • .Net Calendar -- time and task management
  • .Net Documents -- raw document storage
  • .Net ApplicationSettings -- application settings
  • .Net FavoriteWebSites -- favorite URLs and other Web identifiers
  • .Net Wallet -- receipts, payment instruments, coupons and other transaction records
  • .Net Devices -- device settings, capabilities
  • .Net Services -- services provided for an identity
  • .Net Usage -- usage report for above services

The white paper adds that the .Net My Services architecture is designed for consistency across services and seamless extensibility. "It provides common identity, messaging, naming, navigation, security, role mapping, data modeling, metering and error handling across all .Net My Services. .Net My Services look and feel like a dynamic, partitioned, schematized XML store.

"They are accessed via XML message interfaces (XMIs), where service interfaces are exposed as standard SOAP messages, arguments and return values are XML, and all services support HTTP Post as message transfer protocol," it states.

Regarding security concerns, Microsoft says the integral security model of .Net My Services is based on Kerberos-based authentication. "The user controls which entities can access their data, and for what purpose. Users can revoke access to data. Users can use a service or agent to manage data access on their behalf, and these services are simple enough to actually be usable," it says in the paper.

Mary Jo Foley is a senior writer with Baseline.