Microsoft Scrubs Comet from AJAX Tool Set

Microsoft nearly gives its AJAX tool set the same name as a competitor to the cleanser after which the programming style is named.

SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft, known for its clever code names, came within hours of naming its Asynchronous JavaScript and XML tool set after a cleansing product that is a competitor to AJAX.

Speaking on a panel at the AJAX Experience conference here, Brad Abrams, group product manager for the Microsoft Atlas team, said the Microsoft technology now known as Atlas came within hours of being called Comet.

"Hours before we announced Atlas to the world we changed the name," Abrams said. "The original name was Comet, but we decided against it at the last minute."

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Abrams later said the development team chose the name Comet, but the marketing group involved with the effort nixed the name before it could be announced. He would not talk about the back story.

But Microsoft, though tempered in recent years, has had a history of combativeness in the industry over its long tenure as a software powerhouse, often flouting the competition and standing alone against competing efforts. A name that directly opposes an emerging standard was not the message Microsofts marketing team wanted to convey.

Meanwhile, there is a Comet in the AJAX space.

Alex Russell, co-founder of the Dojo project, coined the term "Comet" to describe applications where the server keeps pushing, or streaming, data to the client, instead of having the browser keep polling the server for fresh content.

"I use Comet everyday," said Dylan Schiemann, co-founder of Dojo. "Its sort of a name to poke fun at the name AJAX. The name is just a play on the AJAX name. The difference is its more of a push technology, where AJAX is a pull."

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Comet is a programming technique that enables Web servers to send data to the client without the client having to request it. It allows creation of event-driven Web applications that are hosted in the browser.

Ben Galbraith, co-founder of, which is one of the conveners of the AJAX Experience conference, said with AJAX and the current technology base, developers can create user experiences comparable to desktop applications. Meanwhile, "Comet will change the server-side game," he said.

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