Microsoft Paints Clearer Picture of Indigo

In his VSLive keynote, Microsoft's Eric Rudder highlights the company's "Indigo" next-generation Web services technology.

SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft Corp. shed more light on its plans for building connected systems, by highlighting its next-generation Web services technology, code-named Indigo, at the VSLive conference here Tuesday.

In a keynote presentation, Eric Rudder, senior vice president of servers and tools, said Indigo is "a natural extension to the .Net Framework," which will enable developers to build more secure, reliable and interoperable applications on Windows that will be able to interoperate with other applications no matter what the underlying platform.

Indeed, during the keynote, Ari Bixhorn, Microsofts lead product manager for Web services strategy, demonstrated a Web service built on BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic platform interoperating with Indigo-based services.

Rudder announced what he called the "WinFX CTP" (Community Technology Preview), which includes the first CTP of Indigo and the second CTP of the Avalon presentation subsystem, and said those CTPs will be available next month.

Bixhorn later clarified that the two CTPs will be "two separate CTPs, but theyll be delivered at the same time." Microsoft is shooting for Beta 1 of Indigo to become available in the first half of this year, he said, adding, "Were on track to ship in 2006."

Indigo will be delivering CTPs on a more regular basis, Bixhorn said. "Well be following the Whidbey [code name for Visual Studio 2005] cycle," he said, noting that Whidbey has had several CTPs to date.

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Indigo represents a unified programming model for building applications that support the broad array of Web services standards, which Microsoft refers to as the WS-* specifications. Indigo combines features of ASP.Net Web Services (also known as ASMX), .Net Remoting, .Net Enterprise Services, Web Services Enhancements (WSE) and System.Messaging, the company said. And developers from all of those environments will find familiar ground, Bixhorn said.

"Its almost like developers, who when they start using Indigo, can say, Oh, my stack won," Bixhorn said.

However, Rudder said .Net Remoting was designed for a different case than Web services were, so "for the most part, I dont expect people to move .Net Remoting applications to Indigo."

Meanwhile, Rudder said, early-adopter companies such as Amberpoint Inc., Mindreef and Actional Inc. have committed to building tools through the Microsoft Visual Studio Industry Partner program to support Indigo.

Also, Eclipsys Technologies Corp., a Boca Raton, Fla., provider of clinical, financial and management information software, and an Indigo early adopter, has begun planning to implement Indigo-based systems, the company said.

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