Microsoft sharpens interoperability focus

Microsoft sharpens interoperability focus

Microsoft says it will focus on four key areas to improve interoperability between its own software and other vendors' products

Microsoft says it will focus on four key areas to improve interoperability between its own software and other vendors' products.

Senior Microsoft representatives met with InfoWorld on Thursday to highlight identity management; Web services and related development; collaboration between information workers and system management comprise the new interoperability focus.

"We are really working on new protocols in the WS-* [spoken as Web services star] space that enable interoperability across identity systems," said Jean Paoli, Microsoft's general manager of interoperability and XML architecture.

A week ago, Microsoft vowed to integrate its CardSpace identity management system with the OpenID Web authentication standard . Paoli emphasized the move as evidence of the commitment.

WS-* represents a series of Web services-related specifications for standardization in areas such as security and messaging.

A lot of the issues Microsoft has in interoperability tend to fall into these four categories, said Tom Robertson, the company's general manager of interoperability and standards.

"Those are the four areas that we're hearing about now," as needing attention, Paoli said. "It doesn't mean the list is closed."

Microsoft's identity management push, however, apparently will not be centered on its previous Passport initiative for Internet security. "I've not been hearing about Passport in so long," Paoli said.

Microsoft plans to be creative in addressing interoperability, using a host of tools at its disposal. "It's going to mean making IP available in a range of ways," Robertson said.

The company already has dabbled in open source as a way to boost interoperability, offering a bridge between the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft's Open XML electronic document formats, said Robertson.

Paoli and Robertson listed multiple Microsoft interoperability projects in the past several years, such as its work with Novell on interoperability between Windows and Novell's Suse Linux. The company's interoperability effort with Sun Microsystems also was noted.

But they remained upset with IBM for what Microsoft perceives are IBM efforts to block Open XML from becoming approved as a standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The two co-authored an open letter this week entitled Interoperability, Choice and Open XML," that pointed fingers of blame at IBM.

"The open letter is an effort to clearly articulate what Microsoft is trying to do," Robertson said. It is important to shine a light on what IBM is doing to block Open XML and block choice, he added.

In response, an IBM representative pointed to the Standards Blog , which states there is "significant commercial opposition" to Microsoft's electronic document proposal.

Microsoft made a "bad bet " that ODF would fail in the marketplace, the blog stated.

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