Microsoft hopes to MIX in with Web designers

With a new conference slated for March, Microsoft Corp. will attempt to woo a developer segment that’s traditionally been a hard sell: creative types who build and design multimedia Web applications.

The first-ever MIX 06 conference, which will be held in Las Vegas from March 20-22, will provide a forum for showing Web designers and developers how they can use Microsoft technologies to deliver state-of-the-art business Web sites and Web-based applications, according to a Web site about the show.

It is also intended to shed some clarity on Microsoft’s strategy for Web 2.0, said Tim O’Brien, a group manager with Microsoft’s platform strategy group. The company has announced a dizzying array of technologies aimed at helping companies do more of their business on the Web, ranging from a new AJAX programming model called Atlas to Web-based services such as Office Live and Windows Live. Microsoft also unveiled plans to bake technology into the next version of Windows, Windows Vista, which will allow developers to build Web-based applications more easily and efficiently.

Web 2.0 is a name given to the Web’s transition from a collection of static Web sites to a computing platform providing Internet-based applications, or services, to end users. It also refers to the trend for companies to take advantage of and/or deliver these services.

O’Brien acknowledged that Microsoft has given developers and designers a lot of information to digest with its various moves for providing a platform for Web 2.0 development, and hopes the MIX 06 conference will shed some light on how all companies can use those technologies together.

“We’re making a number of fairly large investments, and one of the things we need to accomplish is bringing all those pieces together for the community of designers, developers and business people who want to know, ‘How is it going to change my business?’” he said.

Microsoft also aims to go “beyond the browser” to show designers and developers how to build Web-based business applications for a range of devices that are independent of a Web browser, O’Brien said.

Additionally, the company is inviting both Web designers and the developers who write code for Web applications to find out how they can collaborate more efficiently, as these professionals often still work in separate silos even when working on a single project.

Microsoft has always had a core base of developers who have used its software for building quick-and-easy Web and client-side applications. It has never really won over developers building high-impact, multimedia Web content.

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