Microsoft dips toe in choreography waters

In a temporary change of heart, Microsoft Corp. on Thursday participated in an industry effort to standardize Web services choreography.

Despite initial indications that it would not attend, two Microsoft representatives attended the first meeting of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Services Choreography Working Group held Thursday and Friday at Oracle Corp. headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif. , an Oracle representative said.

Microsoft, in a prepared statement pertaining to its attendance, provided little detail on specific goals of its participation and confirmed it still will not formally join the campaign.

“We are interested in following and, when appropriate, participating in working groups. As such, we had two employees attend part of the meeting in order to understand its scope better. No decisions have been made regarding joining. Moving forward, Microsoft continues to stay actively involved on the many different fronts, with varying degrees of participation and input, relative to the standardization process,” the company said.

Oracle’s representative said that Microsoft is seeking a single standard that that finds a middle ground between the BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services) specification, authored by Microsoft, IBM Corp., and BEA Systems Inc., and the Sun Microsystems Inc.-led WSC (Web Services Choreography Interface) specification. Microsoft wants to have the W3C effort complement BPEL4WS, according to Oracle.

Web services choreography is intended to automate interaction between Web services and is considered critical to enabling the integration promise of Web services.

Attending on behalf of Microsoft were Alan Brown, who serves as one of the company’s W3C representatives, and Greg Meredith, who is in Microsoft’s research organization, according to Oracle.

Microsoft, IBM, and BEA have not formally submitted BPEL4WS to a standards organization for consideration, unlike WSCI, which is now being considered by W3C. Despite Microsoft’s willingness to work with the W3C working group, BPEL4WS still is not being submitted to the organization, according to the Oracle representative.

However, BPEL4WS is gaining industry support despite not being under the jurisdiction of any standards organization. It is being implemented in products from companies such as Collaxa Inc. and BEA, who are not including WSCI in their systems, despite BEA also being a co-author of WSCI. A Sun representative said it is still too early to see much WSCI support at the product level.

W3C requires that companies submitting technologies for inclusion in potential industry standards decline any royalties from implementations of the standard. IBM and BEA have pledged to abide by this condition with BPEL4WS but Microsoft, at least publicly, has not.

IBM, which also had declined to participate in the working group, still is not participating, according to Oracle.

Sun, which is a member of the working group, in a prepared statement applauded Microsoft’s participation in the working group.

“Sun is pleased to see that Microsoft attended the W3C meeting, and we hope it’s an indication that they will support working with their fellow vendors in recognized industry-standards bodies. We all share a common interest in promoting standards convergence to the benefit of customers,” Sun’s statement said. For more information, visit