Citing what he terms the third generation of Internet development, Microsoft president Steve Ballmer last week laid out the software giant's Web applications development strategy.
Ballmer outlined a broad strategy for Microsoft Windows Distributed interNet Architecture (DNA) 2000, a platform with services designed to link application, servers and devices with one another over the Internet.
"Today the great issue is 'Do developers have the tools to leverage PCs, information devices, and most importantly, the Internet?'" Ballmer said at a developers event here.
Microsoft's DNA platform includes the Windows NT Server network operating system, SNA Server, Site Server Commerce Edition, BizTalk Server, SQL Server, the Visual Studio development system and AppCenter, software that deploys and manages DNA-based servers.
The suite will allow small businesses and clients to interact over the Internet to perform tasks creatively, Ballmer said. Microsoft's combination of applications and services, called "megaservices", will enable developers to customise applications to their own needs, Ballmer added.
Previously, the Internet in its first generation was used only for technical communications, Ballmer said. In its second generation the Net was a browser-oriented service, offering little interaction. "Now we are entering the third generation, where people can program the Web for themselves," Ballmer said.
Windows DNA 2000 builds on XML (extensible markup language) what Ballmer terms as "the crucial standard for integration".
The long-awaited Windows 2000 operating system, formerly known as NT 5.0, is expected to be released to manufacturing later this year. Server products in the Windows 2000 DNA family will enter beta testing this year and are due to become available by the middle of next year, Microsoft said.
As Internet commerce continues to mushroom, much more Web-based development is expected from Microsoft and from other companies over the next few years, Ballmer said. But Microsoft's Windows family gives the software giant a leg up, he said. "We start from a firm foundation," Ballmer added.
One analyst said Microsoft's initiative is on target, although the vendor will face competition from other companies, including Sun Microsystems and IBM.
"Microsoft will be a player but it won't be the only player," said Rikki Kirzner, director of Internet tools for analyst International Data Corporation.
Microsoft is pursuing a market that will boom, as more and more businesses and consumers move away from desktop PCs to information devices such has Palm Pilots to use the Internet, she said.
"They're offering a road plan for continuing to buy Microsoft," Kirzner added.