Microsofts Box Riffs on Life Inside The Empire

Interview: Microsoft's XML Architect, Indigo maven and Band on the Runtime front man recently talked up Web services, SOAs and more.

Microsoft XML Architect Don Box signed on with Microsoft in January, 2002, after a long career of consulting and writing about Microsoft from the outside. Box co-founded the software think tank and training company DevelopMentor. He is the author of several books on Microsofts Component Object Model (COM), one of the precursors to Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), XML and .Net. He also is one of a handful of authors of the original SOAP specification.

The free-spirited Box dabbles in fashion, with a line of underwear called "Don Boxers." Hes also chief songwriter, singer and guitarist for "Band on the Runtime," a group of rock-playing geeks. At the recent Professional Developers Conference (PDC), Box didnt engage in any of his trademark speaking stunts, such as wearing his boxers on stage, or having a back drop of soap bubbles (unless you count calling Group VP Jim Allchin "code monkey," during one of the keynote addresses as something other than a career-endangering move).


Box has been coding like a madman ever since the PDC. So we never got time with him live. But heres our e-mail Q&A with one of the main movers and shakers behind the "Indigo" communications subsystem due to be part of Longhorn.

Microsoft Watch: What is your day-to-day job these days?

Box: Im one of several architects on the Indigo team. When I joined the Indigo team in early 2002, my focus was on the protocol stack - primarily working on the architecture and core WS-* specs like WS-Addressing and WS-Policy. Around the beginning of the year, my attention turned towards the product, specifically working on our XML infrastructure and helping define our service-oriented programming model. While I spend several hours a week coveting the stuff the transactions team is doing, my contributions there have been fairly minor to date.

/zimages/3/28571.gifTo read more about Microsofts Indigo strategy for Web services, click here.

Microsoft Watch: In a nutshell, how has your transition to Microsoft gone? High points? Low points? Are you glad you joined "the Empire"?

Box: Yes, Im glad I made the move. Theres no shortage of interesting problems to work on and more importantly, theres an abundance of smart people to work with and learn from. The most frustrating aspect of the move is the long ship cycles many of our products are on. This frustration is real if not completely rational — given the size of some of the bets were making (Avalon, WinFS, Indigo) its hard to imagine shipping something the scale of Longhorn much faster.

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