Microsoft Breaks Down Its Web DNA

The Windows DNA 2000 includes the following products, all of which should be available by mid-2000:

Microsoft Windows 2000: the core DNA service, which includes the COM+ model

Microsoft Commerce Server 4.0: the next release of the business-to-consumer software

Microsoft BizTalk Sever: integrates applications in the enterprise or among businesses through the exchange of XML formatted documents

Microsoft “Babylon” Integration Server: network, data and application integration with various legacy hosts

Microsoft AppCenter: Microsoft said this makes it “easy” to configure and manage server arrays

Microsoft SQL Server “Shiloh”: next release of SQL adds XML support and integrated data mining capabilities

Microsoft Visual Studio: now ships with Windows 2000 Developer’s Readiness Kit

Microsoft breaks down its Web DNA

By Michael MacMillan

At least one analyst says it’s too early to tell whether or not Microsoft Corp.’s DNA evidence is proof of that company’s Web staying power.

Officially unveiled by Microsoft officials last month, the Windows Distributed interNet Architecture (DNA) 2000 platform strategy marks the software company’s effort to transform static Web pages into hosts for new Web-based applications.

At the heart of DNA 2000 is the forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system and Extensible Markup Language (XML) which Microsoft is integrating across its product line.

An entire family of Microsoft products, some familiar and some new, will be built around those two technologies.

Microsoft predicts that in the future, Web developers will base their application components on XML and HTTP. This way, they can store applications anywhere on the Web, but still allow them to be used on the desktop. The combination would also let them develop new Web applications and services free of platform or middleware constraints.

“We think that [a Web services architecture] will involve a model that starts with standards and builds upon that…it will be message-oriented and loosely coupled, with services connected by XML-based messages and contracts written in many languages,” said Paul Maritz, vice-president of a Microsoft’s developers group at a recent U.S. Microsoft conference.

Microsoft also plans to evolve its Component Object Model (COM) application architecture to adapt to the new Web services model.

Microsoft said the DNA 2000 model is the way of the future, as it does not ties users to any one particular language, as in the Java scenario, and is open and based on an accepted standard.

“Where our technology differs from the competitor is that the COM model works across the entire platform so you have the ability to build the application any way you want,” said Norbert Mika, marketing manager for IT professional marketing with Microsoft Canada Co. in Mississauga, Ont.

As to whether training thousands of Visual Basic developers in a new, component-based environment will be a problem, Mika points to existing Microsoft technology.

“DNA is a way of being able to concisely articulate what we’ve been doing in the past anyway. If I take a look at the COM model, it is actually based on OLE, which has been in place for about nine years now, and those that are familiar with OLE are certainly familiar with COM or can learn it very quickly.”

One analyst said Microsoft is offering developers some very interesting technologies as part of the Windows DNA vision, at least on the surface. But she questions the company’s ability to tie them all together in one compelling package.

“It’s a real interesting position, but I haven’t seen any details to make it happen. All I see is another Microsoft stall tactic,” said Rikki Kirzner, director of Internet tools with International Data Corp. in Mountain View, Calif.

“Microsoft says, ‘How do we continue to offer value for people extending to the Web?’ But the unspoken (part) is, ‘How do I hold my dominance on a fat client and still make a Web play?”’

Although Kirzner is convinced Microsoft will continue to be a major player in Web development, adding that the company could persuade many users to stick with the rich or “fat” client approach, she said Microsoft will be hard pressed to maintain its current dominance.

“It’s an erosion of Microsoft’s marketshare from many different areas, nibbling away, rather than one company coming to unseat them,” she said.