Microsoft to Color Web Services Indigo

Redmond will lay out its new programming paradigm at PDC.

LOS ANGELES—Although some are predicting that Microsoft Corp.s next-generation Longhorn operating system will be the star of Microsofts Professional Developers Conference (PDC) here, the real show-stealer looks to be the companys new Web services framework, codenamed Indigo.

Microsoft will unveil its Indigo strategy Monday morning at the PDC. The new scheme represents a significant change in direction for the software giant, in that it is acknowledging service-orientation and service-oriented programming as the wave of the future. And while Microsoft programmers will not be forced to hop on that wave, it will become the default way to program in the Microsoft environment.

With Indigo, Microsoft is moving from a primarily object-oriented development paradigm to a service-oriented one. In effect, Indigo takes many of the key processes by which Microsoft currently handles programming interfaces—including the Common Language Runtime (CLR) and its associated .Net APIs; the .Net Enterprise Services, which include the COM+-like technology; ASP.Net and .Net Remoting, and Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ)—and brings them all together into a single approach thats service-oriented, said sources close to Microsoft.

With Indigo Microsoft is promoting a new programming interface, or new code base for developers to write to, yet one that supports all the various component interfaces that make it up, sources said.

According to sources close to the company, the first beta of Indigo will not be available until the middle of next year, with actual delivery coming in the Longhorn timeframe of late 2005 or later.

In addition to delivering the new message and new technology, Microsoft will also be focusing on promoting the best practices and training required for developers to succeed in creating applications for the new service-oriented world, as programming to the Indigo APIs is essentially programming Web services.

Asked about the significance of the strategy, Ron Schmelzer, an analyst with ZapThink LLC, a Cambridge, Mass.-based market research firm, said: "This is very exciting for us because weve been beating this SOA [service-oriented architecture] drum for a while now, and for Microsoft basically to say if you want to program on our software, the default way is to do it the service-oriented way. And if youre doing it some other way, thats the old fashioned way."

In essence, Indigo represents in inflection point in Microsofts development strategy. And, although it is early to be promoting a technology shift that will not likely take effect until 2006, this move is not unlike Microsofts efforts to promote developers to rally around other key Microsoft technologies such as Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. Microsoft is leveraging its millions of developers to do service-oriented development.

Next page: Seeding the developer base.